There it is. That is what motivates most people to take action.
You see a mess and you just have to clean it up.
You see hunger and you have to feed the hungry person.
You see some horrible injustice and you go on a crusade to correct it.
At the root of all this is frustration.
Bill Hybels* states that we see something about this world that is broken and we have a burning desire to fix it.
Whoa! I can’t do this! The problem is too big! I don’t have the energy! I don’t have the financial resources! I don’t have the “connections” with the powerful people who can help me make a difference!
These are all valid reasons for doing nothing.
But here is where the negatives get overturned. The frustration does not go away. The insurmountable task is still there and you want to tackle it. What do you do?
First of all, stop thinking of all the reasons that you cannot do something. Surely life can be complex and some problems are so difficult that we don’t see ourselves taking on the task. Many around you may pour cold water on your ideas. They don’t have faith in your ability. “The world” seems happy to just let a bad situation continue. It is easy to give in and just sit on the couch and ignore a need. Start thinking of all the reasons that you need to do something.
Secondly, think about what you are going to do and break down what you need to do in manageable steps. Rushing in headlong can be defeating if you do not have a thoughtful plan. Frustration may get you started on your actions leading to a change but frustration may not help you if it leads to rash action and stumbles. If you find yourself stumbling too many times, you will give up on your efforts.
As you begin to tackle a problem, make sure you have little successes along the way and stop and celebrate those successes. I spend time every day with people at a rehabilitation facility. I am rehabilitating my own body from an accident. I see people with disabilities and their problems seem so severe. I also see people who are suffering from severe obesity and they want to be fit but they are weighing in at three hundred pounds. How do we rehabilitate? If you see any improvement at all, make a big deal out of it. Improved movement in a limb that has been immobile is grounds for a whoopee! Losing fifteen pounds is a big deal on your way to better fitness. That does not mean that you need to share everything that happens with everyone. But note it. Be thankful for little positive things that happen along the way. And yes, it never hurts to find a reasonable reward for your efforts.
As you have spent time thinking about your frustration, you should have a goal in mind. Call it a “vision” if you must. Cling to that vision. When things get tough, that vision can keep you going. You see the problem you are working as solved. You can see the improved conditions. You can anticipate the satisfaction you will feel when you know you have brought about change.
Tap into the power of God.
If you are a Christian and you are frustrated and trying to affect change, you have had God in the process from the very beginning. Let me tell you, you won’t have the strength or wisdom to pull off your change if you don’t ask God for help. What you lack, He will deliver. He is the power behind what you are doing. You may be the branch that bears the fruit but He is the vine that gives you the energy to produce the fruit.
When I gave my life to the Lord twenty years ago, one of the most inspirational verses that gave me direction and hope was Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I still think it is one of the most positive verses in the New Testament. Like every person who faces life, I had my problems, some of them very daunting. I kept this verse in front of me mentally and physically. It literally is on my desk in my study.
Guess what. I still have problems but I have seen over the years that God can work miracles in this life if you let Him. If you call on Him. If you do what He tells you. If you are the branch and avoid the temptation of taking the credit.
I agree with Pastor Hybels. Frustration is the key factor that many of us need in order to take action, but frustration will not sustain us as we seek to affect change. It is the factor that kick starts us. Without it, we never begin.
I know this is going to sound strange, but with so many problems in this broken world, thank you Lord that some of us feel frustration.
*author of Holy Discontent