5 Ways to Survive
Church Life and Love Well
Friction can be exhausting — especially in the close confines of a family, a circle of friends, or church ministry. Do you ever got exhausted in your ministry or fatigued with whatever mini-culture or little world that surrounds you? (We all have our little social bubbles; it’s true).
But maybe that’s not the issue. Maybe you’re hopelessly in love with the aesthetics of your ministry and, frankly, all the people in your social circle are amazing.
Maybe there’s just that one person who has your number and — intentionally or unintentionally — pushes all your Major Irritation buttons.
There’s no reason, however, you can’t overcome that friction and live through those circumstances with total joy and triumph, even when the circumstances don’t change.
Here are five little walking paths — things you can do here and now — to experience overcoming peace and joy in the midst of destructive friction:
1. Pray for their well-being.
I do the opposite of what I want to do in my emotions. The contrary actions, when repeated enough, begin to change my emotions — amazingly enough. Praying for the well-being of someone who torments you is extremely powerful. It changes your world on the inside. It sets you free. The rage and grudges no longer control you.
So make it a habit to pray — to really intercede with sincerity — for the well-being and blessings of those who hurt you or wear you out.
2. Don’t rely on your eyes.
There’s always more to a person than what meets the eye. Only God knows the days of a person’s life. Only He knows what happened to them from the day we were born to the present day. Only He knows why someone is the way they are.
There could be great wounds you never knew about that have changed a person into a cruel Scrooge or into whatever they are that causes you pain. Instead of looking down on them with self-righteousness, clothe your heart in humility. Say in your heart, “Who knows, if things had gone differently in my life, I might have become like that too. If not for God’s grace in my life, I might have become something worse.”
3. Remember David’s heart.
King Saul was, ultimately, a wicked king whose actions disqualified him from holding his position. Yet David, the young warrior and worshiper of God who served Saul, refused to dishonor or attack Saul — even when Saul tried to kill him! Why? Because David respected Saul’s office, even if Saul himself was not worthy of it. David, in humility, saw that it was not his place to dethrone the king as he saw fit. That was God’s responsibility.
Every believer in Christ, by simply being one of His children bought by His precious blood, is royalty in the eyes of the Father. Even if the person is not acting in a manner worthy of that royalty, we must respect the office. They are a child of the King! Instead of attacking them or plotting against them, be like David and serve them. Show mercy. Love them.
4. Know the ending to the story.
When we are irritated or even bruised by the words or deeds of our fellow Christians, it’s comforting to see the story’s end — and not just our story, but the Ultimate Story: “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:2-4, NIV).
When Christ returns, our true selves will bloom suddenly like flowers reacting to rays of sun. No matter how mature or blameless we become in our walk with God on this earth — and we should aspire to do our very best in maturing here and now — it still won’t compare to the glory that will unfold when the King returns.
All of our shortcomings — and the shortcomings of those believers who trouble us — will be no more.
5. Believe in God more than you believe in them (or yourself).
And, in the here and now, there’s great hope. Why? Because in Christ we can do all things through Him who gives us strength. We should believe in His ability to change our hearts — and the hearts of those who have hurt us or continue to hurt us — and have more faith in God than in the people around us. Sometimes we feel hopeless because it appears that these people, or these circumstances, will never change.
But nothing is too hard for the Great I Am.
Meditate on these five ways to find joy, and look for opportunities to practice them like you would any other discipline.
To be clear, nothing worth doing in life is ever easy as 1-2-3; and, yes, these things take a tremendous amount of work, but it is worth it.
If Jesus, the King of kings, felt that His Bride (i.e. all the people around you in your ministry) were worth dying for, then certainly She’s worth your time and effort to love well.
Even when it hurts.