Updated: Feb 14, 2022
One of the early lessons I learned as a young pastor was that I can’t fix people. Some of you know that I'm a middle child, and we can be wired to fix things and solve problems.
My first ministry a sole pastor was near Amsterdam, New York. Carol and I lived in a church provided parsonage, located across the street from the church. During the seven years we lived there, I made a number of improvements to the parsonage.
We added a kitchen, I remodeled one of the bathrooms, etc. Growing up, I would often work with my father on various remodeling projects. I learned a number of skills like plumbing, carpentry, wiring, and general remodeling.
Sometimes working with people is frustrating for me. I remember one meeting with a Deacon board that didn’t go well.
After the meeting I walked across the street,
entered the house,
and walked into the newly remodeled bathroom,
and flushed the toilet.
Sensing my frustration, Carol asked me what was up. I told her that the meeting didn’t go well and I was disappointed and frustrated. She may have noticed that I had headed straight for the bathroom, flushed the toilet and walked out. I had done it before.
The reason I flushed the toilet was, I had remodeled the bathroom, and the toilet worked! It was a flush of frustration. I think I told Carol, “I just need to know that I can fix something!”
Working with people can be rewarding and encouraging. But it can also be frustrating and discouraging. I have learned that you can’t fix people. If I end this here, we really don’t have a lot of hope.
Here’s how I’ve learned to find hope when I work with people seeking to change. I now understand that I can use my God given abilities and talents, but I must continually remind myself that God is the one who brings about real change. When I remember that I'm partnering with God in a person’s life, it gives me hope that they can become the person He designed them to be.
Oh, and sometimes I still come home, walk into the bathroom and flush the toilet.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” — Philippians 2:12–13