A few years ago, I came across a Google review of our church. It started off great. The author was complimentary about the kindness of our community, the hospitality of our people, the ministries of the church, etc. He even threw some praise my way. Then, the message turned nasty.
I wouldn’t have been so surprised by the negative shift in tone and content had I noticed that this post was written by someone who was using a fake name. It was shocking to read the false assumptions and half-truths. Even though this treatise was mostly misinformation, misinterpretation and misrepresentation, the words still hurt.
After the initial sting, I realized who wrote the review and knew what had transpired that inspired this scathing report. In the end, it turned out to be an immature response to an offense inflicted by someone other than me. And yet, I (and my wife) were cruelly and unfairly criticized.
To be fair, there were a few unflattering statements that were actually true. Ultimately, the vast majority of the message was inaccurate. Regardless, it triggered a shame response and opened up some wounds. The truth is: we all enter into ministry as flawed and fallen people. Our stories are filled with bumps and bruises. We’ve all faced bullies along the way. We’ve each borne our fair share of trauma, grief and regret. Our hearts have been broken and all our scars aren’t fully healed.
We have heart wounds that are perpetually exposed as we experience the insults, hardship, persecution, and difficulties that occur in pastoral ministry. The struggles and burdens of ministry aggravate old injuries AND cause new wounds. Personally, I long to be like the apostle Paul. I want to wholeheartedly believe that the grace of Christ is sufficient for me and that God’s power is made perfect in weakness. I would love to be relentless and resilient when the thorn digs in and my soul feels weary. Throughout my years in ministry I haven’t always had the resources and support I needed.
That’s why Fresh Hope for Pastors is introducing a new program for ministry leaders called Healing the Heart Wounds of Ministry. We know that serving the Lord in vocational ministry can be overwhelming. Too often, pastors try to put their heads down and power through. Most of the time, we do so in isolation from others. After all, the sheep have teeth and it is sometimes your own congregation that does much of the damage.
You need a safe environment where you can share your story with peers who understand. It’s ok not to be ok. Our Heart Wounds retreats offer the unique opportunity for pastors and their spouses to drop their guard and be honest with folks who will be empathetic and encouraging. And, participants won’t simply benefit during the time that we are together. Our goal is to send you back onto the field with tools and resources that will help you remain hopeful and joyful even as you encounter the challenges of ministry.
Sadly, pastors and spouses endure rejection, criticism and attacks. We go through cycles of grief and loss while carrying the weight of the people we love and serve. It’s a hard job that results in a lot of hurt. It is critical for pastors and their families to stay healthy despite the heart wounds.
Our team of pastors, spouses, trauma experts and behavioral health specialists are committed to caring for you as we explore ways that you can enjoy fruitful ministry and increase the longevity of your calling.
What are some of the most significant wounds that ministry has exposed or inflicted?
How has past hurt emerged as you’ve faced the challenges of ministry?
How do you cope with the pain and find hope in the midst of your struggles? Who reminds you of the resurrection and restoration of Christ?
Jason Moore is the director of Fresh Hope for Pastors. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America. Jason is a former church planter and a certified peer coach. He lives with a mood disorder and walks alongside pastors who are facing the challenges of burnout, anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional health concerns.