This life is often difficult.
Maybe that is why I have always identified with the people in our congregation and the community who often find life to be tough. For a lot of people, life is very hard.
Marriage is sometimes difficult. My wife and I have a good marriage but that has not come without hard work at times. I love our two daughters. However, rearing our two children was challenging at times. Yes, there were plenty of fun and gratifying moments. These years, though, were not pain-free.
Do you sometimes find life difficult? If you do, beware of the following people:
1. Beware of people who pretend that it is spiritual to talk as if everything in life is always wonderful. These people can create a level of expectation that causes those who struggle to conclude their spirituality must be lacking. There are good people who suffer with chronic excruciating pain. I think of the woman in our church whose pain was so intense one Sunday morning that she went to her car and rested in the back seat.
2. Beware of people who see themselves as some of the very few who “get it.” They are often condescending to those they perceive as lacking in insight. These people spend much time and energy evaluating and critiquing others in the body of Christ. What happens as a result? As a result, many people in congregations no longer express honest thoughts, real feelings, and honest doubts. After all, who wants to be critiqued, evaluated, and talked to condescendingly?
3. Beware of people who are so focused on themselves that they really have little interest in anyone else’s life. When you talk with such a person you may feel as if he is not really present in the moment.
Why is it that some of us go to great lengths to convince one another that our lives are almost perfect, without struggle? What is our fear? What impact do we have on those who are really struggling when we communicate that our lives are almost without struggle?
I like what Randy Harris says in Like a Shepherd Lead Us (p. 31) — in the chapter entitled “Spirituality for the Busy, Frantic, and Overwhelmed.”
Glenn Hinson argues that what the church needs most are saints — people who have truly placed their lives under God’s will and control. We don’t just need leaders with greater skill, we need leaders who are deep people. Do you hear the call to lead out of your own deep spiritual life?
If we learn to pray the way Jesus prayed, read the Bible in a transforming way, practice God’s presence in the everyday routine of life, and catch the vision of the God who works in all things, we can be the deep leaders the church needs. And in the process we will discover that true spirituality is not one more activity to add to overburdened lives but a way of living that drives our drivenness away. Then we discover the blessedness to lead without guilt and that the promise of Jesus rings true — the yoke is easy and the burden is light.
(Harris, Like a Shepherd Lead Us, p. 31)