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  • Church

    When (God’s) People Disappoint

    October 24, 2012


    Some time ago a woman told me she’d decided to leave her church (for what seemed to me a silly reason). “Only three people had the gumption to call and say they’d miss me,” she lamented over the phone. “I’m so disappointed!”

    Only three? I listened, glad she couldn’t see me roll my eyes. You want to talk about disappointment? I felt like answering. What I really wanted to do was hand her a pacifier.

    Not that I have the right to judge. I get it—got it long ago: People disappoint. And one huge test of character is how one responds to disappointment when it comes from God’s people. 

     I have failed this test time and time again as I’ve seen the very “human” side of people in church through the years. If you’ve been around the church for very long, you may know the temptation to try and make straight the sometimes crooked ways of Christians, knock some sense in a few places, get even or get out. You’ve no doubt come to the same realization I have: there is a difference between a saint and an angel: one is human.

    I guess it takes one to know one.

     I’ve been overseeing a new church along with my husband for one month now—a tiny fraction of the many years I’ve spent warming pews. As I think about the precious, amazing, committed group of people we are starting out with, I am in awe at the goodness of God. We are growing from scratch, with people who seem to be there for the right reason: we all, together, simply want more of God.

     At the same time, an inner question arises and moves me to tears: What if I disappoint?

     What if I, too, fail to listen, understand, pick up the phone, send a card, speak with sensitivity, knock on a door…. What if I miss a need that’s right under my nose?

     For the first time in my life, I understand the prayer of Jabez: “…that I might not cause pain (I Chronicles 4:10).”

    Will I too cause pain? I can’t bear the thought of hurting these people. And yet, I know full well what I’m capable of (others have a clue too).

    My only hope is that the people Dave and I are leading will join us in doing the only thing we know to do in order to succeed: keep our eyes on the One Who ultimately will never disappoint. The One Who is for us. Who is willing to bear with our clumsiness as we figure out how to do all this. Who knows what we’re in it for.

    It’s all for Him—Jesus.

    I’m comforted in remembering that as I keep that purpose in mind—even when I do manage to disappoint (and I will, and likely already have)—I can always, always bend low, own my stuff, and let God redeem each mistake. The beauty that arises out of the ashes of my own past disappointment are worth it.

    I know this. The other day someone mentioned a need. It was one I’ve personally felt. You never saw a woman jump in the car and fly down the road so fast in order to meet a need. I didn’t want to disappoint.

    God, help me keep my eyes, ears and heart wide open.
           
           
           
           
           
           
           

    3 thoughts on “When (God’s) People Disappoint

    1. Donna says:

      There are just so many needs. I think the opposite situation is also true in ministry. If I try to meet every need I will run myself into burnout. It’s forever my quandary….where to meet needs and where I have permission to let go. I know in letting go there is the possibility for disappointment. Very hard for this people-pleasing girl to accept. Does this make sense? Either way, Jesus needs to be the director. Where He says to go, I just need to go.

    2. Faith Bogdan says:

      So true, Donna. Being a pleaser is both a blessing and a curse. It means we’re sensitive to the needs of others, but it also means we need to have a healthy and realistic view of the possibility of disappointing. I think the best way to display that is to say, “I am guaranteed to disappoint. I don’t want to, but I recognize I cannot ‘do it all.’ Forgive me ahead of time.” So everyone, consider this my disclaimer! 😉

    3. Diane says:

      Psalm 62:5-7 My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.

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