Backlash is a shocker when it happens the first couple of times. We show up with the intentions of helping in a situation and it backfires. People are not happy, in fact they resist. What’s more, what we sought to make better becomes worse.
Anticipating and responding to backlash is a key component to resiliency in life and ministry.
Moses experienced a classic backlash at an international level. God sent him to Egypt to deliver God’s people from oppressive slavery. Shocker – Pharaoh was not keen on the idea. In fact, he made the Israelites’ lives more miserable by taking hay away from them (an essential ingredient to make bricks) and yet demanding no lessoning of their brick making quotas. That turned the Isrealites against Moses too.
Moses went where he was told to go and did what he was told to do and it all backfired. Both the Egyptians and his own people stood against him. This is a classic backlash. Ouch.
Most of us doing cross-cultural ministry are not invited to the locations we show up at. There is no welcome committee and fanfare from those who do not know Christ. We come to give our lives away and people at best don’t care and at worst attack us. What’s more, spiritual forces will not be keen to give up their booty of souls.
Backlash is inevitable. Computers break, colleagues misunderstand, darkness resists.
The Backlash Boogie
So how do we respond?
One obvious response is to quit. Moses could have. He could have taken his hiking stick and headed back to the familiar flocks he had been tending. But God reminded Moses of who he (God) is and sent him back into the ring to fight for God’s causes.
When we experience backlash, questions will certainly arise. Did I hear right? Is this what God told me to do? Is there some sin in my life? Normal questions all, but often not helpful. Introspection will not get us very far.
These are days to tuck back into God for prolonged periods of time. We need to hear his word afresh. We need his Spirit to strengthen us for the fight that is before us. We need lingering time in the Word to be nourished and addressed. Perseverance is essential and that will not come from self-determination. We need God to show up and do his work in us.
Likely what will be changed is not the circumstnaces but us. The resistance will not go away, but neither will we. Our lives become a message of truth, of self-sacrificing love, and of resistance to the darkness we find ourselves in.
Fascinating how we show up to change a nation and we are the ones changed first and all along the way…..
What backlashes have you experienced in life? What did God teach you from those times? How does he invite you to lean into him? Who can be with you in those seasons of backlash?
As always, I’d love to hear what God has shown you last time you found yourself doing the Backlash Boogie.