EP 198 – Dealing with Church Hurt
Hey there Bootcampers! (BTW-Jimbo’s math was off a bit, 199 and 200 are just ahead) Ministry is a full contact sport, you love deeply and you get hurt deeply. In this EP the guys break down how to deal with the bumps and bruises that come your way when you take a few shots and blows in the context of ministry in the local church. We understand that sometimes you need a sounding board, someone to talk to and someone to provide prospective. We’d love to connect, drop us a line, a voice mail reach out via social media. (BTW-Jimbo’s math was off a bit, 199 and 200 are just ahead)
We also recommend you connect with the Pastor Help Line: 1-844-PASTOR1
Here are some of the EP highlights:
- Ministry hurt is an eventual reality for every Pastor
- You need a plan to deal with the pain you experience
- Expect your healing to take time and you have to be intentional to pursue healing.
- Reflecting on your hurt (not to dredge up emotions) but to gain insight and develop perspective.
- Connect with an experienced pastor to process your pain
- Listen to his wisdom and look for practical steps to move forward
- Here’s a very important exhortation – don’t let church hurt drive you into isolation
- If you are experiencing or have experienced significant and severe hurt – seek professional help
- Get help for your spouse when they are dealing with the pain that comes from ministry.
Thanks for taking this Journey with us Bootcamper, we seriously pray for you and your work. We’d love to help you get the resources and assistance you need. Don’t hesitate to contact us.
We unreservedly recommend you connect with our great sponsor at One Eighty Digital. They can get your church branding, site and connection with the community heading in the right direction. Contact them today and let them know you are a Bootcamp listener.
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are back at the bootcamp. Bob, I hope you’re ready for the next episode. We are back at it again and loving life, living in the beach of the bootcamp over the summer. It’s getting to see a lot of great things happen and enjoy the ministry that we get to do together. I, I wanna go back to our time in New Orleans for just a moment and just say, man, what a joy it was.
to meet so many of you guys. If I’m, if I’m doing my math right, Bob, this is like episode 1 97 8 1 1 90. This is 1 99 right here.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. It’s a big episode, Jimbo, because the next one’s 200 we’ve, I think we’re gonna have, are we gonna rent out a hall and have dancers and like I think we’re bringing in some like dragos, char grilled oysters and all of that kind of stuff. And
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. Special invite only, uh, you should have already listeners, you should have already received the invite by the time this podcast goes live. And so if you got an invite, you know you’re part of the upper echelon, of boot campers.
Bob Bickford: So we’re also fundraising for that event, if you can.
JimBo Stewart: [00:01:00] Yeah. If, if you wanna secure, your invite to this non-existent event, then you can make your donations to us. And maybe we’ll make an event if, if you’ll fund it.
Bob Bickford: man, 200. That’s got to be a milestone because, didn’t you say the average podcast quits after? Is it like seven episodes, Jimbo, or
JimBo Stewart: think so when we started this, I mean we started this Bob some years ago and that was
Bob Bickford: years
JimBo Stewart: years ago. I mean, Bob, it was years ago. This was, I mean, Bob, it’s, it’s been three years since Covid started and we started before Covid.
Bob Bickford: Oh my goodness.
JimBo Stewart: I mean, so it is been a few years.
Bob Bickford: It, it has, and I think it’s been a wonderful three years. Jimbo, they’ve flown by like they were five minutes.
JimBo Stewart: so, this is a tweet from someone named Jack Butcher that says 90% of podcasts don’t get past episode three. That’s 1.8 million who quit. Of the 200,000 left, 90% will quit after 20 [00:02:00] episodes.
Bob Bickford: Wow.
JimBo Stewart: I don’t know who Jack Butcher is or if his Twitter is reliable source of information, but there’s what the tweeters say.
Bob Bickford: Well, there you go. And I think you looked up our ranking. I. in a podcast land in the category of religion, and we are at number 385.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. Yeah. you know, I feel like there’s probably a lot of podcasts in that religion, spirituality section.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I would think so.
JimBo Stewart: so, you know, we’re top 500. I’m good with that.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. There you go.
JimBo Stewart: But honestly, it was so good to meet so many of you at the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans, and, so many of you came and shared even some of your stories and what God’s doing in your ministries.
And just know we love hearing from you guys. And so thank you to all of you that did find your way to us and talk to us and, share your stories and encourage us with how the podcast has helped you and, and even some of our food recommendations. And, and so we’re [00:03:00] grateful for you guys. Obviously, without you, we wouldn’t do this.
I mean, Bob and I talk a lot. We just wouldn’t record it. if, if nobody was gonna listen.
Bob Bickford: That’s probably good, Jimbo. We would, have to edit out a lot of things and, if we recorded every conversation, not that we’re inver inappropriate, but you know, there’s some behind the scenes secret sauce to this world of replanting and revitalization that we just can’t let out everywhere.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, absolutely. Hey, Bob, for episode 1 99. I think, somewhat of a repeated topic, but we’re gonna come at it from a little bit different angle. today let’s talk about, Church hurt. Like how do you overcome church hurt? Because we’ve talked about this and when we’ve talked about pastoral grit or we’ve talked about a lot of other things, but man, it’s, I think as we are coming three years post the arrival of covid and things kind of have a new norm and we’re not in the, the battle of do you wear a mask or not?
anymore and hopefully never again, but. In that [00:04:00] normal, we kind of get back to the things that, that really used to be the hardest parts about ministry and, and sometimes that’s how people hurt you, as hurt you and they hurt your family. And there’s a lot of ways that that happens. you know, it’s, overly critical remarks.
It’s ghosting you, just disappearing on you. It is even, Action to try to get you fired or get you ousted. It’s gossip. It’s all sorts of things that can be really hurtful for you, for your wife, for your kids. And so it’s something you gotta really think through. And you gotta, you gotta, you need to have a plan for what you’re gonna do when it happens, because if it’s not happening to you right now, it, it’s coming, it’s gonna happen.
Bob Bickford: Absolutely. I think of a conversation I had while we were in New Orleans, of a pastor that I, I really understood. some months ago he was dealing with some of this and it was, fresh because it was in process. It was in the beginning stages of, of challenge, and now he’s several months past this.
And so we were just having a conversation and one of the things I said [00:05:00] to him, Jimbo, was I said, this is gonna take some time and it’s going to require some intentionality in order to deal with the pain and the hurt that you’ve experienced at the place you just left. Right? and I think the intensity of it fades over time.
But Jimbo, I don’t think it, if you don’t. Lean into it and you don’t do some proactive kinds of things as you’re moving into a new ministry season or taking a pause. This hurt will be unresolved. So one, we’ve heard the phrase, time heals all wins. Well, I think that that’s true. If you have intentionality
right? but I think you’ve gotta put some intentionality. So I, I would just say one thing I would add to that and would love to hear what you would say is I think you need to spend some time reflecting on the situation that happened and looking back, not to dredge up the emotions, Jimbo necessarily, but I think looking back to say what happened,
JimBo Stewart: Mm-hmm.
Bob Bickford: as best as I can [00:06:00] understand and how did I respond?
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, and I think part of that, Bob, you gotta get some outside perspective. and there are varying levels, so depending on how much this is impacting you of how much outside perspective and the kind of outside perspective you need to get. One is if you can get a pastor that has been in this longer than you have, That’s a really great place to go and just say, Hey, can I just be honest with you about what’s going on, how I’m feeling about it, how it’s making me feel and think, and you just, I mean, where, challenge me, where I’m wrong.
Challenge me where I’m not thinking, right? And, and give them permission to do that. Be ready to do that kind of mentally and, and know that they’re gonna challenge. And here’s the deal. If they’ve been passionate for a long time, they’re probably not gonna like beat you up. They’re gonna, they’re gonna hear you.
They’re gonna have compassion. and their hope. When I talk to pastors going through stuff like this, my posture is always one. I, I hope to have a lot of empathy and a lot of compassion, and hear them, understand them, validate their emotions, and then try to just [00:07:00] barely lean forward and just kind of go, okay, what does it look like to not just sit here in this frustration and hurt and confusion?
But how do we just barely right now? I know it’s hurtful. Everything’s painful. How do we just barely lean forward? What’s, what’s a way to lean forward in this and, and think through this and different perspectives? There’s going to be a temptation and this, this, I, this may be, I think one of the most important things I’ll say on this episode, if church hurt, hurt, especially if it has something to do with.
Your people’s evaluation of your effectiveness as a leader, as a pastor, there’s going to be a real temptation to isolate
Bob Bickford: Mm-hmm.
JimBo Stewart: cuz it’s scary and it feels like what if they’re right and what if I do get perspective on this? And that perspective helps me see that I am less. Of a leader than I thought I was, or I’m less of a pastor than I thought I was.
And, and there’s almost this subconscious battle to go, I don’t really wanna open that Pandora’s box. and so I’m just gonna put my head down and [00:08:00] go forward and, and you’re kind of almost just hoping it’s gonna go away. And it’s not gonna go away. and you need, you need brothers that, and that are gonna help you.
They’re gonna love you and, and help you get the outside perspective. So I, I would say stage one, you know, you get another pastor, another friend that’s done ministry that knows what it feels like to be in the spot that you’re in. But if it’s like legitimately affecting you in, in a way that where you cannot.
Think clearly you can’t, like you’re, you almost have brain fog out of it that’s impacting you so heavy. then you need to seek professional help and don’t be ashamed of that. That is not failure. Like you, you need somebody that can help you get some clinical perspective on what this stress is doing to you mentally.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. I love that how you put that. I think it’s in, it’s hard for us to remember Jimbo, that, we’re not perfect and we’re going to fail. Right. And here’s a statement that I, I think is important. you [00:09:00] are not as great as you think you are, and you’re also not as bad as you think you are.
JimBo Stewart: Hmm.
Bob Bickford: And the reality is that one or two failures does not make you an overall failure, or one or two failings does not make you an overall failure, right?
So it’s important for us to understand there’s gonna be somebody who’s better than we are. At everything. There’s gonna be a lot of people who are worse than we are at something. And so the reality is, and, and I think this is true for a lot of us, type a, high D, high I probably firstborn types where we feel like we’ve, we’ve had a track record of success that’s, that’s followed us in every position that we’ve ever inhabited.
Jimbo, there’s gonna be a situation where you encounter. An obstacle, a barrier, a bully, a gatekeeper, a church, something where you, you are not gonna be able to overcome it just by your sheer talent or will. And [00:10:00] many times, that’s the Lord’s own doing to break you and make you more humble and dependent upon him.
but we all know that situations like that hurt. Now, I don’t want to exclude the fact that Jimbo, there are some people in churches who are sinful. Who are, divisive, who are, antagonistic, they’re, and Jimbo. There’s some people in churches that are just meanest snakes,
right? And they’re going to, they’re gonna throw everything they at you.
And then even worse, you’re gonna have people that you felt like were on your side or on your team, people that loved you, that all of a sudden betray you. And that’s perhaps the most difficult kind of hurt to deal with is the, not just the bully or the adversary, right? Cuz you kind of expect that to some degree.
But the person who’s within your own circle of friends, the one who betrays you. Right. The one who’s close, like a brother, that all of a sudden is now not any longer, that perhaps is the one that I think bewilders most pastors, to the degree that that feels [00:11:00] almost like a fatal wound, that it’s hard for them to overcome.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. The closer the person to you that you feel the hurt from. The, the, it is much more painful, and especially when it, you can’t make sense of it. There’s almost like. I don’t know. You’ve had, sometimes you’ve had disagreements with people I think that you know, and you love, but you, you get where they’re coming from.
You understand, like you, it’s agree to disagree type thing, but I get, I understand why you feel the way you do and, I think you’re wrong, and I think I’m right, but. And it’s hard and that’s painful. But the one that’s like really painful is it feels like, man, it feels like this came outta nowhere. I really thought we were on the same page and I thought that we were running this race together and that, you know, we were arm and arm linked up charging the battlefield serving together and that we were both excited about where God was taking this church and you agreed with what I was trying to do here.
I thought. Then either one, now you have major criticisms or two,[00:12:00] you just disappear and, with no explanation. And those, it can be sometimes, not always, that’s always more, far more painful than the person that’s just mean-spirited and critical all the time. and you just, you grow to expect that from them and you know that’s what you’re gonna get from them on a regular basis.
I think I’ve told this story on here before. I had a guy that. Everything he said to me was snarky and critical. and I, I, one day on a Sunday morning, I’m walking down the aisle and I’m talking to people right before the service starts and he just, you know, throws some dart at me of some, you know, critical statement.
And I just, without my filter working, just looked at him and his name wasn’t Bob. We’re just gonna pretend it was, and I just said, Bob, one day I’m gonna talk to you the way you talk to me. He just looked like super shocked, like, what in the world? And I just looked at him. I said, just think about it. And I walked off, not by best moment, but I’m not gonna lie.
It felt pretty good at the moment to do that.[00:13:00] that’s, but that’s, that guy was a lot less painful than the people that I thought we were, like, we were tight and we were in this together.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, man, I think that’s a great moment. That’s like in middle school. That’s like a punch to the sternum, bro. That was awesome. Right? The guy who’s picking on you and picking on you and picking on you, and then all of a sudden you’re like, you drop your book bag and you just punch him square in the sternum and it knocks him back and it didn’t hurt him so much as it surprised them.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah.
Bob Bickford: I think there’s a, a well-placed, use of a verbal punch to the sternum occasionally. I mean, you see it in Jesus, but, you know, but it, I mean, it’s just like somebody to do that right before you preach. Right? It’s just like, come on, people. Like really?
JimBo Stewart: Yeah.
Bob Bickford: but I, I think, you know, one of the things that is so important for us, Jimbo, is that, church hurt makes us become wiser, right?
And maybe [00:14:00] more shrewd. And maybe less sensitive, right? Because I think we see a lot of re planters get into the replanting work. They’ve sacrificed salary, position preference. they’re, they’re, you know, hustling to try to make it economically, all these sorts of things. And then they’re trying to lead a people who seem to be ungrateful and critical.
some who become adversarial and they get into this situation where they just feel frustrated, bewildered, angry, discouraged. What? Whatever. Right. So I think all of this hurt that we experience makes us become wiser. And so we walk into a situation maybe with a new person, with a little bit of caution and a little bit of wisdom,
right? A little bit of understanding that. We need to approach every conversation with a, with a measure of wisdom, with a, a measure of appropriate. Disclosure, right? All those sorts of things. It takes me [00:15:00] back to, uh, a passage in John two, 24 where, we, we see this in Jesus life, right as he was doing ministries like the wedding, a cana does the miracle.
Everybody’s like, did you say what he did? He like made water outta wine. Like, I mean, I mean, wine outta water means it’s just amazing kinds of things, right? And so all of this notoriety becomes, and it all in the midst of that, it says this, but Jesus did his part not to entrust himself to them because he knew all people
JimBo Stewart: Hmm.
Bob Bickford: and he needed no one to bear witness about man, for, he himself knew what was in man.
Right? So there’s this, this idea that Jesus doesn’t need people to go, man, you are awesome, right? You are. And so he wasn’t looking for his affirmation. Or his credibility from man because he knows what’s inside of of people. Right? And so, so for us as pastors, like our affirmation and our confirmation comes from the Lord.
And oftentimes what comes from man is [00:16:00] condemnation. Particularly, cranky church members are Unregenerate members. And as we seek to be a change agent inside of a church, we can expect to be the focus and the target of conflict. So, Going in knowing that, that it’s gonna be hard, that people are gonna disappoint, people are gonna be adversarial.
Some people are gonna be great and encouraging, and loving and accepting, but there’s gonna be a small handful that probably are gonna come against this. And they would come against anybody, right? Any, any pastor who was in that situation that was leading them towards biblical fidelity and faithfulness.
Mission reality. all those sorts of things, they’re just gonna come against that cuz they, they don’t really, they want change, but they don’t really want change. Right. So, be wiser for it. Right. Just know that, that church hurt, like redeemed the pain. I, I went to a church planter assessment back in the early nineties in Denver, Colorado.
I, I was thinking, you know, I wanna plan a church. where do I want to go? Well, Colorado seems like a great place. I’ve taken kids out there, to camp and I [00:17:00] loved Colorado. I just loved the vibe out there. Casa Bonita was out there and incidentally, Casa Bonita, Jimbo, do you know about Casa Bonita? it, it’s this giant Mexican restaurant that serves Taco Bell food.
But it’s inside this giant room. They have a cliff diver and caves and soap PIs. And here’s the best part, Jimbo. There’s a flag on your table that when you raise it up, the person comes by and says, what do you want? And you just tell ’em and they bring you more, right? So. Casa Bonita, I’ll put a link on it.
I Mark Halleck and I are super excited about it. Maybe when you’re out there, in July, you can, you can go to Casa Bonita and if you do take a picture of, of you, in Casa, I’d love to see that. But anyway, I go to this church planner assessment and the guy, talks about church hurt and pain.
And he says this, I’ve learned to let the Lord redeem the head wounds that I received.
JimBo Stewart: Mm.
Bob Bickford: And so he talked about redeeming the pain and Jimbo, man, that stuck with me. That’s something that has been part of my life just [00:18:00] thinking about how can God redeem this pain? Right? What people mean for evil. God intends for good, what we think is an, a burden that’s gonna kill us, and it’s gonna.
Gonna just take us out. God does that. So we depend on him. And so the conflict that we experience and the challenge that we experience, the hurt that we receive at the hands of people who we seek to pastor and lead, can make us more like Jesus and make us wiser. And as my counselor once said, if people betray Jesus, how do you think they won’t betray you?
JimBo Stewart: Right. Yeah. I think for me, in my experiences of the most hurtful moments, part of what I know God was doing in my heart, and I suspect God is often doing in the hearts of. Other ministry leaders when they go through difficult seasons is for me, he was chiseling out a fear of man. He was chiseling out a, addiction to approval, a, a need for man’s approval to be liked, to be [00:19:00]approved of, to be, thought of as successful and really good at what I do.
And, I know a lot of guys have deep. Father wounds, right? I mean, that’s, there’s a lot of documentation to that. And for the longest time, I did not think I had deep father wounds because I was very blessed. I have a great dad. I mean, my dad is a really good guy. I love being around my dad. I’ve always loved being around my dad.
I’ve never felt anything but respected and loved and cherished by my dad. But what I did figure out is because I love my dad so much, my dad is one of the hardest working men I’ve ever seen in my life. So, And so it, it hardwired this thing in me of like, he, I mean, and he, he said, always be the hardest working person in the room.
Like that’s what it means to be a man. That’s what it means to, and from his perspective coming from, you know, a small little sharecropper family in, in Arkansas, [00:20:00] in dirt floor shack, and he’s the only one to graduate high school and he is 21 when he graduated and, you know, had a pretty successful career in the, in the pulp mill paper mill industry.
So, He had to work really, really, really hard to do all of that. and so I admired that so much. It kind of ingrained that mentality into me, into ministry of if I’m gonna be a good pastor, that means I’m gonna be the hardest working person in the room always. And I interpreted that, that that’s where my value and where my worth comes from is in my ability to work hard. The Lord had to take me through those seasons to help me begin to have a different perspective and see that no, my, my worth and value really is just in the fact that Jesus loves me and that’s it. That he has adopted me, that he has redeemed me, that I am his child, that I am pointing others to him. And that’s it, regardless of how many people show up or how successful I am, or whether people like me or don’t like me.
and[00:21:00] it’s still something at times I, I still have to wrestle with. But I never gained real perspective on that until I went through church hurt, until I went through those things. And so boot camper, I, I don’t tell you what. I sat down with a, with a pastor recently and I just said, listen, don’t run from the pain. Don’t try to sue it. Don’t don figure out not only how to, not how to, not only how to redeem the pain from our past, but when you’re in the midst of church hurt. Ask the Lord What is it that you’re doing and how is it that you’re using this to grow me? And how can I just submit myself to that and know that it’s gonna hurt?
It’s gonna hurt, and ministry is often gonna hurt. And if you, the problem is from what I have seen in my own life and lives of others, Bob, when you try to soothe it and you try to avoid the pain and just get around it, then most oftentimes you’re gonna go to something that’s unhealthy. Now, might it be something that’s benignly unhealthy, like spending too much time on social media?
Which is not a good idea or binging Netflix. But it can also [00:22:00] go to things like pornography, to alcohol. It can go to drugs. It can, I mean, I’ve seen it. I’ve, I know pastors, I know ministry leaders that began to soothe their pain with little things like food and, and Netflix and whatever. And then next thing you know, they’re struggling with alcoholism or they’re struggling with pornography addiction, or I.
Or they have an affair, they do something really stupid.
That stuff comes from, I think, instead of going to the Lord in our pain, trying to run from it and trying to soothe it.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, man. With that, we just wanna say, hey, if you’re out there and you are a renewal pastor and you are in a bad place, And you’re not quite sure what to do, we’d love to hear from you and try to help you connect with resources in your area to get you to a place where you can be healed and whole and serve for the glory of God and the good of the church and the community.
So, if you’re a brother that’s struggling, and don’t hesitate to reach out either to us or [00:23:00] that 800, number that we’re gonna put on, the bottom of this. show notes of this podcast to help you connect with somebody who can just listen. And you might need a safe place just to say, Hey, and here’s what I’m dealing with.
Here’s what I’m thinking, here’s what I’m doing. I need some help.
JimBo Stewart: Hey, in a way you can encourage us one, I did our, I did my math wrong. This will be episode 1 98, not 1 99. So, listener, if, the bootcamp’s been helpful to you, we would really love to hear that. And we would love to highlight some of those stories in episode 200. So, Contact us on social media. hit us up through the website.
Let us know what the, what the bootcamp has meant to you over the last few years, and would love to highlight your story on episode 200.