There’s a common saying that some can’t go where you’re going. I don’t necessarily agree with it. I believe people are more than capable of going; they just choose not to go. Their choice could be based on their current mindset, fear of the unknown, fear of the past repeating itself, their desire to stay where they are, or their refusal to make proper changes that are necessary to go into the “promised land” you’ve been ordained to inhabit.
We all have a purpose that’s given from our God. He formed us in our mother’s womb, and He purposed each of us to go into the land He has designed and live the life of holiness and sacrifice He’s destined for us to live. Oftentimes, we desire others to go along with us. As a pastor, it can be difficult to trust the words of people because I’ve had so many to lie to my face. They are the ones who adamantly say they will never leave only to depart a few days, weeks, and months later. I’ve since learned that people who will lie to and about God have no problem outright lying to me. I believe there are several factors that cause people to choose not to continue the journey with you. I’d like to share a few of them with you.
1. The journey you’re taking isn’t worth walking. It could very well be said that the problem doesn’t lie with the people; it’s centered around you. Are you sure that the direction you are headed is where God has told you to go? Can it be validated by the Word of God? Are you following the crowd without challenging the direction or destination? There are some paths that aren’t worth walking, and it would be irresponsible to take others on that path with you. They would be fools to stay in the car with you when it’s apparent that the road ahead is a dead end. The signs clearly indicate that the bridge is out. Continuing to follow you isn’t a disgrace to loyalty; it’s a sign of true wisdom and strength. You can’t fault them for it. These are the people you speak with and ask questions as to what they see. Yes, it will require for you to lay aside your ego, but it will be worth it in the end. They could see something you don’t, and their perspective could help save you a lot of time and resources.
2. The journey is too long. I remember countless times when my mom told me we were going to Disney World. I was so excited. Unfortunately, I did not know how long it would take for us to get there. We drove from Mississippi to Florida, and I felt like it took FOREVER! I was around eight or nine at the time. I remember breaking down in the car because I was ready to turn around and go back home. I felt like the long journey was not worth the fun that awaited me in Disney. I made the mistake so many people make today. I took my eyes off the destination and focused on the long journey. I stopped thinking about the potential excitement that awaited me once I got there. I was ready to turn around ASAP. And many of the people who are walking with you now will be ready to turn around as well. You can tell them the destination, but they won’t be able to comprehend it because they will focus solely on the “long” journey. These are the complainers that sit in the back and whine. They have no solutions. In fact, you can’t speed the journey up. All you can do is steadily make progress. Their options are to sit there and enjoy the journey or ask you to stop so they can get out. Sadly, many get out!
3. The journey is too hard. We’ve become a society that wants everything to be quick and easy. This is why fast food is so popular. We don’t have the time to grow our food, harvest it, clean it, prepare it, cook it, and eat it. We want it prepackaged and already cooked so all we have to do is eat. Because of this, our health has dramatically changed. Diseases in the body and obesity are common, and the thought of exercise and physical training is nearly obsolete. And when the journey is too hard, people quit. I truly enjoy working out in the gym. I do not have enough fingers to count the number of guys who’ve come with me only to quit because they admitted the process was too hard. They said they wanted real change! They said they were willing to work to get it. However, they quit once they noticed that the work they’d have to do was more than what they were willing to give. These are the jumpers that jump from goal to goal while never hitting anything of substance because they quit once they realize real work, sacrifice, and dedication is involved.
4. They think they can do it better than you. I’ve had many people who’ve come to me and told me they could what I’ve been tasked to do much better. I’ve sat down with some people and asked them what would they do if they were in my position. After listening, I’d have a list of questions that they did not consider. I don’t fault them for it though. I understand that they don’t really understand the process or the journey because they’re not in a position to. They only see from their viewpoint. It’s like trying to compare the view of the giraffe and the elephant. Both are powerful creatures, but the view for the giraffe extends far beyond the view of the elephant. Oftentimes, these are your critics that are full of pride of what they think they know, but they fail to realize that their viewpoint is different. They criticize what they don’t understand. I’m not saying it’s not important; I’m saying it’s different. Before I started pastoring, I had many ideas on how I could do it differently. I was very critical of pastors and their operations, but I began to understand many things once I got in the role. I was also very critical of fathers before I became one. I couldn’t understand why a father would allow his baby to just cry without doing something until I had my own children. It was at that moment when my first child was screaming at the top of his lungs for eight hours straight that I realized my critical attitude was misplaced. Nothing was wrong with my son. He was just crying, which can be completely normal. But I was finally seeing it from the right viewpoint. The critics will jump off quick once until they find out that it isn’t as easy as they think.
5. They become offended. I cannot tell you how many people I’ve encountered who are offended over something. I’ve had people send me e-mails telling me how upset they were because of something I said. There have been times I don’t even remember saying it. I recently had someone tell me that I was responsible for some people leaving God because of things I’ve said. I inquired as to what I said, but no evidence was given. Do I believe I’ve the cause of their apostasy? Absolutely not, but I’m willing to ask for forgiveness from anyone who thinks that. Nevertheless, offense is one of the many reasons people jump ship. They don’t like what was said, how it was said, when it was said, where it was said, or why it was said. Most times, these people won’t approach you and discuss their offense. Instead, they gossip to others hoping that it finally comes back to you. I write this with as much love as possible. These are your cowards. They lack the strength to approach you in their offense. They’d rather just leave. Some leave quietly; others leave belligerently. These are those that spread nasty rumors, stir up tension, and try to build an army against the journey. They usually take others with them. It hurts to see them do it because I know their ability to sway immature souls will be on their hands. They will pay for it.
6. They fear. These are your skeptics. They question EVERYTHING. They doubt the length of the journey is what you said it would be. They question the destination. They questions the journey. They question you. And they question God. They want to put Him to the test without realizing that it’s their faith that’s on trial. They are full of a bunch of questionings. Understand that questioning is different from asking questions. Asking questions is healthy, but questioning attacks motive and the validity of the truth. Many of these skeptics are afraid of repeating the past. They bring up what happened before, and that stops them from moving forward. They fear running out of money, running out of time, running out of patience, and everything else. The skeptic’s attitude is poisonous. It will infect the entire operation, even putting a stop to the journey. You will find that keeping them on board will be dangerous and tiresome. Bear their weight with true love. Most likely, they will abandon ship because they will question so much that they start to question themselves. The fear of the unknown or the past becomes too much for them to handle. To avoid the stress of it all, they disappear.
I could go on, but I think I will stop here. I caution you never to assume that people cannot follow you as you follow Christ. We must always be willing to love and comfort those who are with us. And we must never talk badly or gossip about anyone who chooses to leave. We are to seek reconciliation as much as we possibly can, and we must constantly pray for them.
Instead of trying to purge the people you don’t think will go where you’re going, ask God to purge your heart. You never really know who God will cause to stay. Some of the very people I felt would stay in my life have left, and some of the people I thought wouldn’t last a day are still here. Just make sure you are truly following Christ so others can follow you.