As I look back over the past 30 years of our Church life, I realize how much happier my husband and I could have been, if we had only known then what we know now.
But like many, we learned the hard way. One of the keys is learning not to be offended by your church.
So, how does one protect and guard themselves from getting hurt in church?
Reflecting on our spiritual journey this one truth comes back to me over and over again. Avoid developing unreasonable expectations of the church and its leaders.
I am reminded of a time years ago when my husband struggled with personal identity issues in his life. So much of it was wrapped up in how well he performed at work and he became a workaholic of sorts.
I was not perfect during this period and kept heaping unrealistic expectations on him — what he should be doing around the house and even at church.
He just couldn’t handle it! These unreasonable expectations were putting distance between him and me.
One day, God spoke to me through this verse:
“My soul, wait silently for God alone for my expectation is from Him.” (Psalm 62:5)
My expectations needed to be in God, not my husband. I determined then to release any unrealistic expectations I had placed on him.
A few days later, my husband woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me that he felt God was speaking to him about forgiving some people in his life and then I recall him saying “I’m scared.”
It was so timely and it encouraged me because I had just started letting go of the expectations I had of him.
And because my unreasonable expectations were no longer running interference with what God was doing in my husband’s life, he was free to hear from God Himself.
Now many years later, I look back and realize that our spiritual journey has been much the same — one of releasing the church and its leaders from the unrealistic expectations we placed on them.
The church is meant to be a place where we practice love towards one another. Learning to handle offense, criticism and misunderstandings is vital for our spiritual growth.
Michael Hyatt is the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers and a popular Christian writer, blogger and speaker. He describes it this way:
“The way we deal with offense will determine the course of our spiritual journey.”
Sometimes offense happens because of the insensitivity of the church, but I believe in most instances people are too touchy and oversensitive to leaders and situations that arise in a church setting.
One of the most freeing things we can do is let go of any unrealistic expectations we have placed on the church and its leaders.
To join a church thinking you won’t have any relationship problems is naïve.
Michael Hyatt adds:
“If you are going to survive and fulfill your God-given calling, you must learn to handle criticism and overlook offenses.
- Offenses are inevitable.
- Satan intends offenses for our destruction.
- God intends offenses for our good.
- Being offended is a choice.”
Unrealistic expectations create offense. Let go of them!
When we place our expectations and hope in God and not man, everything changes. We are no longer looking to man or the church to fulfill our purpose and create our happiness, we are looking to God.
In turn, leaders no longer feel shackled by our expectations and relationships change.
God is released to fulfill His purpose for our lives!