To continue with our previous discussion, sometimes your staff and their spouses really want to be transparent and let you know what they need and desire from their congregations. Unfortunately, they often feel like they are unable to express those needs and desires for fear of being rejected, misunderstood, or even mistreated by their congregations.
But, as I told a friend last week, these posts are not for me to get on my high-horse and shame the masses. They aren't really even intended for the masses as the primary audience. My intention is to speak for those who can't speak for themselves. To speak for those whose words can, and will, be used against them. I know how it feels. I've walked in their shoes. I'm not writing out of anger, or spite, or with ill-will towards anyone or any church. Let me be completely clear: I have nothing to personally gain from these posts--but I hope they will at least encourage the ministers and their spouses.
A few of you commented on the Facebook link and even sent messages in response to the post from last week. One friend mentioned that she wanted to share the post, but was afraid that it would be taken the wrong way by the wrong people. This individual has a very realistic fear and was smart to be cautious about how her actions would be perceived.
That is the primary fear of most ministry spouses: how is this situation going to reflect on my spouse, me, or my career?
Often, the ministry families are under intense scrutiny by their congregations. They are judged by their dress, their children, their behavior, their words, their organizational skills, the cars they drive, the thank-you notes they do (or do not) send, the words they say, they food they prepare, their homes. . .the list goes on and on and on. There are people that immediately jump to the worst case scenario and take conversations the worst possible way--only to spread vicious gossip and half-truths about their ministry staff.
I could tell ridiculous stories about how my husband was raked over the coals for things that were so insane and crazy. I could tell about meetings I've sat in, people that have lost their tempers, lies that have been told, and how our backs (and hearts) ached from the stabbing from "friends" and volunteers. All of your ministry families could share a story to two. But this post is not supposed to be a blood-letting.
I firmly believe that this is an ongoing spiritual battle. When a minister or their spouse comes under attack, Satan gets a foothold into the ministry family and into the congregation. When someone says or does something incredibly hurtful, the wounded party gets angry. And bitter. And begins to hold a grudge against the offender.
I don't know about you, but if someone talks poorly about my husband, I'm ready to go to war on his behalf. It's often better if he doesn't tell me about a negative situation, because I'm going to carry that with me for a long time. It's hard for me to let go of those offenses, and I've wanted to post things here or on Facebook or walk around with a bullhorn to speak the truth. But what good would it do? It would only complicate the situation and fuel the offender's fire. One of my quickest prayers has often been, "Lord, guard my heart" which often follows with "and my mouth and my mind in this situation."
We need to be in the business of building others up, not tearing them down. Christians are often the worst when it comes to encouragement. We are quick to pick apart the faults of others and let our pride and jealousy get in the way of ministry. Unfortunately, this only creates an environment of doubt and lack of self-worth, and your ministry staff finds themselves trying to appease and please their congregations and their leadership rather than listening to the Lord and seeking ways to effectively reach those outside of the church. A new minister could have a very long and relatively easy career if he learns to play the game early on.
Except this is not a game.
This is eternal life and death.
To be continued. . .