I got this letter the day after the last one I put on my blog. This one is from a senior pastor as well and letters like his more than make up for letters like the previous one. When our religious institutions get in the way of a simple hunger to live deeply in the life of Jesus, then we have to rethink what we’re doing…
I am a minister in my 50s. I was ordained as a Southern Baptist, was a Navy Chaplain, turned charismatic, involved most recently in a “apostolic church” with a strong emphasis on “fatherhood” (which I have decided is the shepherding movement warmed over), and I just separated myself from my “headship.” Part of me would like to walk away from Christianity completely and just take care of my young family, put my Bible away and tell God when he has something for me to light a nearby bush! My question is where to from here? I feel as though I can’t trust anyone. ( I also had my own business, to support my ministry, which some “christian brothers” left me holding the huge debt debt that resulted in personal and corporate bankruptcy.)
I became a Christian and a minister believing that the gospel could make the world a better place. Needless to say I have been disappointed. But I can not forsake Jesus. I just no longer know how the work of Christ in the world gets done in a tangible manner. Perhaps I am most disappointed in myself in that I have no idea any longer of my destiny or my calling. I am most disappointed in my lack of the love like Christ in my person. I feel totally inadequate for ministry (even with my college and seminary degrees and years of experience).
Got any suggestions?
Your story breaks my heart. Unfortunately it is not an uncommon story, even down to the betrayal of close friends and bankruptcy. You are not alone, Bro! What Christianity has become in our day is often a painful reality that doesnâ€™t help people be transformed, just manipulate the system for their own gain. When it finally falls out it is incredibly destructive.
Iâ€™m blessed you would write me. I donâ€™t feel like I have any adequate words at times like this and certainly canâ€™t map out the next steps for you. I can affirm your statement that I canâ€™t trust anyone. Jesus even said something like that in John 2. But you can trust him. You may not feel like that right now with so many disappointed hopes in him, but he has set himself to deliver you from a system that was doing more harm than good, even with the best of intentions, and is now inviting you to know him in ways youâ€™ve only dreamed of before. 50ish is as good a time as any to let him take you through this transition and learn how to live in the freedom of his love rather than in the religion we call Christianity.
Where to go? To Him! To Him! To Him! Every day you wake up, just ask him to reveal himself to you as he really is. Ask him to lead you one step at a time to whatever he has for you. Follow the convictions of your heart and ignore the voices that seek to manipulate your sense of shame. Who knows what that will end up looking like for you? Iâ€™ve known so many brothers in your shoes and the outcomes are always different, but they all have this in common. We all look back and say, â€œWhy didnâ€™t I go on this journey earlier?” While the result are rarely what any of us expected, they are always far more spacious and filled with grace than our own dreams ever would have.â€
I know that may be hard to believe, given where you sit today. But he is pretty good at what he does. Youâ€™ve been dis-illusioned by what you thought his life was, but that is a GREAT thing. You (like all of us) had illusions about him and church that needed to be dissed. Now you stand on the brink of seeing this Father as he really is, and the bodfy of Christ as she is really taking shape in the world. It is more incredible than youâ€™ll ever know.