18 February, 2014

It Is Time to Accept Responsibility

This morning I read an quote that really got the gears to turning in my mind. The quote was by Les Brown and went, "Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else." I have to agree 100% with this statement, but as a pastor, I my thoughts probably went in another direction than that of most people. You see, I regularly have phone calls from people who will ask, "what does your church have to offer me?"  What those people are saying, in reality is, "I don't want to have to do any work. I want to come in and have MY needs met and not be put upon or pressured to have to do anything. Let's be honest, if a person is asking such a question, then they already know about Jesus and are not looking for salvation to change their life. They are looking for an easy religion. Right?

On the flip side, over the years, I've watched people leave our church and head to the bigger "better" churches because those churches have "what my family needs." Inevitably people from our church will say how much they love me (as pastor) and my preaching, and they love the people of the church, but "x,y,z" church has a better youth program, better facilities for the kids, a better young adult group, and so on. I've watched some of those families bounce from one church to another as one church expanded their building, built a new building or announced something new. It's like who has the latest, greatest dog and pony show? It was never more evident when the mega church from a neighboring city moved to town with a multi-million dollar complex complete with praise and worship, elaborate kids church sets and staff, built in programs and staff to run youth groups, cell groups and so on. From that churches very first Sunday, they had more than 700 in attendance. That sounds so successful and I'm sure people waved that banner of praise for what "God had done", but the sad reality is that 700 people had left smaller churches all over town to go sit around a table and drink coffee while the work was done by others. I've watched as several who left my church at that time have drifted away and seldom, if ever even attend church any more.  I'm sure that some of my readers (especially those who have left my church and others around town to head to that church) will have something critical to say of me and my church when they read what I've written, but I know the truth. I'm the one who sat in your homes or my office as tears rolled down your faces telling me how hard it was to leave our church. I'm the one who has the letters on file thanking me for the years of blood sweat and tears that I had poured into their lives and families, and how they loved us so dearly, but "God is leading us elsewhere."  I could go on and on, but the reality is and the sad truth is that in most (not all, but most) of those cases it was someone wanted to jump onto the excitement bandwagon or go to a ready made program because they were not willing to help dig one out and build it with us. They chose the easy way, making someone else responsible for what they should have been doing themselves.  This is why Les Brown's quote hit me so hard. I've simply heard it way too many times. "I like your preaching better than the preaching (over there), but I've got to do this for my kids... my wife... my family... myself. I cannot betray names, but I could name person after person, family after family who left us and went from one church to another who are now in broken marriages and homes and years later have said to me, "we should have never left your church." I've run into others who are no longer serving God and blame God for their divorce or the path their kids went down. It has happened way too many times. and it breaks my heart. 

Are those churches to blame? No. Absolutely not. Les Brown said it right. Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.

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