Is ministry life everything you imagined it would be? Maybe you didn’t have a clear picture of what this life would be like when you began this journey. If you’re like me, you desire to help people, make a difference in the world, and advance God’s Kingdom here on earth. You want to do great things for God and never realized the challenges and hurts that you would encounter. After all, shouldn’t all Christians get along with each other? Shouldn’t people who go to church be nice to each other?
Why is it so very difficult and painful at times to do what God has called you to do?
For many years, I worked in the business world and with a significant number of people who did not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I expected them to gossip and talk about me. I expected them to be mean and hurtful at times. I expected to experience jealousy and competitiveness. I expect sinners to act like sinners, but I also expect Christians to act like Jesus. Isn’t that how it is supposed to be?
The Bible provides numerous examples of people who loved, served, and honored God, yet they sinned. Even the passionate Disciples, those handpicked by Jesus, failed Him time and time again. If Jesus, the only perfect human being who ever walked on the earth endured ridicule, shame, and persecution, should we expect any different? If Jesus was betrayed by someone in His inner circle, why are we surprised when those closest to us betray us? If Jesus taught the principle of forgiving seventy times seven, shouldn’t the same be required of us?
In the short yet seemingly long 15 years that I have been a Pastor’s wife, I feel that I have experienced my fair share of hurts, disappointments, and betrayals. People have walked away from my husband and our church after we have loved them and sown into their lives. Some of those closest to us have gossiped about us, slandered our good names, and betrayed our trust. Some meant no harm at all, but they didn’t understand how leaving our church would be painful for us. Even worse, some of the greatest hurts that we have experienced have come from those who also serve in ministry.
Ministry hurts come in all shapes and sizes. It can be as seemingly innocent as gossip in the hallways, condescending looks or remarks, words spoken out of anger, unrealistic expectations, attacks on one’s family, insults made about your husband’s preaching, unfair comparisons with a “favorite” Pastor’s wife or another church, being treated like a hired hand, social snubbing, and even being “unfriended” or blocked on Facebook. Ministry hurts can be as big as a pastoral staff member not leaving “well” and influencing some of the family to leave with him. It can be as devastating as a full-fledged church split.
Behind every hurt that we experience, the enemy is at work, and at times, he uses Christians to do his dirty work.
Although we have high expectations for those who come to our houses of worship, the fact is that a church is full of sinners – some saved by grace, some spectators, and some seekers. Sadly, it is usually the Jesus followers who hurt us and not the lost.
One day I was reflecting on an extremely difficult season of ministry for my husband and me. Truthfully, it was a gut-wrenching ordeal that impacted us for several months. Had it not been for the grace of God and the love of those around us, I think I would have thrown in the towel.
I wanted to crawl in a cave and come back out when everything was better.
We had experienced betrayal that caused damage to our names and widespread destruction to our church. This blow not only took me to my knees, but also put me flat on the floor seeking God for His divine help, protection, and emotional healing. Day after day, I cried out to God for His help, and during this time, I experienced the presence of God like never before. I heard the voice of God more clearly than I ever had. I learned to trust God like I never had in my life.
I can honestly say that I would not trade that season for anything easier.
As I later reflected on this horrendous time in my life, I asked God to show me how I navigated my way back to wellness and wholeness. How did I make it through the fire to the other side full of God’s richest blessings?
Here are the seven strategies and foundational scriptures that God gave me for healing the hurts of ministry.
Strategy #1 - CHOOSE TO FORGIVE
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13 - NIV)
Strategy #2 - SPEND TIME IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11 - NIV)
Strategy #3 - WALK IN LOVE AND INTEGRITY
“And walk in the way of love just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2 – NIV)
Strategy #4 - SPEAK GOD’S WORD OVER YOUR LIFE
“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21 - NIV)
Strategy #5 – SEEK COUNSEL FROM SPIRITUALLY WISE PEOPLE
“Let those with understanding receive guidance.” (Proverbs 1:5b – NLT)
Learn more about Let's Come Alongside
Strategy #6 - BLOCK OUT THE NOISE IN YOUR LIFE
“Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me.” (Psalm 131:2 - Conservative)
Strategy #7: PRACTICE GOOD SELF-CARE
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – NIV)
You can learn more about these seven strategies in my free e-book entitled, Healing the Hurts of Ministry: 7 Strategies for Moving Forward. I invite you to connect with me at www.susanbelisle.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/susanbelislenetwork/
My prayer is that you walk in the fullness of God’s love, grace, healing, and abundance. He has such an AMAZING plan for your life! Receive God’s healing today.
Praying for you friend,
After many years of enjoying a single life and climbing the corporate ladder, God divinely connected Susan Belisle with her husband, Sam. Serving in ministry with Sam at Celebration Church (Roanoke, VA) is both a joy and an adventure. Susan has enjoyed her times on life’s mountaintop and also experienced God’s extravagant love and grace when traveling through life’s valleys. She is passionate about local church ministry and her call to encourage, equip, and empower pastors’ wives and women in ministry. Outside of ministry, some of Susan’s favorite things include spending time with family, bike riding, having lunch with friends, drinking herbal tea, collecting Starbucks mugs, and traveling.