DISAPPOINTMENT | NOVEMBER 11, 2003
We have in our midst many leaders. We have leaders who lead ministry teams. We have leaders who lead small groups. We have leaders who teach. We have leaders in families. Leaders come with diversity of giftedness and in a wide variety of ages. Despite the differences, all leaders experience disappointment. Initial disappointment is not something we can control and is part of the territory for any leader. Prolonged discouragement is something that can be restricted. Initial disappointment comes when ministry leaders seek people to serve and have difficulty finding help. Initial disappointment comes when the fruit seems slow in coming. Initial disappointment comes when a leader has dissimilar passions and loyalty than his/her followers.
Jesus was no stranger to the feelings of initial disappointment. He was disappointed when He found followers sleeping when they should have been praying in the garden. We read of how the responses of others did not match His labor or passion when we read in Matthew 23:37 "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling." There is something encouraging about Jesus compared to our world of business pragmatism where we think in equations like, "If you do this right then you will get this consequence." Even under the leadership of Jesus everyone did not respond with immediate joyful obedience. Many people rejected His manner, His person, and His invitations for service. Leaders will do well to remember that people will do the same today. However, this is where we need to take a cue from Jesus. The initial disappointment never kept Jesus from following His Father's call and will. The disappointment never turned into the sin of prolonged discouragement.
Let us be honest. There is not a leader alive who has not experienced disappointment that has led to discouragement. Even the root word tips us off that we lack "courage." The courage to act in obedience to the will of the Father when we are tempted with passivity or giving up is at the crux of excellent leadership. Where does such courage come from? If you are expecting the five secrets to leadership now you will be sorely disappointed. The answers to such questions are almost never covert, but rather they are overlooked and neglected. We find our strength in the embrace and intimacy of the Father and the vulnerable support of the believing community. Remember all the times Jesus hid away in the mountains to pray? Such intimacy with our Heavenly Father is always certain in seeking, humble hearts. I would hasten to add that this does not mean I always feel close, but rather that I am close to the Father with a seeking, humble heart. There are times when our hearts search for lesser signs of His presence, such as ministry fruit or other vehicles of elation. The mature believer learns to trust His presence and power as an objective fact with or without the feelings of elation. Not that spiritual highs aren't appreciated, but the feeling of victory is not the only stream that leads us to the Living Waters. Disappointments can lead us to deep drinks of His presence and power. When is the last time you heard in a testimony time, "God has not answered my prayer in the affirmative. I am still sick. I still don't have a job. We didn't get the house. But, I praise Him for His presence and the joy of following Him?" Drinks from the Living Waters during times of disappointment bring health to the soul.
May God work in all our leaders to be honest in the disappointment and seek Him to battle discouragement. His mercies are new every morning. You will find God restoring His vision in you. If you feel like you are on life-support battling discouragement, learn to see the disappointments as opportunities to strengthen your soul, clarify God?s vision, and fortify His call in your life.
-- Kevin Short, Senior Pastor