Taken from the archives of Sarah’s Tent …
Have you ever been confronted by a bored child, and then quickly responded to their whining with something inspiring like, “stop complaining and go clean your room!” or, “Don’t you know that there are millions of children who would give anything to be in your shoes?”
As a pastor, when confronted by a disgruntled congregational member, we may quickly tell them to stop complaining and go pray about what ever it is that is bothering them. With that in mind, let me share with you something that happened to me last week.
Monday began with open house in the school and a whole mess of excited kids. Clothes had been bought along with supplies. The season brings promise of change and order, except in their rooms. That was something I had HOPED to get in order before they started school, but now found myself, three days later still working on the first room.
When my daughter and I started on her room, I had no idea it was as bad as it was. Things that should have been thrown away were stuffed in drawers, and broken things lay underfoot. Clothes that I couldn’t find were discovered behind the dresser, and mismatched socks were found once again. What had started out as a cheery day of helping my child straighten up, became a day of frustration, shouting, anger, and harsh words. As many times as possible, my daughter would slip out of the room, and find some errand to do as I threw papers, clothes and broken toys in their proper places, all the while criticizing angrily what a pig sty the room was…..
That is until the Lord caught me up short. (He has a way of doing that.) Suddenly my words were echoing in my ears accusing my own lack of properly training her to know how to be a good steward of those things that had been given her. Unlike any other human being on the earth, I had just assumed that she knew what I expected of her, and would know by common sense what it had taken me forty years to learn.
My child, or congregational member is only going to know what you as their leader, or parent show them. Those trials in life that they flounder in would go much better for them and you as their mentor, if you would walk through a few things with them. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples…” not, “Go and build bigger and better churches and make a name for thyself.”
You should see her room now! After cleaning, organizing and decorating her ‘space’ my daughter is walking upright and proud. In fact she couldn’t wait to sleep in her room tonight after several weeks of begging to sleep in the front room (because of the heat she said), or in our guest room. As I passed by her room I glanced in to see her carefully placing things back where they belong and hanging up the clothes she had worn today.
Such a simple solution for a complaining parent! We reap what we sow in more ways than one, right? As a pastor I pondered this issue while rearranging her furniture. I began thinking about the luncheons I have been to in which other ministers complained about their people. They always seemed to be going through the same trials and fires. They complained about never knowing how to do what was needed in the church and how they never brought anyone to church with them. Could it be that like my daughter who found every reason to slip out of the room, that our members may be sensing our displeasure? Perhaps what we ask of them is too overwhelming, and all they really need is some loving discipleship? John Maxwell states discipleship and proper leadership simply by this easy formula:
1. I do it
2. I do it, you watch
3. You do it, I watch
4. You do it.
Before you complain next time about your child’s skills, or your membership’s commitment, think about what you have sown in their lives. Have you equipped them? If not, then repent, and begin from scratch. It is a lot easier on your nerves than complaining, whining and yelling!