Fern and I recently got the pleasure of hearing one of my heroes, Jim Henry, speak at the Mega Metro Pastor’s Conference. He talked to us about how to handle hurts in the ministry.
He began by sharing some of the painful experiences he had in the ministry. If you are in the ministry very long issues will arise and people will take a cheap shot at you. It comes with the territory. It is just a matter of time. So the issue is not if but when these things occur, how do you respond? Jim's notes apply not only to those in leadership but also to anyone who may experience hurt by others in the church.
1. Face reality. Painful situations hurt. To pretend they do not simply compounds the problem.
2. Pray the Word of God. This is specially a time to stand upon and claim the promises of God. He shared that this one discipline got them through many times.
3. Do not respond too quickly when you are hurt. Sometimes a knee-jerk reaction or a word spoken too soon simply compounds the problem. Make sure you are prayed up and prayed through before you respond to anything.
4. Remember that it is better to confront an issue than to brush it under the rug. Too often failing to address an issue simply gives it time to get worse.
5. Try to be noble and respond with grace as best you can. How would Jesus respond in this situation is a good question to ask.
6. Get alone with God and seek his mind and assessment of the situation and how you should respond. Crises and difficult times, unfair accusations and attacks of the enemy never catch the Lord off guard. Remember this, when there is a situation and the church knows about it, you cannot hide. These things almost never go away on their own.
7. Seek wise counsel. There are godly people whom God will bring into your life who will help give you honest feedback and an objective assessment.
8. Compartmentalize. There are times when you simply have to put these things down and take care of other business. If you do not compartmentalize, it can lead to a paralysis of action. By compartmentalizing, I mean, just shut part of that world out for a time.
9. Remember that people are watching you. By your actions and reactions, you are giving them a life lesson.
10. Understand that a crisis will often make you as a shepherd-leader. What someone meant for evil, God will have meant for good to prepare you for the next leg of your journey.
Let me add a few things that I, too, have learned from difficult situations.
First, no matter what happens, forgive. Do not hold a hurt done to you over someone's head. You can forgive without forgetting. Forgiving is a choice. A heart unwilling to forgive is a heart unable to receive the life-sustaining grace of God.
Second, refuse to be preoccupied with the past. Be grateful for what God is doing now and look forward with anticipation to what He will do in the days ahead.
Third, understand that no matter what happens to you, God either permitted the circumstances, or He will override the circumstances. At times, He caused the circumstances to prepare you for your next assignment in life. Do you think Moses ever fretted during his 39th year in the wilderness or if he had any idea that God was preparing him for his greatest assignment?
Finally, never forget, our lives with all the twists and turns, are in God's hands. He is God and we are not. He is ultimately the one who rights all wrongs and it is sufficient to leave these things in His hands.
At some point you will be hurt by someone in the church. How will you respond?