I have to love others who've rejected me.
One of the first things a professor said to me that hit me really, really hard was this: "You can't be in ministry unless you love people." and then one step further... "If you don't think people can change, just leave right now".
This seems like it should've been a "duh" kind of thing, but for me, it wasn't. When I first felt God calling me to the kind of ministry I am training and studying to be, I just didn't know about the "hugeness" of it all. I honestly hadn't processed everything that ministry meant. I had (to an extent) - in fact, read this post to see what I mean by that.
God made some big changes in my during 2010. A lot of it was through this. Best. Study. Ever. A lot of it was simply the transition time of my life; after several years in one town moving out of state and attending seminary. God did all this work in me to help prepare me for the ministry to which I am called right now.
I have learned....
1. Coercive power won’t lead to change. You can't force others to do what you want them to do. You can offer wisdom and perspective, but manipulation will do nothing but tear down and rip apart the relationship.
2. Though we can't deserve or earn grace, it's imperative you give it to people anyway. A fellow student at seminary asked in class "But what about the person who continually fails and takes advantage of you? When do you stop offering them grace?" The professors responded with "You take advantage of God every single day." I do worry about lines being crossed and about the importance of boundaries in relationships... of course I worry about those things. But there comes a point when you either decide that's it's more important to be right or more important to have the person who needs the grace in your life. Every day we make choices like this. It's hard to think about getting beaten up all the time. But I think it can be equally hard to not forgive. For in that unforgiveness comes a heart laden with burdens we are not meant to bear. I have had that burdened heart. There isn't much worse I've experienced.
3. This pattern of the rejection I've faced from others in the past has significantly influenced how I treat others today. I assume that people who want to know me only do so because they need something from me. I assume an agenda on their part, rather than trust and simply think they just want to be in a relationship with me. There was quite a bit of trauma from my childhood that caused this in me today. But I've also learned that's why I'm comfortable being a leader, because it allows me a certain amount of emotional distance. Whether or not I've hit a healthy level of this is something I'm still unsure of.
4. I've learned to be better at rolling with the punches, especially to more I work with people who can't. I find myself frusted with these, but knowing full well I can be that way too. I'm working on that.
5. I've learned the process of being called is a holy one. It's scary and frustrating and knee-shaking kind of painful. But it's holy and made me full of awe at God's providence and will at the same time.
6. I've learned that even after you're called, the process of being in ministry is also holy. I've had the privilege of sitting in my office and crying with people who are wounded. I've had the joy of praying with and for an elder starting a new business. I've had the pain of hearing a friend cry on the phone because her daughter needs surgery. I've had the ache for my seminary friends as we've lamented and worked the process of ministering to others on opposite sides of the nation. It's all hard and it's all holy.
7. I've learned that I am blessed beyond all measure and wish I realized that every second of every day.
Happy New Year, everyone. Blessings to you all in 2011.