By Brandon Lemons
Earlier this week, there was something that encouraged me so much that I want to share it with you. It’s a story about a man who decided not to come to Friedens. I know this may sound strange. You may be thinking I’d be disappointed to miss out on a new person in church. But as you read on, I think you’ll understand and rejoice with me!
Last week, a man who lives locally sent a message to Friedens, asking if our worship team needs more musicians. He indicated he has played on the worship team at his church for many years but is feeling “underutilized” and is open to getting involved at Friedens.
In response, after sharing that I am good friends with his church’s Senior Pastor, I described relevant details about Friedens’ worship team, including that we require involvement at Friedens for at least six months before auditioning for the team. I indicated I’m willing to talk more if he’d like, and I concluded with this: “If you have concerns about [your church] or your role on [your church’s] worship team, I highly recommend that you talk with [the Senior Pastor] and/or the person who leads the worship team.”
You see, one of the beauties of having good relationships with many Senior Pastors in the area is that we truly care about each other and about the well-being of each church. We know it’s best for people not to jump from church to church, but rather to remain committed and work through issues when they arise.
Earlier this week, the man replied to me. His change of heart was obvious. He expressed appreciation for his church and how it’s been “an indispensable lifeline for me.” He then wrote: “I came to the realization that I have just been getting musically greedy if that makes sense. In fact, I have recently abandoned the notion of expanding my musical opportunities in favor of just appreciating what I already have. Pastor ______’s sermons are really rubbing off on me and I’m now in a better and humbler place! Thanks!!”
I can’t take any credit for his change of heart, because the timing of our emails means his change of heart occurred before he received my advice. But this shows God’s work all the more! The man’s introspective, humble reflection is ideal. When a person gets frustrated with something at church (or elsewhere), it’s easy to point the finger at others and, if emotions are running high enough, to leave for greener pastures. There are times when switching churches is warranted and wise. But too often, people leave for superficial reasons and because they are unwilling to do the difficult work of self-examination and humbly “bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).
This man is living proof of the sanctifying value of taking the log out of our own eye first (Matthew 7:1-5). What strikes me most about his reply is humility. Humility helps us recognize we aren’t faultless. Humility empowers us to grow rather than staying stuck in the same ruts of unrighteousness. Humility dispels bitterness and jealousy. Humility opens our eyes to the good in other people and in our circumstances. Humility builds contentment. Humility is so freeing. Humility is encouraging to be around.
I rejoice that this guy didn’t take the easy way out…that he grew spiritually…that his church is healthier because he stayed…that he isn’t sowing seeds of bitterness or discord in others. Humility is beautiful, isn’t it?!