I recently asked my readers – mainly clergy and pastors – to share with me any stories they may have about betrayal in ministry. I didn’t stipulate exactly what I meant by “betrayal”. In fact, here is my request verbatim:
If you have experienced some form of betrayal in your ministry - and I sincerely hope you have not - would you be willing to share a little of your story with me, possibly including lessons you have learned?
About 5% of those who read the email responded, so I have to assume that the people who have experienced some kind of betrayal would far exceed that number.
Here’s the first thing I learned:
I mean, really hurts. The wounds strike very deep into the heart and the pain can last a long time. Years, in fact. Maybe decades. Perhaps some never heal.
The damage often involves more than the emotional pain. Jobs have been lost, ministry has been hampered, career trajectories have been forever altered.
Relationships – personal relationships, professional relationships, denominational affiliations – often damaged beyond repair.
Betrayal undermines the foundations of secure human relationships. Frankly, it’s hard to trust again after someone near you puts a knife in your back. Yet, we can’t be happy humans without trusting others we depend upon.
So, this is not a prescriptive article. I offer no glib nor even professional answers today about how to heal. Perhaps some other time.
Job’s comforters knew all about what Job should do, where he had gone wrong and why he suffered as he did.
I think I will skip that approach today.
Let me simply say this: if you have suffered betrayal by someone you trusted in ministry – or any other relationship, for that matter – I know it hurts. I know your psyche suffered injury. I know your life has changed in some ways because of it.
Yet I also know that Jesus, himself betrayed, found courage to go on, complete his mission, forgive his enemies and minister to those around Him even on the cross.
I pray you find solace in His example and sufficient grace to heal, restore and persevere.