Relationships are funny. They are even funnier when they are in church.
One person has said, and I’ve repeated it often, “Ministry would be a great job if it weren’t for the people.”
I know that is horrible for a pastor to say, but it seems so true so many times. I am the first person to admit that there are bright moments in ministry. Those times when I get it right and someone’s life is influenced or changed because of something I’ve said or done. People send emails or a handwritten note to remind me of my calling and my ministry. These little niceties can really give me a boost.
Then there are the times when nothing seems to go right. It doesn’t matter what I say or how I say it, it is wrong. That doesn’t mean that I am necessarily wrong in what I’ve said, but the person(s) do not like or believe what I am saying. And, of course, there are the times I am flat out wrong. All of this can get tiring.
It reminds me of the guy that didn’t want to go to church.
“Give me one good reason I should get up and go to church today,” he said to his wife.
“Simple,” She said. “You’re the pastor.”
Ministry is hard. Heck, living the Christian life is hard. But relationships are hard, aren’t they? Even when we are with friends it is difficult. Friends fight and disagree over things all the time. Friends make up and go on. They are better for the struggle…most times.
In church, however, people don’t like how other people have treated them. They quit going to church for a variety of reasons. All because people have hurt them or let them down. It is the nature of the beast, I guess.
Being with people is friction. Being with people is challenging. Being with people has its joys and its sorrows. That’s the Christian life. We learn to love disagreeable people. We learn to be less disagreeable, less selfish, and less self-centered. Being with people the rough and less desirable aspects of our character are filed away and our character qualities begin to look more and more like Jesus Christ. Often when metal is filed down there are sparks. That too is the nature of the beast.
Let me put it this way: Church (the gathered body of believers) is not perfect. It is flawed. It is often petty. It is at times infuriating. It is also healing and quite beautiful. And, for all of its imperfections and moments of joy and blessing it is dearly loved by God.
Lord, change me. Help me to love the people around me like you do. Give me thick skin and the courage to die for my brothers and sisters no matter how difficult they may be. Besides, I know I’m no prize and yet you treasure me. Help me love like that. Amen.