There is one shared habit pastors seem to face. I often hear it on Mondays – even after a great Sunday. I’ve been guilty of this one – many times. It was true in church planting and in church revitalization.
Many times, if left unchecked, it can led to the downfall of the pastor.
And it could be a common struggle for every leader, regardless of the context of where they are leading.
The struggle –
We let a few negative voices overshadow the many positives.
Things can be going great, but we can get one negative email and our whole day is ruined.
We can have one season of struggle and we forget all the seasons of triumph – or all the promises for future reward.
God may be providing blessings all around us, but we focus on the distraction of a few critics. Frankly, these are often people we may never please – regardless of what we do.
We can live in gloom and doom about a present situation, forgetting how God has blessed us and how He has promised to bless us in days to come.
Are you ever guilty of this? Am I alone here?
The Bible is not silent about this struggle. Elijah, who the book of James tells us was a person just like us – fell apart with one threat from Jezebel. This was just after he had had tremendous success in ministry. (1 Kings 19)
A common temptation to see the negative immediate reality, over the bigger picture positives of what God has done and is doing.
I don’t know, this is speculation on my part, but I think this struggle may have existed throughout the Bible with God’s people. For example, consider a favorite verses of encouragement.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord , plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Put it in the context in which it was delivered. Notice Vs. 10
“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.” (Emphasis mine.)
One of the greatest promises – a promise God is in control and has a masterful future planned. This promise fits well on coffee mugs and desk plaques. We love it so much.
But what do you think the people heard when this great promise was revealed by the prophet?
Again, it’s speculation on my part, but don’t you think the “seventy years” of captivity they were about to face would have jumped out more than the “future and hope“?
Yet, which do you think was God’s intent – to encourage or discourage?
Again, everything can be going according to plan. God can be working in your life, but one setback – one season of decline in church attendance – one negative email – can destroy your perception of reality.
It is a shared habit pastors struggle to overcome.
This is why, as pastors – as leaders – as people of God – we must keep our mind and focus on the bigger picture. Rather than the voices of the negative minority, we must focus on what God has called us to do, what He’s doing – and ultimately, what He‘s promised to do.
Paul said it like this, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Corinthians 4:17)