I read a post in an online group I'm a part of where people in ministry share life and stories to get perspective from each other.
Recently, someone shared this:
Really frustrated: just got a text from a potential new church after we flew down to interview and they offered the position to someone else. That being said I had asked what we did wrong or could do differently.
My wife and I are a team and we both have a lot of different strengths that make us a great team. That being said the pastor pretty much said they only pay one person and my wife needs to back off and let me do my thing. I'm frustrated and my wife is devastated and has told me she is done and it's all mine now.
She is a huge part of the our ministry and now she is done and doesn't want to be apart of it anymore. Thoughts and prayers appreciated.
Throughout the years of being in ministry, I've been there.
Here's what I wrote back.
Grieve.... just grieve.... it's okay.
Because you will replay this scenario over and over in your mind as you each dissect what you could have or should have done differently. You'll begin to believe that if you were just more _____ and less _____ that you would have been accepted...
Because you'll then realize this has become unexpectedly about acceptance. You'll be surprised at how you didn't see that sneak into your hearts. It'll feel like this getting this job was a matter of validation and security. "God, I really wanted this. We both really wanted this. We've served you so hard and hoped that this would be a sign of a fresh start."
And then, wow... pretty soon you'll then realize you're thinking this is how God works - that if you only would have fasted one more time or not said that "one thing" in a message that maybe you would have been found/seen/felt to be faithful. You'll each feel like the "dirty one" in the relationship - your wife will feel like she let you down somehow, while you will feel like you let her down somehow.
Meanwhile, life will demand you do something... go grocery shopping... pay bills... navigate the awkward silences in between watching your favorite TV show or brushing your teeth. You'll bump into the remnants of your trip, too - perhaps paperwork you grabbed that has the church's name on it, or your bank statement that shows all the restaurants you ate at on your trip wondering what you might get the "next time" you stared at their menu.
The clock will still tick as it always does - 60 seconds in every minute; 60 minutes in every hour. Only it'll feel more like 600 seconds and 600 minutes. To compensate, you'll hit refresh on your internet browser about 600 times a day hoping for an email or update on a church job posting website.
This will go on - with one of you being "up" while the other is "down" (and then vice-versa). You'll get ticked off. You'll wake up ready to cry. You'll tell God what you think of Him.
Which will somehow create this weird on-ramp to honest prayer. In fact, you'll rediscover ways to pray that you haven't prayed in a long time... prayers that involve lamenting, an often forgotten spiritual practice.
Maybe this will prompt you to look through old journals of times in your life when you were just as confused and didn't know what was going to happen next. It'll speak volumes as your "older, wiser self" wishes you could tell your "younger, naive self" that whatever you were sweating years ago will all work out in an unplanned way...
and then somehow you'll realize that by remembering the journey your "younger, naive self" was on with God back then you have perspective today. Perhaps you can't confess that you know what'll happen next, but you can confess your certainties in the Lord. Somehow that in itself will feel like a breakthrough.
Over time - maybe a day, or perhaps days, or even weeks - you'll start to clarify your "creed" - what you believe about the Lord and your calling. And you'll as husband and wife reconnect through intimacy, remembering that you are on this journey together for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, in want and in plenty and so on.
Pretty soon you'll own that you can actually take "the hit."
Wow, that day actually will come.
You can take "the hit." You'll say it out loud a few times - "I'm okay, now. I can take the hit."
But letting the hit overshadow the amazing, phenomenal calling that God has put into you? The idea of not standing up to find a new way to pour forth what's in you? That'll kill you.
So you'll then worry a little less about the future and instead begin loving the next person in front of you.... because... it's in you.
Wow, that's actually in you.
Sure, you'll be diligent in putting your resume out there again and realizing that the same thing may happen all over one more time... and then again, yet again. But you'll be making a difference today.
Because this is ministry. We're not being called into heaven just yet where everything makes sense, but into a war zone where spiritual battles happen inside and outside of the church; where people (even those in pastoral leadership) are flawed and careless without intending to be that way; where you don't get the La La Land ending you want, but get called to make a difference on the mission field before you today. The reason it's called "ministry" is because there are real needs in the world that need "ministers." To quote Jesus, we are not fed by what is given to us but our "food is to do the will of Him who sent me."
And then you'll grab your wife's hand, and she'll grab yours, and you'll somehow realize that you're able to do this because God has first each grabbed you. He loves you.
And He loves lots of people. Not just the ones in the church you had plans to go to, but people who are before you today.
It'll take time. It'll take Jesus. It'll take each of you. It'll take a community of people who won't just commiserate but who will help you cultivate, ventilate and formulate.
Maybe you're not there yet, but maybe you will be.
So in the meantime...
Grieve.... just grieve.... it's okay.