“When Everything Else Fails”Categories: Christian Living, Encouragement, Joshuah Ellis, Preacher Life, Psychology, Theology
Hitting a Brick Wall
Several years back, I experienced burnout for the first time. I was sick of my job. Nothing I was doing seemed to be yielding any fruit. I didn’t feel that I was growing. I didn’t feel that any good was coming out of the effort that I was putting in and I became very frustrated. It seemed as if my lessons were going in one ear of the members where I preached and out the other. Why was I doing this? Why bother working on these lessons if they are not going to accomplish anything?
Unfortunately, as a byproduct of my mindset, I noticed myself becoming very frustrated with the membership of the church I was working with. My mind quickly moved from grace to criticism and decided to put down roots. Then, no effort on their part seemed good enough. My mind was made up and I hit a brick wall. After all, everything else to that point (at least in my mind) had failed. I am ashamed to admit it, but I had checked out.
I will venture a guess to say that I am not alone in this. As Christians, I wonder if we have all felt as if we have hit the proverbial brick wall in our service to God. Maybe we too have put forth effort in the Kingdom only to feel that it has translated to little or no real result. Unfortunately, that can really do a number on how we see other people. In my case, my mindset belonged to me exclusively. However, I projected my perspective, at least for a time, onto the people around me. Identifying this in ourselves is key, but what do we do afterward? How do we fix this?
The answer to this is simple. I wish I would have applied this to my situation much sooner than I did. The answer is love. See, God commands us to love (Matthew 23:37; John 13:34). The fact that this is a command for us tells us one very important thing: it is a choice. God doesn’t expect things from us that are out of our control. We are not told to feel a certain way by this command, but to behave a certain way. So how do you behave love? Paul gives us some insight into this in chapter 13 of his first letter to the Corinthians:
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
So if you find yourself feeling that you have exhausted your options and nothing seems to be working:
- I have invited my co-workers to worship and they refuse to come.
- The person I am supposed to be studying with keeps canceling on me.
- No one appreciates what I do for the church.
- I am kind to my peers and they are still hateful toward me.
Remember that when all else fails, love. Love by action and not by emotion. Take Paul’s advice and engage in behaviors you can control regardless of what others are doing. Be patient, kind, humble, polite, considerate, empathetic, encouraging, truthful, enduring, hopeful, and steadfast.
You can control that!
Finally, remember that our call is not to results, it is to faithfulness.
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