Recently, I was recommended the book “The Way of the Heart” by Henri J.M. Nouwen by a fellow blogger, Zach Lavally . So last night, while waiting for Petsmart to finish giving my dog Max a bath, I went to Barnes & Noble and picked it up. I’ve only been able to read the first chapter so far, but was hit quite hard by this quote –
“Anger in particular seems close to a professional vice in the contemporary ministry. Pastors are angry at their leaders for not leading and at their followers for not following. They are angry at those who do not come to church for not coming and angry at those who do come for coming without enthusiasm. They are angry at their families, who make them feel guilty, and angry at themselves for not being who they want to be. This is not an open, blatant, roaring anger, but an anger hidden behind the smooth word, the smiling face, and the polite handshake. It is a frozen anger, an anger which settles into a biting resentment and slowly paralyzes a generous heart. If there is anything that makes the ministry look grim and dull, it is this dark, insidious anger in the servants of Christ.”
When I read this, it was like I got punched in the face. You may not feel the same, and I am happy for you if you don’t. But for me, I have seen in myself and in others Anger take root, and it is such a damaging thing.
But ultimately, why it hit me when I read it was because if times are dark for me right now, they are only dark because of myself. It’s my anger that overshadows the good in Ministry and makes me question things I question. I have been struggling with some hurt and baggage, and really seeking how to deal with that baggage. For me this is part of the solution.
If you want to know how to deal with Baggage in ministry, start with the anger.