“But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I’m not about to let his grace go to waste. Haven’t I worked hard trying to do more than any of the others? Even then, my work didn’t amount to all that much. It was God giving me the work to do, God giving me the energy to do it.” (1 Corinthians 15:10, The Message)
You can make some of the people happy some of the time, but you can’t make all the people happy all the time. This is a hard truth to learn for a perpetual people-pleaser. We are often confronted with tasks that we know will upset people.
God did not create us to be people-pleasers. The right thing is not always the happy thing. The right thing is the necessary thing. There are many joys in ministry. At the same time, there are some unpleasant, but necessary, tasks we need to face. Unfortunately, we tend to put off unpleasant tasks only to make our future path more difficult.
There is a concept called eat the frog. The concept is related to productivity. The idea behind eat the frog is that you confront your most important and maybe unpleasant task first thing in the morning before you tackle anything else. Once you get that task out of the way, it will make you feel better about the remainder of the day and you will be more productive.
This concept does not apply to productivity alone. It applies to many areas of life. Maybe the bump in the road you are facing is because you have not “eaten your frog.” Maybe there is an unpleasant task you have not tackled which needs to be tackled. You avoid it because it is unpleasant and you hope that by avoiding the problem it will just go away.
One of the most unpleasant tasks I have faced is letting go of church staff. I think of one particular situation that proved especially hard. It was just not working out with this staff member. I prayed about the situation. I tried to contemplate every different scenario to make the situation work. We had already tried many different things. In the end, it was clear that the only choice was to let the staff member go.
It was one of the most unpleasant things I have ever done. But it was the necessary thing. It was not only necessary for our church, but it also gave the staff member the opportunity to move on from a situation rather than continue to flounder. Many of the concerns I had came true. Some people were angry and left the church because of this action. I was accused of being unchristian and more.
But through it all, we were able to move forward. We got through it and came out stronger on the other end. Looking back, my only regret is that I did not eat my frog sooner. By not having eaten this frog, I allowed the situation to fester, making the inevitable unpleasant task even more unpleasant. I knew what needed to be done long before I did it. But waiting made it more difficult.
Another thing I realized about the unpleasant task was that it was unpleasant because I had made it about me. I did not want to face the task because I was worried about what other people would say about me or think about me. I was afraid I would let other people down and disappoint them. Going through the unpleasant task meant that I would need to admit to myself that I could not fix the problem. When I made it about God and his kingdom, my attitude shifted. I saw it more as necessary than unpleasant.
What I have taken away is that there is grace for the unpleasant task. The unpleasant task got me on my knees to humble myself before God. It made me recognize that my approval and acceptance is found in God and not what other people say or think about me. It helped me grow in confidence that God would support me through difficult times. “It was God giving me the work to do, God giving me the energy to do it.”