A fool-proof plan for those needing more frustration in their lives

You poor thing.  Life has been boring for you lately, and you have been searching for a way to perk it up, to insert a little anxiety into your days and wakefulness into your nights. We have the answer for you.  Eleven answers, in fact.

Here are Joe’s tried-and-proven techniques, all guaranteed to add frustration to your existence….

!. Buy a computer.

That’s all.  Just get a computer. From the first, you will be frustrated just looking for the “start” or “on/off” switch. You will gnash your teeth trying to figure out how to get everything out of the box and set it up. You will learn the definition of words someone made up, like “modem” and “yahoo” and “google.” Then, after your 10-year-old puts it all together and makes everything work, you will tear your hair out on an average of at least once a week.

This is not an exaggeration.  It’s why a large percentage of computer-users are bald. It’s why almost no old people are on the computer. They would have been, but the stress killed them before they got out of middle age.

The computer is perfect for people with insufficient frustration in their lives.

2. Start a blog to bless mankind.

Decide you are going to write articles to inform, encourage, educate, and help people.  You will tell heart-warming stories.  You will share the blessings of God.

Just imagine the joy of comforting the hurting and giving guidance to the wayward.

Within days, people you have never met will be accusing you in a public forum of racism, heresy, and slander.  You will find out ugly things about yourself you never suspected, such as a) you do not believe the Bible, b) you have no business calling yourself a Christian, and c) you are probably a closet member of ISIS.

There are people who roam cyberspace looking for do-gooders whom they may bring down to earth.  The shortest way to meet them is to start a blog that aims to bless others.

3. Get married.

Marriage is a therapeutic institution designed by the Creator to get the rough edges off His children.  Often, it works. In many cases, however, the plan is hijacked when someone decides their partner has far more rough edges than was expected and dedicates himself/herself to sharpening them up, shaping them in, and/or shipping them out.

From that moment on, frustration is the order of the day.

To double the fun–not to say, the frustration–both spouses should set about trying to change the other to fit their ideal of a husband or wife. This is why people lose their minds, see divorce lawyers, or resort to murder, and is not recommended.

4. Become a parent.

Now, the business of parenting is deceptive. You start off so beautifully, overwhelmed by this angelic child amid the cooing, adoring participation of your family and friends.  Very gradually, almost imperceptibly, everything changes. By the time the child is two, you will have learned that a) you don’t have a clue what you are doing, b) everyone knows that you don’t, and c) your in-laws and best friends know exactly what you should be doing and feel called of God to inform you.

Your alternatives come down to learning to live with frustration on a daily basis, moving 500 miles from your inlaws, or putting the kids up for adoption.

5. Become the parent of a teenager.

Teenagers are a special project of the Almighty, placed on earth as a corrective for wayward parents as well as a punishment for sinners who thought they had gotten away with their wrong-doing from earlier years. Now that their wonderful, cute, precious, precocious (etc, etc) toddler has metamorphosed into a full-blown teen, the parents quickly realize God is visiting their past sins upon them.

In my nearly 75 years of life on this planet, I have yet to meet a parent of a teenager who has not been humbled. Not one.

6. Become the parent of three (or more) teenagers.

If one teen can humble a parent, three or more can terrorize them and send them to an early grave.  My parents had six children in a 9-year-span.  This means that during one brief span, we were all practically teenagers together.  Then, we were all in our 20s together, all in our 30s together, and so forth.  When our nearly 96-year-old Mom went to Heaven, five of her children were in their 70s.  How Mom and Dad survived those early years is anyone’s guess. They should have written books and given classes, particularly seeing how wonderful (ahem) we all turned out.

Parents of teens, however, should not assume their children will turn out as well as we did. Two of our six got early paroles and one had her sentence commuted when the DNA evidence came up missing. Two became preachers, but that should not be held against our parents; they meant well.

7. Become a minister.

You knew I’d get to this sooner or later.  This blog exists for pastors (of all types), congregational leaders of any type, and church secretaries who cannot type.  The guiding, ruling principle for the ministerial calling goes something like this: “Just because God calls you to shepherd His flock does not mean the flock wishes to be shepherded.”

Sheep are a headstrong lot. They have short-attention spans.  Ask any shepherd of “sheep” sheep. These animals are, you will pardon the expression, stupid.

So, if God gives you a divine calling as the shepherd of His people, drop your perfectionism and jettison your idealism.  This is a rough life and many do not survive it.  For good reason the Lord tells all He calls to “take up your cross” and follow Him.

There was a saying in the Old West that only the strong were to be found. “The cowards never left home,” the saying went, “and the weak died along the way.”  The same holds for church-leadership.

8. Become the pastor of a church.

We’re not being redundant.  It’s possible to be called as a minister but not the pastor of a specific church.  Here is a little secret information which not everyone knows:  It’s easier to pastor a church in theory than in practice.  That is, it’s easier to be a seminary professor telling people how to lead churches or a denominational executive holding conferences and writing books on same than to shepherd the sixty-three members of New Friendship Church Number Two out on County Road 101.

So, to avoid the frustration of pastoring, stick with denominational service and seminary teaching.

9. For an extra dimension of frustration, become the pastor of a Southern Baptist church.

Southern Baptist members are taught early on to expect their pastors to (ahem) “meet our needs.”  When the pastor is found to be human with the inherent limitations that accompany homo sapiens or to have other, higher priorities–like maybe, serving God and doing His will–the people often become frustrated. And, when the membership is frustrated, a large segment will devote itself to making sure the minister knows of their unhappiness and never forgets it for a moment.  This is how pastors become frustrated. They catch it from their people.

Frustration is highly contagious.

10. For the ultimate in frustration, become the pastor of a Southern Baptist Church in trouble, and set in to making wholesale changes.

The way our people operate is this: “When my church is dwindling away to nothing and it becomes apparent that something must be done now if we are to survive, we are willing to make any changes necessary so long as they do not affect me personally.”

When our churches are dying, most of our people will admit that what they are doing does not work and will agree that drastic life-saving methods must be found.  They will affirm that a new kind of leadership is required and may even vote to try innovative measures.  The single requirement they place before the pastor, however, is that they themselves must not be inconvenienced.  If the pastor can manage this, everyone will be happy and he will have job security all the way to the end.

This is why pastors of churches in transition live with frustration.  Do nothing, and the dying gasps of the church will burden his heart and keep him up nights.  Make changes, and the constant carping of inconvenienced church members will drive him crazy and ruin his days.

For good reason, only those “called of God” last in ministry.  The rest look for easier lines of work.

11. A proven formula for frustration is to expect God’s people to act like the people of God.

Ask any veteran minister.  This was one of the first lessons learned following seminary, and one of the bitterest pills to swallow.

Young pastors emerge with seminary with their pristine degrees and glorious ideals. They receive unanimous votes from churches hiring them and enter with hearts brimming with enthusiasm and heads aching from all that learning. The Lord’s people are so kind and hospitable.  Their kindnesses lead the young pastor to make his first mistake: He expects the people to buy into his vision, and to respond to his inspired program. Yes, he actually does.

What the new young pastor finds will be something like this: Around ten percent of the church will welcome the pastor’s revolutionary new ideas without question; Twenty percent will reject them immediately without ever really considering them; and the other seventy percent will not notice the pastor had any ideas.

Okay, that’s a best-case scenario, I admit it.

There are more pointers for adding frustration to one’s life; in fact no one has ever calculated the complete number.  But these will be sufficient at first.

So, let’s get started.

Everyone got a computer?  Fine.  Now, turn it on….



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