Written by Bill Whitt
April 9, 2024

When Something Blocks Your View of the Son

Here are five things that can block our view of the Son, and five reminders that can help us endure the darkness until it is light again.
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Right on schedule at 3:13 p.m. yesterday, everyone in Cleveland looked up to the sky and gasped in delight. Almost 240,000 miles away, the moon moved into perfect alignment with the sun. Because the moon is 400 times smaller than the sun and 400 times closer to us than the sun, this particular position creates a spectacular sight — a solar eclipse!

  • I was one of the people gasping in delight yesterday. I had driven for more than four hours in hopes of seeing and photographing this spectacle. (Check out the results, above!)

Unlike us today, ancient people did not gasp in delight, but in horror, at solar eclipses. They did not understand astrophysics, and they did not understand that everything would return to normal in a matter of minutes. Because of that, they were horrified at the sudden, inexplicable darkness that enveloped them.

  • As church renewal leaders, we often encounter obstacles that can block our view of the Son and cause seasons of darkness in ministry. However, if we know why these seasons happen and that they are only temporary, we can endure them.

Here are five things that can block our view of the Son for a time, along with five reminders that can help us endure the darkness until it is light again.

Five things that block our view of the son
  1. Many People Resist Change
  • Our churches need to change if they are to survive and thrive, but some people seem to oppose any and all changes. It’s tempting to write them off as stubborn and obstinate, but empathy provides a better path forward.
  • Studies reliably show that, while 16 percent of people are innovators and early adopters, another 16 percent reliably lag behind. Don’t be disappointed when it takes a while for this group of your congregants to come along. Lag as they may, they will eventually catch up! In the meantime, love them well, and listen to their concerns for the future.
  1.  You’re in the “Valley of Despair”
  • No matter how well planned and implemented a change is, results often get worse before they get better. Researchers call this the “J Curve,” a curve that depicts an initial decline before improvement is seen. Many of us know this “valley of despair” all too well.
  • The shadow of this valley may block our view of the Son, but take heart, as this valley doesn’t last forever! For those who persist, a whole new level of sustainable functioning lies just ahead. Don’t quit! Don’t give up! Keep going!
  1.  You need more money than you have
  • In many churches, operating funds begin to dwindle every summer and fall. Like clockwork, expenses are cut and fundraising letters go out. For a season, the shadow of monetary need can block out our view of the Son’s glory.
  • Wise choices in building up cash reserves can alleviate this annual pain point. However, ultimately our hope is in God’s provision rather than our savings accounts.
  1.  Sunday is Always Coming
  • No matter how great your last sermon was, another Sunday is coming in seven short days. Relentlessly, one Sunday follows another — month after month, year after year. This can take a toll on even the strongest of pastors.
  • One possible solution is to develop a teaching team that provides the lead pastor with room to breathe. Many pastors find the task of training up these other preachers to be life-giving. Also, the congregation will benefit from multiple voices and perspectives in the pulpit.
  1.  You feel like a one-man band
  • Some solo pastors function as preachers, teachers, counselors, administrators, IT specialists, receptionists, janitors, and more. Even in churches with large staffs, it’s easy for the pastor to feel the pressure to excel in each of these areas. The weight of that burden can certainly block your view of the Son for a season!
  • Pastors need to give themselves permission to be average in almost everything in order to be excellent in one or two things. How do you cover the pastor’s weaker areas, though? That’s why God gave us elders, deacons, staff members, and lay leaders — other people who would find it tremendously fulfilling to be used by God in those areas!

Unlike ancient people gasping at the sky in horror, we now know the mechanics of what causes a solar eclipse, and we know that the darkness won’t last forever. Similarly, as church renewal leaders, we know why periods of darkness enter our lives, and we know how to deal with them. And, most importantly, we know they won’t last forever.

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