I am reeling from confusion and hurt. People that I thought were “for us” are talking negatively about us all over the community. I don’t understand why they would say the things they are saying. We have sacrificed so much for this church and for their families. We don’t deserve this kind of treatment. The thing that really gets to me is that it is all pure fabrication. None of it is true. Why would these people that I have loved act like this?
SET ABLAZE in Alabama
Dear Set Ablaze,
Devestating. It’s purely devastating when your integrity and character are attacked by people within the Church. When Jesus talks about being persecuted for our faith, we assume that it will come from people outside of the Christian community. But even Jesus, in His darkest hours, was betrayed and slandered by those who claimed to love Him the most. These people that He had been entirely transparent and vulnerable with decimated His trust and friendship with the power of their untruthful words. They knew Him the best and because of their friendship, they were able to hurt Him the most. As Christian leaders, we are no more exempt from Judas’ kiss and Peter’s lies than our Lord was on the night of His betrayal.
When these moments come into the midst of our ministries, they often knock us off our feet and shake us to our core. And while we are gasping to catch a breath, someone will come by and kick us in the head. I long for Jesus’ strength to forgive His persecutors in the midst of His crucifixion, but I’m no Jesus. So I turn to what comforts me the most in the moment of my hurt: REVENGE! ;0… No, not my revenge, but God’s justice. Psalms 101:5-8 says:
Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy;
No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.
My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me;
He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me.
He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house;
He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me.
Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land,
So as to cut off from the city of the LORD all those who do iniquity.
Of course, this doesn’t absolve us from our responsibility to forgive. These kinds of events put us in the “bitter ‘ol pastor’s spouse” danger zone. Bitterness-caused wrinkles and back-row isolation can be the product of these kinds of ministry devastations if we let them fester. Challenge yourself to not retreat. If you are innocent, you have no reason to hide. Let God defend you. If you walk in a blameless way, maintain your integrity, don’t return evil for evil, God will ferret these lies out. He has a way of shining the light on the truth. Prepare yourself though; it may take a long time for the truth to come out. But rest assured, God will deal with those who attack His faithful ones. You are not the only one who will feel the fire! You are in my prayers.
I just got out of the hospital after having surgery and I will be in recovery for 4-6 weeks. During my three day hospital stay, not one person from church called to see how I was doing. My husband is one of the pastors at church. None of the other staff pastors called either. We have three kids and don’t live near family. Soon, we won’t have any help at home. I’m worried about how my husband and I are going to manage during the recovery. DW, Why wouldn’t anyone call or offer to help? Who’s our pastor?
Wounded 2 Ways in Texas
My heart is breaking for you. I wish I could come over and help! Who knows why people do what they do but here are some thoughts on what might be going through people’s heads:
“I don’t want to bother her when she is sick.”
“I’m sure her family is there to help and I don’t want to intrude.”
“The pastors will take care of it.”
“What if she had ‘female’ surgery-I don’t want to make her feel uncomfortable.”
“I’m positive that someone has already organized meals for them.”
“I’ll call once I know she’s out of the hospital….oops, has it been that long!”
While service, outreach, and sacrifice probably come naturally for your family (you are in ministry), it’s just not the bent of most people to meet someone’s needs unless they are asked to do so. Should they have known that you needed help…YES! And I’m boggled by the inaction of your fellow pastors! I’m hurt and disappointed for you that the pastors at your church did not reach out to your family during this time. Pastors should be the first ones to respond when someone on their team is hurting and in need. Unfortunately, ministry families are seen as “able to handle it”. There is an assumption by other pastors that “they will understand how busy I am”. In the Good Samaritan story, it was the Priest and Pharisee who walked right past a battered and dying man lying in the road (I wonder if he was a pastor’s spouse).
Wounded, you have 2 ways to handle this hurt. You can carry it around with you and let it fester and infect everything you do in ministry for the rest of your service there OR you can prick it now and let the pain and infection drain out giving you the chance to heal by choosing forgiveness. We all miss it sometimes. People and pastors mess up. You know pastors aren’t perfect-you live with one! I urge you to choose grace in this situation. Holding on to this hurt will only lead you to bitterness.
And, ASK FOR HELP! Don’t assume that people will know you need it. You and your husband need to call, pester and do what you have to do to let people know that you need help. It may surprise you to see who responds and what bonds are formed within the church when the pastor’s family admits that they are human and in need.
My prayer is that healing in all ways comes quickly.