Without a doubt, serving as a Pastor at a local church is one of the greatest privileges a person can be given on this earth:
- God trusts us with His people.
- People look to us for spiritual direction.
- We only work one day a week. (you gotta’ at least smile!)
But too many Pastors are in pain. For some, the pain never eases up. This could be due to the depth of the hurt experienced or the perpetrator of the pain being a once-trusted friend. Sometimes it’s the culmination of many years of ministry pressure. Listen, God does not want us living and leading this way! There are, however, some of us who have refused to let go of the pain. We wear it like a medal of honor; it’s a war-wound and we are glad to put it on display.
Without judging anyone, I have some observations to share.
Pastor, you may have unresolved hurt/offense if:
You are cynical. If you roll your eyes at enthusiasm, if you scoff at hope, if you are skeptical of solutions – you are most likely hurting deeply. Cynicism isn’t a good look on spiritual leaders.
Your first inclination is to doubt. If you can’t see the light for the darkness, you may be in emotional turmoil. If you’ve been wounded long-term, it’s natural to begin to expect the worse. But faith leaders can’t lead people into hope if they have none themselves.
You keep talking about past hurts. The church member who lied about you. The Deacon who falsely accused you. The Bishop who mistreated you. No doubt, these events can be devastating. But reliving them over and again does not bring healing. If you struggle with past hurts, take it to the Lord in prayer, and perhaps consider seeing a counselor. If you don’t, the bitterness can become corrosive and it can destroy you.
You enjoy conflict. None of us can avoid conflict, and I am not a proponent of running away. But if you revel in the fight, if you take great pride in strife, you may need some healing.
You don’t trust your leader. We’ve all been misled by someone. Anyone with a few months experience has been letdown by someone over them. But mistrusting your current leader based upon what a former leader has done is unfair. Think about it: do you want your church members to assume that you are the same as their former pastor(s)?
You must correct everyone. Does it drive you crazy to see wrong theories posted online? Do you correct grammar? Do you feel it is your job to point out flaws? If this is the case, there is a chance that you are dealing with unresolved pain.
You can’t wait to quit. If you daydream about the day you can leave your church or the ministry, you are sidetracked. With this escape mindset, you can’t lead effectively. We all hope to retire someday, or at least slow down, but longing to quit reveals a damaged spirit.
I could go on. But Pastor, hear my heart. I am not attacking you or criticizing you. I only wish to help you heal.
If you are in perpetual pain, reach out. There are trained, professional Christian counselors available to you, some at no charge. There are people who care. If you have absolutely no one to walk you through these types of issues, perhaps your approach needs to be adjusted. We were never meant to lead in isolation.
Read through the passages below. Pray. Talk to a friend. You are too important to live with this level of pain.
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
2 Corinthians 4:8-10 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
Psalm 46:1-2 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”
Psalm 71:20 “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.”
Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.”
Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”