A friend sent me this note in response to my last post. I share it with his permission.
If I’d have practiced this principle two wife’s ago I wouldn’t have had two previous wives. But, if I hadn’t screwed up in my relationships then I wouldn’t have developed to be ready for “———” who I was looking for all the time. Sometimes the Spirit allows us to be hit knowing where it will lead us. So, anyway your analysis is correct. But for us controlling types it is so hard to; “be still and know…” and to, “wait patiently…”.
It’s fairly common for a preacher to go to a church with an “ideal” church in his head and then use his position and influence to try to change the church into his ideal whether it wants to become that kind of church or not.
One of the biggest mistakes I made as a young preacher was that I was driven by a desire to turn the churches I was serving into churches I could be proud of working with, because at the time they didn’t didn’t measure up to my ideals. I’m ashamed to say that at times I had the attitude that the churches I was working with weren’t worthy of having me as their preacher unless they changed into the kind of churches I thought they should be. The result was that I was miserable most of the time and so were they. Our shared misery was more the result of my arrogance than their hard-hearted resistance to change. Looking back, I don’t blame them for not responding to my leadership. They didn’t trust me because they didn’t believe I really loved them. I said that I loved them and I did, but the truth is I didn’t love them as they were, I loved them for who I thought they could be if they would do things my way. No wonder my effectiveness was limited.
Preachers, if we are going to lead change in our churches, it must be change that is Spirit-led, not just driven by our preferences to be the preacher at an “ideal” church. It’s not that I don’t think churches need to make a lot of changes. They do and in time they will. But they need to be lead by preachers who love them as they are and not for who they could be someday after making a bunch of necessary changes.
Let us love our churches just as God loves us. It’s God’s love and acceptance of us, just as we are, that empowers us to change in healthy and beautiful ways. When the gospel is distorted and the order is reversed and we’re told that God’s love and acceptance are withheld until we change, it not only turns change into something ugly and unnatural, it also increases the misery of everyone involved.