Moses and the Israelites found an oasis not too long after seeing God drown Pharaoh and his chariots. This oasis was called Elim.
However, you can’t stay at an oasis forever. In order to reach the Promised Land you have to strike out from the oasis and face some desert.
The Israelites’ next part of the journey brought them to the Desert of Sin. (Really? Who names these places?) If you have ever been in the Desert of Sin with your congregation, you know the symptoms.
- Lack. The people didn’t have what they needed. They were hungry.
- Bad attitudes. Moses and Aaron were faced with a bunch of grumbly people. These people weren’t just cranky. They weren’t nice. They verbally attacked Moses and Aaron, blaming them for the situation.
Ever felt like your congregation is sitting in the middle of the Desert of Sin, and you are the target of their grumblings? Moses did a great job of helping the people in this time of strife. Let’s look at what he did:
- Pray. Moses interceded for the Israelites. He didn’t even try to respond to them. He talked to God first and found God’s answers for the people.
- Teach thankfulness. Moses wasn’t trying to teach thankfulness, but I think this is the root for us. Moses showed the people God’s provision. This can be difficult, but truthfully, if people are grumbling at you (not just bringing concerns in a mature fashion to find a mutual resolution – but grumbling and blaming) they are focused on the problem and looking for answers in the wrong places. Help them look to God for the answers.
- Discover more of God. When we feel angst, it is an opportunity to discover what God is up to. I believe that God allows us to feel the need so that we will look to Him. When we look to Him, we find out new things about Him and walk deeper in our relationship with Him.
But what if I really am the problem? Today, people don’t grumble about not having enough food. They grumble because of the music, the lack of music, the sermon substance, the leadership or lack of leadership, etc. It is hard to not take it personally when you sit in the decision-making seat. However, the answer is still the same. Your people are feeling angst so that they can grow deeper in God. In humility, go to Him. He might show you things to change, but He will always show you how to point your people into a deeper relationship with Himself.
God knows you are human. You aren’t supposed to be perfect. You are supposed to walk with your congregation on the journey and help them seek God for the answers.