I was talking with an amazing group of volunteers who serve the poor a while back. We had seen tremendous growth in the number of people we were serving. The preceding distribution day we had planned for 140 families and had 260 families show up for food assistance. Needless to say we were overrun with the need and our systems broke down creating some pressure for our team as well as our guests. Some of those we were serving were, shall we say a little less than patient as we struggled to serve the crowd. In the end everything worked out fine. More food was brought from the warehouse so everyone received a week’s supply of food and the meals we were serving somehow stretched to feed everyone.
Later we sat down to evaluate the month’s distribution and to celebrate the joy of being able to help so many people. Our conversation inevitably drifted to those few rude and unthankful people. I was amazed to watch the joy and satisfaction of a job well done start to bleed from the room. Now these are some of the most giving, envisioned, caring people I have ever had the opportunity to work with and yet the negative was eating away at the overwhelming positive.
Life is like that, we have so much to celebrate and yet it is the negative that captures our thought life much of the time. We can see a bump in the road and that captures our attention and we lose sight of the big picture. I remember a story a friend shared that on a Christmas morning one of his children opened gift after gift with great joy and anticipation. Piles of wrappers and toys were mounting up and after while the moment was over and the family settled in to lazy family morning. A little while later Dad noticed his son looking a little forlorn. When he asked what was the matter the little boy lamented that he didn’t get the one toy he wanted. Surrounded by the generosity of family and friends, abundance on every side meant to bless and encourage, this little boy could only see what wasn’t.
I must admit I can fall into that trap of losing sight of the victories of ministry life and only see the problems. I believe that I have learned some things that help keep me on track.
1. Evaluate the positive versus the negative.
2. Ask God for His perspective.
3. Celebrate! Take real joy in the victories we have.
4. Focus on the objective, don’t lose sight of the ball.
5. Be thankful.
Let me illustrate and go back to our meeting. We stopped and evaluated the percentage of those guests that were difficult. Was it 20%, 15%, 10% that were difficult? We as a group narrowed it down to 5% that were a problem. All of a sudden a light went on, we served and helped 95 out of a 100 that needed help!! 95% of those who came went away blessed and encouraged! Everything changed as we saw things from God’s perspective, renewed energy as we got our eyes back on the ball. We could honestly say that we were making a difference. Joy in the mission returned.