I wanted to wait until we returned from the Holy Land to make my decision public. I am officially announcing my resignation today from a job I have long held, and frequently done very poorly. I am not sure how I got into this profession. I know I wasn’t invited, and I have often been deeply unappreciated. Why spend your life doing something neither required by the Lord, nor welcomed by others? Frankly, I gave up the job a while back, but felt constrained to make my decision known to all who read this blog. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t see me at my post, I am really done this time. Yes, for me it’s over. No more fixing people—I resign.
No more setting people straight, helping others see the light. No more putting people on a program or convincing them to look in the mirror and see what they refuse to believe. Helping? Yes. Praying? For sure! Preaching? Always and with increased power, I pray. But fixing people individually? I’m done! No more stepping up or stepping in or stepping on toes to ring a broken bell that clangs discordantly with the facts about friend or foe. If you were wounded in a bad fix or a fast fix or a bad response to a fast fix, please accept my apologies—I truly hope you are doing better, I know that I am. Unless requested, unless an obvious critical-path, life or death emergency, ‘the fix’ is off!
Was it the temptation to push the pulpit application too far that caused fixing people to spill over into personal interaction? Did knowledge puff me up? I don’t remember thinking I was better, but I do recall needing people to be more or better or different. For my sake or for theirs? For God’s kingdom no doubt, but also as an increased efficiency in the crossing of paths and the sharing of responsibility. “I’m not sure if anyone has ever pointed this out to you, but do you realize…” “It’s not easy to say this to you, but from a heart of love I feel I must…” “This is not going to end well…” Like the understated dentist who offers, “This is gonna pinch,” the fixer has a variety of ‘opens’ that don’t really prepare the hearer adequately for what is to follow.
Fixes should end well, we should be ready at all times to receive the “reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2), but many are not. Yes, “reprove a wise man, and he will love you for it” (Proverbs 9:8), but apparently there are “not many wise” (1 Corinthians 1:26), and many blows are too often needed (Proverbs 17:10). Where the fixer is uninvited and the receiving heart is unreceptive, it’s far better to pull up and kneel down—interceding for a better reception, a more timely time, or a more worthy messenger.
Let’s start with some easy ones first:
- I’m not going to fix the oblivious pedestrian wandering aimlessly through the busy airport terminal, dragging their carry-on across the feet of determined passengers seeking an open road to a late flight.
- I’m not going to fix the store clerk who promises three different times by phone, that my friend can pick up my new golf clubs as long as he brings the receipt…then refuses to do so without reason, each time ‘friend’ drives over while I was out of the country. I wish that person could get fixed, but I went to get the clubs myself and quietly retrieved them without incident—because no one was with me who fixes people.
- I am not fixing drivers or drive-through window guys or anyone else driving me, or those I love, nuts. I’m not fixing flight attendants or church attenders or church members or members of the human race. If it’s your problem, then guess what? It’s not mine. I will pray, I will quietly attend to those I love when invited. I will always be willing to lend a hand or help the hurting or even instruct the weak by invitation or direct responsibility (1 Thessalonians 5:14), but by God’s grace I will be patient with all. The fix is off.
- I’m not going to fix staff members who want to complain instead of work, or sleep instead of work, or do whatever they do instead of work. If you won’t work, you can’t eat—at least not on our dime—but we aren’t going to try to fix you. You’ll have all the time in the world when you don’t work here anymore. I’m not going to fix elders who complain instead of lead, or family members who think love is a one-way street, or friends who think that doing life together means everything always the same, forever. I’m not going to help you be more grateful or more generous or more anything individually. I am here to help when asked, and “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). But “each must bear his own load” (Galatians 6:5), and from now on the ‘fix’ falls under your job description. No more allowing the single digits to block my view of the many who are the vast majority that make serving God pure joy.
- I’m not going to fix preachers in error or erroneous ministry methods or methodical madness of any kind. Just gonna preach the Word in season and out of season, and seek to fulfill my ministry (2 Timothy 4:1-5). I don’t wish you were more loving or more truthful or, truthfully, more anything. I wish I was more of what Jesus calls me to be for my family and church family. You answer for your congregation—that should be enough responsibility. I know that answering for mine keeps me on my knees long enough, without reflecting on what you should be doing more or better or less.
I suppose I assumed when I began that everyone wanted what I wanted…to be better. I have tried, solicited, and been blessed by the critical feedback of friends, and picked diligently through the rubbish of those who sought my ruin to great advantage. But I have erred in thinking those who dish it out can take it, and had to learn that when you want it for people more than they want it for themselves, it won’t end well. Sadly, when you overestimate your ability to change the behavior of others, and rush in where fools fear to tread, you heap scorn for yourself and have little to show for it, aside from the faithful wounds of a well-intentioned friend (Proverbs 27:6).
Available, as always, for the humble and teachable and lowly of heart—but no more fixing people. It doesn’t work, it’s not fun, and it often hurts. Maybe you learned this a long time ago and took a pass on fixing me. Thanks for your patience. I have it now, the fix is in place. Take this job and . . . I quit!
FG_AUTHORS: James MacDonald