Mountains and Mole Hills
In ministry pastors and ministers are encouraged, almost challenged to make sure they don’t lose perspective of what is most important. Clichés such as “Don’t sweat the small stuff; and everything is small stuff.” Another one would be “Keep the Main thing the Main thing.” These all sound well as long as everything is going well. When a revitalizer or minister finds himself in a negative environment it is difficult to remember that we were “suppose to drain the pool; all the while fighting the alligators!”
While I lived in Illinois, I encountered a nemesis, really a pest! It seems that my aggravation would come from a little creature called a Mole! I would wake up in the morning and stroll around our two acres and notice these ugly places where the ground had been bulged; better known as Mole Runs. I then would try to set traps and various other means in an attempt to catch this little varmint. I found that if you wait long enough, the little critter will move and then I would pounce on its slightest twitch of the ground with a shovel to dig it up and expose it to the bright sun! Needless to say, the mole usually escaped my tenacious tactics to rid my lawn of these pests.
I say all that to give an illustration in ministry about making a mountain out of a Mole Hill! Yes, I have dug up great mounds of dirt to try and get rid of a pesky little rodent. If one is not careful you can actually do more damage than the mole does.
When there is a negative environment within the church, we have a couple of options. You could approach it with vigor and relentlessness to rid yourself and the church of the problem – but in the meantime do more damage than good. Like my mole problem, I had to understand that my issue was not the damaged lawn, but that which lie under the surface. Too many times we get so focused on the negative “surface” that we fail to take into account there is something bigger at work. Again, “Don’t make a mountain out of a Mole Hill.”
In dealing with a problem, first Identify what the real problem is, don’t assume you know what the cause of the conflict is all about. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood [Ephesians6:10-18]. We often attribute the cause of our frustration is what we see; yet often it what’s we don’t see below the surface at work. In Church Revitalization it is imperative that proper diagnosis be made. If there is misidentification of the SOURCE of the problem, you are going to waste effort and resources fighting against the wrong culprit. Identification of the ROOT is necessary, for if we just treat the surface animal; the animal will have the ability to come back and repeat the destruction and havoc it did previously.
Secondly, Simplify the issue. We just make circumstances and personal issues bigger than they really are. I may think that my lawn is overrun with Moles and that the entire yard of grass will be destroyed. Now, there is a possibility of a lot of damage when a negative conflict arises – but the revitalizer must make sure He isn’t the one making the mess. Simplifying an issue often takes time and further investigation. For example, I had to talk to other people who had moles – yes there are people that are battling the same pesky varmints we are fighting! How did they deal with them? Do I focus on eliminating the Moles and thus dig up my own yard trying to get them; or can I eliminate them by taking away what is attracting them to my yard. Moles eat grubs; get rid of the grubs and the Moles will move to another area – Oh, yeah, your neighbors won’t like you – but you will be free from the pests. Now that really isn’t very Christian is it – because all we did was pass our problem off to another “church”, so we really didn’t deal with the problem, we just made it NOT OUR PROBLEM anymore. To work through a negative situation, break it down into simple stated facts. Deal with what you know, not what you have been told. Make the problem manageable. Eliminate the ‘We and they; Us and them” language. Once you identify the various parts of the problem, simplify each prong and address the necessary action to resolve it. Which brings me to the third point -Rectify the problem.
Rectify is used in electricity. A rectifier is used to change an alternating current [A/C] into a Direct Current. [D/C] A lot of tools and other electrical equipment uses D/C, not A/C. It is rectified [changed] so that the power is useable. I think you get the point, if there is a problem environment, CHANGE the problem to a positive. By rectifying a problem use turn the negative into a positive; which then can be useful in Kingdom work. How do you go about rectifying a problem? Know what you are dealing with up front; know what you need as a result or resource; then take leadership and managerial steps to switch the unusable into the useable. Obviously, one will have to experiment at times to get the best out of a bad situation. Rectifying takes more work that eliminating the problem. We all have people that have great skills and talents, but often seem like a pest or worse an adversary when you and I try to do the work of the ministry. Don’t shove the problem off to another church; deal with what you have been given. As a point – you may be the one that needs to be rectified!
Finally, after taking the bull by the horns so to speak, you then can move to a Glorify position. God sends us people to be used for His kingdom. Our struggle often is we don’t know how to use what we have been given. I did find out that the pesky Mole was good for the yard, it aeriated it and ate all the grubs that would destroy my lawn. In conflict, there is the possibility that God meant it for Good what we thought was bad. I was a pastor for 22 years; there were many times that I would erupt over a small issue. I could explode inside with rage about how someone was unwilling to accept that I knew what I was doing – “Work with me here” seemed to be my lament. Scripture tells us that “Iron Sharpens Iron;” could it be that we have become dull and the Lord needed to send a sharpener? In the end by dealing with a negative situation, God gets the Glory. Neglecting or refusing to address the problem will only increase our frustration and desire to “Kill the Mole.”
Mountains and Mole Hills