Stand Up and Go to Your Corner
- Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I have been working in singles ministry for most of my adult life, post college. I have had the honor of working with several churches, teaching, leading, guiding and consulting on every topic imaginable.
As I travel, I visit so many churches and simply do not have the time needed to get know all of people I am there to help. So one quick way to help me with this is an exercise I love to do called "a continuum."
A continuum challenges the minds of my participants while allowing me to know them a little better. It's an exercise whereby I ask a serious of questions, allowing the people to move to different corners of the room (or in some cases hold up the answers on cards) that have a yes, no, maybe, sometimes, never, etc., posted on the wall. In most cases it's not only fun, but surprising to each other at the answers people give. I am also amazed at people's willingness to be transparent.
Continuums can be used as an icebreaker with silly questions, such as your "your favorite place to go is the beach," to deeper questions, such as "I love being single," to even deeper, "I have no idea what I am doing in life." It can also sometimes open up a can of worms, exposing strengths and weakness in a ministry, including those of the leaders and pastors.
Recently I decided to do a continuum at my church where I am the singles director. I am also the teacher of a group of singles from the ages of 25 to 35. This class has the most diversity in backgrounds, so I thought it would be interesting to see where they came together on things and where they were apart. I asked them questions about where they were spiritually, if they felt they had made change in regards to sin in their lives, if God expected change. I asked over 20 questions. Almost all the answers were on target with where I felt they were until the last question. I asked them if they thought God expected a lot from them and over 80 percent of my class said “Yes.” Hmmm. Why would they say this? Why would so many say this?
I immediately put this to prayer and some serious thought.
For myself, my struggle has always been in what people expected from me. I have always felt I was a mouse in a wheel running a race to nowhere. That no matter what I did it didn't seem to be enough to please people. I am sure a lot of you can relate to this. I have learned over the years that we do not get our value from man, as man will always let us down. Our value is in Christ. As long as He is OK with what you are doing, saying, achieving, etc., then you are good.
But what if you think God expects more? Then what do you do? There didn't seem to be a corner to go to. My singles just sat there. I could see the dazed look in their eyes as most of them struggled with God approving of them. Approving of their choices, their lifestyles, their work, their friends, and their desires. That they felt they were on the mouse wheel when it came to God.
I needed more prayer on this subject as well as time to think. I moved on into the lesson I had prepared for the class, allowing discussion of the topics of pleasing God. Sure, I sometimes let God down. I don't always do what I say I am going to do. I sin. I fall short. But what I think my singles were really saying is they think God expects more from them than they can produce.
Then it dawned on me. They are making this decision based on a results-focused world. EVERYTHING in our world is based on results. Even with going to church there is the pressure to get numbers up, tithes up, members joining, etc. Our secular jobs require a certain amount of production or you're fired. Why would you keep a car salesman if he didn't sell any cars or a teacher who fails more students than passes them or a doctor whose patients don't get well?
OK, I got it. How in the world do you begin to understand God's grace on our lives when every part of our lives on this earth is results oriented? Sure, God does love results, especially if they are due to making healthy changes. Especially when we let Him make the changes in us.
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