So your church has wounded you? You’ve got open wounds, gushers bleeding everywhere; you need triage. You’re angry that you’ve been hurt—but more than that, you’re just hurt. You’re leaving your church—you might be leaving ministry altogether—jumping into the great unknown, and you really don’t know what’s going to happen…or even what NEEDS to happen.
Hold on to these few things—and know that even though you’ll recognize truth in the bullet points below, wisdom and logic won’t be enough to heal a broken soul…but Jesus will!
a) Its OK to take a respite. Never question the wisdom of regrouping. If you need a break from church ministry, embrace that as God-given time to reflect and heal.
b) But in that, make sure healing is what you’re embracing. Wounds left to fester can become bitter, nasty, open sores that never go away. Find some people that can minister to your heart and the heart of your family.
c) This may be the first time you are getting to pick a church because of the ministry they can offer you, instead of what you can offer them. Choose wisely, and don’t lead for a while. Let friends bind your wounds.
d) The church was never your provision—God was. He can do it with or without the church’s help. Invite your friends to pray fervently for a job that will give you all you need to be a great spouse, parent, and minister.
e) Not all churches are like the one that’s wounded you—you probably already know this. But some of them are. Know that you’re ready for that before you get back in. Sometimes the best position is a volunteer one.
f) Being true to who you are as a pastor and minister makes you wise, not selfish. If you decide to go back to church ministry, never fall into the trap of thinking you can “change” for them or “be who they need” or anything like that. Count it a privilege to know who you are as a pastor enough to say no to places that could really use what God has gifted you with, but who you would be wrong for in the long run.
g) Pray for your pastor. Dysfunctional pastors raise dysfunctional churches. And if your heart was ever for the people of that congregation, you have to pray for pastoral healing so the church can be all God intended—and so that you can be, too.
Recovery from severe injury can be a long, exhausting process. Without that work, though, permanent gimp can follow the rest of your life—limping, scars, even gaping, open wounds. Spend the time necessary for healing and restoration of your soul and your family.
Darren is a veteran youth pastor in Corpus Christi, TX, and co-hosts a weekly podcast for parents of teenagers (http://www.facebook.com/mipodcast) with his wife, Katie.