Jump Start # 2718
2 Timothy 4:16 At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them.
This last page of 2 Timothy is a tough one. Oh, we love the section where Paul declared that he kept the faith, finished the course and is awaiting the crown above. We use those words at funerals and to keep us keeping on. But all around those words are others. They are often overlooked. It’s a chapter of major let downs and disappointments. Alexander hurt Paul. Demas deserted Paul. A time was coming when the congregation would no longer want solid Biblical preaching. They would go on the hunt to find the kind of preaching that made them feel good. And, at Paul’s first trial, everyone abandoned him. Deserted. Abandoned. Left alone. Not a good section.
I don’t know if this was the feeling of Paul, but I get the impression that he was ready to just leave this place. He had poured his heart, soul and literal life into preaching the Gospel and when he needed others, they were not there. Paul had always been there for them, but rather than stepping up, they stepped aside.
One of the hardest things to deal with is when brethren let you down. There are times that they are simply disappointing. Shepherds who seem to busy to shepherd. Deacons who do not serve. And, yes, even we preachers, can seem to have the lazy bone. The stories I could tell. I have been literally up to my eyes with boxes that needed moving, chairs that needed to be put out and hundreds of other similar things. I’ve even had brethren drop by and see all of that, and just get back in their cars and drive home. Disappointed.
What disappointment does is lead to questioning others commitment, ability, role and it is a quick step to discouragement. Been there. I know the feeling. Someone has to do it and no one is, so it’s usually that faithful few. Weary, spending long, long hours, having things to do at home just like everyone else, yet they stay with it until the job is completed. Then, few notice, and even fewer ever say anything and it is pretty well known that the next time something like this comes up, it will be the same few who carry on the work.
There is a thing called the 80/20 principle. Eighty percent of the work is done by twenty percent of the people. That would be a great thing. Usually it’s about 95% of the work done by 5% of the people. Some get so tired of being in that 5% group that they no longer stick around, show up, nor are counted on. They join the others. They have gotten overworked, little appreciated and even felt like they were taken advantage of. I do think this is why some young preachers quit. We old preachers are just to old to do anything else, or we might join them ourselves.
Disappointments—how do we deal with them?
First, the work isn’t about you or me, but the kingdom. Get in there and do what you can do because it needs to be done. We’ve seen what happens when no one does anything—the place falls apart. It’s a mess. Here am I send me, was the words of the prophet. It doesn’t matter if there is a team or just you, first and foremost get done what needs to get done. And, when it is completed, do not tell others. Do not toot your own horn. The Lord knows. It’s that cup of cold water that you gave. Heaven sees and let it stay with that.
Second, recruit others to help. Now, just telling others that something needs to be done and you are not there yourself doesn’t go very far. The best way to lead is by example. Get some younger folks involved. Get some retired folks involved. Most would help, but most never have open eyes to see it themselves. So, just ask a couple to help you out. Be the first one there. Be the last one to leave. Thank them for helping out. That’s how you get things done.
Third, complaining usually doesn’t accomplish much. You can complain that our deacons don’t do a thing. That may be true, but that typically won’t get them moving any faster on things. And, the more we complain the more others get discouraged. Take it to the Lord in prayer, always works for me.
Fourth, in our Timothy context, Paul reminds us that the Lord stood with him and strengthened him. That’s important to understand. Paul could always count on the Lord and so can you.
Fifth, sometimes we make too much of things that do not need that. We can put so much attention on the external and go overboard with things and all of that takes a lot of energy and time. You can do it well and you can do it right, and you can do it professionally, but you don’t have to go to extremes. Our attention to details can haunt us. We see things that no one else does. We can want everything to be perfect when things won’t be perfect. Glorifying God, honoring Him in worship, encouraging one another and teaching all is what we are about. Do your best but understand others may not go to the extreme that you do. When it comes to publications, the layout of how things look when people walk into our building is high on my list. I’ll move sheets of paper around just to make them look nicer. That’s me. I don’t expect others to be like that. Being overly obsessed with perfection can be a curse. Don’t forget the big picture of things. Don’t forget what we are about.
Finally, don’t let your disappointment in others ruin your fellowship with them. Not everyone is in the same place on the journey of life. There may be many reasons why others don’t help out and you may just not know what those reasons are. Being disappointed in others can make you conclude that their faith is weak and that they can not be counted on for anything. Don’t go there. Not only are you not accurate about that, but it puts you so high up on the mountain that all you can do is look down at others.
Disappointments, they are a part of life. And, truth be known, I expect each of us have disappointed others, I know I have. And, what you do is learn. Try to do better the next time. Not everyone handles disappointments well. Not everyone excels with the Lord. Make sure you are not the cause of someone stumbling. And it you are, be the first to extend you hand to help them back up.
What to do with disappointments…something we do well to talk about.