becoming Christ-like, dissatisfaction with church, frustrated with church, frustration with christians, frustrations, frustrations with pastor, frustrations with people, frustrations with preacher, prayer, same God today, thankfulnes, unity
Sometimes, over the years, I have gotten really frustrated at churches that I have been involved with. I have been frustrated at the people, the programs, or even (GASP!) the pastor. Lately though, I have found myself questioning where frustration like this stems from? After all, is it really the job of the people around me to please me in a church setting? Is it really the people’s fault if I am frustrated with programs that seem to have died long ago? Is it the pastor’s fault if change that I deem necessary for sustained growth is slow in coming, or if his sermon is not “powerful enough”? It’s easy to say, “No”, but much harder to believe “No”. So, how can I combat this frustration?
Paul says in I Thessalonians 1:2, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers;” Really? Paul, Timothy and Silvanus gave thanks for all of the people in the church at Thessalonica all the time? The Thessalonian people must have been perfect, right? Actually, they weren’t. The book of Thessalonians is very encouraging to the church at Thessalonica, but there were admonishments as well. As in every church, there was still growth to be done. I Thessalonians 5:14 says, “And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.” There were some unruly people among the church that had to be dealt with, yet Paul and his companions were still thankful for every one of them and continued to pray for them.
So, how can this translate to me and my frustrations with the modern day church? First off, I need to be thankful wherever I am placed in the Body of Christ. This is hard for me at times. As a pastor’s wife, I have experienced both the excitement of starting fresh in a new church and have also experienced times when I have not been thrilled. I am learning though that I need to be thankful in either situation. I need to ask God to show me His blessings in the place where I am and give Him thanks. There is always growth to be done and if the place where God has me is the only place I can grow in a particular area, then so be it. The ultimate goal is to be Christ-like and I can always be thankful for anyone who helps me become more like Him. I need to remind myself though that usually the person in my life who makes me more like Christ is not the nice person, it’s the person who drives me to my knees. So, I can even be thankful for the not so nice people in my life. (I’m sure you all have no idea what I’m talking about. Wink.)
Secondly, in order to curb our frustrations, Paul encourages us to pray for everyone. Listen, I get it, time is short and you would rather enjoy the time you have set aside with God to pray for stuff you want to pray for and not be reminded of people who make you crazy. Let me really encourage you here. When I am covering people in prayer that would usually drive me to drink (metaphorically speaking, of course), God often reveals things while praying that you know are from Him. You start to pray things over people that you weren’t even aware was an issue in their life. You also see those people differently when you have been praying for them specifically. I can’t explain it. Simply put, it’s a miracle and I believe that’s why our flesh and the devil fights so hard against us praying for people who frustrate us. The devil has seen centuries of these miracles. He knows that when we pray for people, we grow to love them in ways we never thought possible. He knows that God will change our hearts toward those people and he does not want that to happen. He knows that prayer for each other is how unity develops and his goal is disharmony. So, of course, he fights against us when we pray for people who cause us frustration.
But, what if our frustration is our pastor? What if we are called to a particular church body, but our pastor is dry, dry, dry. What can we do? Again, we take the advice of the Holy Spirit through Paul in I Thessalonians. We choose thankfulness and we pray. I Thessalonians 1:5 says, “For our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit…” Isn’t that what our spirits are really craving? Aren’t we simply wanting a word from God? That’s what we need to be praying for. We need to claim this Scripture over our pastors, pray it over them and anticipate that our prayers are being answered. Praying for your pastor prepares your heart in a way that is once again unexplainable. You are expecting things to be different, so they are. Has God’s anointing really changed in your pastor, or has your perspective just changed? Who knows? But, we can rejoice in the fact that our frustrations have brought us to our knees. We can be thankful that the God who brought the Great Awakening and the Second Great Awakening can bring a Third. He is still the same God today. We can be thankful that the God of Joel 2:25 who said that He will restore the years which the locusts have eaten is still God today. How does He do it? I don’t know, but you can be sure He still does. So, let’s be thankful for our frustrations. Let’s allow them to do a work in us. Let’s take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (II Corinthians 10:5) and pray for our churches, our people and our pastor.