Christian leadership is not for the faint of heart and we are confronted each day with disappointments and challenges that test our own faith, our own trust, and our own view of God's divine sovereignty and goodness. It is one thing to proclaim all these truths to others. It is another to wrestle with them ourselves.
A good friend dies. Another discovers they have cancer. A ministry plan went askew. We are attacked by someone who should know better. I am talking about the issues that tear at our hearts and cause us consciously or unconsciously to doubt the very God we serve and proclaim. When pain gets personal it can get very personal. And because we are ministry leaders we often have more than our fair share of those personal issues.
We are unlikely to come out and say it. We may not even admit the truth to ourselves but disillusionment with God is not uncommon among ministry leaders. And when it happens, it often has an underlying anger that spills over in unexpected ways and to unexpected people. Our own issues with God become toxic as we struggle with the disconnect between our theology and teaching and personal experience and pain. Anger is the toxic mixture created by that dissonance. After all, there is no anger more personal than anger at God created by our disillusionment in His allowing circumstances that we believe He should not allow.
This is a dangerous moment for leaders because the underlying anger hurts those they lead and those they lead end up walking literally on eggshells.
Where do we go in those situations? We go back to some basic truths and principles that must drive our spiritual leadership and must be the presuppositions from which we think, live and minister.
1. God is good all the time even though we live in a fallen world. His goodness can always be counted on and must be trusted in for if He is not good the very character of God proclaimed in Scripture cannot be trusted.
2. God's goodness does not preclude all of us from suffering. Indeed, we share in the fellowship of His sufferings and our scars become divine scars if we trust Him in the midst of our pain.
3. God's ways are indeed inscrutable to human eyes: majestic, eternal, sovereign and divinely good in ways that we cannot understand this side of eternity. We exist as part of a divine drama on a stage so large and complex that we often can only comprehend a small portion of the story unfolding.
4. There is an eternal purpose in all things that transcends our limited understanding. But that purpose is good and will be fulfilled in the glory of God being known across our globe. Often, failure and pain are the antecedents to amazing glory and eternal success.
5. We play a humble part in God's eternal purposes and cannot personalize His ways as our responsibility. We live with the joy and pain and difficulties of this life. When we carry burdens He was meant to carry rather than us we become weary disillusioned and often angry. They are His purposes, His burdens, and a part of His inscrutable plan. We must leave them with Him.
When we become disillusioned it is usually because we have taken on responsibility we should not take on. And, have usually lost our perspective on the part God plays and the part we play in His purposes.