Ever felt abused by leadership? Mistreated by a boss? Maybe you find yourself unable to trust. Possibly it was even a church that just ran you over and the thought of darkening the doorway of a worship center brings back painful memories. I think this tends to cut even deeper when it comes from a Christian brother or sister. Too often people believe working with Christians or for Christians will bring blissful spiritual unity. When the human nature inevitably comes roaring out, we are left disappointed, and understandably dumb-founded. What do you do now? Know upfront this is written primarily to those who have been hurt by these so-called Christian leaders, though some of these principles also apply in the secular world.
I want to add a disclaimer: if you have been hurt in an illegal way, please seek professional counsel right away.
That being said, here are five things that I hope will help you find healing:
1) Remember, most systems that have become domineering started with good intentions. So the real question is, how do shepherds turn into wolves? The difference between a love that desires to cultivate life and law that demands control feels worlds apart, but the step from one to the other is actually quite small. Please take a moment and watch a message of mine out of Titus. This should help explain how the Pharisees who were heroes in the Old Testament became the very men who hung Jesus on the cross.
2) This next idea can be difficult to accept, and the idea comes from the Scripture that tells us, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous,” Matt 5:45. The truth is, a win in life is not health, wealth, or prosperity despite what many pastors teach. Evil people make great money, pastors whose lives are far from Biblically-aligned grow huge churches, and very Godly men and women live difficult lives. Grab a copy of “Foxe’s book of Martyrs” and you will see that good people do suffer. So let me make a few clear statements:
-Suffering doesn’t make you evil, bad, or out of God’s will. Yes, you heard me right.
-A good job, lots of money, and big ministry does not always mean someone is honoring God.
-The condition of your heart matters most, and you may not see the fruits of faithful living until you die and stand before Christ. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all,” 2 Corinthians 4:17.
-Take courage, other great men and women have suffered too! You are not alone.
3) It’s really hard to tell the difference between a King Saul and a David-in-training. Let me explain. If you have read much of the Old Testament you will know that King Saul had become a mad, jealous old man who tried to do some really evil things. You will also note that in King David’s life he chalked up a few on the ole’ sin score board. Let’s see… slept with another man’s wife and plotted his murder, just as an example, yet let’s not forget David was referred to as a man after God’s own heart. It’s really hard to tell if you are truly in the presence of a mad King Saul or a David in God’s boot camp. To whom again does revenge belong? Even when Nathan the prophet confronts David he didn’t remove him as king. He left all judgment to God. Don’t miss what I am about to say. I picked up the idea from the book I will recommend in section 5. Many well-intentioned dragons kill young Davids in their pursuit of someone whom they believe to be a mad Saul. God may not be done with your leader… just like he isn’t finished with you. You may be thinking, “you don’t understand what I have been through.” You may be surprised. Maybe one day I’ll have the courage to share my experiences, too.
4) You’re not free of malice either. Alright I know, another tough section, but this one isn’t as bad. In counseling I often come across people who are going through a divorce. In my first decade of working with failing marriages I had a tendency to side with the person who came to me first. Their sheer passion and perspective would win me over, while the unmet partner seemed to resemble Satan himself. The more I worked in counseling the more I began to realize no one is innocent. This doesn’t make wrong actions right or justify any way you have been treated. I just want you to be very aware of your response. Are you honoring God? Think fruit of the spirit. Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Another important thing to remember is that it is always the truth that sets us free (John 8:32). If you are harboring unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, or any unconfessed sin, you have some business with the Lord, and it is not until we come to a place of full awareness and personal confession of our own sin that we are truly set free.
Let me ask a few rhetorical questions here:
How do you talk about this person?
Do you find yourself often thinking judgmental, accusing, angry thoughts about this person?
Your answers to these questions could reveal some unfinished business in your heart.
5) This one is really simple. There is such power in fresh vision. This is actually an excerpt from an article I wrote for a paper awhile back.
“What amazes me even more are people who are experiencing great difficulty with purpose, and even at times, joy! Isn’t it amazing what we can endure when we have a clear objective in front of us? A mother in labor experiencing intense pain, yet filled with joyful anticipation. A marathon runner focused on the finish line, physically exhausted, as he pursues his goal with determination. Or what about cancer patients, who because of their children are willing to fight with every ounce of strength, against all odds, just to be with their loved ones a little longer? The truth is, we can survive a great deal of pain when our goal is made abundantly clear and we believe the fight is worth it. The renowned psychiatrist Viktor Frankl says it well, ‘If architects want to strengthen a decrepit arch, they increase the load which is laid upon it, for thereby the parts are joined more firmly together. So if therapists wish to foster their patients’ mental health, they should not be afraid to create a sound amount of tension through a reorientation toward meaning of one’s life.’ When one’s obsession is on their personal hardship, this only fosters more misery. While none of us can eliminate pain, when we have lasting, meaningful purpose, we can thrive even in the midst of it!
So let me ask a question…does your life have purpose?
Titus 2:13 (KJV)
‘Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.’
God never promised a removal of our pain, but a right relationship with him brings the words ‘blessed hope’ to life!”
Here is the link to the blog if you would like to read the whole article.
6) Get a book. It’s not one you would think I would recommend. It’s not foccused on feelings or finding peace. It’s one that can give deep understanding and healthier perspective. “A Tale of Three Kings” by Gene Edwards. Here is the link at Amazon. Seriously, get it, if you’re not too mad at me already. 🙂
I am truly sorry for any wrong that’s been done to you, and I want you to find such deep passion and purpose in life and in your Christian walk. You are welcome to click on the contact tab, send me an email, and I will pray for you!