On How Tough it is to Be Tender

A wonderful woman who is kind enough to be my friend recently made a comment that we must remember that when we are admonished to care for the poor in spirit, sometimes, that includes us. It’s not earth shattering news to say that ministry is hard. Whether it’s as an ordained minister or as a lay person, it’s tough.

Most people in ministry will tell you that they are called to do it. For those who aren’t steeped in Christian argot, what that means is that there is a desire, a compulsion towards ministry that is so particular that it feels divine. In my experience, that often means having to operate outside of your comfort zone. Sure, elements of it may be right up your alley, but there will inevitably be some part of it that is maddening and inescapable.

Oh, my friends, I have to tell you that I am weary. I’m so very weary because the things I like least are confrontation and conflict, and it just seems like there is an overwhelming amount of that lately. It sucks the very life out of me and sends my anxiety spiraling. I’ve had a pretty wide range of ministry settings, and I can tell you that it’s easier (for me) to deal with a recently sober addict on a bad day than for me to deal with two church ladies arguing for a decade over whether or not to fold the napkins. The prior responds to directness and confidence, but the latter is like dancing in a minefield of potentially hurt feelings. How phenomenally exhausting.

At the risk of sounding like my mother, I am also dismayed, discouraged, and disappointed in the endlessly negative atmosphere created when church members and leaders insult and belittle each other, only to try to cover it with “oh, you know I’m kidding.” What a horrible example that is of the love we profess from the pulpit! I can be sarcastic and edgy sometimes, but I am trying very hard to never do it at someone’s expense. As someone who was/is bullied, I know what it’s like to be the butt of the joke that goes too far, and I don’t want to treat others like that. Almost everyone I have ever talked to who has left the church or avoided it altogether has done so because the people who make up the church are unkind. All I really ask is that you follow the Golden Rule.

Wheaton’s Law: Don’t be a dick.

These interactions just aren’t holy. And they suck the life out of me.

When I voiced this concern recently, I was nearly destroyed by the response I got: “You’re just being too sensitive.” I’m too sensitive because I don’t like meanness? Or because I think insults don’t reflect Christ? Or because I am concerned about how someone might be hurt in the process (including, possibly, me)?

Well, OK then. I’ll keep on being too sensitive if it means that it will prompt you to be kinder, at least in my presence. I’m OK being labeled too sensitive, and maybe that sticks me in the “poor in spirit” crowd according to some, but you know what? If I’m surrounded by people who need a minister, then I’m right where I need to be. Just please save some kindness for me, because I am weary, and I don’t need the church making it any harder to minister than it already is.

Please be careful with me. I’m sensitive and I’d like to stay that way. -Jewel

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About BearsGrl8

I'm a geek, a "Supernatural" fangirl, a progressive, an introverted loud-mouth, a damn fine cook, a Bears fan, a Blackhawks fan, and a fantastic aunt.

Posted on November 6, 2014, in Church, Woman Preacher and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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