The three people I never want(ed) to be

Preface: For the purposes of this post, I’m working within a framework where the issues at hand are ones of preference, not major doctrines or sin issues.

There are three people I never want(ed) to be:

1) The person who disagrees with the small group leader on almost everything.
2) The person who feels that they’re not getting much out of church services and meetings.
3) The person who becomes bitter and 1) stays, badmouthing the church and creating division in the local church or 2) leaves, and badmouths the first church at the next church and creating division in the global church.

You can’t really help being the first two if it happens.  You might agree with the doctrine of a church, but you might not agree with the doctrine, emphases, or practices of your small group leader.  The probability of this becomes higher as the church’s standards for leaders or number of people available to be leaders become lower.  You also sometimes can’t help it if you aren’t getting much out of services and meetings.  (Of course, one needs to be careful here.  Sometimes our own pride and our sin get in the way of what the Spirit wants us to hear.)  But if a certain style or philosophy of preaching or small group meetings isn’t to one’s taste or expectation, even someone attending with a good faith effort to learn and glean from the messages and fellowship may be left with not much to work with.

However, you can help not becoming the third person.  It’s really easy to become the third person after becoming the first two, but don’t.  Seriously.  Just don’t do it.

If you become one of the first two people, you might want to seriously consider quietly switching churches.  Or, as with my case, you might sincerely and inexplicably feel you're supposed to stay with a particular church despite realizing you’ve become one of the first two people (or both).  In that case, you should listen to the prompting of the Spirit.  But whether you stay or whether you go, bitterness and impatience and badmouthing has no place in the heart of a Christian, and it definitely has no place in the church.

Things essential to keep in mind:

1) The church doesn’t exist to cater to your individual needs and expectations.  The church exists to glorify God.
2) The church is full of sinners.  Don't expect people to rise to your definition of perfection.
3) You’re a sinner, too.  Shocker.
4) Not everyone approaches Christianity with the same presuppositions about Christian living.  Differences in approach are not always wrong or bad.  Be Bible-based and open-minded.
5) Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but consider others better than yourselves.
6) You exist (among other things) to serve the people in your local church.  If you think you're so high and mighty and better than your current church (which you aren't...see #5), then go and serve others using your "superior" experience and knowledge.
7) Jesus is really, really, really patient with you.  Any amount of patience that the aforementioned service calls for is a peppercorn compared to that.

As I said before, I love my new church and I love the people at my new church.  I have been given the opportunity to fellowship with a lovely group of women who love the Lord.  It's just that we don't always agree or approach the Bible or Christian living in the same way.  This list contains things I need to remind myself of, but I don't think it's limited to people who are in my position.  Really, this is a very small list about Christian living in the church in general. 

Have your views ever conflicted with church leadership?  How did you handle the difference(s) between you?  How do you feel about your current church?  What about the local church do you need to remind yourself about?