Ministry Misconceptions

Man sitting by tree

“I’m doubting God’s love.”

I looked her straight in the eyes as I said it. Someone should have warned her not to ask me how I was doing. By the look on her face, I knew she’d have been more impressed with me if I had thrown a bucket of ice, cold, jello on her…but I just didn’t have the energy to hide my feelings. I was at the painful end of seven years of infertility.  I was raw. I was real. And I scared her.

Did she think I was a carnal sinner? Maybe. But so was she and the sooner she realized it, the better for every future human she encountered.

Her curt rebuke to me of, “You can’t say that! You’re a pastor’s wife!” turned out to be the inspiration of my next woman’s retreat.

“Well, I’m still a human.” I said.  “We all at one time or another will feel this way. Just because I’m in the ministry, doesn’t mean I’m emotionless.”

But then, because I started feeling guilty, I went on to tip my Pastor’s Wife hat to her and give her the Spiritual Leader lecture she longed for.  I quoted Job and David in the Psalms, to assure her my pain was indeed Biblical and she walked away smiling and nodding a little too enthusiastically.

Was my honesty right as a leader?  I believe so and this is why.  We have forgotten how to suffer together as the Church and I believe it’s coming from the top down. If we pretend that pain and heart ache and doubt are not a part of the Perseverance of the Saints, then our congregations will too. And then, when they can no longer pretend, they will walk away feeling like failed Christians.

Our God chose to come to earth and feel suffering.  Christ shouted for all the world to hear, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46).  That scripture has plagued me most of my Christian life.  I’d say it with a whisper and look around to make sure no unstudied listener could misinterpret the “real” meaning of those words from the cross. The real meaning? The real meaning is that all good things do not come to us without a fight. Our God fought. Heb. 2:8 says, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”  He suffered in every way we have and he did not hide it from those he ministered to. Remember, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) in front of all those he was ministering to.

The amount of healing that came to the women in our church when I did our “Unbroken” conference and used scripture to prove our right to mourn together, made my very present suffering all the more bearable. It strengthened all of our faith, including mine. And it made our joy together complete when I brought home my daughter Liberty Grace, born and Adopted on Christmas night 2008!

Maybe, just maybe, my words came back to that woman I spoke to many years ago.   I hope they will minister to her when her own back begins to breaking under the weight of a faltering faith. And maybe, just maybe, she will remember the rogue missionary girl who came home off the field on furlough and confessed, “I’m doubting God’s love”,  but still kept fighting. Is still fighting. The good, very good, best of fights.

What about you? Have you given into any Ministry Misconceptions? Ways in which you were told you shouldn’t feel or be as a church leader?