What Do You Do With Your Wounds, Pastor?

“What Do You Do With Your Wounds, Pastor?” was written by John Mark Comer, the founding pastor of Bridgetown Church in Portland, Oregon. Comer’s latest book – Live No Lies – was a New York Times bestseller, and his new project – Practicing the Way – launches in Fall 2022. 

It goes without saying, it’s a hard time to be a pastor.

The last year was like a battle, and a lot of us are walking wounded. Endless angry emails, people leaving our church, people we thought we could trust who – it turned out – we couldn’t. I don’t need to go on. 

It’s easier than ever to hate the work you’re called to do or to resent the people you’re called to love and lead. 

It’s easier than ever to hate the work you’re called to do or to resent the people you’re called to love and lead. - John Mark Comer Click To Tweet

As hard as it’s been (and it’s been hard) I’ve been thinking a lot about a quote from James Baldwin:

“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”

He was referring, of course, to racism, but I think his analysis of the human psyche is true in a wider sense. Which raises the question: What do you do with your pain? 

Fight, Flight, or Freeze

When you get wounded, there’s are three survival instincts:

  • Flight – You just walk away… from your church or pastoring altogether. It’s not what you signed up for…so you exit. 
  • Fight – You get aggressive, or defensive, you let anger fuel you to double down on conservatism or progressivism or whatever. 
  • Freeze – You lead in paralysis. Also known as, not leading. I was cut to the heart recently by a prayer of confession; “Jesus, I confess that I have spent more time talking about what will avoid criticism than you.” Because I don’t want another person to leave our church in a huff, or send me an irate email, or vent about me online, etc. 

Flight, fight, freeze – none of those are pastoring in the Way of Jesus. 

In order to pastor in the coming decades – to make our small contribution to the Church in the West – we have to find a paradigm for what to do when we get wounded. Not if – but when. 

A lot of you are reading this with daggers in your back… I’m praying you soon find the beginning of a journey to healing. 

But it must also be said, that while it’s socially acceptable to talk about how many churches have been hurt by their pastor (and this is a problem we have to take seriously) we’re rarely openly talk about the reciprocal truth: How many pastors have been hurt by their churches. 

But many of us, over the last year or two in particular, have been wounded at a very deep place in our soul…  

There’s a counter-intuitive psychology where people in pain attack their caregivers; think of how children lash out at their parents, even as they look to their parents to comfort and console them. 

I’m not saying that “We’re the parents and they’re the children,” but there is a parental role we play, as spiritual fathers and mothers, and part of that is to absorb other people’s pain, and not give it back in kind. 

Three Wounds Pastors Receive

Let me give you three examples from the field of psychology, or as you might say, three wounds we receive as pastors. 

1. Projection 

This idea goes back to Freud’s work in the 1890’s. Here’s a working definition of projection:

Projection is a defense mechanism in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. 

It’s basically an unconscious process of projecting emotions, desires, or character traits that you don’t like about yourself, onto someone else. For example:

  • A bully who projects their own feelings of vulnerability from an abusive father onto the weak kid on the playground, or…
  • A gossiper who sees someone across the room whisper in another person’s ear, and thinks they are saying something bad about them, or…
  • Someone with a heart laced by racial prejudice who doesn’t want to face it so they obsess over another’s racism, or…
  • A person who is feeling shame over their own failure at community who then assumes all community is bad and evil and in need of rejection. 

While it’s a form of blame shifting rooted in fear of shame, it manifests as shaming other people.

Much of so-called “cancel culture” is a form of projection, an attempt to offload the fear of shame and rejection by shaming and rejecting others (in particular, anyone in leadership or power).

As leaders, you and I are walking targets for people’s projection. 

Much of so-called “cancel culture” is a form of projection, an attempt to offload the fear of shame and rejection by shaming and rejecting others. - John Mark Comer Click To Tweet

2. Transference

The psychologist Erik Erickson, in his biography of Gandhi, has this definition of transference: 

  • “Transference is the universal tendency active wherever human beings enter into a relationship with others in such a way that the other also “stands for” persons as perceived in the pre-adult past: he thus serves the re-enactment of infantile and juvenile wishes and fears, hopes and apprehension, and this always with a bewildering mixture of affects – that is, a ratio of loving and hateful tendencies which under certain conditions alternate radically.”

Here’s a translation: At an emotional level – not in people’s prefrontal cortex, but their limbic system – transference is when you cause the same emotional reaction in a member of your church as someone who hurt or wounded or abandoned or sinned against them in their childhood or adolescent years. 

They then bring to their relationship with you a volatility: On one hand they idolize you; project onto you all their unfulfilled desires for a man or father or pastor or love or affection or integrity or whatever they did not get as a child that they should have. On the other, anything can set them off because you yourself are a kind of emotional trigger, based on their past trauma. And when we turn out to be human – with all that entails – those same people demonize us, and attach us to all the wounding they did received as a child that they should not have. 

It’s devil/messiah: First people idealize you, then they demonize you – and they are often the same people! 

First people idealize you, then they demonize you – and they are often the same people! - John Mark Comer Click To Tweet

Transference is especially acute with any kind of authority figure – because you “stand in for” a previous authority figure – mom, dad, grandparent, teacher, pastor, boss, etc. 

The key is that when people see you or hear you teach or receive a rebuke from you, it’s not just you they are seeing or hearing – it’s their father or mother or abusive teacher or cruel pastor from childhood or older brother….

If you’re read The Body Keeps the Score, you know that we literally carry our memories – including those of trauma – in our body at an unconscious level.

Anyone who has ever been hurt by a pastor or church leader carries that memory in their body, and your very presence as a pastor or church leader can trigger it. 

Anyone who has ever been hurt by a pastor or church leader carries that memory in their body, and your very presence as a pastor or church leader can trigger it. - John Mark Comer Click To Tweet

3. Blame-shifting and grasping for control 

I read a great piece recently on the psychology of enemies, and the role they play in our self-preservation.  

Enemies serve at least two psychological purposes:

First, they give us someone to blame, so we don’t have to face reality and take responsibility for our own life, grow, mature, or face our shame. 

It’s easy to blame millennials for a victimization culture, but to cultivate compassion, secular humanism has no category for sin, no atonement, and no forgiveness.

The West inherited incredibly high moral standards from Christianity, but without Christ’s power and presence, it’s incapable of living up to its own vision. The result is that progressives are twenty-first century version of Pharisees – it’s morally performative theater rooted in self-righteousness, sure, but likely rooted even deeper in fear of shame.

Second, they give us a sense of coherence and control in the face of evil and chaos. 

Research has demonstrated that when people think of their enemies, whether it’s ISIS or China or just voters for the “other” political party, afterward the world feels less disordered and less scary. They feel evil is under control. 

Enemies give us an object for our fears – a sense of this is what’s wrong with the world and this is how we can fix it. 

This is what politicians play to constantly, with politicians from the Right making it sound like undocumented immigrants are ruining our country and politicians from the Left acting like every Trump voter is a white supremacist ready to usher in the Fourth Reich. In each case, we’re given enemies to project our fear onto – the psychological trade-off with politicians is we put them in control, and they make us feel in control and safe. 

As pastors, because we’re a walking target, people often process their fear by blaming us. 

And lot of the time, their critique is valid; even if they are just as responsible for the problem as we are. But still, there is a sting. When you’re trying to love and serve somebody, and nothing you do is ever good enough, and you get accused and attacked for your efforts. 

This will often sabotage any kind of the bold, courageous leadership, which is the very thing we need to get out of a mess like the one we’re in! 

So What Do You Do? 

I can’t tell you how often (in particular over the last year) I’ve felt the temptation to just be silent and keep my head down, because anything I say or do is criticized. But that’s a temptation rooted in fear (specifically the fear of other people’s opinions of me) and emotional self-preservation, not in self-giving love. 

The invitation of Jesus is to stick my head out of the trench, knowing I will get hit, but still doing so in love. 

Which is of course, something the Apostle Paul did.  Scot McKnight’s book on Pauline Pastoral Theology is helpful here. By far, the most eye-opening chapter for me was on Paul’s theology of “leadership as vicarious suffering.” 

McKnight says: 

  • “Paul understands his gospel-mission sufferings as an intentional and pastoral entrance into the sufferings of Christ, and, like Christ, the more Christoform he becomes, the more he suffers for the benefit of the church… Paul sees his sufferings as completing the sufferings of Christ because he is engaging in the same kind of intentionally shaped pastoral work and suffering after the death of Jesus that Jesus performed at the cross.” 

Not only is Paul open and honest about just how hard pastoral leadership is, but his vision of leadership is not based on best practices from the capitalist business model (to index your church up and to the right) but on Jesus’ cruciform model of suffering love and “a spirituality of descent.”

Paul seems to be saying that leadership is a form of vicarious suffering; We’re not suffering for other’s atonement (like only Jesus did), but we are suffering on behalf of others. 

Bonhoeffer, before he was killed by the Gestapo, echoed something similar:

  • “Even though Jesus Christ has already accomplished all the vicarious suffering necessary for our redemption, his sufferings in this world are not finished yet… Those suffering in the power of the body of Christ suffer in a vicariously representative action ‘for’ the church-community, ‘for’ the body of Christ. They are permitted to bear what others are spared.”

As pastors, we’re allowing pain and wounding and even death into our bodies, in order that life and healing and blessing may flow through our bodies to those we pastor. 

And, at the risk of sounding like a martyr, this is a high and holy task. 

Jesus absorbed the pain of others – including you and me – the projection, the transference, the blame and scapegoating of others. He let his body become a graveyard for hate. 

Centuries before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah (in Isaiah 52-53) sees what it will take to heal the world; it will take a suffering love and sacrificial death. 

This is the way of Jesus – not power over through coercion or control, but suffering love. 

This is the way of Jesus – not power over through coercion or control, but suffering love. - John Mark Comer Click To Tweet

What Do You Do With Your Wounds, Pastors? 

As easy as it is to focus on the pain of others, none of us come to adulthood or leadership without carrying deep wounds. 

By your thirties, it’s not a question of, “Are you wounded?” But, “What are your wounds?” And we pastor out of those wounds. For better or worse. 

What Do You Do With Your Wounds, Pastor? Click To Tweet

Like Jesus, we can let our wounds become sacred wounds. We can let them become an outlet for the healing of other wounded souls. 

We all know how many pastors leave the ministry after a few years. Most don’t stay at a church longer than two years. A statistic last summer said 29% of pastors are seriously considering leaving ministry. I know all of pastors are feeling hurt right now. 

But what if wounds are just part of the deal? Part of pastoring, but – even more – part of facing the love of God. 

What do you do with your pain? Here are three very simple things: 

1. Find meaning in your pain 

If leadership in the way of Jesus is both an honor and a form of suffering, it’s one rich in meaning and purpose. 

Let me drop a simple but piercing question: What if we suffer wounding for healing to come to others and to us?

That’s the other piece of meaning we so often miss. Healing can come to us through our wounding.

If the most important thing in life is the person you become, then leadership – like marriage and parenting – is one of the hardest things you will ever do. And it’s the crucible that, if you let it, has the potential to form and forge you into a person of character and maturity, one of the great invitations to grow and mature in character. 

If the most important thing in life is the person you become, then leadership - like marriage and parenting - is one of the hardest things you will ever do. - John Mark Comer Click To Tweet

Because nothing will expose your shadow like leadership; all the dross in your character will come to the surface in the refining fire of leadership.

This facing of your shadow is essential work for all people, but especially for leaders. We all project both our light and our shadow onto the world. But leadership is an amplifier of whatever is inside you, for good or for ill. 

The greater the amplification, the greater the potential to do good, or to do ill. As Parker Palmer said:

  • “A leader is a person who must take special responsibility for what’s going on inside him-or herself, inside his or her consciousness, lest the act of leadership create more harm than good.”

Jason Ballard told me this great story about going to a retreat for church planters, and the speaker said, “Do you know who the greatest threat is to your church? It’s not Satan, not secularism, not postmodernism – it’s you!”

That’s true, but you are also, potentially, one of God’s great gifts to your church. 

Paul calls leaders God’s “gifts” to the church. It sounds grandiose, but you are God’s gift to your church.

On the flip side, I love Ruth Haley Barton’s line: “The best gift you can give the people you lead is your transforming self.” 

You are your ministry – not your leadership or your teaching or your whatever – you. 

The meaning and purpose behind our wounding is that it’s liberating us, one painful layer at a time, from our anxieties and attachments, from our shadow. And it’s maturing us, if we let it, into people of love. 

And if the meaning of life is not happiness, not pleasure, not up and to the right, but if it’s the healing of our soul through loving union with God, then wounding is a kind of hidden gift. 

2. Find safe, loving relationships to discharge the pain and heal 

I asked Ronald Rolheiser about how to deal with transference. He lit up and said: 

“Transference is the number one thing they don’t teach you in seminary,” he said. “Seminary prepares you to do ministry, but it doesn’t prepare you for what ministry will do to you.”

Then I asked, “How do I process that in prayer?”

“Do you drink alcohol?”

“Whaa… Yes, but…” 

Get a bottle of something good, get together with a few other leaders who get the pain, and just hold each other. 

All through the COVID pandemic, our elders got together once a month, or more, for “transference meetings.” We sat around a table, we all brought wine, and we just held each other’s pain. Those meetings have honestly been the highlight of my year.

What Rolheiser was getting at is this: As pastors, we need to carry other’s pain. It’s not that we unload it onto others, but we have to find a way to let the pain pass through us. 

Rolheiser also has that great line in his teaching of forgiveness: “What you don’t transform, you transmit.”

Meaning that when people hurt you or wound you or sin against you, if that pain is not transformed, it will be transmitted – in anger or sarcasm or a nasty reply email, etc. 

We have to find a healthy place to let Jesus’ transform our pain into healing. 

We have to find a healthy place to let Jesus’ transform our pain into healing. - John Mark Comer Click To Tweet

Otherwise, we will minister out of anger rather than love, and the result will be a net-negative in our ministry. We all know pastors who are animated by a kind of seething resentment. There’s a hyper-masculine Reformed version of this; and a “woke” progressive form of this.

Both are driven by anger, even if they cover it up with sophisticated theology. And, as James put it, “Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” There’s a place for anger, but there’s a difference between human anger and that of the righteous anger of Jesus in the temple. 

This is why, we have to deal with the wounding of the last few years, otherwise we will either minister out of anger and resentment and sabotage God’s hand on our life, or we will just quit. 

Either way, we will allow the enemy to write us out of the story God has for us and the future of his Church. 

3. Find comfort in God through prayer 

We need an outlet to discharge our pain and anger. One safe outlet is our fellow pastors, or leadership team. So, transference meetings, you’re welcome. 

But no matter how safe your leadership team is, there are some things we just don’t feel safe enough to share with anyone but God himself. 

For that, we have prayer, where – at least with true prayer – all that we are is laid bare before all that God is. 

As Ortberg said, “Prayer isn’t a place to be good; it’s a place to be honest.”

How many of the Psalms are just David raging at heaven, venting all his hurt and anger and bitterness and fear over wounding, betrayal, feeling misunderstood, attacked, or opposed? 

Prayer must become our lifeline. I don’t mean prayer as a discipline, though there’s a place for that, but prayer as our only hope of staying in ministry over the long haul. 

Sometimes our prayer will look like sitting in the quiet and letting God love us… just looking at God, looking at us, in love. Realizing we are incredibly broken, and yet utterly loved. 

Other times it will look like raging a torrent of pent-up emotions at the sky. 

Prayer is our portable desert, our morning Mt. Sinai – the place we retreat from the world to take refuge in God, before we return to the world empowered by God. 

Whatever the template is for a vital, healthy ministry over the long haul, a life of devotion is the baseline.

Some Final Thoughts

Now, this is a piece I worried about writing. It would be easy for a nonpastor or others to misinterpret. 

So, let me clarify just a bit more. I’m not saying we’re the innocent victim, nor that we’re not at fault. 

No, we are at fault for all sorts of things. We’re human. We live with sin still in our body. And as leaders, our shadow is on display for all to see. 

The best way to deal with that is not through denial or defense, but through humility, or even better: Through living in the love of God. 

The best way to deal with that is not through denial or defense, but through humility, or even better: Through living in the love of God. - John Mark Comer Click To Tweet

Martin Larid, in his book on contemplative prayer, has this great line about a saint whose “face had the freshness and peace of those whose poverty had taught them they had nothing to defend.”

You have nothing to defend. 

Or, in the language of a mantra my spiritual director gave me to repeat to myself:

“Nothing I do will be good enough; everything I do can be picked apart; and that’s okay.”

Nothing I do will be good enough; everything I do can be picked apart; and that’s okay. - John Mark Comer Click To Tweet

When we make peace with this, when we accept that wounds are part of the deal; we create space for God to transform our wounds into sacred wounds – and through us, in all our humanity, bring healing to the world. 

I guess the point of this piece is to encourage you toward inner healing after a very hard season. 

It’s been said that all inner healing is the removal of fear. It’s learning to calmly face the reality of what is and be at peace. 

May you find meaning in your pain, find safe relationships to discharge the pain, and find comfort in God. May he transform your wounds into sacred wounds… and may you be calm and at peace in the love of God. 

What Do You Do With Your Wounds, Pastor?


  1. David Kim on January 19, 2022 at 11:19 am

    Healed and Rewired

    Help me stay calm
    When I get triggered
    I need to rewire
    The way I’m configured

    Things from the past
    That come into play
    Wounds from my childhood
    Still hold so much sway

    The pain of rejection
    Cuts so very deep
    Quickly reactivated
    When I hear a critique

    Jesus my healer
    Come heal my soul
    May Your unfailing love
    Fill up my holes

    Accepted in the Beloved
    That’s who I am
    Being shaped by the Potter’s
    Good Loving Hands!

    David Kim 1.13.21

  2. Lynda Ferguson on January 19, 2022 at 8:20 am

    Excellent article. I would like us to consider though what it means to hold the bullies of the church accountable. It is not Christ-like to continue to allow some people in the church to beat up the pastor without any consideration of the pastor’s well being. When we excuse church people because they are wounded to inflict more wounds on others is classic form of abuse. As chair of our Board of Ordained Ministry for our conference, I have repeated conversations with pastors, especially young clergy, that shows how toxic some people are and it is killing the church, literally damaging clergy in all aspects of their life. Somewhere we have to hold those who inflict harm accountable and urge us all to do no harm to others. Yes we continue to love them but that does not mean we have to take their abuse. Yes pastors are accountable and some inflict terrible pain on parishioners. But also are those in the church who inflict the pain are accountable. I’m not sure that being the punching bag for toxic people is what Jesus calls us to be. Instead what does it look like for us to hold them accountable in a Pauline understanding ? What does it mean to love by helping them to change? It might just change us all and the church at the same time.

    • Lynda Ferguson on January 19, 2022 at 9:04 am

      And one more thought- we have to also hold clergy accountable who beat up on other clergy. We are in a ministry covenant together and those clergy who are mean-spirited and harm other clergy should also be held accountable.

    • janehood on January 19, 2022 at 11:04 am

      Well said

    • KT on January 20, 2022 at 12:13 am

      Thank you for saying this, Lynda. I think this mutual accountability piece is often overlooked and absolutely necessary. We are the Body of Christ together and as such we need to hold each other together, lest we wound our very selves.

  3. jan price on January 18, 2022 at 10:03 am

    After 15 years as a second career pastor, I learned that controlling families want you to act like they want you to act. That controlling people want you to shorten your prayers so they can keep a small child entertained. Some won’t come to church because of the gender of the pastor. Some people won’t let go and let You pastor cause their husband used to be a pastor before he died and you don’t pastor like he did. Yes, these are all real people doing real things to the pastor. I learned to smile, keep your head down and stay connected to God through prayer. Do what you can, stay in touch with your next higher authority and be true to yourself. With God”s help you can get through things just fine. It all hurts, but then you are the lightening rod for their ills. God blessed me with lots of blessings too.

  4. Barry on January 12, 2022 at 3:07 pm

    This is really excellent. I’ve read many of your articles on leadership, but this one seems different — and wonderfully necessary. God bless you.

    • Mark on January 13, 2022 at 11:49 am

      Timely!! Thank You!!

    • CH on January 13, 2022 at 12:57 pm

      I really needed this today. Thank you.

  5. Brian Cordell on January 12, 2022 at 11:24 am

    Pastors endure pain as a result of the call they have accepted. No question. It is different from many other roles because they cannot keep everyone at arms-length and carry out their role. Very few other vocations have this requirement. Prayer is helpful because it allows us to share our hearts, unfiltered. But there is a reason that the church has flesh, and it’s to be present in those times when we need someone to be a Jesus we can touch. I remember meeting colleagues from two other ministries as a missionary in Africa as we shared the difficulties and pain of what we were doing. I cherish those people to this very day. Yes, other applications of this idea are helpful to other vocations. But let’s not diminish the reality that pastors face and suggest that they are not worthy of receiving ideas that may be helpful to their continued ministry.

  6. MICHAEL SYDNOR on January 11, 2022 at 12:46 pm

    This article is absolutely brilliant and will save it for future reference. Although it addresses the woundedness of pastors, it can apply to other experiences, including traumatic ones. As a pastor and someone who just lost someone to ALS, this article has helped me process some of my own wounds. Thank you.

  7. Kristi on January 10, 2022 at 3:35 pm

    I’m going to reread this over and over. Packed with practical wisdom and profound healing. Yes!!!

  8. Kevin on January 9, 2022 at 8:05 pm

    I wonder if the author would cite the title of “Scot McKnight’s book on Pauline Pastoral Theology”. I have the Kindle sample of his book “Pastor Paul”, but none of the chapter titles seem to be related to “Paul’s theology of ‘leadership as vicarious suffering.’”

    I’d like to find and read the chapter referenced. Thanks!

  9. Elizabeth Mora on January 6, 2022 at 1:03 pm

    Carey, after leaving the ministry in my 10th year, this article is a soothing balm to my spirit. I’m sorry you weren’t sure you should write it. YOU SHOULD. This is needed. This shadow work is needed if church has a chance. I see a mini-epidemic for minister wounding. It’s always been there, and now it is heightened for various reasons. Whatever flack you take, this minister says you have helped to save me from a well of anger. You’ve brought validation and healing to a disillusioned, wounded pastor. I wept at being seen. God bless you.

  10. Blue Lemon on January 5, 2022 at 4:12 pm

    I was a youth pastor. I felt member need help with dealing with church wounds as well. Any good article suggestions?

  11. Martin on January 5, 2022 at 3:43 pm


  12. Nathan Veley on January 5, 2022 at 11:32 am

    Really good stuff here. Thank you for sharing this!!

  13. Rick Barker on January 5, 2022 at 11:01 am

    A 90-year-old former pastor who’d been in ministry longer than I had been alive said, “One thing I’ve learned in ministry… sheep bite!”
    And I’ve found that ‘sheep-bite’ can be fatal. Thank you for your article. I had to pause and go back and read certain lines a second time – very thought-provoking. And thank you for leaving us with some practical steps forward with trusted friends and honest prayer.
    I look forward to more.

  14. Joel on January 5, 2022 at 9:58 am

    Thanks for this rich, deep, insightful, and encouraging, oh, and convicting post!
    @JohnMarkComer – thanks for sticking your head out of the foxhole for all of us in leadership, and providing a biblical view of suffering.

    @CareyNieuwhof – thanks for introducing me to John Mark Comer via your podcast and blog!
    Love both of you brothers so much!

  15. Reynaldo Echavaria on January 5, 2022 at 9:49 am

    What an awesome writing. I am a retired pastor, and I went through such pain pastoring the church. It hurts so much when a family leave the church and you don’t have any idea, what you have done. The most devastating one I experienced was, when I brought in an assistant pastor to assist me. Little that I know, he was planning on opening up a church and he split our church. All the babies we have won for the Lord, he took with him. That hurts. In a meantime, I did preached combative messages due to the hurt. I asked God, is it me who is the problem? To make a long story short, I have to forgive those who hurt me. I went to most of them and and asked for forgiveness if I have offended them. Through prayers and supplication, God, spoke to my heart and said, moved forward, I will be with you through your ministry. That’s how God, healed me from my wounds.

  16. David Faulkner on January 5, 2022 at 9:43 am

    Last night I had a bruising encounter in a meeting with someone who often undermines my ministry, so it was helpful and timely to read this post this morning.

    Later in the morning I had my bi-monthly reflective supervision session with my Superintendent, who has a background as a Christian counsellor. I brought the post into the conversation, and he warmed to it, but made one qualifying comment. He said, ‘Yes, we are called to suffer for Christ, but I don’t believe he wants us to be masochists or doormats.’

    I’m still pondering the article and his comment.

    • Eileen Lindeman on January 5, 2022 at 10:14 am

      As I know myself more I am able to discern with greater confidence what action is called for when dealing with someone who is in conflict with me or the mission of our congregation. Looking at the fruits of what the person who has wounded me or others does and deciding how to deal with those outcomes is helpful to me. Is this person actually getting in the way or just making it harder? Because we risk being accused of lacking Christian forbearance I need to have what Ignatius of Loyola called,”Active indifference” or “whatever you prefer God.”..taking my own temperature and being free inwardly to respond from as clear a place as Grace permits. I am willing to challenge and confront but I need to do it when I am not being triggered by my own vulnerability or the provocateur. We have to protect the sheep as well as survive to face the joys and sorrows of the next season. I seek to grow into what we are called to do and not just be changed by suffering. The people who hurt us are usually not the ones who can heal us. My congregational leaders have had to grow up about facing bullies within our church…it not something only one person should be asked to do. Suffering with Christ is a discipleship issue and sometimes it means stepping up and not letting the pastor take every hit.

      • David M on January 6, 2022 at 10:24 am

        I especially appreciate your last comment, Eileen. I would most likely still be pastoring my church of twenty plus years had even one person been willing to stand up and say ‘enough.’ I hope this article and the broader conversation will help others find what they need to lead well.

    • Elizabeth Mora on January 6, 2022 at 12:52 pm

      Thanks for sharing. I like what your Superintendent said.

  17. Nate on January 5, 2022 at 9:40 am

    Great article today! Whether intentionally planned or written all at once in a flow state, the topics, order, and method of covering such deep subjects was masterful. Real power to help, heal, and change.

    • Sedonia Petty on January 5, 2022 at 9:55 am

      Thanks i learn a lot from the things that was. Shared not only that but is very much motivated to keep moving forward and to behonest about my pain and allow God to heal me thanks again.

  18. David Kim on January 5, 2022 at 8:07 am

    A Pastor’s Prayer

    Help me Lord
    As I help others
    Sometimes I feel
    Like I am smothered

    Weighed down with cares
    And heavy weights
    Others’ problems
    On my plate

    This is the call
    In it I’m blessed
    Still need an outlet
    For when I’m stressed

    Your strength is here
    For me to take
    Drawing from You
    You won’t forsake

    You are the Shepherd
    Of your flock
    I am Your sheep
    With You I’ll walk!

    David Kim 1.5.21

  19. Brian on January 5, 2022 at 7:50 am

    I really like this blog. Not sure about gathering with leaders to drink wine and process, but other than that, great article.

    • jamie on January 6, 2022 at 8:41 am

      I prefer really good whiskey 😉 Kidding – I get it and the main point is doing it – just drink something you enjoy 🙂 within reason 🙂

  20. Charles on January 5, 2022 at 6:37 am

    Another good article and it provokes thought and analysis. This article is packed full of bits of information, many of which, could be developed into separate topics and explored in additional articles. It seems clear that the intent of this article is to help by sharing insights, comparisons, and experiences. All of this is good. I still have concerns however that, regardless of sentences that kind of speak to a defense, this article is one of a long list from pastors basically helping to further establish a culture of thought that pastors are either “victims or victor” or sometimes both. In that doctrine, the pastor is usually always the victim and “because of that status” and putting up with the hurts and the sacrifices, they are now victors. The reason that is concerning is that it isn’t exclusive to pastors, yet this continues to be the attempt. I see article after article about how tough it is for the pastor. The principles written about in this article could be applied to any occupation and any calling. The Christian musician who must travel all the time, who is away from home, who misses out on children growing up, intimacies in a marriage, while having concerts canceled or having folks talk to him/her in the same manner as what a pastor might receive, the delivery driver who shows up every day during a pandemic to get needed items to customers who only express their anger for delays, the engineer in the cubicle who gets dumped on and unheard, the physician who is ignored only to see the patient die by their own arrogance and then get blamed by the family, the construction worker who daily sacrifices their body as a tool to never hear thank you, the call center employee who is constantly dumped on and dehumanized, the teachers who are dumped on by parents and administrators, who get paid much less than many pastors, who don’t get the tax relief of pastors, and have no time for weekly wine meetings, etc. Pastors are no different and those who are truly called understand this and walk on. In this age, more articles need to be written first from the perspective of what Scripture says and then we work to obey thru our behaviors and thoughts versus using occasional Scripture to prove our point. I’d also say that although I get your point on transference, I’d walk with caution. Wisdom and discernment can help a person walk through the times you mention. I’d pursue that over bottles of wine in a weekly boys club. Again, your overall point is understood, just a caution on how it reads. Some years ago a book was written on Abraham Lincoln and how he built his cabinet by surrounding himself with those who did not like him. While we all need encouragement, an area I see pastors having great difficulty with is in seeking and receiving critical feedback. It has seemed that pastors want the victim status upon hearing or receiving any critical feedback; and even in this article you included, we are human we all make mistakes. Next you’ll say we were born that way, oh wait, we all are for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…once again, pastors are not exclusive. I still recommend articles that focus on a pastors role from a Scripture standpoint, not a defense or normalization of how hard it is for them. It simply seems that these days, pastors and their defenders want exclusivity for how difficult they have it while avoiding accountability for anything that requires work by saying they are normal like anyone else. I have seen no articles (but may have missed them) on how hard it is for elders to work with pastors who won’t join up, who are more interested in governance and control, who use the pulpit for parity and power, while influencing a congregation to see them as victim or victor, while slowly dividing the church to be against elders or deacons. These deacons, teachers, elders are in most cases volunteers,….they get no support, assistance, etc., and still have to go do their jobs. How many times do pastors hurt those volunteers? Lastly the over generalization of the politics and the right and left is not helpful. It seems to normalize (just like many commercials on TV these days) certain things. Immigrants are welcome and if going thru an established process, its a good thing. Illegal immigrants are not helpful to a nation. Try this in any other country and see what happens. They don’t worry with opinions or politics, you simply disappear in jail or worse. America has a process and historically it works. Instead of normalizing a conversation, let’s speak truth. Its not a far right or far left position to say that we have a process and it works, its truth. That other nations people are leaving in mass and violating that process is no different than me entering your home without permission and helping myself to whatever interests me. Instead of pulling folks out of a never ending river, why don’t we go upstream and find out why they keep falling in.

    As I said, thought provoking article which is good but I’d encourage a start from Scripture, not in proving points, but in honestly laying out Scripture and its application for today. An analysis of the life of Paul, his beatings, his imprisonment, his writings, his admonishments,…and how did he weather these things? How does that apply to the believer today regardless of occupation or calling? What exactly is role of a pastor, what are their accountabilities, what defines a calling, why don’t pastors support and embrace accountability, how might pastors avoid the constant temptation of governance and control, etc. Again, it seems clear that the intent of this article is to help by sharing insights, comparisons, and experiences. All of this is good and appreciate the effort that you place into writing these articles and generating thought and conversations. Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

    • David Kim on January 5, 2022 at 9:43 am

      Pretty sure you are not a pastor!

      • Elizabeth Mora on January 6, 2022 at 12:54 pm

        Yes, not a pastor. The post actually proves the points of the article.

        • David Kim on January 6, 2022 at 1:19 pm

          My post?

        • David Kim on January 6, 2022 at 1:20 pm

          Are you referring to my post?

    • Joel on January 5, 2022 at 9:55 am

      I’d recommend trying that glass of wine with trusted peers while reading Romans 14:3-4. 🙂

    • Elizabeth Mora on January 6, 2022 at 1:00 pm

      You are using “what about-ism.” It’s the same thing white folks use with racism. “Sure pastors suffer, but what about me? I suffer.” You have taken the attention from the point and made it about something else. This article is pointing out what is unique to pastors. You are using the equivalent of All Lives Matter instead of Black Lives Matter. Yes, all leaders have challenges. All people have challenges. But until you are a pastor, you just cannot understand the unique role. People say to me often, “Oh I get what you go thru. Me too. Same here.” But it isn’t. Before I was a pastor, I would have said the same thing. I thought I got what it is like to pastor. Now I know that you just cannot know what it is like. This role is unique. You have to walk a mile in our shoes. And most people will never get that it’s different, so the suffering will continue. And that’s just part of the job. Carey is 100% on with every single comment.

      • Yvonne on January 7, 2022 at 11:34 pm

        Thanks Elizabeth I agree with you. When one walks 10 yrs or more in my shoes as a pastor, then they can authentically comment from a place of knowing through experience.
        Great article and wonderful comments, even the one that proves transference.

  21. Becky Hosseini on January 5, 2022 at 12:38 am

    What a great!!!! article!! Thank you!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.