Do you anticipate a problem-free week?
'Huh', you say? 'I work in a church!'
All jobs have their high points and low points. And church work is no exception. There is no doubt that you will very soon (if it hasn't happened already this morning!) encounter some obstacle that will be a real thorn in your side this week.
Maybe it was something someone said on a comment card yesterday. Maybe it's a conflict with another staff member or church leader. Perhaps it's just the stress of day-to-day ministry that really gets to you this week.
American scholar, pastor, and teacher William Arthur Ward once said: "We can throw stones, complain about them, stumble on them, climb over them, or build with them."
So... what do you do with the 'stones' that come your way this week?
Our first inclination is to pick up these stones and hurl them back where they came from. If the stone is 'criticism, we can quickly respond back with our own criticism. It makes us feel better, and it takes away the pressing need to consider whether or not the criticism leveled at us is at all founded. When a stone is thrown at us, our instinctive reaction is to pick it up and throw it back. Seems like Jesus had something to say about this 'throwing stones' thing. As church leaders, you're sure to get your share of stones thrown at you... just remember that 'returning the favor' really should not be an option.
Complaining About Stones
OK... so you can't attack back? The least you'll want to do is complain about the stone. Somehow, complaining to others makes us feel better. Canadian cartoonist Lynn Johnston says that "Complaining is good for you as long as your not complaining to the person you're complaining about." Complaining serves no purpose other than to make us feel better and to bring other people into our problems. When we complain to others, we're really asking for their support, and for them to take our side of things. Complaining really achieves nothing positive, but rather can spread a sense of negativity across your office or church body.
Stumbling on Stones
Sometimes when problems arise, we keep them to ourselves. We sit. We ponder. We stew. And all the while, our main job functions suffer because we're dwelling on the problem. In essence, we allow the stone (problem) to grind all our positive work to a halt. These stumbling stones have crippled many a church leader. We stop, dead in our tracks, afraid to move. We're afraid of more stones hitting us. We're afraid of dealing with the initial problem. We're paralyzed.
Climbing Over Stones
One other option is to steam-roll right over the stones...climb them if you will. Here's how this one works. Let's say you have a problem with someone on your board who disagrees with you on a certain ministry proposal. Climbing over the stone would be to line up the people who you do know support you to make sure your proposal goes through while ignoring and not working on the board member who disagrees with you. You ignore the problem, and climb over and around it rather than working through it. This may work once. But you'll find that this stone will soon re-appear, bigger (and harder to climb over) than before.
Building with Stones
The last option is taking the stones and building with them. In order to build with them, you need to pick them up, inspect them, and decide best how they fit into the plan. Rather than throwing, complaining, stumbling over, or climbing over your stones, you actually work with them. That means you tackle whatever stones (problems) you have head-on as soon as humanly possible. It is only when you do so that these stones can be used as a positive thing in your ministry.
OK... here's the hard part. Look around you this morning, and see what stones you have on the ground around you. Did you get a negative comment yesterday? Pick up the phone and confront it head-on this morning. Pick up the stones and build. Build relationships. Build trust. Build loyalty. Build enthusiasm.
Do whatever you can today to at least build SOMETHING with your stones!
Have a great day!