ENRICHMAG.CA Fall 2010

WHEN MINISTRY HURTS

by David Hazzard, Editor

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Leadership—pastoral leadership in particular—can be an incredibly satisfying and deeply rewarding experience. We witness firsthand the spiritual birth of new believers into a life of faith and trust in God. Heaven rejoices and so do we! We are able to encourage and nurture disciples toward fruitful kingdom purpose. How valuable is that? We are often invited to share with individuals and families during their defining moments and significant rites of passage. Bonus! We have the honour of teaching and applying eternal truths in the contemporary rhythms of people’s lives. Priceless! Yes, ministry can be amazing.

But ministry can also be less than amazing. It can hurt. Not all the time, but sometimes—and sometimes for longer periods of time than we would really prefer. A younger leader, after sharing a painful situation with me, honestly stated, “This really sucks!”

The wounds inflicted on us can be intentional or unintentional, but either way they produce similar results: a measure of emotional pain, a numbing of heart, a loss of momentum, a draining of energy, a clouding of vision, a toll on relationships. If not addressed appropriately and in a timely fashion, all of these symptoms can lead to the conclusion of ministry.

This edition of
Enrich is intended to truthfully acknowledge the depth and variety of pain we may experience in ministry, but also to provide perspective, insight and encouragement. One goal would be to discover any redemptive value as a result of the hurtful experience so we are able to give away generously whatever comfort we have received (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Henri Nouwen’s 1979 classic, "The Wounded Healer", reminds Christian leaders not only of their humanity and vulnerability (i.e., we do hurt), but that through our frailty, God enables necessary identification with those we serve and valuable ministry to others through our woundedness.

But, truth be told, we as leaders can also be “wounding healers.” It is possible, in the expression of our humanity, our insecurity, our selfishness and our self-righteousness, that we inflict significant pain on the very people we are called to minister to or serve alongside. Dale Wolery’s article, “Hurting Those We Serve,” is a valuable resource encouraging increased self-awareness of the blind spots every leader has.

In one way or another, each article will assist in strengthening our endurance quotient so that we, like Paul, will be able to say, “I have fought long and hard for my Lord, and through it all I have kept true to Him” (2 Timothy 4:7a, TLB).


DAVID HAZZARD IS THE ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT FOR
FELLOWSHIP SERVICES AND ENRICH EDITOR.
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