I had a conversation yesterday with a few of my co-workers as we drove back from a meeting in Denton. We were talking about leadership and dealing with difficult people and I found myself once again thinking back to my days in full-time church ministry.
I’ve not worked in full-time church ministry for six years now, but I still think about it almost every day. You see, I still miss it (or at least parts of it). And at one level, I was very, very good at it.
I miss studying for and crafting messages that educated and encouraged people in the deep places of their hearts, helping them imagine a deeper, richer future with God and each other.
I miss being a vibrant part of a body of believers working toward a common goal.
But perhaps most of all, I miss helping hurting, broken people untangle the twisted places within them and learn to rest in the love of the Father. This was my strong suit.
And that, you see, is why I failed. I failed because I have a tender, sensitive heart. I, like many others, bruise easily. I failed because I suck at being ganged up on by church leaders. I’ve often been told in my life that I needed to grow thicker skin. I’ve decided that’s stupid advice. The truth is that I don’t have thick skin. I never have and never will. God didn’t make me, as he does some people, with thick skin. My skin is thin and my soul is sensitive. It’s how he made me, and, it’s what makes me so good at helping hurting, broken people.
Telling someone to grow thicker skin is like telling a fish he needs to learn to breathe on land. No, I will never have thick skin.
And that probably means I’ll never work in church ministry again. And that makes me sad. But since most churches, at least in my experience, seem to require Timex ministers – you know, guys who can take a licking and keep on ticking – and since that’s clearly not me, I’ve little choice but to find other ways to use my gifts . . . and other ways to earn a living.
I’m learning to be okay with that. Still.
And God is helping me.