- 2016Feb 01
If you have been active in church attendance for more than about thirty seconds, you have likely experienced church hurt. It's inevitable, really. Put a group of imperfect people together and there is bound to be trouble! Church division and conflict has been part of the church, since the beginning of the early church.
There are many ways to be hurt within the church body. First, for many of us, our church pastor has been an important person in our lives. Maybe you were saved at the church you grew up in and the pastor has been a long-time family friend. Perhaps your church pastor was there for you or your family during a particularly difficult time. Maybe your pastor and his family have been a group that you've long admired for their dedication to the ministry. It is natural that our church leaders become important parts of our lives. But perhaps the most devastating church hurt of all is when a pastor or church leader falls. There is just not much comparable to the hurt that lingers afterwards. We tend
Then, there is good ol' offense. Offense manifests itself in so many ways. More often than not something is said or done in passing and our offender doesn't even know they have hurt us. But if we aren't careful, we'll take that offense and use it as an excuse to fall away from church completely.
I have often likened church hurt to being irritated with a cashier in the grocery store. We do not allow our irritation with a rude store clerk to keep us from ever shopping again. But for some reason, we will allow church hurt to keep us from worshipping with other believers. Now, let me be clear. I am not making light of the devastation that can come from hurtful words by a fellow church member or disappointment left by a failed expectation we have of someone. But as believers, we must be mindful that the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He is masterful at creating division, growing mountains from molehills, and implanting church hurt into our hearts that we will not allow to heal.
How can we overcome church hurt, if we've experienced it?
1. Administer the same grace to others that we want for ourselves. I have found that we are masterful at explaining ourselves, our motives, the why behind the action, and we are even better at asking God to give us grace, when we've fallen. But we are not as prone to give that same grace to others. Yes, maybe she said or did the wrong thing. Issuing grace doesn't excuse a behavior. It simply protects the body of believers from division.
2. Pray without ceasing. Be certain that if you've been hurt, you are hearing from God on how to handle the situation. We want to use wisdom in how to address the hurt. Some issues are simply not worth discussing. There are times when a miscommunication caused conflict. Other times, the issue is more serious and must be discussed. The how and why needs to come from the Lord.
3. Avoid gossip. Gossip fuels the hurt! Do not talk about what Sister so-and-so said and how you'll never go back to that church again, because the entire church is full of hypocrites! Talk to God about the hurt more than you talk to others about it. In fact, I once received some wise advice. Once you've given this situation to God, stop picking it back up, as if he needs your help. Lay this down before Him and don't continue to talk about it.
4. Resolve to stay active in church. Do not allow church hurt to foster a sense of isolation within you. We all need each other. We need accountability. We need encouragement. We need others to invest in our lives and we bring great value to others, as well. Don't allow conflict and hurt to keep you from enjoying the great benefit of staying connected to a local body of believers.
Jennifer Maggio is a mom, wife, author of four books, and national speaker. A former homeless single mom and founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. Maggio has a passion to use her story to illustrate God's goodness. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
- 2016Jan 26
I am an avid sports fan, particularly if my children are playing in the game! My children could be playing in the state basketball championship, the neighborhood swim meet, or a chess game at school, and I'd be the most vocal fan on the sidelines cheering them on. (Just ask my husband!) There's no doubt I enjoy a good competition. Competition can be a healthy part of life, if we allow it to push us to excel and do our best. However, competition can be a hindrance in ministry, if we don't keep it in check, and keep our motives pure. No, I'm not talking about a friendly competition of boys vs. girls at summer youth camp. I'm talking about the concealed jealousy that other ministries are growing faster, other churches are doing more, other pastors are more eloquent speakers, etc., that fuels an ugly competition!
Have you ever looked at another church, class, choir, or other ministry platform and wondered why they seem to be doing so well? What do they have that I don't? Why does his/her ministry seem to be so blessed? Sure, we will likely never voice those things aloud, but we wonder them nonetheless. And that competitive spirit will make us behave like 10-year-old children instead of God-fearing Jesus lovers whose sole purpose is seeing the lost saved. So, what do you do if you find yourself struggling with a competitive spirit or jealousy in ministry? Here are a few tips:
1. Recognize that you bring unique gifts, skills, and talents to the table. God gave you abilities that are a valuable piece of accomplishing Kingdom work. However, if we aren't careful, instead of praising God for the valuable gifts He has given to us, we can choose to focus on the gifts he has given another person, and ask him why we dont' have those same gifts.
2. Understand there are different seasons and different reasons. We may never fully comprehend God's plan for our ministry, but trust that there is a plan. Yes, there may be another church growing faster than yours, or another Bible study flourishing in a different way than yours, but what God has called you to is no less significant. If one soul is saved because you have been faithful to your calling, then it has been worth it! Philippians 1:12 says, "And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped me spread the Good news." Paul was in prison when he was writing this letter! And yet, he understood that God's positioning allowed him to minister to people in prison that may have never heard of Jesus otherwise. Wow, that we could all have that perspective of God's timing and purposes. Focus on the blessing of being used by God.
3. Remember that God's purpose is greater than our agenda. Everywhere, everyday, there are people that don't know the good news of Jesus Christ. They feel alone, forgotten. They are lost and hurting. Paul writes about those whose motivation are jealousy or rivalry in Philippians 1:15. But look what he writes in 1:18, "But that doesn't matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice." God can use a rock! He chose to use us! Let us rejoice in knowing that he can use us all in a variety of ways.
4. Check your motive. Sometimes, what began with a pure motive morphs into something else. Satan is a masterful deceiver. He can and will using ANYTHING to separate and divide. Why wouldn't he use ministry? Sometimes, the reason we launch a ministry or become involved in service started from a pure heart, but over time, we allowed a competitive spirit to take us on a ride that was left unchecked. Ask yourself, Why am I motivated to serve in the capacity I serve in ministry? Is my heart pure that I want others to know the Lord and grow in their walk with him? Is my motive to serve the poor and hurting, completely unconcerned of who gets the credit?
5. Celebrate others' victories. When you see a church grow or a Bible study flourish, rejoice with them as a fellow believer, that they are winning souls for Christ. If you are struggling with competition, this may be hard. But commit in your mind that any time you think of the ministry in a competitive way you will stop and praise God in prayer for how he's growing his Kingdom. The more you practice celebrating other's victories, the more natural it will become.
May we all know that we have an important role to play, that God has plans to use us to accomplish his will. And may we all celebrate with one another the victories of making Jesus more famous every day!
Jennifer Maggio is a mother of three, author, national speaker, and CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is passionate about encouraging hurting women and single parents. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.
- 2016Jan 20
I love what I get the God-given opportunity to do. I love working with churches, pastors, and anyone who has a heart to serve single mothers and their families. I love working with pastors and church leaders who have a God-given passion for ministry. What a special group of people you are! But when speaking to you, there is a common theme among the discussion. “I’m tired. Am I making a difference? How do I keep pushing through?”
I know what you mean. I’ve been there so many times. Even with the grace-giving hand of God so abundantly blessing the work of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, there is still that little voice inside me that asks, “Am I making a difference? Should I be doing this? I’m exhausted; how can I go on?” If you’ve served in ministry in any capacity, you know the feeling all-too-well. Here are some words of advice:
- Know your role. When we understand that our role is not to be Jesus, we then understand that we do not have to fix the world. We are not in the business of fixing others. We are in the business of pointing people to the One who can. Our role is to continue to direct people to the Lord Jesus as their source of strength, courage, patience, and prayer answerer.
- Rest. In the early years of ministry, this was the hardest. Anyone who knows me personally, knows that I am driven, a hard worker, passionate. Single moms’ ministry keeps me up at night. It burns within me. And there is much work to be done in this area of service. But we must rest. We must take time to simply sleep, sit on the couch with nothing to do, and do nothing. It is vital to our effectiveness in ministry.
- Set boundaries. Whatever the boundaries are, stick to them. For example, if you will be able to return phone calls between 5pm-7pm every night, then do that. Don’t the need to return phone calls all day. Or maybe you have set aside the second Saturday of every month as “lunch with a single mom day”. Then stick to it. The needs will always be there. It is important that you find boundaries that work for you and your family and understand that for your own health, you need to stick to them. This is especially important as your ministry grows.
- Stay spiritually healthy. You cannot give, when you do not receive. Stay in the Word. Stay in prayer. Continue with regular church attendance. Pray without ceasing. All the things that have contributed to your journey with the Lord are the things that will sustain that journey as you minister to others.
- Accountability is healthy. Your ministry should be structured such that you are accountable to your pastor, a mentor, or a church leader. They see things that we sometimes can’t, when we are knee-deep in ministry. They offer perspective. They help to keep us safe. They offer advice.
- Sabbaticals are important. Know when it is time for an extended rest. For me, I have always taken extended time during the summer, when my kids are out of school. We don’t host our regular meetings during the summer. We host some summer events, but not with the regularity that we do during the school year. We also take time off during holidays. This allows for a time of refreshing, extended family time, and perspective.
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and founder of The LIfe of a Single Mom Ministries. Through her own mistakes, Maggio is passionate about sharing her journey with other single parents to encourage and equip them, teaching them to embrace the love of Christ. She believes the body of Christ can make a significant impact in the lives of single parent families. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.