brake3Putting On the Brakes

We sometimes infer a disdain for average or less-than-average performance in church ministry.   We are always striving to do more, be more and produce more.

We expect creativity, freshness, newness and the extra effort.

While I can understand some of this thinking–because our goal is maturity in Christ and because God deserves the best—this thinking, if misunderstood, can be very dangerous.

Why am I bringing this up?   At times, I see some servants in the church who are attempting the ‘humanly’ impossible.    Some are attempting to do more than God designed them to do—more than God wills for them to do.   Such folks need to learn to ‘put on the brakes’ or bad things will happen.

When we strive to do the impossible (and the unexpected), we get stressed and anxious or worse.   We can become critical of ourselves or others in the process.   Our thinking becomes imbalanced to the point that we think that God is not pleased with us.  This leads to other unhealthy thinking and living.   Our focus is on self which leads to other issues when, in reality our focus should be on the One who endowed us in the first place.   We become too dependent upon ourselves and lose our dependence upon Him.   It’s a matter of proper focus.

There are other factors that may contribute to our trying to do the impossible:  one is personality.   Some folks are perfectionists and feel inadequate if they don’t achieve some impossible goal.   Others are very compassionate and have great difficulty in saying “No” to any request.    Another contributing factor may be theological:   “I’ve got to do this because this is God’s purpose for me.”  And, then some of us quote that off quoted verse:  “with God all things are possible.”   While it may be the case that God has called you to do something (for which you are passionate), He does not expect you to do more than you are humanly capable.   And that verse about God doing all things: that’s God, not you.   You and God make a great team and even God recognizes your need for rest and recreation.

Even Christ, while here on earth in the flesh, was physically limited.  He simply did what He could.   He did not fix every problem or heal every sick person.  That’s the example we must follow because we are human.

“But how do I know that I have reached my limitations?”   I suggest the following:

  1.  When negative emotions appear, you need to reassess everything.  Remember Martha and her fit of anger.
  2. When others are telling you that you are overloaded, you need to listen.
  3.  Listen to your body, emotions & mind.  They will tell you.  Accept your limitations. 
  4. Ask for assistance with tasks.   Solomon said that two are better than one.    Listen to wise inspiration. 
  5.    Ask the Lord to show you—and He will.   Be sensitive to His answering you.  Neither church leaders, church staff, ministry participants, members nor God are demanding or expecting the impossible.   We are compassionate people who are willing to give what we have for the cause of Christ.  Let us be wise in recognizing our human limitations and do what we can for His glory.  Some of us just need to learn to say  “No” and say it in love.   It’s OK; even God says “No.”   We also need to recognize our limitations and work within them for His glory.

Travis Irwin

travisirwin@att.net