A while back I decided to go shopping…at Walmart…on a Saturday…in December! Not the smartest decision I could have made. As I dragged myself home afterwards, my husband asked: “How did it go?” My frazzled response was “It would have been fine if it weren’t for all those people!”
Hmmm… sounds like a typical Monday morning conversation between many pastor’s wives and women in ministry.
“How was church this weekend?”
“Well, it would have been great if it weren’t for the people!” 🙂
It’s definitely easy to feel that way sometimes. You’ve worked hard in preparing for a day of worship, teaching, fellowship & outreach, only to have it seemingly ruined by people who are complaining, needy, critical, pushy, loud, whiny, or drama-filled. Ugh! Why do people have to be so… well… so much like PEOPLE!?!
In my early days of church ministry I imagined that people in the church would simply be happy to be there. We would all be filled with the fruit of the Spirit and would enjoy being together showing one another lots of love, patience, kindness, and grace. But that’s not how it is much of the time. And you wanna know why? Because people are people…even in the church. People complain at church, but they also complain at the doctors’ office, at school, and at Wal-Mart. People are pushy and dramatic at church, but they’re also pushy and dramatic in their homes, their jobs, and… at Wal-mart.
So what do we do? Do we isolate ourselves from people in order to shield our hearts from anything troubling? Do we lash out in anger and yell at people until they start being nicer?
What did Jesus do with people? In His three years of ministry on this earth, He was constantly surrounded by people: people who were complaining, needy, critical, pushy, loud, whiny, and drama-filled. But when you read through the Gospels, you see Jesus looking out over the crowds touching people, teaching people, caring for people. His overriding response was compassion. Compassion for people.
God loves people…more than anything. And not just the people who have it all together. Not just the people who are generous with their compliments and kind in their actions. He loves people. Period. And He calls us to love people. Not just people who support our ministry efforts and send us cookies at Christmas. Not just people who thank us for our work or follow the rules in the express checkout lane. He calls us to love people. Period.
Ministry is discouraging sometimes. People are hurtful. Sheep bite. And it would be easy to go storming out of the doors of the church because of the people there. But pretty soon we’ll find ourselves surrounded by the same people once again outside the walls of the church. Instead, let’s follow the ways of Jesus. Let’s love people and look on them with compassion. That’s what will make a difference in the world…especially when we find ourselves in Wal-Mart on a Saturday in December.
Have you ever found yourself put out with people? What ways do you chose to show love & compassion instead of frustration & anger in those situations? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below: