This week, we hit our three-year mark in the ministry. Three. Long. Years.
With one set of lenses on, I look back at them fondly. I’m encouraged by what God has done and astounded at the ways he’s changed our hearts and helped us grow. I don’t even recognize the anxiety-filled woman furiously cleaning the kitchen in January of 2011 before our “church” met in our home that evening.
But through another lens, I look back and I’m saddened because there are people who were a part along the way … and are not anymore.
It seems an inevitability of ministry is losing friends.
This is one challenge I never expected. I thought that the Gospel of Jesus Christ would bond us together with those who chose to go alongside us as we planted this church.
I (wrongly) believed that people would either be on our team or humbly recognize that the direction God was leading us wasn’t their direction … and leave as friends.
But that’s not been the case.
In fact, my heart aches today, the morning after reading yet another one of the, “I’m sorry … I’m leaving … ” messages. I’m weary of these messages.
She’s someone I’ve been praying for, someone I have come to care deeply about, someone I have seen walk through the process of having her blinders removed to see Jesus as the answer for her hopelessness.
Someone so close to following Christ decided she can’t come to church anymore because thinking about it makes her stomach hurt.
I wish I was joking.
How does one cope with the part of the job description that reads like this:
You will likely lose friends. Probability of people expecting you to be perfect and getting irrationally irate when you are not. Likely to experience those people joining together in their common grievances against you. May experience the effects of other people’s anger, rage and pride, with full force. Job may dictate that you not respond—even when slandered or otherwise lied about. Bonuses available for those who can manage to lose every member of their core team within the first year.
I’m still sorting it out.