Shame is a powerful and often silent killer of our soul. It has afflicted many pastors and ministry leaders.
Edward Welch, author of “Shame Interrupted” (a great book), defines shame in this way:
Shame is the deep sense that you are unacceptable because of something you did, something done to you, or something associated with you. You feel exposed and humiliated. Or, to strengthen the language, you are disgraced because you acted less than human, you were treated as if you were less than human, or you were associated with something less than human, and there are witnesses (Kindle loc 177-180).
So how do we deal with it? Here are some thoughts.
3 Ways Leaders Can Deal With Their Shame
1. Realize Where It Comes From.
It comes from our own sin.
It comes from sins others commit against us.
It comes simply by association (i.e., someone in your family committed something scandalous and you feel stigmatized by it).
It comes from our humanness (i.e., when we realize we don’t have what it takes to achieve our goals in life; this is often true for pastors when they realize they may never pastor a big church).
2. Take Comfort in God’s Perspective.
He takes great interest in the shamed, forgotten, and marginalized (1 Cor. 1:26-28).
Jesus experienced shame for us and therefore knows it intimately (Is. 53.3).
God loves us not because of our worthiness (our perception that we have it all together) but because of his loving nature (Deut. 7:6-8).
3. Make 4 Critical Decisions.
Turn to his face in repentance.