When God Slams the Door In Your Face

Stick - Slam Door

Mid South Youth Camp was my home away from home for 4 straight summers during college.  There were 6 guys and 7 gals serving as counselors at the camp each week.  We each had our own cabin we dealt with, and a different group of kids came in each and every week.

The counselors had a special place to “live” which was located on a screened-in porch.  Each of these porches was the main entryway into the cabin.  The only way into the cabin was a wooden screened door.

Each and every week, my first rule when I shared the cabin rules on Sunday night was this:  DO NOT LET THE DOOR SLAM WHEN YOU ENTER AND EXIT.  I know it sounds silly, but spend 9 weeks in a row listening to a door slam next to your face, and you’d make it a rule too!

Its a simple rule, but hard to to follow for 8-18 year old guys.  So, needless to say, I would constantly  hear the door slam as the guys would come and go.  The boys would run out of the cabin in a rush, and about 4 seconds later – WHAM!!  Pictures would fall off the wall of the porch, my ears would ring for a few seconds, and this happened countless times each day.

This rule, when broken, had consequences.  If you let the door slam, you had to come back, open and shut the door gently and quietly 20 times.  It was great fun watching these guys run out, forgetting the rule, hearing it slam, and hanging their head as they had to come back to open and shut the door 20 times quietly.

I hated that sound.  I never could understand why they couldn’t grasp the idea of not letting the door slam.

You know what else I don’t understand?  Why does it seem like God allows doors to slam in our face as well?  Have you ever felt like God opened up a door for you to walk through, only to have it slammed in your face?  A wonderful opportunity comes up, everything looks awesome, and WHAM!!!  The door is slammed in your face.

Why does this happen?  Could it be that maybe we conjure up our own idea of what God’s will should be, and when it doesn’t happen we are disappointed?  Maybe upset?

What I’ve learned is that when we feel like God slams a door in our face – He calls us back to assess the situation, and as we look back, we realize that God has put us where we need to be instead of where we want to be.  If we let Him, God will lead us where HE wants us to go, and will keep us out of the places we need to pass by.

Today – maybe we should praise God for slamming doors.

(I wrote this “article” for the church bulletin in Ashland City, TN, where I had my first Youth Ministry job.  It was printed on April 18, 2004.  My mom found a copy of it in a closet at home with some old pictures.)

Advertisements

5 Things for Ministers to Consider During Transitions

CHANGES AHEAD

God never promises that life will be easy.  In fact, I would say that God promises the opposite.  James 1:2 says “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” – and by various kinds, that could mean self inflicted, through no fault of your own, random, expected…the list goes on and on.

Job transitions are tough.  In my field of ministry, they have a unique challenge though.  You see, ministry is not a job.  Its a lifestyle.  Its a calling.  We don’t just “go to work” but rather our life is our work.

Recently my life was faced with this very transition.  Its tough.  Its challenging.  I have woken up every day thinking about people in my congregation who were hurting, struggling, dealing with various trials of their own – and its because while I may have left the ministry at that church, I have not left my ministry.  My church family isn’t just made up of the people I work for at a certain time, but rather its made up of ALL the people I’ve ever worked with.

But what do you do when you go through that inevitable transition?  I think it begins before it ever happens.

Make sure that in your ministry, you don’t isolate yourself.  Network, and network some more.  Connect with other ministers, churches, and schools.  Find people you can confide in, share your struggles with, and pray with on a regular basis who are outside of your church family.  That way, when the transition comes, you won’t find yourself alone.

But when that day comes for you to leave your work – what do you?  How do you handle it?  Here are 5 ways to handle your transition time in ministry, whether you’ve been let go, you’re leaving on your own, or you’re moving to another church.

Realize that your church will move on, and probably a lot quicker than you will.  As ministers, we should aim to leave a church just like our mothers told us to treat places we visited – better than we found it.  If we have done our jobs, we have prepared the church for the next step, whatever that may be.  Don’t be surprised or upset when they start posting a want ad for a new minister, announcing guest speakers, and move forward.

Remember that the church belongs to God, not to you.  This is God’s church.  God called you, led you, and put you there for a season.  But, it will be just fine without you.  God will lead a new person there to continue where you left off.

Remember your family is leaving the church as well.  Your spouse has been there for you, supported you, waited up late for you after meetings, gone to events with you, and more than likely dedicated a giant portion of time and energy to the church.  This hurts them just as much as it hurts you.  I count it a blessing that I have a spouse who supports me wholeheartedly, and is always there for me no matter what the situation.

If you have children, remember that they may not completely understand.  Its tough on them.  I know people say that kids are resilient, and I believe that to be true, but saying things such as “God has other plans” don’t always work with a 5 year old, or a 15 year old for that matter.  Be prepared to deal with lots of tears, questions, confusion, and for those of you with older children – resentment.

Don’t let Satan win.  The evil one wants you to feel defeated.  He wants you to feel like you’re not good enough, or that you’ve abandoned the best thing you’ve ever done, or that no one ever liked you.  He will play so many tricks on you to get you to give up on ministry completely.  Remember, he’s pretty good at this.  You’ll begin to question your motives, your calling, your ability, and all of this is natural to a certain extent.Remember when Satan tells you these things, he’s just trying to get you blame God, to doubt God, to question God, or to give up on God.  And the only way you can make sure these things don’t happen is to…

Immerse yourself in prayer.  Pray without ceasing.  Pray continually.  Pray, and then pray some more.  If you left on your own, for whatever reason, pray.  If you were relieved of your duties, pray.  If you were offered a job elsewhere, pray.  Pray alone.  Pray with others.  Pray with your family.  Pray for the church you just left.  Pray for the church where you will be going.  Pray for the church that has yet to be put in your path.  Pray about the bad times.  Pray about the good things God used you for.  Pray, pray, pray.