Now and again it hurts and most times painful to be a minister of God. Try not to misunderstand me: I cherish being a minister and would not change this calling God has given me, yet here and there it harms. Before I was called to the service I had a large group of various occupations: retail, development, four years in the Army, janitorial work, deals, and different sorts of work. The single direction being a minister is not quite the same as different employments is that you are all the more frequently influenced by your loved ones and the spirits you regulate.
One of the greatest challenges in ministry is separating “work” from home. I’ve spent countless nights without sleep, praying for people, begging God to change their minds about certain decisions. There is also the tendency to be the father-figure who is always hovering over his flock, because you love the sheep so much that you are afraid to let them make life-altering decisions.
There is additionally the harmed that comes when individuals you adore and love talk about you in manners you can’t comprehend. Ministers of God have a past filled with adoring and giving up for their sheep, whose expressions of dissatisfaction or investigate can sting profoundly.
Ministering to Others’ Pain
Last year was a season in ministry that had its fair share of pain. Yet in his grace, God used those wounds to remind me of wounds I once caused. I had moved to San Diego in 2007 with a team of people to plant a church. In late 2008, my theological views shifted away from a seeker-sensitive type ministry to a more biblical view of the church.
Living in a house with six other men at the time, I had quite an influence on my roommates. As we studied the Scriptures together, we often found ourselves at odds with the church we had come to help plant. After a year or so, we all started leaving the church one by one.
As one of the flat mates who worked for the congregation, I wish I would have better conveyed to the congregation and minister my explanations behind leaving. In spite of the fact that I left in the most ideal manner I thought conceivable at the time, I currently observe that I hurt the minister. I am in some sense encountering similar injuries that I myself once caused.
We Can Unintentionally Hurt Others
There is a gripping scene from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy that I have not been able to get out of my head lately. A boy named Shasta and a girl named Aravis sprint away on their horses from the hot pursuit of a lion. While Shasta escapes, the lion claws Aravis’s back, terribly injuring her.
Later on, the lion Aslan (a depiction of Jesus) reveals himself to Shasta. Sad over his friend being clawed by the lion, Shasta asks Aslan, “Then it was you who wounded Aravis?” to which Aslan replies, “It was I.” When Shasta asks him why he would do such a hurtful thing, Aslan replies, “I am telling you your story, not hers.”
So why did Aslan tear apart Aravis’s back? We learn in The Horse and His Boy that Aravis grew up in a privileged home but was being forced to marry a man she despised. She eventually ran away from home, but she did so in a way that caused her servant girl to be blamed and receive a severe beating. Aslan claws Aravis’s back as a means of showing her the pain she caused the servant girl. Her stripes represented the wounds her own servant girl endured for her.
God Uses Our Hurts to Grow Us
Like the painful stripes Aravis experiences, hard seasons of ministry have their share of hurts—ones that run deep. This pain is not too different from the kind I once caused, and it helps me to be both more aware and understanding of these types of wounds. It has also helped me to take my eyes off of myself and my injuries and instead to depend more on God.
In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul expresses love for the Corinthian church. It is a love so deep, so committed, that he is willing to suffer so that the believers might be comforted. Yet, the suffering is so bad that it brings him to realize he can neither fix the situation nor comfort himself. In a hard but helpful verse, Paul says,
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Cor. 1:8-9)
“Paul came to a place where his pain ran so deep that there was nowhere else to turn but to God who raises the dead. What does this mean for those of us who are enduring pain for the sake of others? It means that a day is coming when God will raise the dead unto an eternity without suffering—a day when all sin, slander, and gossip will be a distant memory as God’s people are united around the Lamb that was slain for them. Yet, this passage also reveals the suffering of another.”
Jesus Suffered So That We Would Suffer No More
Before God raised Jesus from the dead, he crushed him to the point of death. He wounded his only Son—not for anything he did, but for all the times we had wounded others. The prophet Isaiah declares,
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (Isa. 53:4-5)
In his incredible love for his people, Jesus was injured for our wrongdoings—for the damages we have caused—and it is in those injuries and stripes he persevered through that we discover mending and reliance on God. There might be times where our God enables us to experience enduring, however he utilizes it to give us a more prominent comprehension of his forbearing affection for us.
There is multi day coming when these damages and these injuries will be dressed and recuperated until the end of time. We will remain with euphoria within the sight of the lifted up Jesus who will in any case bear the scars of our wrongdoing. So when the damages come in this life, let them drive you to your great and adoring Savior.