Every Friday morning I meet with a group other pastors from my town: a Lutheran, a Baptist, a Quaker and another Pentecostal. We gather at a local coffee shop and talk, share stories, encourage one another, learn how the others are handling situations similar to our own and, over time, become friends. This friendship has led to my inviting some of these pastors to fill in when I am out of town and my going to their church to do the same.
During our conversations I’ve learned how powerless we all feel in helping some people. It seems no matter what we do for some folks, what we have to offer isn’t what they are looking for and so they go off to another church or another pastor to get what they need. We’ve all watched as people have left our church to go to another church where they find a place that brings them the peace and comfort they need. I’ve watched as people have left churches I’ve been involved with begin the true process of healing by joining another fellowship. And that is okay. My philosophy is that they haven’t left the Kingdom of God when they go to another church; they are just found fellowship in another part of the one Body of Christ. Furthermore, because I’m friends with some of these other pastors, I don’t look at them as competitors in the Kingdom but as companions along the Way. So if someone can grow better in Christ by planting themselves in another fellowship, then I am glad for them.
The lesson I am taking away from this observation is simple, and that is I am learning to be at ease with the fact that some people’s hurt is beyond my ability to help. I was a long time in coming to that conclusion, but I know I am right.
I recently shared that exact sentence on my Facebook page. “I am learning to be at ease with the fact that some people’s hurt is beyond my ability to help.” Some people understood it and liked it. Others understood it and didn’t like it. Still others didn’t agree and told me so. I went on to explain my comment by saying, “I know that God uses different people to help mend a variety of people, and many times that does not include me, or includes me but only temporarily or only to a certain extent. Some people’s pain is beyond my ability to reach. Likewise, God will bring people into my life that others could not reach. It is okay to know my limitations and not take it personally that I am not the All In All.”
No one can be everything to everyone. The limited gifts God has given us are going to allow us to reach a limited number of people. Furthermore, most of us have matured in Christ by having a variety of people involved in the process of making us a disciple of Christ. Some plant the seed, others water it but it is God who makes it grow (1 Cor. 3:6).
Recently my wife Barbara went to the doctor for a check-up and showed the doctor a bunion on her foot. As a result, Barbara was referred to a podiatrist. Likewise, you wouldn’t go to a dentist if you had a bad cough or to an oncologist if you broke your leg.
It is with this understanding that I am content knowing some people’s hurt is beyond my ability to help. I am not the All in All. And with that I am okay.