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En(courage)ment for hard times, my thoughts on effective ministry, seasons

we often evaluate others based on what we know

We often evaluate others based on what we know, the seasons we have been through, the wisdom we have acquired. After what we have been through, full times of hard, good growth. Now that we own that hard-won knowledge, we assume it should be common sense to the rest of the world. Of course, it is isn’t. This expectation is not fair.

Remember how you were before you had kids? You didn’t understand the limitations of those who did. It wasn’t until you had your first baby that you suddenly realized how hard and serious, the responsibility and choices…

Remember what it was like before you lost a loved one? You often took for granted their presence in your life. And then they got sick or passed away and you recognized that grief is a country we must walk through honestly, the good, the bad, the ugly. It cannot be avoided.

Remember when you weren’t sleep deprived, overwhelmed, hormonal, or anxious? You might have privately thought everyone who said they were was overreacting. And then you stopped sleeping. Or money got tight. You were dealing with some health issues. Your kid started getting bullied. Or you found out he was autistic. You understood that everything is not easy. Some things are a daily wrestle for joy. A constant battle for surrender. A determination to trust.

Remember when you were living in your hometown, surrounded by a support system of friends and family, with a home church and plenty of good history? You saw those who complained of homesickness and wishing for a church that “fit” and some friends who “got them”, as making molehills into mountains. And then you moved away. Loneliness and discontent and the “good ole days” threatened to steal your joy. You had to learn that people weren’t your source of hope and support. You had to learn patience for new friends and memories. It was not easy.

Remember how you were before you had Jesus? You didn’t get what all the hubbub was about. It seemed that all these Christians were cheesy, flaky, careful about weird things, easy to make fun of. And then you met Jesus. And the counter-cultural thing made sense. The focus on eternity and the issues of the heart and being a light…they all crashed into resonance in your soul. You realized that this world is SO not your home. That it gets better. WAY better.

Remember where you came from. Those places/seasons/former blindnesses are part of your message, meant to offer comfort and hope and relevance and love. Hold fast to what you’ve learned, but know that others might not have learned it yet. Perhaps that is why you are in their life. Not to call them out, but to gently encourage.

We need support from each other. Coverage. Less blanket statements that suffocate, more blanket words that warm.

How many times have we criticized what we see, forgetting all the contributing factors that we don’t see? There are very few things about which we have full scope and understanding.

Remember, evaluate others based on the love of God, which covers a multitude of wrongs. Let your expectations of others be based not on your own journey and limited perspective, but on His love. Let us share our stories through THAT lens.

1 Peter 4:8-10

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