Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What Makes Pastors Scream in Frustration!

Ten years ago, a man wrote the financial adviser of the Washington Post for advice.  He was planning to marry his fiancé of 18 months as soon as they dealt with her spending habits which were clearly out of control.  Her closet contained 400 pairs of shoes, many still new, and was overflowing with clothing.  She justified her spending habits by saying she worked two jobs and always looked for bargains.

The man asked the financial adviser, “What can I do to help her curb her spending habits without making her feel bad or as though I am putting her down?”

The financial adviser, a woman herself, Michelle Singletary, urged him to postpone the marriage.  They were not even close to being ready until this matter was solved.  She suggested pulling the credit reports, seeing what they revealed, and then finding a credit counselor.

That was ten years ago.

The other day, Michelle Singletary received an e-mail from that guy telling her what happened.  The news is not good.

He did none of the things Ms. Singletary had suggested.

After getting married, he learned his new wife owed $30,000 to the IRS and $15,000 in back taxes to the city.  He took out a second mortgage on his house to cover her debts, and now stands a good chance of losing his home.  He said, “I am on the brink of financial ruin and a failed marriage.”

This is why counselors quit and walk away.

People ask for your input, and when you knock yourself out trying to help them, they ignore everything you said and plunge headlong into disaster.

Many a pastor has concluded – based on his own experience – that all premarital counsel is a waste of time.  By the time a couple walks into his office about their upcoming nuptials, their hormones are raging, their minds are made up, their mammas are making plans, and all common senses is out the window.

They are not listening to a thing the preacher says.

The same is true for most of our counseling experiences.  We advise people, provide guidance, tell them what God says in His Word, offer our insights based on years of observation and experience, and pray over them.

Do they listen?  You know the answer to that.

It's enough to make you yank your hair out.

This is just one more reason – of ten thousand, I suppose – why ministers must be called by God into this work.  If we entered the ministry idealistically purposing to “better” people’s lives, we would soon quit in frustration and look for something else to do.

Granted, some do listen (to our advice and exposition of God’s Word in sermons) and we affect some people’s lives in a positive way.  This is not to say otherwise.  It is to say, however, that a greater percentage comes to us for counsel and then ignore everything we say.

If the truth be known, they want us to say what they want to hear.

It can be frustrating.

I've often pondered the mystery of why some people respond so well to the things of God, while others remain unchanged after years of investment in their lives.

To be honest, the answer escapes me.

This is precisely why we must leave the results to God.  We sow the seed, others water, and God brings the increase.  It’s all in His hand.  Not ours.

The man or woman who is genuinely called of God will get up each day and do their work – leaving the results to God – all the while knowing that God's people will persevere.  They hear His voice and respond to His Word.

In the process, you get over yourself and your frustration.

It’s very liberating.

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