No it’s not right, but it’s a reality. You have dedicated your life & sacrificed everything: family, fortune, time, sleep, rest, comfort & more to do one of the toughest, most demanding jobs on the planet – ministry. But each life changed by Jesus makes it all worth it! Yet suddenly things have become tougher, much tougher. Your leader is wounded, & out of his hurt, he is now hurting you. You feel dis-honored, un-appreciated & ill-equipped. The one person who should be exemplifying the Fruit of the Spirit such as love & kindness, is instead manipulating & controlling you out of his own fear & insecurity. In this atmosphere of mistrust, mole hills turn into mountains & differing views are interpreted as disloyalty.
He who should have your back now has you in his cross hairs & seems to even be working against you behind the scenes. You love the people you serve & do your best to wear the plastic smile in public & show your support for the vision, but the truth is that in secret you are exhausted. Each week the burden you bear becomes heavier & your day off can’t come quick enough. It feels like you are being crushed under the weight of a garbage truck while being suffocated from it’s smell.
In your pain, you cry out “Why God?! Why is the happening to me?!” But this is not the question to be asking right now as you don’t have the time or energy to be asking it! You see, your real enemy Satan desires to use this experience to wear you down, take you out & is plotting to make you just another statistic, just another pastor who “Burnt Out” never to be heard from again. So the proper question to be asking now, the question who’s answer your survival depends on is… “How God? How do I make it through this season without quitting the ministry, without quitting my marriage or without quitting my faith?!
If the above scenario sounds like I’m describing your life & ministry, then you are probably serving a wounded leader. The good news is this: you are not alone, you will make it through & you will be stronger for it! Pulling from my own past ministry experiences as well as from studying the life of David, here are 6 survival tips to make it through this tough season…
#1 Faithfully Play Your Harp with Skill (1 Samuel 18:10-11 & 19:9-10)
- You don’t get to give the King personal harp concerts if you are not really skilled! Even though Saul would snap at random & fling spears with the intent to kill, David was faithful to go back & play his harp to the best of his ability. This brought peace to the King’s troubled mind & in turn, brought peace to the kingdom.
- As tempting as it may be, don’t take shortcuts or shift into cruise mode! Despite the pain, stay faithful to serve Jesus, your leader & church to the best of your ability using the gifts God has given you! This will bring peace to your leader’s mind & make God smile!
#2 Don’t Allow the Spears to Penetrate Your Heart (1 Samuel 18:10-11 & 19:9-10)
- David was faithful, but he wasn’t ignorant! He knew God had a divine plan for his life having been anointed to be the next king! Therefore, David guarded his heart & life by keeping his eyes wide open & being ready at a moments notice to jump out-of-the-way of Saul’s insecure spears!
- Just as you would be cautious to care for a stray, wounded Rottweiler, so be compassionately cautious around a wounded leader. Remember in this season that God is the one who has chosen you & He will perfect that which concerns you! Guard your heart from the spears of accusation, anger, depression & un-forgiveness by fixing your eyes on Jesus & refusing to come into agreement with any of Satan’s lies or word curses spoken against you!
#3 Seek the Help of Jonathan (1 Samuel 20:1-42 & 23:16-18)
- Jonathan was a trusted friend. He knew what David was going through as he himself had personal experience dodging Saul’s spears! Jonathan spoke from a platform where he had both parties best interest in mind. He encouraged & comforted David by speaking life over his situation & helping him to navigate through some very sticky moments.
- Remember that God uses people! It’s imperative that you find a trusted friend or mentor to talk with on a regular basis who has gone through what you are going through & who can give you wisdom, hope & help you see things from a different perspective!
#4 Flee to the Safety of the Cave Before it’s to Late (1 Samuel 19:18, 22:1-2 & 24:3)
- David eventually had to get out of dodge when his life & future were in major danger!
- It’s not God’s will that you live in a constant state of misery! As much as you love the people you minister to or the city you live in, it’s probably time to transition out at this point. The reality is that your ultimate job is to fulfill your pastors vision for the church, & when you can no longer do that – it’s go time.
#5 Leave Vengeance in the Hands of the Lord (1 Samuel 24:1-15 & 26:1-15)
- After being hunted like a fugitive & surviving multiple attempts on his life, David refused to take Saul’s life & usurp the throne even when it was right there for the taking! This is one of the reasons why God called David “A Man after my own heart,” because David understood that all authority comes from God.
- God will not be mocked, he will give you justice & your leader will eventually reap what they have sown. So take the high rode & refuse to retaliate. Remember that all authority comes from God – even wounded authority. When you honor authority, you honor God. When you honor authority, you communicate to God that you are ready to be trusted with with more responsibility! And this is usually when your breakthrough comes (i.e. #6)…
#6 Prepare to Ascend the Throne (2 Samuel 2:4)
- God was faithful to fulfill his promise as David not only became Israel’s next king, he became Israel’s greatest king! Saul’s ceiling of leadership became David’s floor. In learning what not to do, David became a stronger leader for it took a bunch of misfits & turned them into a special ops army of giant slayers!
- Forget what is behind & strain toward what is ahead! Take note of what not to do & become the wise, secure & empowering leader you desire to have! He who promised is faithful! Your best days are ahead! Believe it, declare it & begin to take steps of faith to prepare for it!