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When Ministry Is Unfair

A better question than “Why me?”

Editor’s Note: I recently attended a large conference for church leaders. In a breakout session filled with women leaders serving in various roles, I heard heartbreaking stories of being overlooked, minimized, disrespected, and even harassed. They felt this way in their own churches, but especially as attendees at this particular conference. As the women shared their stories, many asked “Why?”—Why does God allow this injustice? Sitting together, however, holding each other’s pain, we began to move toward more helpful questions, like those suggested below. I pray that when you face the hard parts of ministry, you’ll begin to see these moments as invitations from God to join him in the work he’s doing. It’s not always easy, but it helps to know that God is already present with us in these tough situations.

When I was a child, Mom would swoop me into her arms when life didn’t go the way I wanted it to go. She would kiss my hurt places and miraculously make them better. When I was hurt by the actions of another, Mom would pick me up and comfort me by rocking me in the rocking chair as I cried, “It’s not fair,” until I was exhausted. As my world became more confusing and complicated, I stopped letting Mom comfort my heart and heal my knees. I no longer burst into tears when life hurts me, like I see my children do. And in growing up, I’ve lost some honesty. Now, my first response to pain is “I’m fine” as I busy myself with important projects, motherly duties, and spider solitaire.

Instead of asking “How can I be comforted?” when pain gets too loud to ignore, I ask, often coupled with an expletive or two, “Why did this happen to me?” I cry. I shake my fists. I look for someone to blame.

Why is the most unhelpful word I can’t stop saying. I have a long history of crying out, “Why?”

When we were growing up, my brother’s bedroom had two windows, and mine only had one. It seemed like Mark never even looked out the window. I sat in my windowsill for hours. I can’t count the times when Mom would try to comfort me in the rocking chair as I cried out, “Why?” to some such atrocity that rocked my little world. (It doesn’t take much, I know.) And I haven’t changed much, but eventually I wear myself out. The whys never seem to get me anywhere. They don’t make the situation go away, which is what I’m wanting. “Why?” always disappoints.

May12, 2016 at 8:00 AM

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