Remember when we were little and we were taught not to touch the top of the stove when it was on because it was HOT! And some of us tried anyway and we learned NEVER to do that again. 🙂 For me it wasn’t the stove, so much as the oven. When I was in elementary school, I barely touched something inside the oven when it was hot to make me NEVER want to anything to do with the inside of an oven.
I looked for the LONGEST oven mitts so that most of my arm was covered before sticking any part of it in there again. I was so afraid of getting burned another time. My love for home cooked meals (and let’s be honest, really my love for baked goods) has forced me to get over that fear. 🙂
Getting burned by the oven or stove is one thing, but getting burned in life, and especially in ministry, is another thing entirely. Who of us hasn’t had those moments when we’ve gotten super excited about an idea, a plan, or project, and went full speed ahead only to have our balloons popped by disappointment. For a number of years, I had a boss who was incredibly approachable. However, whenever I would go running to his office (yes, I probably actually ran to his office with excitement) to go over some fabulous idea I had just had, it was often met with all the reasons why it wouldn’t work. He would go on and on about how something similar had been tried before, how he didn’t think people would respond well to it, yada yada yada (anyone else love using that word around teenagers after you’ve taught them what “yadah” means in Hebrew?).
While we definitely want to learn whatever we can from our circumstances and experiences, we often let disappointments have way more of an impact on us than we should let them. There’s something that almost always happens after we’ve been disappointed: the next time we’re tempted to get excited about something, we let our past experiences interfere with our hope in the present. It’s as if we’re afraid to see what will happen.
Case in point, after a handful of times of my boss giving me all the reasons why my ideas wouldn’t pan out, even though I would want to go and tell him about another new idea, I just didn’t bother because I had been disappointed so many times already. Even though I didn’t want to hear “no” again, I never should have let my past experiences and assumptions get in the way of me doing my job as though doing it for the Lord instead of someone who frequently left me disappointed.
In ministry, as well as life, we are to do everything as though we are doing it for the Lord. Afterall, aren’t we doing it for the Lord? I know this is going to sound challenging, and maybe impossible for some of us, but I think that no matter how many times we’ve been disappointed by an outcome, we are still called to face everything with the same kind of excitement and hope as if we’d never been disappointed. It’s nearly impossible to give 100% to something if we aren’t 100% hopeful about it turning out well. [Rabbit trail: I wonder if Jesus tells us to forgive 7 times 70 times because it is often not until we forgive someone that we can move forward full steam ahead.]
Our ability to give 100% every time directly correlates with our trust in God. Whenever I see myself not giving my all to something, at the end of the day, I know it’s because deep down I’m more worried about being disappointed than I am hopeful about being successful. Frankly, I don’t have a lot of trust that it’s going to work out. Some of you may think this is an exaggerated stretch, but let me ask us something: what would have happened if Jesus had let His disappointment with humanity get in the way of Him laying down His life for us?
If Jesus could literally give everything He had for a people who constantly fell short of His hopes (I mean He died on the cross for the joy set before Him), I think the least we can do is remain hopeful too in spite of our disappointments and past experiences.
My prayer for us this week is that we could identify the areas in our lives, leadership and ministry where we have been holding back because of the past and ask God to help us live in those areas as if we’d never been disappointed. If you’re anything like me, then this is truly something that will require God’s help. 🙂