One of the most difficult parts of being a pastor is knowing that, even though I lead the church and I am held accountable for what the church does, there is very little I can do to make sure that the church succeeds.
Ultimately, anything the church does as it tries to grow, to reach new people, and nurture its own congregation, is dependent on God for success. Only God can grow the church, and only God can make our worship meaningful.
That is both frustrating and scary for me. It means that all things that people use to rate my job performance- worship attendance, membership growth, baptisms, etc. is outside my control.
I tend to think of this as a problem unique to church leaders, but it is not. Everyone deals with this problem but it is more obvious for pastors.
Parents all learn this lesson. You might forget it, but you did learn it. You learned, often the hard way, that your children’s lives are outside your control. You can raise them well, teach them morals and ethics and good values, and give them a good education, but you can’t control what they do. Not even when they live under your roof.
Every parent eventually has to learn that their child’s success in life is beyond their control. Even their child’s safety is, largely, in God’s hands. For some reason, we don’t realize that this timeless truth applies to our whole lives.
There is only so much we can do to control our own lives, and controlling our own lives is not necessarily the best thing for us.
If I tried to control everything at my church, I would probably run it into the ground in just a few weeks.
I have watched plenty of churches try to take their fate into their own hands, decide what path they would walk without ever consulting God, and then feel shocked when they failed. It makes sense that churches should be focused on what God wants them do and should submit themselves to God’s leadership.
We forget, though, that this is true for us as individuals too. We do not like the idea of giving up control over our lives, and we certainly don’t like the idea that God might have different plans for our life than we do.
There is no doubt, though, that God’s plans for us are a lot better than our own.
I say all this because we are constantly being confronted with problems that we do not know how to solve. There is a crisis on our southern border, we are more divided as a nation than at any time since the Civil War, and we seem to have lost the ability to talk to people who disagree with us. I do not know how to solve any of those problems. Neither do you. Neither does Donald Trump. Neither does Joe Biden. It is beyond us, whether we want to admit it or not.
I cannot help but think that our world would be a much better place if more of the people who call themselves Christians would turn off the news, log off Facebook, and turn to God for guidance.