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Lest I think I’ve ever “arrived,” it takes only a moment of stress to show me how far removed I am from biblical love. My everyday moments more often resemble lovelessness rather than the definition of biblical love. Over and over again I insist on my own way as I bark out commands in haste to my kids or speak short words to my husband and leave no room for doubt that I’m irritated. “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26 ESV).

Impatience, at its core, is a love issue. The Greek word used in 1 Corinthians 13:4 for “patient”(makrothumeō) has the connotation of being slow to act against wrongdoing. Whereas the original word for kind has a meaning of responding with a mild demeanor. These are reactive words.

Love is Patient. Love is Kind.

The challenge here is not to go out and be more patient and kind. Instead, love is displayed in our response to the offenses of others. When someone intentionally wrongs me or is just incredibly annoying, my response reveals love (or hate). I don’t need to look far to find an occasion to love. I am given continual opportunities to love each and every day.

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” (Matthew 12:34).

God loved me so I can show love. “Not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). God extended me mercy so I can extend mercy. God is patient with me so I can be patient with others. Once again, we have our example of love in our Savior. God’s love for His people is patient. My sin—and yours—is a continual offense to a holy God. Yet, He responded to our offensive actions toward Him with love. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient (makrothumeō) toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Love is evidenced in our responses to others. All too often, when we want to make changes in our lives, we go overboard looking for new things to help us in our journey. In our efforts to be intentional, we skip right over the simplest solution. Truth is, we already know what to do. We don’t have to look far for ways to show love to others. Every moment we have with the people God has planted us next to is an opportunity to love. From the next-door neighbor we rarely speak to, to the girl at work who drives us crazy, to the friends and family closest to us. As we choose to stay near to God and keep in step with His Spirit, He will faithfully enable us to love others and bear witness to the love we ourselves have experienced.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

PRAY THIS WITH ME: God, I praise You for your extravagant love! I deserve judgment, yet You have lavished Your love on me. Jesus, thank You for taking the wrath of my sin so that I can experience the favor of my Creator. Spirit, enable me to respond with extravagant, patient, and kind love with every offense I face today.


This is an excerpt from Everyday Love — a women’s Bible study on love. This easy-to-use, four-week Bible study will help you discover how your life can bear witness to God’s purpose. In as few as 15 minutes a day, you will explore the Book of 1 Corinthians 13 and the deeper truths about God’s love for you and others. 

Join the Online Study Group!

 

Discover what the Bible has to say about love

(And learn how to study the Bible along the way!)

WHAT: Studying 1 Corinthians 13

WHEN: February 11th – March 8th, 2019 

WHERE: Bible Study Hub Facebook group

The threat of my house catching on fire is haunting. Fire can spread quickly and in unpredictable ways, bringing a great potential for destruction. Though fire can be erratic, we do know there are three things needed for a fire to burn: heat, oxygen, and fuel. In light of this, safety experts suggest keeping a fire blanket handy at home, especially for small kitchen fires. A fire blanket is a nonflammable covering used to contain a small fire from getting out of control. It’s designed to contain the fire by preventing oxygen access, thus smothering the fire into submission. The blanket provides a covering in order to suffocate the flames.

You and I have fires that pop up everyday, and they are (hopefully!) not in our kitchen. Every wrongdoing we experience is an ember, and we have an opportunity to smother it immediately or allow it to catch into a smoldering wildfire. Each insult, injury, or inconsideration encountered is a chance to cover the offender in love. When we obsess over the attacking flame on our doorstep we breathe life into it and allow it to burn bright, instead of immediately smothering the offense with love.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7)

Love covers. It quickly blows out the flame of irritability, resentment, and pride. Again and again and again. It suffers long toward every ember that tempts to take over. Love is shown in the response we make toward wrongdoing. We don’t need to go out looking for fires to put out, we each have enough to go around. Fires pop up every day, and in those moments when we begin to feel the heat, we have a choice to feed the fire or smother it into submission.

“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,” (Isaiah 61:10).

Jesus smothered our sin into submission, then He gifted us His righteousness. This act of love covered over you and me in a way we cannot fully comprehend on this side of eternity. And as we attempt to grasp the reality of Christ’s covering, let’s move toward extending a covering of love to those around us as extravagantly as Christ did for us.

PRAY THIS WITH ME: Jesus, I praise You for Your covering of grace and forgiveness. Never let me forget what You have saved me from. Help me to see the fires that need covering and enable me to douse them with love today.


This is an excerpt from Everyday Love — a women’s Bible study on love. This easy-to-use, four-week Bible study will help you discover how your life can bear witness to God’s purpose. In as few as 15 minutes a day, you will explore the Book of 1 Corinthians 13 and the deeper truths about God’s love for you and others. 

Join the Online Study Group!

 

Discover what the Bible has to say about love

(And learn how to study the Bible along the way!)

WHAT: Studying 1 Corinthians 13

WHEN: February 11th – March 8th, 2019 

WHERE: Bible Study Hub Facebook group

My oldest approached me a few days ago and asked if we could meet as a family every morning and have our “quiet times” together. For months now, he’s been trying to find a time and a place in his day to spend time with God. He and I started going to breakfast on Wednesday’s before school and I’ve been teaching him how to study the Bible using an inductive study method. But he wants more. He wants to be in the Bible every day and there isn’t much more that makes this momma’s heart sing.

Thought I certainly don’t have this parenting thing down, and I’m sure we have some tumultuous years ahead of us in these last 9 years we have as parents with kids in the house, we are beginning to see both the holes caused from our parenting failures as well as the good and sweet fruit of our labors. With the clarity of hindsight, I can now see how the Lord has faithfully led us to take several actions with our kids when it comes to the Bible. Here are five we’ve seen begin to bear beautiful fruit.

MODEL AND INVITE

It is really tempting to study behind closed (and locked) doors, especially when they were younger…. Allowing them to stay was an invite for them to be a part of what mom was doing.

UPLOAD AND HAVE FUN

I cannot count how many times we (unsuccessfully) tried to have some sort of family devotion time that ended in kicking and screaming and me losing it in absolute frustration that my kids could not get with the program! Looking back, I can see that I was asking them to do something they were not developmentally ready for. There was, however, something I was doing right all along …

BUILD THE HABIT AND INVEST IN THEIR SPIRITUAL GROWTH

There is no way I can impart everything they need to know about God and the Bible while under my roof. And even if I did, it will mean little if they don’t choose to make it their own relationship, their own faith, their own pursuit. While I cannot chose for them, I can set them up for success by inviting them to make time with God part of their everyday lives through providing opportunities and tools to help them do so.

DISCUSS WHAT YOU ARE LEARNING

Chat about what you are learning in your own time in the Bible. Ask them what they’ve been reading…. Make it normal to talk about and enjoy the Word of God in your everyday life.

PRAY, PRAY, AND PRAY SOME MORE

There are no guarantees that they will grow to love the Word, but just as a plant needs the right environment to grow, so does a spiritual life. As we do the work to till the soil, water, fertilize, and pull the weeds, we must also pray for the Light of the World to illumine the hearts of our precious seedlings. Without His work in their hearts, our labor is in vain.

(Read more about each tip in my post over at LifeWay Voices!)


One of the ways we are doing this in our family recently, is through the Brave Roots Boxes. My kids have LOVED their boxes. All three have faithfully sat down to do their “quiet time” using the simple yet significant Bible studies that come in the box. You can learn more about the Brave Roots Boxes here. (This is an affiliate link. Because we love them so much, we want to share about them! At no additional cost to you, I receive a portion of your purchase if you make one. Thanks!)


 

There are seasons that are hard. I just don’t feel right. Discouragement comes easy. The dark cloud looms and lingers.

I begin searching for what’s missing. Maybe if I start running, or eat better I will feel better about myself? Or, am I lonely and just need to find a new friend? Get more sleep? A better schedule? Time alone? A date night?

I’ll try a few things, and when the newness wears off I turn to what energize me. Teaching the Word, blogging, time with good friends, time alone to plan. While they do help recharge me, they will never be enough.

bible verses discouragement

9 Bible verses for discouragement

Only God’s word brings me life.

  • My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word! Psalm 119:25
  • Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Psalm 119:37

In uncertainty, His word alone is my good counsel.

  • Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors. Psalm 119:24
  • Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

When my soul cries out, His promises alone bring comfort.

  • This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. Psalm 119:50
  • Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. Psalm 119:165

Though there are moments of overwhelming sorrow, His word under-girds with strength.

  • My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! Psalm 119:28

His mercy and grace is what I truly need. Not a smaller jeans size, or a better organized house. Not a new friendship or time to myself. He is my missing piece.

  • Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight. Psalm 119:77
  • Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name. Psalm 119:132

Which verses do you cling to when the dark cloud looms?

My everyday peace is easily stolen. It takes only a simple glance at the latest world news or my mounting to-do list for uncertainty and restlessness to rise up and overwhelm my heart with anxiety. Yet another look at the success and joys of those around me can lure my soul into a never-ending longing for the possessions, personality traits, and positions in life I do not have. Just one encounter with a difficult person or a sticky exchange can quickly rob my days of peace.

Everyday peace is something I have to fight for.

I expect you might be knee-deep in this fight as well. In fact, you might feel as if you are battered and bruised, defeated by the thieves of peace. Anxiety fills your moments. Dissension defines your relationships. Discontentment rules your days.

If you find yourself lacking peace, be encouraged. You are not alone. In fact, the minute I began to write this Bible study, my anxiety levels seemed to triple, my lack of contentment incredibly evident, and (after years of peace-filled friendships) multiple relational wildfires popped up out of nowhere. Opportunities to engage in the fight for everyday peace were abundant.

As we’ll see in our study together, everyday peace is ushered in or shut out of our lives through the choices we make. Anxiety, dissension, and discontentment stare us in the face daily (if not hourly!) and these peace-robbers will continue to trail us and attempt to invade our hearts as long as we live on this sin-stained earth. Though we cannot always avoid these enemies of peace, we do have a choice when we encounter them. And the actions needed to fight for peace may not be what you think.

Everyday peace can be cultivated. Not by managing your emotions or self-helping your way to a status of serenity. Everyday peace is within reach because it has been granted to us by our faithful, generous God. He has fought and won the battle for peace. Our job is to stand firm in the provision He’s already given us.

Through the presence of God, the strength of the Spirit, and the example of Christ, our every moment can be saturated with the peace that surpasses understanding. He is working in and around you to establish this promised peace for you. God’s plan for you is everyday peace. 

God, bring your peace into my moments. I long to experience the peace that passes all understanding in my everyday life. I confess my need for you to reveal to me the role I play in everyday peace. Holy Spirit, I open every nook and cranny of my heart and mind for you to carefully inspect, gently correct, and powerfully transform.


This is an excerpt from the Everyday Peace Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support! , a 4-week Bible study for women. 

This study was ground breaking… I left from this study knowing how to find true lasting peace in my everyday and how to study my Bible more effectively! This is a must do study!

Kristin

Used this as book for women’s Bible study for women of all ages. It was well received by all. Would highly recommend this for personal or group study.

E. Teacher

I wish there were 10 stars for Everyday Peace!!! A book that says ‘me too’ AND points you to the Bible is a must read/study for Christians!

Melissa

Click here to check it out! Full Disclosure: At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!

So, I’m going back to school.

This turning 40 thing has been fun. It’s as if the road to my purpose and calling has been finally paved and I’m ready to run. I’ve said for years that I would love to take seminary classes. This summer at the Southern Baptist Convention—specifically at the Women and Work panel—I was spurred on by hearing from those women chasing after their dreams—even amidst the crazy seasons of life. It was freeing to hear of one who’d been taking classes over a decade and is about to reach the finish line of her degree. For some reason I’d had it in my head that I needed to wait until life’s waters were completely calm before I could dive head first into school. So, yes, it may also take me a decade, but I’m going to start now.

I received my acceptance letter last week (yay!) to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to pursue a Masters of Arts in Discipleship at the Orlando extension center—just 45 minutes away from my house! This is actually the same extension center my husband Chris started his MDiv 10 years ago. So fun, right?

Part of the application process was submitting my conversion and calling story. I thought I’d share them with you! It was fun to process this and look back on God’s faithful, patient calling on my life. I’m so grateful.

Explain your conversion experience. Include age and details.

With vague memories of a decision made at VBS, I spent most of my childhood believing I was a Christian. Through both Catholic and Protestant private schools, I learned much about the Bible and the characteristics of what a good religious person looks like. However, I primarily saw God as a distant, cosmic parent who primarily just wanted me to be good. So, I was good. I could readily articulate the reality of Christ’s sacrifice for the sake of mankind, but I thought it was enough to simply know about it and believe that it had happened.

Though I cannot remember the exact date (I was in junior high), I vividly remember the moment I recognized my personal need for Jesus. It was a simple afternoon at home in my bedroom when reality hit me of my distance from God and the fact that—although I knew about Jesus—I didn’t know Him personally or trust Him for salvation. Immediately, I confessed my need for Christ and my desire to follow Him with my entire being. I had been trusting in my goodness instead of His grace and I have no doubt that it was in that moment my new spiritual life in Christ began. It would be a long time before I found myself in any sort of a groove when it came to walking with Christ. God still seemed distant and there was much about grace I needed to grasp, but in His goodness I did begin to grow from that point on.

Discuss your call to ministry. How do you define a divine call? In what ways has your call to ministry been affirmed?

Though I didn’t recognize it at the time, I can see God’s hand and calling toward leading other women in the Word as far back as my freshman year at Auburn University (1996). I was still a toddler in Christ—just beginning to see that there is more to Christianity than the do’s and don’ts. I had been attending Campus Crusade for Christ, joined a freshman Bible study, and found myself surrounded by young women who talked about Jesus like they just had coffee with them. They didn’t just know about Jesus—they knew Jesus. They loved His Word and studied it eagerly and faithfully. Through their example and the discipleship of the upperclassmen and Cru staff, I began to learn about the how’s and the why’s of Christianity: How to study my Bible. How to pray. How to share my faith. How to live the Spirit-filled life; as well as why all these actions are so vitally important to our everyday experience of God’s power and presence.

The commands I’d heard all my life suddenly became more than a checklist. They became fuel and nourishment for my growth in Christ because someone finally took the time to train and teach me how to do these spiritual disciplines. I flourished under the Cru ministry, and it was just a few months in to my new-found growth in Christ, that God began to call me into ministry. The head RA of my 6-floor-dormitory knocked on my door one evening. She told me she had noticed I had verses pinned on my door, and was wondering if I would be willing to lead a Bible study in the dorm. She wanted to see one start up, but was not allowed to lead one herself. Out of all the hundreds of girls in that dorm, she challenged me to lead. I had no idea where to start or what to do, and I had only just begun to walk with Christ, but I can clearly see the beginning of God’s continual and specific invitation to step out and lead women in the Word.

The next year, at a Campus Crusade for Christ Christmas Conference, I committed my life to God’s purposes for my life. I didn’t yet know the specifics, but I knew that God had called me to serve Him in full-time Christian work. After graduating, I joined Cru staff, where I served in Campus Ministry for 6 years. I met my husband through the Cru ministry at the University of North Florida, and he joined staff after we married. I continued to serve on campus through evangelism and discipleship, even as our family grew. I absolutely loved campus ministry and the ability to pour into students (just as others had done for me) during such a key time of their lives.

In 2008, we left staff with Cru for my husband, Chris, to begin seminary and church ministry. We both loved our time with Cru, but it was becoming more and more evident that Chris was called to and built for pastoral ministry within the local church. My call to disciple and teach has been a natural fit alongside Chris, and I have continued to use my gifts and fulfill my calling through the local churches that God has called our family.

Additionally, for the past 8 years, I have led thousands of women through various online opportunities. What started out as a simple Bible study blog has bloomed into a very unlikely publishing career and speaking/teaching ministry, both of which I never originally set out to achieve. God continues to draw me out and into spheres of influence I never dreamed of. This call to pour my life into the lives of women—both locally and globally—is continually affirmed through both the fulfillment and joy I receive through the use of my gifts, as well as the fruit and opportunities God continues to bring my way. My husband and I are in continual evaluation of how I spend my time and to how my calling to minister outside of the home coincides with my call as a wife, mother, and the pastor’s wife. 

We all have divine callings, spelled out clearly in Scripture. I like to call them our “Big C” callings. The call to work toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission, the call to be a vital part of the local church, the call to worship and honor God with our time, talents, and resources, etc. But we each also have individual “little c” callings. These are the specific and unique purposes God has for each individual. These are also divine callings and can be for seasons or a lifetime. They often morph over time as our capacities change and they lead to both internal and external fruit. I often walk into a mid-week Bible study exhausted, yet leave rejuvenated by the life-giving obedience to God’s call on my life to teach and disciple women. 


I’d love to hear about your conversion and calling! Even if you don’t leave a comment below, I encourage you to take some time to look back and reflect on God’s call on your life—both into the rest of His salvation and the work of His specific purposes for your life.

I’m a goal-setter. Idea slinger. Persistent achiever.

Those last two don’t always mix well. My brain and heart are filled with concepts and plans to keep me busy for eternity. Thankfully, God has also given me a capacity to juggle several projects and responsibilities at once. (He’s also gifted me with a husband who cooks, kids who do their own laundry, and a family with a high tolerance for a messy house. Score!)

However, I’m also a perfectionist.

And Perfect Katie is always lingering around the corner, ready to show me all the places that are not quite right. The hyper-critical gaze of Perfect Katie can paralyze me from moving forward. Perfect Katie’s constant pressure makes me want to throw up my hands and give up. Perfect Katie often keeps me from setting out to begin with.

Perfectionism stymies me from making progress toward my goals

Take these blog posts, for instance. My goal was to write 40 posts in 40 days. If you’re counting at home, you’ll recognize that it’s been two weeks since I last wrote a post—and Perfect Katie’s been berating me about it. Life hit, I chose people over tasks, and the goal to write everyday was missed. And she wants me to quit, take down all the posts, and any evidence that a goal was unsuccessfully attempted. (Although, I did compromise with her, and change the challenge to 40 posts for 40 years, instead of in 40 days.)

But what Perfect Katie forgets is that perfection was not the end goal. The purpose of this self-imposed challenge was to get back to placing meaningful words on this screen, to begin using the writing muscles that have been given an intentional rest, and to have a reason for writing whatever was on my heart for that day. And I’ve loved it!

The temptation to just stop trying is strong, but when I take a step back and look at what has already been accomplished, I can see that the goal, in many ways, has already been met. And 11 posts that otherwise would not have been have made it into the archives.

Perfectionism keeps me from pursuing my dreams

I love to learn, and I love God’s Word. I’ve said for years and years that I’d love to go to seminary one day. But I’ve realized that Perfect Katie has allowed me to define “one day” as the unattainable season where my kids don’t need me, our church is on autopilot, I’ve finally figured out how to keep our household running without hiccups, and …

It hit me this summer that the perfect time to go back to school is never going to arrive. Life is always going to be busy, and I don’t have to take the suggested load to complete it quickly. I can take classes in my own timing and plan. So, I began the application process about a month ago, and yesterday I received my acceptance! It may take me 10 years to complete, but slowly and surely, I will pursue this dream.

Perfectionism stunts my growth

When I teach the Too Busy for Bible Study? FOCUSed15 training course, I share about this struggle of perfectionism with my “quiet times.” I’ve traveled all over the nation and spoken to thousands of women, most of who I see nodding their heads at and fervently jotting down in their journals this reality: We must let go of the lie, “If I can’t do it right, than I shouldn’t do it at all.”

Because 5 minutes of reading one Bible verse is better than none read at all. A half-read reading plan is progress made that wouldn’t have been made if the plan had not been attempted. Instead of hyper-focusing on what we haven’t done or aren’t doing, we need to deliberately look for and celebrate what we have accomplished and how we have grown.

There are a bazillion other examples and areas of our lives that we allow perfectionism to take over and rule us. And where we do, we stop growing. Perfectionism actually keeps our imperfections from being brought to light and changed. Perfectionism whispers the lies that we don’t need God’s help. We can do this on our own. We can keep things under control.

So, today in the pursuit of growth and goals and intimacy with God, I’m telling Perfect Katie to take a hike.

Politically speaking, the last several years have been tumultuous ones. The United States of America has not been living up to its name in the “united” area. It seems that we become more and more divided with each passing day. I have friends and family on both sides of the political fence, and it’s heartbreaking to see the chasm that separates us.

Everyone deals with this dissension in different ways. Some choose to ignore it. A few brave souls jump into the heat of the battle with full gusto. Many try to deny reality. I heard of some disillusioned voters who moved “off the grid” in an act of defiance toward the newly elected President.

An old philosophical saying goes, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” (Or as my husband use to joke when our kids were smaller … if a child is crying in their room but we can’t hear it … is it really crying?) This is the approach some have attempted. Plug your ears. Disregard the news. It never happened. Of course, we know that though they may try to cut off any news of the Presidency to their ears, it doesn’t make the facts any less real.

Not everyone has gone to such extreme actions (most probably can’t afford to). I’d say the “everyday” disillusioned have resorted to a more economical way to make their feelings know through the use of the hashtag #notmypresident. This stamp of disapproval is a way some are attempting to cope with their dashed political dreams.

Politics aside, this type of declaration of defiance is more common than you might think, especially in the spiritual area of our lives. Instead of #notmypresident, we signal #notmygod—and I’m not talking about just those who refuse to trust Christ for salvation. We who claim the name of Christ declare #notmygod every time we choose our ways instead of His.

Psalm 2 begins with nations raging, peoples plotting, and a counsel of rulers declaring their rebellion to the law of the Lord. Submission is not an option. So they tune their hearts to the #notmygod channel and reject the “bonds” and “cords” of the way of the righteous.

But just because they declare #notmygod, doesn’t make God any less God. The King of Kings has ruled, is ruling, and will rule forever in perfect righteousness. The Lord of all Lords is not threatened by their uprising nor is His power hindered by their silly plans. The Holy of Holies will in His perfect timing, serve His perfect justice to all who fail to bend the knee.


This is a small excerpt from my new project, Secrets of the Happy Soul. 

With summer in full swing, you may find yourself on the road. If so, I encourage you to use this opportunity to visit another church!

About twice a year we get to visit other churches while we are on vacation. We make it a priority to attend church, even when on the road, and it is always a refreshment for this ministry family to sneak in the back and worship without feeling the pressure of so many eyes on our every move.

The benefits of attending a new church are not reserved for the ministry family, however. I think it is a great practice for all church members to use their Sundays away to visit another church. Here are three reasons why:

It reminds us of what it’s like to be the newbie

We’ve all walked into someone’s home to be hit in the face with some strong smells. Often, the owner of the house can no longer notice it. Whether it be mold, trash, or pet problems, the smell is most obvious to the nose that is new to the offense. Similarly, the visitor notices things we don’t. Or maybe we noticed it way-back-when but have forgotten all about it.

Not only do visitors notice some of the oddities we ignore, they also don’t know how things work. Too many churches assume that everyone understands where the nursery, bathrooms, and/or fellowship hall is located. Bulletins are filled with event names with no description, groups with no specifics, and loads of information with out any invitations.

Additionally, when we visit a new-to-us church, it reminds us of how uncomfortable and vulnerable it can feel to walk into a crowd where no one knows you. It gives us a new urgency to be a friendly face to the visitor when we return home.

Being the newb—even for just one Sunday—can be a powerful agent for change in our church back home.

It gives us ideas for how (or how not) to do something

We’ve been a part of several churches where many of the attendees have only attended that church. For others, they have maybe only attended 2 or 3 churches, all in the same area. This is a situation ripe for an in-grown and shallow view of what Sunday morning church should look like. Just because it’s all you’ve ever known doesn’t mean it is the authoritative way to do things.

The Southerner can learn from the West Coaster. The Northeast from the Texan. There is even more to observe between nations. In Haiti, years ago, we attended several church services and there was much to learn from their passion, reverence, and devotion to the urgent and sincere hearing of the Word of God.

Using our travels as an opportunity to get out of our “this is the best way to do things” bubble, can be a powerful agent for refining change in our hearts, which can overflow into our church experience back home.

It reminds you of what you love about your own church

Hopefully! Even when visiting a stellar church who seems to get so many things right, being away from your home church ought to give us a sense of missing out and an urgency to get back home.

Not only do we each need to make the mental shift that This is not my church and Church is not about me, but we also need to take a look at how we view the pastor.

Your pastor is not out to get you.

I know that there are some bad apples out there, but the vast majority of pastors I know have given up much to become a pastor. They’ve given up higher salaries, being closer to family, having a normal work schedule with reliable, predictable boundaries, and other sacrifices you will never know about until he is rewarded in heaven. There can be loads of blessings and “perks” for the pastor, and it is a high and worthy calling. But the job is extreme and there are constantly targets on his back. If he was all about just pushing people around and getting a power fix, I think he would have chosen a different profession.

Yet, there are some of you who have a tendency to see every move made by the pastor as an attempt to take away your power. Again, I know that there are some men out there who are in the ministry for all the wrong reasons, but most are there to serve, to build up, and to glorify God with their moments as a pastor. But if you are viewing everything from the lens of power, influence, and/or attention there is bound to be trouble.

If there is one action step I could encourage you to take, if you struggle with feeling attacked, ignored, or marginalized by your pastor’s decisions, it would be this: Believe the best about your pastor until he gives you ample evidence to believe otherwise.

What does this look like? Here are a few examples. Choose to believe that:

  • He is there to faithfully preach the Word in the specific way God has gifted him. He works diligently for hours, prayerfully crafting each week’s message, and depending on the Spirit of God to help him deliver it.
  • He is there to steward the people, resources, and time God has given him with this assignment and he does not take this call lightly. He does not make decisions lightly. He is prayerful, careful, and when he choses to do or not do something, it is because he believes it is what is best for the church. (Also, he can’t do everything at once! Change takes time.)
  • He is there to love on and reach out to the lost in the community surrounding your church. He is continually thinking of how to connect with and serve the needs of the community.
  • He is there to teach, train, and employ the saved in his church to reach those lost in the community. The job of evangelism is not primarily on his shoulders. It is a commission given to each and every believer. The pastor is there to assist, encourage, and equip YOU for the work of evangelism.

There are many more I could list … but these are several that I think many churchgoers need to be consistently reminding themselves of.

Bottom line, I think more churchgoers need to stop taking things so personally. There is NO WAY IN THE WORLD that the pastor can keep everyone happy—nor is that his job. Yes, he ought to lead with compassion, sensitivity, and love, but that doesn’t mean he will always agree with you or make the same choice as you would. (In most cases, he may not even know what your opinion is! A pastor is many things, but a mind-reader he is not.) So if he makes a decision or doesn’t do something that you think he should be doing, pay attention to why you are so upset about this decision. Is it really because you care so much about whatever the decision was about … or are you miffed because you feel disrespected or overlooked somehow.

Lord, give us grace!