“One of the great dangers of leadership is this: we stop doing ministry out of imagination and we start doing ministry out of memory. We learn how and forget why. We stop creating the future and start repeating the past.” – Mark Batterson
Painful Circumstances can also cause us to rely on memory/autopilot for ministry. Hurting people hurt other people. In ministry, often hurting people hurt those in leadership. Church splits, miscommunicated messages, death or illness… these things hurt church leaders deeply and when we hurt, we can tend to rest in places we already know are safe – reducing the risk of further injury.
But you can’t do ministry from a shell. Ministry requires our hearts to be exposed in order to touch those around us. Instead of resting in the comfort of the cocoon, however, we need to lean into the blows that will come our way. Perhaps it’s a fleshing out of the proverbial “turning the other cheek.” You’ve given yourself in ministry and been hurt. You could withdraw into a mode of ministry that keeps you insulated, but that also renders you ineffective. Or you can choose to offer yourself again and again to the wolves who will snipe and bite at everything from your intelligence to your electric bill to your availability, to your character…
It doesn’t sound very appealing to just say “I’m going to give myself in ministry to people who will take me for granted, chew me up, and spit me out.” Honestly, it sounds pretty stupid, and my mind tells me that the people who would cause me pain don’t deserve my efforts. Thank God that Jesus has a clearer mind than mine!
The imagination of Christ tells him to die so sinners can live.
The imagination of Christ tells him to open up his friend’s tomb and tell him to come back out – after he’d been dead for several days!
The imagination of Christ tells him to pick up a cross and go where God is leading, even though it seems that God is not there.
I’m not advocating pastoral abuse here. There are plenty of stories of ministers who’ve just been emotionally and spiritually beaten up. It’s not ok. But if you’re in ministry (or any other type of leadership) there will be some painful circumstances that come along. Don’t let them derail the holy imagination that God has placed within you. Don’t let them dull the mind of Christ, creatively living within you. Play hurt when you need to. Make time for rest and recuperation. But don’t give up hope.