Scars qualify us but wounds disqualify us. In ministry, it is crucial how we respond to hurts and offenses. If we do not respond appropriately the outcome can damage those who are entrusted to our care and hinder the potency of our ministry. It is imperative we do not let our wounds fester or get infected. Getting hurt in ministry is inevitable, it is how we handle it that matters. If God is stretching you, trust that He knows what is best. If you are being mistreated, trust God will repay what is right. If you moved ahead of the Holy Spirits voice, know there is forgiveness and a fresh start. In my observation people respond to ministry wounds many ways, but these seem to be the most common:
Pride - The world says the best revenge is success, I say the best revenge is responding in humility. Our response is prideful when we are trying to prove or show people that we are important or have arrived. When this becomes our normal response to being hurt, we run the risk of developing a false personality to cope with the pain. This can be dangerous since authenticity is a ministry requirement.
Bitterness, resentment or unforgiveness - The Bible commands us to destroy every root of bitterness lest it spring up and cause us trouble later (Hebrews 12:15). If the root of bitterness is not plucked up it will defile everyone around us. When we refuse to extend the grace and mercy God has extended to us we become callous and cold. It is important to know forgiving someone is not contingent on rather they acknowledge what they did or not. When we forgive, we are releasing ourselves from the situation and allowing God to handle it. Charles Stanley said, “When we refuse to forgive we are implying Jesus’ death on the cross was not enough.”
Fear - We become afraid to get back in the ring fearing we will be hurt again. We can’t seem to bring ourselves to take another risk which can jeopardize future ministry opportunities. if fear is not managed we can allow ourselves to become jaded, disillusioned and stagnate.
Apathy - We don’t care anymore, our passion has waned, we have lost our drive and become fainthearted.
Depression, feelings of hopelessness or sadness – Depression is anger turned inward. We refuse to acknowledge the hurt which deceives us into believing we are not operating in faith. Ministry can be painful and nursing your wounds is imperative. As we make the time to heal we can frustrate the plans of the enemy.
So, what it is the appropriate way to respond to wounds? I think we can learn a lesson from the Apostle Paul who was the one that said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Acts 14:19-23 highlights one of Paul’s first ministry encounters, thus they attempted to stone him to death! So how did he respond?
He arose and went into the city: He did not allow the attack to keep him down.
And the next day he departed: He wasted no time apprehending his next assignment.
Preached and made many disciples: He didn’t withhold the ministry God placed in him.
He returned to the people that stoned him: He did not allow offense to hinder him.
He encouraged his brothers: He was more committed to the mission than his own feelings.