Ever had a dream that didn’t come to pass the way you thought it would?
Ever had a promise from God that you were certain would be fulfilled…and it still hasn’t been?
Ever felt like you dove into a journey with Him with excitement, enthusiasm, and your entire heart…just to have it crash down around you? Or even worse, go nowhere?
Let’s talk about Resentment.
I know, we’re leaders—we don’t struggle with Resentment, right? We smile and put a good face on it and keep going. But sometimes, when we are weak and tired and don’t have any idea what to do next, that whiny, sneering voice comes along………
Leila, “you act like a blind idiot. Who is this Shepherd you follow? What sort of a person is He to demand everything you have and take everything you offer and give nothing in return but suffering and sorrow and ridicule and shame? Why do you let Him treat you like this? Stand up for yourself and demand that He fulfill His promise.” (Hind’s Feet on High Places, Hannah Hurnard, “On the Shores of Loneliness”.)
Oh, we may not say those words out loud, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t listening to Resentment’s sneers. You know what? Things are stinking hard sometimes. And in those times of disappointment, if we allow Resentment to whisper his venom into our spirits for even a single second without combatting that poison with Truth…well then friend, it may start to sound like he has some pretty darn good points.
I know, I know, we’re leaders. We don’t resent God.
Except what if we do? It’s not like we were shot up with some vaccine to these attacks when we received our Bible college diplomas, or were prayed over at our ordination ceremonies. We have to fight these attitudes just like anyone else.
So if you have identified that you are listening to Resentment’s sneers, what do you do?
Go to the Lord.
It’s not like He doesn’t know what’s going on, right? We can fool those around us, we can even fool ourselves, but we cannot fool the One who knit us together in our mother’s womb. He knows us, and He loves us. He watches as we listen to those words, as we doubt Him, as we tentatively—and guiltily—wonder when we can trust Him again. And He still loves us. He still guides us. He will not give up on us.
But He wants us to admit what we are feeling, so that He can help us. For some reason, this great God delights in turning us into vessels for His glory. And when we pretend all is okay and simultaneously shrink away from Him because of our lack of true trust, we rob Him of that joy.
Share the struggle with a trusted friend or colleague.
Things like, oh I don’t know, a pastor having problems trusting God, are generally frowned upon in the Church, right? And of course, for good reason. We want to make sure we are healthy as we lead others. But sometimes the result of all this frowning is that we have nowhere to go when we are actually struggling. We resent God, but then we feel guilty for that resentment, and then before you know it—BOOM! His second cousin Shame shows up, and has a field day with our self-worth.
Find someone who will really get it. Someone safe, with whom you don’t have to use all the disclaimers, who at the end will say, “Dude. That’s rough. How are you still alive?” Sometimes that small amount of validation is all we need to kick Resentment in the rear.
Easier said than done, right? Not really. There is certainly a place for working through long-term issues, receiving counseling, etc. There is also a place for just admitting that we have been listening to a liar, and deciding that we will not anymore. God is completely trustworthy, all the time. So we let Him off the hook for not acting as we wanted Him to. We stop trying to punish Him for letting us down, we forgive Him, and we open up our hearts to the next dream, the next promise, the next journey.
Resentment is a jerk, and a coward. With a little fierce determination, the power of the Holy Spirit, and grace that can only come from God, you can send him running for the hills.
And then you can get back to the business of following this Shepherd wherever He decides to lead you.