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When Obedience Hurts

It was over a year ago when our ministry team was going through a really big change that had been in motion for years. Honestly, the bomb went off in my general direction and I was the one under attack. I know many of you have been there and perhaps feel that sting in your heart just thinking about it.

At the time, I was trying to get over a really big disappointment and a few cheap shots at my expense.

I had dinner plans scheduled with close friends who are not connected to our church the next night. Even though I really wanted to cancel, I forced myself to show up hurting. My friend leaned in and whispered about betrayal and how serving with someone means being able to trust someone. Believing in someone. Having someone’s back. But, what do you do when you are supposed to be on the same team and you both feel as if you have been wronged?

Having an inner circle outside of the church has been a lifeline for me. I believe that is the heartbeat of Sanctuary to connect you with other women in ministry who can be a safe place for you. Having women that sharpen me in my faith is far more important to me than having someone pat me on the back or pick a side.

In ministry, there is not a side, only obedience. But on that day, I really wanted obedience to not hurt so much.

I had a dilemma: do I say a big, brave “no” because of the opposition and because God was telling me that I could back out and still have His blessing? Or, would I continue to be a solution to the need that was presented to me and fill a role that I love?

Staff relationships can be hard. Even though this was my first experience with a personal attack like this in nineteen years of ministry, it took the wind out of me. I spent a lot of time in prayer and took days to process and work through my emotions. Even though I felt wounded by the situation, I knew that God had better plans than a victim mentality. God will always lead us to victory.

How to know if you are over it?

If it still stings when you think or talk about it, then you are not over it. Wounds from others while serving in ministry is one of the hardest things to face. Yet, we have the assurance that God is working all things out for our good.

Our natural tendency is to run and hide, looking for the nearest exit, instead of facing our battle.

God had a really big mission for Gideon that terrified him. The people of God were under overwhelming oppression and needed a godly leader. Yet, when Gideon received his assignment, he was not armed for battle; he was hiding out in the wine press.

“When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” (Judges 6:12)

How we feel in our emotions does not change our what God has called us to do.

We know that God does not raise up victims; He leads the wounded to victory. He calls the timid ones “mighty warrior”; not because of where they are presently, but because of where they will be in the future by His power.

The gospel is the most revolutionary, unsafe message that says crazy things like, get out of the boat, run into battle with the worshipers first, and cast out your nets again, even when you’ve lost all hope. It says wild things like be the one from the weakest clan in Israel and find yourself pummeled by your enemy for seven long years. And, then I will call you a mighty warrior and tell you to be courageous because I have called you to be part of the solution.

When you hear the whisper to be strong and courageous, lean in and listen to a God that speaks to how He sees you instead of the fearful timidity that often causes us to cave under pressure.

My husband once said that ideas fade, but callings don’t. It’s because they are not allowed to. The gifts and that crazy, holy call you feel tugging on your heart is irrevocable, so don’t try to hand it back to God just because you found this whole thing weighty and hard. Listen to the Spirit of God and surround yourself with people who stir up truth and courage instead of confusion and anger. If it scares you silly, it might just be God. Just keep showing up scared and ask God to move in your circumstances.

“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29 ESV)


Jennifer Watson is a self-professed girly-girl who is convinced that coloring your hair is addictive. With an undying affection for refined sugar and red lipstick, she is a mother of two miracle babies and an out-of-the-box minister’s wife. "Sometimes I’m a total wreck and over-share, but I’ve learned how to unpack my emotional baggage in the spotlight of leadership." Her ministry to broken girls took on a different shape when, in a place of leadership, Jennifer stopped hiding her own brokenness and decided to be brave and see what God wanted to do with it. Jennifer and her husband, Jonathan, pastor in Bella Vista, AR. Follow her at

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