The U.S.A. just had an election and the whole world is talking about it. I live in Canada, so I don’t want to add to the discussion; Americans know how to manage their own country.
Before we forget though, Donald Trump surprised the world by winning, and Hillary Clinton shocked her loyal followers by losing. Before the vote, he labored to convince the doubters to vote for him, and she convinced her friends to love her more.
We had the same pattern where I live in 1992; Nancy Betkowski was an educated, sophisticated woman who was going to be our provincial leader. Her rival was Ralph Klein, a journalist who drank too much.
At the leadership convention Nancy went to bed knowing she had the majority vote the next day. Ralph stayed up all night working the crowd and trying to convince his enemies to vote for him. Nancy appeared for her coronation the next morning, and we were all stunned when Ralph won the vote. He missed some sleep and worked very hard, and then he continued in power for many successful years.
They called him King Ralph.
The problem with sophisticated and intellectual people is laziness. Important people usually assign actual work to less important people. I have worked in universities and colleges, and this pattern is everywhere; important people sit and think while their staff teach their classes and do their research.
I remember doing a lot of photocopying.
I have also seen this pattern in many Christian churches, and it is a true church killer. Success is always built on hard work. If you don’t want to see your church die, turn the pattern around and work hard. In the Bible “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” (Proverbs 14:23)
Back in the time of Ralph Klein, I was a member of a new church that met in a rented gymnasium. Every Sunday we unpacked and then repacked hundreds of plastic chairs. We were unpaid volunteers who also supported the church with our finances. If we had refused the hard physical work, the church would have died.
Today that church is strong and healthy, with its own building. It looks like other churches but I know it was built on a foundation of hard physical labour.
I attend another church now, and last Sunday an usher forgot to put out a barrier to close off a seating area. The senior pastor saw the problem and fixed it himself, and he had to work hard to move the equipment. I offered to help, but he was too fast for me, and then he hurried to the front of the church where he led the service and preached a good sermon, with no resentment for the extra work. That church is very successful with his leadership.
Christianity is the biggest brand in the world today, and it all started with a carpenter in a poor northern province, who walked the dusty roads and preached to local villagers. We have a famous story from that time about Jesus washing feet, and I’m sure those feet were dirty and sweaty.
Walking many miles in sandals is hard work, but Christians would not be here today without that foundation of hard work. At the end of the story Jesus said:
I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:15 to 17)
Thomas Edison said “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” The formula is simple, and we all know it; failure or success in our churches is a choice.
For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:7-13)
More in this series:
- How to kill a church, Part I
- How to kill a church, Part II
- How to kill a church, Part III
- One more way to kill a church, Part IV