Dealing With Disappointment When Everything ChangesJan 10, 2023
How do you deal with disappointment when everything changes, and your church, or your life, isn't the way you expected it to be? We’ll talk about it in today’s show. Let’s get started!
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How Should We Deal With Disappointment When Everything Changes?
Have you ever been in a situation where you said:
- Ugh, I didn’t sign up for this, Lord
- I’m doing exactly what you called me to do, God, so why isn’t it working out?
- I thought it was going to be this way, but now everything has changed
- I had everything all planned out God and now I don’t know which way is up
Let's face it - it's easy to become discouraged and disappointed when things don't turn out the way they were supposed to be.
Or should I say…the way we thought they’d be.
So how do we move past the disappointment and deal with our unmet expectations?
More on this in a moment.
Miss America Dr. Debbye Turner Bell on Overcoming Disappointment in Life and Ministry
But first, let me share that this topic was inspired by an event my wife and I attended last week called, The Gathering. This was a 3-day pastor and spouse retreat sponsored by The Wesleyan Church denomination.
It’s held every 4 years. It was at a beautiful resort in Orlando. The weather was warm and the sun was shining. It was much different than what was happening back in Michigan where we had only received 5 minutes of sunshine in the first week of January.
The Gathering is like homecoming in that you get to see many old friends you haven’t seen in a long time.
There are plenary speakers and breakout workshops, and the purpose is to give you a moment of rest, reflection, and renewal, individually and with your spouse.
A couple of the plenary speakers I knew personally, and the very first one was Dr. Debbye Turner Bell, whom I had worked with at Kentwood Community Church.
When Debbye joined the church staff 5 years ago or so, I was intrigued to learn a few interesting things about her. Before becoming a pastor she had been a veterinarian, a TV personality on CBS, and…Miss America 1990.
At the event last week during her keynote, she shared her experience leading up to becoming Miss America, how she had first competed for several years in the Miss Arkansas pageant and had become first runner up one year…and there was the expectation, the unwritten rule, the tradition, that she’d win Miss Arkansas the next year. But she didn’t.
It’s a long and fascinating story, but I’ll summarize it by sharing how she felt sure that God was calling her to this, and that she’d be Miss Arkansas and have a chance at Miss America. And her mother and other dear saints and mighty prayer warriors who were sure they had heard a word from the Lord that this was to be her destiny.
But after years of preparation and competing, she hadn’t won Miss Arkansas and her eligibility was running out.
On the night of her last Miss Arkansas competition, when she didn’t win, she poured out her soul to God on the floor of her hotel room and sobbed deep sobs and asked God why…when I thought you told me this is what you wanted me to do?
Have you been there? Or maybe you are there right now?
All your expectations of what your ministry would look like by now, your plans for your church, your hopes for your family’s financial future, your dreams of being able to provide more for your family…all gone. Thanks to a big decline in church attendance and giving because of COVID, the economy, societal trends, etc.?
I know a lot of pastors are in this spot right now. Feeling like someone changed the rules of the game. Moved the goalposts. They didn’t sign up for this. They’re questioning their call. Wondering how long they can keep on keeping the way things are right now.
God, I thought you had called me to do _____. I’m doing exactly what you’ve asked me to do. Why isn’t it working out?
To be honest, I’m there right now too with the launch of this More Than a Pastor podcast and platform. It hasn’t gone the way I had expected.
One of the points Debbye made in her talk is that in times like these when we struggle to make sense of the change that is happening all around us, we want to go back. Back to the way things were before. Before COVID, before the economic uncertainty, before the political tribalism…
But Debbye reminded us at the conference, and I’m reminding you today, that there’s no going back.
We can’t go back to another time.
And to be honest we probably wouldn't really want to go back. Because the good old days weren’t always really the good old days anyway.
Pastors and Churches Must Move Forward into a New Reality for the Church
Time is moving forward. The church is moving forward. God is moving forward. And he’s leading us into a new reality…
That the church in America is going to look a lot different in the 21st century than it did in the 20th.
Can you see that…and are you preparing for that?
Debbye’s message was that we’re in a new season right now. We’re in a new day. We can’t depend on the methods of the past. It’s time for new methods. It’s time for new wineskins to be able to hold the new wine that God wants to pour out in his church and his world.
I think one of the new wineskins for many churches is a move away from full-time pastors to co-vocational pastors: pastors who serve the church but derive most of the income from the marketplace. And that’s why I think now’s the time for pastors like you and me to leverage our ministry skills into our own business or side hustle, so we can serve God and provide for our families no matter what.
Can you perceive the new things God is doing and wants to do? And are you ready to accept them and move forward?
Or are you stuck in disappointment because everything you thought you knew has changed? You didn’t sign up to be a co-vocational pastor. How in the world could you find a way, or the time, to create income outside the church?
Oftentimes we humans don’t like the change we’ve encountered, do we? Change can feel devastating at the time, and we may find ourselves asking “Why Me?” and “How could this happen?”
And yet it’s interesting how many of the events we’d consider the worst moments of our lives, at the time they’re happening, often end up being seen later as one of the best things that ever happened to us.
That was true for Debbye Turner Bell. In that moment of her deepest disappointment and despair, when she was ready to give up on her dream, I believe it was one of her parents who gave her a hug and gently whispered into her ear, “You know, there’s always Miss Missouri.”
Since Debbye was attending the University in Missouri, she was eligible to enter the Miss Missouri pageant the next year. Which she committed herself to do. And in 1989, Debbye was crowned Miss Missouri…and later that year became the first Miss Missouri to be crowned Miss America.
I’m not sure how this message hits you today. Or what kind of disappointment or discouragement you might be facing, or what kind of questions you have about the future of the church…or your own church…and your work as a pastor.
But maybe God wants to whisper in your ear, that now is not a time to give up. It’s time to get up. And start preparing some new wineskins for the new wine God wants to pour out in your life and in the church today.
And maybe for you that means it’s time to start looking for ways to create income outside of the church through your own business or side hustle.
I’d like to give you a free resource to help you get started. It’s called Four Keys to Success in Starting Your Own Business.
In it I share some practical strategies for helping you start strong and stay motivated on your entrepreneurial journey. Click on the link above to download your copy today.
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