My brother, Nathan French, hosts an outstanding podcast called Noteworthy. You can easily find it on your favorite podcasting platform. The latest episode is something I believe everyone should listen to with an open heart and mind. For your convenience, I’ve embedded the Halloween episode below.
You might be in ministry if you have…
…encouraged those who discouraged you.
…loved those who left you.
…prayed for those who preyed upon you.
…lifted those who let you down.
…laughed with those who laughed at you.
…given to those who do not give.
…rejoiced with those who rejoiced against you.
…worked for those who worked against you.
Count it all joy. That’s what it means to be like Christ. Why would we have it better than our Master?
Of course, there are tremendous blessings and rewards as well. Most of them are spiritual and otherworldly. However, I think we set up young aspiring ministers for failure when we fail to prepare them for the realities of ministry. Ninety-nine percent of ministry is not glamorous or exciting.
Make sure you have a genuine calling and unshakable burden before you enter the ministry.
I should begin by expressing my sympathy to victims of genuine church hurt. It’s easy for me to empathize because I too, have been hurt by “church” people. I’ve seen heroes up close only to find they were much less heroic than expected. I’ve watched in shock as brothers and sisters in the Lord acted more like devilish pawns in a cosmic game of chess. I’ve often felt lonely trying to do the right thing. Doing the right thing commonly goes unappreciated (or at least under-appreciated) and the unfairness of that can produce toxic levels of bitterness.
Regardless, not one of the above mentioned things even slightly impacts my relationship with God or my commitment to righteousness. Still, church hurt seems to be the excuse of choice for backsliders, backstabbers, backbiters, and rabid bitterness these days. However, any excuse leading to self-justification rather than godly justification is spiritual suicide.
One of the great dangers Christians face is the temptation to justify their own bad behavior because of someone else’s sin. Just because they’re drinking poison doesn’t mean you should too. Just because someone else is evil doesn’t excuse your favorite flavor of sin.
Whether you’ve been hurt, let down, disappointed, disillusioned, or downright persecuted your duty to God never changes.
In fact, Jesus even told us outright persecution and disdain would be something His followers should expect to face (Matthew 5:10-12, Luke 6:22). If Jesus had a Judas why wouldn’t you? It wasn’t Pilot the pagan who wanted Jesus dead it was the high priest Caiaphas who plotted His crucifixion. Truly, Jesus faced far more hurt from His own people than from the pagan world.
Church hurt is very real, and it should be prevented whenever possible. But in reality, if you live for God long enough a wolf in sheep’s clothing is going to take a bite out of you. But I’d rather suffer persecution and be right with God than gain the whole world and lose my soul (Mark 8:36).
Honestly, the logic of leaving church altogether because someone hurt me is just plain flawed. Do we quit a great job because of one bad coworker? Do we abandon our dream home because of one bad neighbor? Do we stop being Americans because of bad Americans? Do we stop going to our favorite coffee shop because of a rude barista? If we left every place or institution that hurt us at some point we just couldn’t go anywhere – including our homes!
If we dig right down to the nitty gritty many are using church hurt as an excuse to do what they already wanted to do in their hearts; backslide. Furthermore, much of what some are calling church hurt is really just an easily offended spirit (Proverbs 19:11, Ecclesiastes 7:21-22, James 1:19, Luke 7:23, 2 Timothy 2:24).
Correction is not church hurt. Disagreement is not church hurt. Oversight is not church hurt. Having your talents overlooked is not church hurt. Someone frowning at you is not church hurt. Strong preaching is not church hurt. Snowflake “Christians” are melting and calling the sun evil! Ironically, they usually end up hurting people while pointing to their hurt as justification for their bad behavior. It’s a smokescreen shieldIng their own carnality and spiritual immaturity.
Again, it grieves me to hear about Christians hurting Christians. We should be known by our love for one another (John 13:35). There’s nothing friendly about friendly fire! And yes, there are legitimate reasons to leave a church. Yes. There are times you have to expose a well disguised wolf in sheep’s clothing. Sometimes you have to find a safer spiritual environment. But abandoning Truth because of hurt makes absolutely no sense at all. It’s like jumping off a bridge because someone pushed you to the ground or cutting off your foot because someone stepped on your toes.
Actually, the real problem here is relationship. No. Not relationships between brothers and sisters in the Lord. The problem is real relationship with God. You see, our relationship with God isn’t predicated on how others behave. I serve the Lord because He is my savior. Whatever others decide to do doesn’t change what Jesus has done for me. God’s Word doesn’t change because someone else failed.
Sometimes we serve God with the help of others and sometimes we serve God in spite of others. Either way, God is still God and He is always good.
The Psalmist spoke to this very issue when he said, “Great peace have those who love thy law; nothing can make them stumble (Psalm 119:165)”. Deeply loving the Lord and His Word will keep you from stumbling, mumbling, and bumbling when people let you down.
Church hurt doesn’t excuse backsliding. Jesus didn’t call angels to take him off the cross because He loves us! Our crosses, no matter how difficult to endure, should never cause us to abandon our Savior who suffered for us.