Monday, September 15, 2008

The Risk of A Minister’s Heart

When I was about ten years old I was helping my mother in the kitchen, as we prepared a meal. I enjoy cooking, and always have. This particular day I was helping to peel potatoes, and cut them up for dinner. While cutting through the potato I managed to cut the end of my left ring finger. The slice went fairly deep, and we washed it, cleaned out any thing that might cause infection, put ointment and a Band-aide over the wound. More than twenty-five years have passed since the accident of cutting my finger, and yet when ever I look at the tip of my finger I see a straight line indented permanently into the skin. The wound healed and my finger works fine, yet a scare remains.

I have on my body other scares from other incidents through out life. Most scares are minor, and were caused by accident; some even from my own stupidity in my younger years. I have two scares, one upon each ankle which was intentionally put upon my body. You might ask why someone would intentionally have scars put upon their body. In my case they were surgically placed there, when in my preteen years a doctor rebuilt arches into both of my feet. You see I had been born with fallen arches, and the doctor had to operate to change the form of my body, so that I would walk better in latter years.

Healing of wounds, whether surgical or accident, take time. Some wounds heal, and are hardly noticeable to the eye. Other wounds will leave a scar that can be seen to remind us of what happened so long ago. Some healing, like my finger will leave little pain to remind us, although they may feel funny when rubbed just a certain way. Other wounds, as with my ankles, may heal and the scar may not be sensitive, but under the surface may remain sensitive the rest of our lives. If I put too much strain on my ankles, or do get hit near where the surgery took place it sends pain to my body to remind me of what was done so many years ago.

The healing of emotional and spiritual wounds is a lot like this too. We may go through a situation, which was not planned, and end up with a scar deep in our heart and soul. While the old saying is, “Time heals all wounds”, we all know that time often doesn’t heal completely. O we can bury ourselves in living our lives, and we can get over the initial pain or suffering. However, when someone says something just a certain way, or a situation comes up that is similar to where we were hurt those feeling of pain come to mind and we hurt a little again.

One of the things in ministry that I have heard, and have come to realize is that we as ministers risk being hurt. We can not minister to others, if we are not willing to be rejected, forgotten, torn down, disregarded, or hurt in some other way. After a time of hurt we may need to reflect, grow, and overcome. Yet in time we will feel the need to minister to others, and put our lives on the line of getting hurt again. It is part of caring for others, and being open to them.

Our church has been through some hurt in the past six months. I made a decision, which was not accidental, but more surgical in nature. I felt I could not recommend the keeping of a staff position, a position which was in place before my arrival two years ago. The end result was arguments from various people in the church, and an eventual split of several people. It was painful, and I wish the separation never would have happened. I know the change of position was needed, but I and the church would have done far better with out the fall out. Wounds were formed in my life, in many individuals, and with-in the church as a whole. Big decisions in smaller churches often have larger impact, simply because everyone is interconnected, and often interrelated.

The church is healing, and beginning to pull together and grow again. We know there is a long road ahead, but we are following God’s lead to where He wants our congregation to be going in the future. We have given the past few months as healing, and now are desire to reach out more. Some who left have begun a new work in our area, and are now talking and reopening friendships with those who remain in the church.

A recent suggestion from one of our church leaders was to offer our facility to the new ministry work, as a fundraising space for their church. Most of my leaders felt that this was a good gesture of Christian friendship and love. I have no idea whether they will really be open to doing something with us, but I see in the leaders here a desire to help healing, by reaching out to those who left in a supportive way.

Scars remain, and I must admit that the suggestion of doing something with this group does cause some concern. However, I know from experience that for full healing to happen it sometime takes a little stretching of ourselves. After having my ankles operated on, and spending three months in a cast I had to rebuild some of the muscles that had atrophied a bit. I also had to get my ankles stronger over time by using them.

Sometimes the best healing for a hurting heart is to love others, as you would want to be loved. You may not be ready to step out or reach out to one who hurt you or your ministry just yet, but you can love others in your community and the church where you now minister.

Some may argue that this is just some psychological play on emotions, but in the Bible when a prophet was low and felt down God often put them back to work. Many times the work the prophets required them to go back and face the ones who hurt them. Samuel had to anoint David, after wanting to give up on leadership and living in fear of Saul. Elijah had to leave the cave and go back the way he came in order to anoint new leaders and his replacement. Jesus had to go to Jerusalem in order to finish the work he was called to do.

We may need time to heal, and recover from the pain of situations in life. I would suggest taking time to heal and rebuild your self in the Lord and His power. We must in the end, trust God to face the challenges that lie ahead of us. We must risk loving others again. We must learn and take from the pain that we have been through, so we can better love and reach others with the love of Jesus Christ.

- Keep on your Journey with Jesus this week.

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