Monday, April 30, 2007

Frustrated and Disconnected

By now it should be obvious that I have fallen well short of my goal of posting on a more regular basis. Needless to say, the events surrounding the passing of my dad a few weeks ago kept me away from blogging. Once again I want to thank everyone for your prayers and words of encouragement during that difficult time.

It's not just the situation with my dad that has kept me away from blogging. Truth be told, part of the reason I haven't been active in posting or even commenting lately is that I'm feeling a bit disconnected from things right now. I wasn't able to make it to the conference on the Holy Spirit, and I won't be in San Antonio in June. Since I am not pastoring at the present time (and haven't for nearly a year), I'm not really drawn toward discussions related to church leadership or other topics of interest primarily to pastors. And frankly, I've been in a bit of a spiritual dry spell lately. I simply cannot understand why God would give me a gift and a passion for preaching and teaching but not give me an opportunity to utilize them. Going through the search process this time around has given me more of a negative attitude toward the institutional church, as I perceive that many (if not most) of our churches are like Samuel was when God sent him to the house of Jesse to anoint Saul's successor---interested mostly in human standards regarding one's qualifications.

Despite my feeling frustrated and disconnected at times, I'm not planning on going anywhere. In some ways, for me to stop blogging would be an acknowledgment that I don't really expect God to put me in a place to use the gifts and passion He has given me. However, I'm foolish enough to believe that if God calls someone to a particular ministry He will give that person an opportunity to carry out that ministry---even if the person doesn't have a seminary degree and 5 years of experience in a growing church!

14 comments:

Debbie said...

Tim: I wondered why it had been so long. I am glad you wrote this post so that intercession can be made. I find that knowing that others are praying gives me strength. Kind of like when others held Moses' arms up.

I am praying for you. I want you to know that. We have corresponded through email and my blog enough that I am taking a chance and saying this to you:

Have you thought of wrestling with God concerning this? I hope I am not out of line but I have had things occur where I just didn't get what God was doing here. I would ask other Christians that I trusted, go ask one of the associate ministers from our church and one wise minister(not Wade but an associate pastor) gave me the best advice I have ever been given and to this day I have used it. Simply, I ask God why. I ask and wrestle with God for days, weeks even months sometimes. I am honest with him. The Bible says come boldy before the throne(Hebrews) and that we can call God Abba Romans 8:15). I don't always get an answer but I do get peace, stronger faith and sometimes I do get an answer.

God didn't give you this gift and passion for nothing. He has a reason why Tim. He won't keep it a secret from you unless it's for a good reason. You will know sometime either when you ask him or later down the road looking back or in heaven. But I suggest wrestling with God as Jacob did.Ask him this question as David did in the Psalms many times. You may try reading Psalms, Job to begin with. We as Christians don't do enough of that.

Forgive me for being spiritual advisory, but I have been where you are and am there now as a matter of fact. This is a take it or leave it advice from someone who cares.

Dave Samples said...

Tim, Most of us have been where you are. I know the feeling of not being allowed to follow the passion of my heart because of others that seem to be standing in the way. I would just encourage you to keep seeking God's insights in the matter. Ask the questions and wait for answers. Debbie's advice seems good. I would also be willing to take a look at your resume and suggest some possible ministry directions. Let me know if I can help.

Kevin Bussey said...

Tim,

I've missed your insight but I understand. I'm sorry for what you have and are going through. If I can be of help let me know.

GuyMuse said...

I'm with Debbie on this one. Set aside some time to get away with God to some solitary place. In my own life I have done this and come back renewed. Often the answers have been slower in coming, but the strengthened faith and renewed hope is the prime benefit of the experience. You might even consider fasting during this spiritual retreat. Praying for you...

Alycelee said...

Tim, I'm glad you posted this.
I'm also encouraged by the comments thus far.
I have never been good at limbo, I just hate those inbetween gaps and spaces, but in hindsight, those have been times when God did something new and real in my life. For me, knowing that God does not live in a time/space world helps me. It helps me to attempt not to live there either.
God is using you now and I know He will continue too

David Rogers said...

Tim,

I too have missed your insights. I was even thinking about writing a comment on your last post just to ask where you had gone.

In any case, I will be praying for you during this time. It is often in times of frustration and hardship that God can teach us the most and work more Christlikeness into our lives, if we allow Him to do so. I will be praying you allow Him to do so, and that you will continue to experience His provision for you and your family in a very real way in the days ahead.

Lee said...

I'll join in the intercession for you.

I know what it is like to be frustrated by a search committee. There have been times that I discovered why a particular committee didn't extend a calling to me, and the reasoning was beyond my ability to understand.

However, it is not beyond God's ability to understand, and on the other side of that coin, sometimes a "no" is God's divine hand of protection on your life.

Keep seeking and keep praying.

Tim Sweatman said...

I originally began this post simply to explain my absence, but atypically for me I just began to lay out my feelings. I really appreciate all of your words of encouragement and counsel and especially your continued prayers.

If my normal pattern holds true, I'll have these feelings of deep frustration for a few days, then I'll be fine for a few weeks. This is one of those situations where I know that God is in control and that there is a greater purpose underlying all this, but every now and then I just get spiritually, emotionally, and physically tired and weary. That being said, I have definitely seen God at work through all this. I literally cannot count all of the times during the past several months where God has providentially met a need when there didn't seem to be any way. I have also seen Him close doors that would have led to great problems had I gone through them.

Bob Cleveland said...

Tim:

The cross was painful for Jesus, extremely so on several fronts, but it was essential in God's plan. The end result is the resurrected King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Unless I'm wrong, what you're experiencing now is every bit as purposeful in God's plan. He's making you into what you need to be, to fill the role He has in mind for you. Maybe it's preaching, but then, we don't always get to know things like that.

Keep your eyes on the prize, brother.

Dorcas Hawker said...

Tim -

I have been there too. I know what it is like to wonder why God has gifted me for something and then not be in a place to work it out in ministry and life. I also can identify with the moments of downtimes, and then being fine for weeks. I hope it is some comfort to you to know that you are not alone in these thoughts and feelings. I will pray for you that you will be patient as God prepares you for that place that is the perfect fit for you. It is very, very difficult to wait on the Lord. I know this too well.

If you feel inclined to write about non-leadership, and non-SBC things, I would still like to read what you write. Even if it is about a bird you see outside your window. Sometimes focusing on the simplest bits of life helps calm my soul.

I'm sorry we won't see you in San Antonio. I don't really want to go much myself this year as it is my only week of vacation I will have, but I love spending time with all my blogger friends, so I figure that balances out wasting my vacation week on a business meeting.

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Tim,

I've just finished a time out of the pastorate, although it was only five months, much shorter than what you are experiencing. It was hard, though, in just the ways you are describing.

The pastor of the church I attended during this time "cheered me up" with his experience: he had been out of pastoring, trying to get a preaching position for FIVE YEARS! During that time he worked as a farm hand, drove a dump truck, and worked as an elder in a very small church. But at the end of the five years, God took him to a wonderful church, which has prospered and grown for the past fifteen years, and is now doing better than ever.

I hate to think this time in your life might last five years, but you may be sure that God is not finished with you!

Love in Christ,

Jeff

Anonymous said...

Will keep you in my prayers, brother. I think all of us have wondered "WHY?" at times, Job-like, and demanded that God stand before us (me) and give answers. At least, I've been there. There was one church I interviewed for; the initial interview went quite well. I wasn't impressed with the church's location, but nonetheless, I felt led to it. I even thought (and still think) God wanted me there. Then I had a second interview with them, and there was some sort of pall over it. Something went wrong, or someone did, even though the committe drove 100+ miles to come to me that time. Shortly afterward, I received a terse note informing me that they had been led toward someone else. BUT--after this person went through a trial sermon, he turned the church down. And I found later that, because if the note they sent me, they were ashamed to come back to me and resume discussion. All this to say, I understand frustration, and I understand what it feels like to have what you feel God's will for your life refused, doors closed, etc. Hang in there brother! A light will appear at the end of your tunnel, and it's NOT a freight train bearing down on you either.

John Fariss

Paul Burleson said...

Tim,

Wise and helpful words have been expressed by all in this comment section. I tried to think of a helpful word but found my thoughts have been said, and better said than I could.

So, just know that God often grows His finest fruit in the shade and I would expect a major harvest is in the making.

I, as do all commenting before me, stand with you and you wife in prayer and waiting. Thanks for your open honest heart.

onelittleman said...

I have confidence in God's call on your life.

Have you given any thought to planting a new work? By my outside-looking-in viewpoint, it doesn't seem like having a "job" with a church is all it's cracked up to be. (I'm totally willing to admit I'm wrong on this point.)

You have all the tools and the spiritual resources to lead a new work and people without Jesus seem to be everywhere I turn.