Life Under a Microscope

It was a spur of the moment remark that has helped shaped my thinking. It was made in a leadership meeting about the Church. This person said, “We need to be careful about doing ministry under a microscope because the field of view is too small.”

The statement stopped me in my tracks and I quickly wrote it down word for word. I then took the note and put it into my “idea file” on my computer. It has remained in that file for almost one year and I have read over it at least 35 times. Every time I read that line I stop and think about the truth of its content. In fact, I have changed one word and gave it an even greater meaning.

“We need to be careful about doing life under a microscope because the field of view is too small.”

It is possible that every day when we sit down at night or lie in bed we replay the events of the day. We dissect events scene by scene or conversations sentences by sentence in our minds. We replay the day under a microscope. As a result we feel bad because things didn’t go well today that one time. We feel good because of that one compliment. We feel worthless because the day lacked the productivity we wanted that one time. We ride the roller coaster of our daily emotions.

The problem can arise in this type of thinking because the field of view is too small. I believe God works in our lives on a daily basis but I believe his overall plan is much bigger. Think about it this way.

1. Sometimes a failure is the opportunity for something better. One of my first ministries was a flop. It didn’t grow and I nearly quit the ministry altogether. That one year of my life did teach me about life and ministry. It shaped my approach to ministry today and I am a much better pastor because of that failure. That one ministry changed my thinking and would eventually lead me to new Church planting. Short-term failure lead to long-term success.

2. Sometimes a short-term success is not real success. I laugh when I read articles about parenting by people whose children are not yet adults. Many times a good Jr. High student does not equal a healthy Christian adult. Having a good day or week or month does not mean that I am successful in my endeavors. Real success is the long-term results.

3. Sometimes change is bigger than a single event. It is great to make a decision to change. Everyone has to start somewhere. But success is being able to live that decision out a thousand times over. Success and failure are bigger than single events. Success is the result of getting up more times than you have fallen down.

4. Sometimes your greatest advice will come from senior citizens. Our tendency is to listen to our peers. They are fighting the same battles. They understand us and our struggles. The problem is that they have not seen the long-term effects of their thinking and actions. I encourage people to listen to people older than themselves. They have long-term perspective. While they may not understand every small issue we are having they have seen their share of struggles and lived successfully.

5. Sometimes the Bible simply provides us with perspective. I could dissect the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis in a dozen sermons. In fact, I think I have done that. Lately I am convinced that the beauty of that story is not found in the details of Genesis chapters 37-50 but in the perspective. At least two times the story stops and reminds us that God has been at work in the life of Joseph. In slavery, in false accusations, in prison, and even in being forgotten God was working a mighty plan. If we look at one day in the life of Joseph we might see a failure but the big picture is much different.

Be care of thinking that your life is summarized in one day or in one small event. The story of your life, your marriage, your parenting and your Christian faith is written as a long story that cannot be summarized in any cliff note form. Broaden your perspective and you might just see the work of God in your life.

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