Some time ago, the children's ministry director of a church we pastored pulled me aside and bent my ear for over a half hour in frustration wondering why our children's ministry wasn't growing.
The CE director blamed the parents for not caring enough, our lack of workers and a general discouragement on the part of the church members. He wanted to know what other churches and pastor's wives were doing to make their churches grow. He wanted SOLUTIONS and was frustrated that God wasn't listening to his prayers.
I left that conversation feeling so discouraged I wanted to throw in the towel and say, "Forget it God. Ministry isn't worth it! Why can;t my hubby and I be normal people and just fade into the wallpaper of a church somewhere like everyone else?"
On my way home from that impromptu meeting, I began to pray. "Lord, I don't know what other churches and ministry wives are doing. I'm only one person and I'm already at my limit for jobs in the church. What more can I do?"
Thank God He is patient with me. He reminded me He was in charge of building the church - not me. If I took on more duties in my own strength, I would surely stop doing some of the things I was able to do well - things He really wanted me to do. I had reacted to the CE Director's words and taken on his discouragement rather than responding to them.
It is too easy to get our eyes on others and what they are or aren't doing. It's too easy to watch the circumstances rather than focusing on God - maybe that's because the circumstances look so overwhelming most of the time that our eyes are naturally drawn there.
By the time I went back to church the following Sunday, my discouragement had changed to joy because I looked up to the Lord rather than wallowing in the Eeyore pit of gloom. The lesson for that day in Children's church went well and inspired a whole new set of curriculum ideas for future lessons. We had a monumental breakthrough in teaching the children about prayer. And for the first time in weeks we had a small crowd of children.
Perhaps it was God's way of reassuring me. "Don't react to the discouragement of the world. Let your heart respond to Me!"
1 Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders work for nothing. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the men who watch over it stay awake for nothing. (New Life Version)