Dealing with Hurt

I have the honor of being able to speak with a lot of pastors and church leaders. Inevitably, the subject of “church hurt” comes up. While church hurt is not an excuse for any leader or layperson to stop doing what God has called us to do, it is a real and emotional experience that we must work through. Pastor George Matthews from Bessemer, Alabama, had some great wisdom to share on experiencing hurt and difficulty.

Pastor Matthews described it this way: God doesn’t send hurt, but He uses it to His advantage to make you into the man or woman He needs you to be. Sometimes it takes seeing something from a different perspective to understand it. So instead of complaining to God about it, settle yourself in the reassurance that God loves you and calls you His own. Then, from the place of a child, ask God why He allowed the situation. What is He trying to teach you from it?

Think about it, all the people in the Bible who God used in remarkable ways had their challenges to endure. One thing that comes out of those challenges is a serious reliance on the Lord. James tells us to count our trials as joy because they produce patience within us. Paul asked God to remove his pains and was reminded that God’s grace was sufficient. Jesus’s prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane show His full reliance on the Father.

Part of becoming a great leader is learning to manage difficulty—difficult situations and difficult people. I would argue that most people want to be considered great but skip the character-building that difficulty brings; that’s not true leadership. I love how Pastor Matthews explains this process; he said, “Some people are not going to recognize your leadership until you navigate through controversy and difficulty, or hurt and pain, and come out of that still roaring like a lion. The lion is not the largest beast, but his attitude says he thinks he is. God is developing that lion-like attitude in us.” But you have to be willing to go through the process.

Those in leadership must be transparent, open, and honest with the next generation about learning to manage hurtful situations and difficulties instead of trying to shield or protect them. When leadership is transparent in the process, it helps to prepare the next generation for what they will inevitably encounter. When the love of Christ is fully displayed, it becomes a lesson in dealing with situations and people with grace, love, and kindness, even when they may not deserve it. 

Rising leaders can be in for quite a shock when they aren’t prepared for the challenges associated with what they’re called to do—this is true for every part of life, not just the church. We do them a disservice by not properly preparing them to navigate life’s challenges and learn and grow from those situations. Joseph went through major challenges before becoming Egypt’s prime minister, but each difficulty he experienced was preparation for his future. The biggest part of his growth process was not ruling over others but forgiving his brothers and choosing to bless them when he had every right to get even.

Processing hurtful situations or dealing with difficult people is challenging, but I encourage you to see it as just another part of your transformation into becoming the man or woman of God that He’s called you to be. Submit to the process, no matter how difficult it may seem. Let God build your character and, as you grow from those situations, allow the love of Christ to be on full display.