It doesn’t take much to find articles on ministry statistics revealing a host of realities. In many cases research outlets and books are echoing similar issues. In general, a great many people hoping to be in vocational ministry aren’t making it there, and many of the ones who are, aren’t staying there. Quite often this doesn’t even include volunteer turnover, and it’s not always the most pleasant of departures. I’ll save the “why” these things are happening for men much more learned than I. The forgotten reality is that of the spouse torn between two loves. As a Christian we have built-in us, though it may be wounded for a moment, a love for the body of believers to which we call ourselves one, and at the same time we have a covenant defender in us that wants to go to the mat for our spouse, male or female. What does it look like when the one you love, has been wounded by the ones you love? Here are a few practical ideas:
1- Realize and don’t minimize the deep impact of the hurt. Ask most people to recall something from their childhood and you’ll typical reveal a horrific story or two. Memory is attached to passions, and when you’ve been wounded by those who were close to you, it sticks with you as close as the death of a loved one. In many cases, whether it be your physical or spiritual family, that hurt stays in a perpetual coping mode for the rest of your life. Especially if you have fault to bear. No matter the fault, it hurts.
2- Be patient when it seems to take a long time to heal from it. Imagine you’re a pastor whose poured your’s and your family’s life resources into seeking a pastoral position. When that goes south, that has a sting like nothing they’ve ever experienced, so be patient as the wound heals. Bones aren’t mended in a day and neither are spirits.
3- Believe it will heal. It’s important to be realistically hopeful about the hurt. While your understanding and being patient in regards to this deep trauma, it’s critical that you believe it will heal. Your believing looks like prayer, and tenderly applying the balm of God’s word at opportune moments for the one you love.
4- Be what was lacking. Listen, I love my son unimaginably but if he expectantly bit me on the leg, I’d be cautious of another bite for quite a while. The one whose hurt will naturally and cautiously isolate themselves, at different levels of course, from the ones who have hurt them. In that momentary isolation, you’re the center stage model of Christianity for them, so step up and take on that role. The role of nonpresumptuously caring, loving, and understanding how this hurt is impacting them. This hurt is the lens through which they see the world, and your slowly and gently removing those glasses. Do not be Job’s wife.
5- Relationships age. This is the frame-work issue that you’ve got to help them understand, it’s critical. So many people live with the wounds of relational failures, and because of the sub-cultural rejection of this type of hurt and the reality of being rejected by what seems to be a group rather than an individual, this is a different type of wound. It’s a wound that feels life shattering. It’s important to understand the structure of relationships has to age with you, and it’s vital that be communicated often to the wounded. You are generally not going to form bounds like were formed in school, but you cannot help but carry that relational frame-work into the rest of your life. We grow up, but our idea of relationships often doesn’t. We can, to our detriment, carry into adulthood a high-school frame-work of relationships.
The priority of your relational frame-work has to flow; Christ, family, church, and world. Though all are necessary for a functioning Christian, there is only one of these that does not disappoint, Christ. It may feel like He is teaching us a lesson, getting even, or somehow vindictively being aloof from our needs, but He’s not. He loves His people unimaginably, and he like the loving father and good physician knows what we need to be most like Him. Each one of these involve people, so each one of these involve humility at greater intensities at different times. It’s difficult to hear, but the deeper our self-interest the greater potential for relational wounds, and the longer it takes to heal. The more we love ourselves, the more we hate when others don’t.