Restoring Wounded Soldiers
Pastor Abe Huber, who pastors a church of 60,000 people in Brazil, noted that the church is the only army that shoots its own wounded. How can we do better?
1. Don't forget the good that wounded or fallen soldiers have done.
2. Don't judge them for falling. Who are we to judge our neighbor? How easy it is to condemn and accuse. Remember, Satan is the accuser ... not us.
3. Don't ignore them ... like the priest and the Levite in Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan, who walked by the man who had been beaten up.
4. Feel compassion (pity) for them, like the Good Samaritan did.
5. Go to them. Draw close to them, talk with them and hear their story.
6. Believe in their restoration. Stay and help; pour in oil and wine.
7. Go after the one. Be faithful. Like Jesus, try not to lose any of those entrusted to you (John 17:12).
One third of all pastors have contemplated leaving the ministry. There is a 20% drop-out rate in the first five years. Many ministers consider themselves alone in their distress. There is a great stigma attached to leaving the ministry. Burnout is the #1 hindrance and primary cause of attrition.
Some unique issues for pastors, and predictors of burnout, are: personal vulnerability (over-emphasis on the "call" and over-involvement in the church to the exclusion of outside social support), role conflict (unrealistic expectations and difficulty in maintaining healthy role boundaries), social support (life in the "fish bowl" and on the "pedestal", no close friends, loneliness) and false dichotomies (ideal loving community yet broken sinners, meekness and equality vs leadership, church family vs pastor's family).
Common wounds include: broken trust, betrayal, false accusation, confused friendships, hurtful words or judgments, ambitious demands, abandonment and manipulation. Sooner or later, everyone will disappoint you ... by what you do or don't do, by what you say or don't say. This is reality.
We are to be "wounded healers" (a term crafted by Henri Nouwen). Some times we are surprised from the arrows coming from behind us. God is often difficult to understand ... and so are people. The church is called to be a loving community but the reality is that it is made up of wounded, dysfunctional sinners saved by grace.
After a defeat at Ziklag, even David's own men plotted to kill him (1Sam.30:6). He had to learn to strengthen and encourage himself in the Lord.
See the sovereignty of God in situations behind human actions ( (2Sam.16:10-12, 14). This can lessen a lot of the infection. Learn to trust God. Know how to spend time with the Lord and refresh yourself.
How to Resolve Hurt
We all get hurt but with God's help we can deal with it. Learn to prevent a hurt from becoming a wound.
1. Understand that people will disappoint us. No one is perfect.
2. We cannot control how people treat us, but we can control how we respond to them. Disappointment is inevitable but prolonged pain (a festering wound) is optional.
3. Believe that God is sovereign.
4. Give thanks in everything. Trust that God IS doing what is best for you. He uses everything for his purpose. Brokenness is essential. When God takes away something, he usually has something better (not just in ministry).
5. Our life must be centered on God as the source of our self worth, security, and identity. Many knots untie themselves in prayer. In your pain, seek Jesus, allowing him to heal your brokenness.
6. Chose to be humble. Humility means we have nothing to prove but a lot to improve. If people criticize you, the options are: (a) it's the truth (so, change), (b) it's not true (so, thank them, and take it as a warning), or (c) it's partly true (so, praise God, take it as a warning). Thank them and embrace them.
7. Forgive and love people. God places "extra grace required" (EGR) people in all of our lives. Distinguish between trust and forgiveness. One is earned and other is free.
8. Sanctify your motive.
9. Surround yourself with good supportive friends.