We don’t simply need to plant more churches, we need to plant healthy churches. A healthy plant is an ongoing process and depends on more than the health of a leader, but certainly not less. Anger is an emotion that can lead to poor emotional health for a planter is. While anger in itself is not a sin (see Jesus turning tables over in the temple), it can quickly lead not only to sinning, but to dangerous sinful realities in one’s life including bitterness, envy, jealousy, and even rage. It is easy to get angry as a church planter. Spiritual warfare, isolation, pressure, financial instability, and unmet expectations can quickly cause one to find someone or something to blame for the unavoidable aspects of planting a church.
Anger can manifest into sinful emotions and state of mind and it needs to be addressed, but for the church planter, the issue becomes where that anger gets directed. It is the church members who often receive it from the pastor. With the Lord’s help and by His grace, this can be avoided if we channel our expectations and come to certain self-realizations.
Nobody at the church will care about the church more than you.
Nobody. Not even your wife. Nobody. Your church keeps you up a night. It is your life. If church members are being kept up at night, it is highly unlikely the Ambien they are taking has anything to do with their church. They absolutely love their church and pray for their pastor, but they have work in the morning, a family to care for, and aren’t sweating the same things you are sweating. When you have put your entire life into something that requires complete buy-in and passion from others in order to succeed, it is going to make you angry when the same fervor from others isn’t 24/7.
Here’s the hard truth: it shouldn’t make you angry. People are doing a whole lot. They are financially supporting the church, running from work to their small group and getting up a 5:30am to set up the school cafeteria on a day that is “work” for the pastor, but their day off. Will folks disappoint and not give what they can, sure, but focus on the lesson that can be learned and maybe even what God is teaching you – the world doesn’t revolve around your church.
Be careful also that you don’t think the world revolves around you. When it comes to unmet expectations, it is easy to mask anger issues with spiritual language to disguise a deep identity issue that might exist. James asked (4:1-3) why there were fights among the people of the church, and his answer was that they weren’t getting what they wanted. Check your heart when anger as a church planter sets in and see if the reason is a righteous reason, or if it is simply because your man made expectations aren’t being met. Man made expectations will create an unhealthy emotional state for the planters when they aren’t met in the time and manner as desired. Be careful. Let your expectations be for leading a healthy church that is faithful and fruitful.
Published October 23, 2017