I’ve been singing the blues lately as this has been a tough year for me professionally. We have a wonderful congregation, but for some reason, we lost a lot of people this year. Some moved, some fell away and some were fussing and fighting with each other and went to different churches. I tried so hard to deal with those who were leaving trying to win them back by my personality, my charisma. It didn’t work. The life of the congregation has suffered too. I feel like we are drifting right now, we see the problems but don’t know how to fix them. I have been reading like crazy looking for the program I can implement that will get us back on track. I’ve got to find a way to fix it. I’m the minister, I have to have the answers! It hasn’t worked. And this winter! It’s like one long cloud covered season. Occasionally, the sun will peek out, but for the most part it’s just dark, dreary and wet. I am discouraged. Not burned out, not depressed, just discouraged.
Then, I had an epiphany! I’m discouraged because I am trying to put the load all on MY shoulders. Did you catch how many times I used my personal pronoun in that first paragraph? That’s one of the big problems with small town preachers, we tend to believe we have to fix it all. No one else can. No one else has the training we do, the investment we do. No one cares as much as me!
When I wisen up, I step back and say in the words of my lovely mother. “baloney, get over it boy.” (she wasn’t the most nurturing soul around, but she kept us firmly planted in reality and not self-pity). If I make what happens in the life of this congregation about me and my abilities, we are doomed to failure. Jesus said, “come unto me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.” Notice that he didn’t say come to Jim. Jim can’t fix it. Jesus can.
My goal to get over my discouragement is to seek God more. Lean on God more. Trust in God more. He can do exceedingly, abundantly, more than I. I need to be willing to be his tool, but he is in control. So, I’m going to quit singing the blues and start singing “Blue skies and rainbows and sun beams from Heaven are what I can see when the Lord is living in me.” Or maybe “cheer up my brother, live in the Sonshine. We’ll understand it all by and by.”