Have you ever said, “Well I’m just tempted to…”? Is there ever anything good that comes at the end of that sentence?
“I’m tempted to give my supervisor a piece of my mind.”
“…to call in sick and head to the deer stand.”
“…to finish off that ice cream.”
“…to not say a word and just watch her drink that spoiled half and half in her coffee.”
Whatever. You’ll rarely ever hear the end of “I’m tempted to…” go the other way.
“I’m tempted to give all my money in the offering.”
“…to help my neighbor that I barely know load their moving truck.”
The words, “I’m tempted to” formulated in my brain last month.
“I’m tempted to complain about how tough life has been lately.” Refer to the previous sentence. Nothing positive happens when yielding to that temptation.
Here was my whine list:
- I’ve been away from home 13 straight nights (waaaa waaa)
- I’ve had 7 different beds and rooms (one with a relative, a preacher, a Hampton Inn, a Holiday Inn Express, a roach motel – literally, a Best Western, the Terrace Hotel, sniff sniff)
- I’ve had to make two trips to Indianapolis (dab my eyes) since seeing my sweet wife
- I’ve been grieving my birth mom’s death (ok, that’s kind of legitimate)
- I’ve had lots of expenses with not a lot of income on this “tour” (oh, hear the wailing)
A former pastor of mine, Dr. Rick Ross, called me out a few years ago regarding this “I’m tempted to” scenario.
Rick, now our denominational state superintendent, doesn’t pull a lot of punches – a pretty straight shooter.
I had posted a few whines like the ones listed above and Rick Ross noticed. As I remember it, the conversation went something like this: “I notice you complain a lot about the nights away from home. What do you think evangelism is about? I know a few guys that are gone longer than you are and they don’t complain about it.”
Remind me to lose your invitation to my next pity party, Rick.
Actually, he was exactly right. Life truly is about perspective.
I have the great privilege, calling, opportunity and honor of being called an evangelist. Every challenge and difficulty pale in comparison to the joy of watching new life in Christ.
I would like to speak directly to professionals that get that “I’m tempted to whine” feeling. I write to the parents who feel that urge welling up as well. I want you to mull over some of these considerations:
1. People resent that attitude. What do the people whom you serve think when you cry about how hard the job is? Nobody wants to be considered a chore that you have to check off of your list. “This route is so hard. Waaa. These clients are so obstinate.” Ice up son (or daughter). This is your job and I guarantee there is an unemployed person that would trade “problems” with you today.
2. Your life will eventually reflect that attitude. My friend Tom Green told a story once that goes something like this as I remember it. He and a buddy in High School in Oklahoma decided to prank a mate. They met the kid in the parking lot with this greeting, “Hey Bill how are you? Wow, you don’t look so hot.” After first period someone asked, “Bill, you feeling ok?” Next period another student asked, “Wow Bill what’s going on with you?” Tom said after enough of these interactions Bill checked out of school sick before lunch. The power of suggestion took a perfectly healthy boy and wrecked him before cafeteria pizza. Tell yourself how tired you are enough and you’ll check out too and it won’t be a prank.
3. Look for joy and divine privilege. Making it on the public speaking field has certain obstacles. Pay, for example. There is often no rhyme or reason in the faith-based industry regarding compensation. The study, energy, prayer and effort exerted for one one stage will yield a good payday. The exact, and I mean like, the same exact, same effort on another will yield a tenth of the payday. My friend Lee McBride and I have this perspective (there’s the word again, “perspective”) about the “one tenth” payday when it happens: “There are men who work all week long in the mud digging ditches and footers that make what we just made for telling jokes for one hour.” Perspective squeezes out gratitude.
4. Consider the alternative. I once heard about a lady that was so obsessive and compulsive about her house that the last thing she did before leaving it for Sunday church was vacuum the house. She had a great need for order. She demanded to come home to vacuum lines. Thus, when a child made any one of their obligatory messes it became bigger than life issues. She drove everyone in the home so bonkers that the kids left early and then, the home, broke apart. For the last decades of her life she lived alone. The carpets always had that freshly vacuumed look and she longed for anyone to come by and walk on them. Anyone. Messes sometimes mean that we are alive and that we have the contact with humanity we were born craving.
5. Serve people for the Lord’s sake. Studying this week for a new sermon, I had this fresh (to me) insight. Jesus asked Peter if he loved the Lord. Three times questioned. Three times instructed: “Feed my sheep”. We feed the sheep and serve our families because we love them, yes. The GREATER motivation is because we love HIM! Pastor, back to back funerals, heavy counseling cases, sermon prep, road trips, senior adult luncheons and the rest means you have a job! You have a purpose and you have a Lord that deserves your best effort and your best ATTITUDE. Denominational leader, no one will ever feel sorry for all the meetings you have to attend (I was one and I know of which I speak from experience – that’s not a whine!). Evangelist, the miles you travel, the nights away from your bed, the roaches in the tub, the “check’s in the mail”, the multiple airports and truck stops mean GOD IS USING YOU! It’s working.
I’m tempted to…tell you that burying my mom in Indiana, doing comedy in Florida and preaching in Atlanta yielded more blessings than I can count. There were so many divine appointments.
What a wonderful few days of God manifesting his presence, power, and promises.
I’m not tired at all.
Thank you, Lord.