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A Theology of Tears

Why do we believe ‘There’s no crying in ministry’?
A Theology of Tears

I cry.

A lot.

Jesus wept.

One of these is known as the shortest and most poignant verse of Scripture. The other two are a source of shame.

Why the disconnect?

In theory I totally affirm that tears are normal, healthy and helpful. So why am I so uncomfortable crying in leadership situations? What if others see it as a sign of emotional instability? A lack of self-control?

At a recent Christian event, a leading Christian thinker teared up during his presentation. He described the moment when he realized he had tried to fix a community problem without acknowledging his need for the community. As he did, he cried tears of repentance for assuming he had all the answers. It was powerful. The audience was moved. But when he returned to his seat afterwards, I heard him mumble, “That was embarrassing.”

I leaned over and, with a crooked grin, said, “Welcome to my life!” then pointed out the boxes of tissues I’d already spotted by the stage.

(Some ...

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