Yesterday I shared some thoughts on staying emotionally healthy in ministry and today I want to share where most of my emotional upheaval comes from in one word: Expectations
Ministry and the church, unlike a corporation, comes with some non-negotiable values built into it that you expect people to embrace. Corporations do not ask you to love the person in the next cubicle, the CEO is fallible, which makes the rule book or book of standards the corporation teaches fallible as well. The church, and the people who attend there, know, at least in part, what it’s all supposed to be about. You would think after 30 years in the church, and 28 professionally, I would have figured out that not everyone is going to meet my expectations let alone God’s. I am a part time Pharisee, I do my best to do what is asked of me and I expect others to to do the same. That’s where my trouble begins.
I have been hurt more deeply and more often by “Christians” than any sinner or pagan could ever do. Now, if I worked with or among pagans or people who did not know Christ, my expectations would be different. Hurt or offense would still come because we are human and that happens if you stick around any kind of people group for any amount of time. It is when I become an emotional hoarder and believe that every negative emotion I feel is justified and worth holding on to that my state of mind becomes a cluttered mess. The T.V. show Clean Sweep reminds me how to approach out my emotional junk drawer.
In Clean Sweep organizer Peter Walsh takes on homes that are unorganized messes and are causing friction in the family. He often has to do battle with residents over material items they refuse to let go of.
Watch the video below between a woman and Peter about her uncle’s clock.
Every hurt has a story. We can remember times, places, the people who were there when we were hurt. Peter would be symbolic of the Holy Spirit trying to convince us to deal with our emotional attachments to our hurts. I can hear the Holy Spirit challenge me, “When are you going to deal with this?” or “Isn’t it time to let this go?” I will often fight the Holy Spirit, like this woman, and justify my reasons for holding on to my hurt and offense. I’ll say, “I’ll deal with it someday.” The Holy Spirit won’t let me get away without putting a date on when I should deal with it.
Recently I found out that a young man, who had been in my youth group, had an issue with me. When I found out he had an issue with me I did not confront him due to the lack of relationship I had with him, but through a third party I sent him a note apologizing for whatever I had done and invited him to talk with me whenever he would like and I left my phone number. I have not heard from him. I am not responsible for his response, I am responsible for my response. I could have chose to deal with it later or not all, but that would have troubled me. Dealing with an issue as soon as possible gets that trash in the right receptacle and out of my “house” so I can make room for the good things the Lord brings me.
“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
Jesus prods the disciples to deal with their stuff now, not later. Although it does not say it , I think the reverse applies. If I have something against someone, it makes presenting my offering or worship prayers to God very difficult. If I do not deal with it now, at an appropriate time, it will be my soul that suffers and not the person who has offended me.
No matter what the song says, I don’t like to “let it go”, but I know if I don’t, I risk my own spiritual health and productivity as a minister.
How often do you relay stories of hurt?
Do you see that as a sign that you have not forgiven the person or dealt with the issue?
Are you dealing with an issue that needs a date of resolution?
Would fixing a date make you deal with the issue sooner rather than later?