A burden no one could bear

Today, I learned of a megachurch assistant pastor who completed suicide yesterday. He was open about his mental illness. In fact, the prior day's tweet from him was rather telling.

View this tweet on Twitter

In Bible college, the rules were very strict "to prepare us for the ministry." I think I just got it this morning (29 years later), even before reading about the suicide of Jarrid. They tried to prepare me for Hell. If I could handle the brutal criticism, triangulation, and judgment there, I'd be fine in a church or on a mission field.

Ministry is Hell. No one tells anyone this. It's kind of like telling people that being a parent is ridiculously hard, and for what seems like questionable results. If people knew that at the outset, we'd probably be dead in a generation because no one would have kids. Likewise, if folks were straight up about ministry, no one would enter, because it is Hell.

Allow me to explain. The judgment of Christians is brutal, from within the group. Each group claims that THEY are "true believers." And the adolescent behavior that happens in the "in group" is so mean-spirited and laden with elitist "piety." It's Olympic-level competitive spirituality.

The outside is equally harsh. The outside expects Christians to be damned near perfect, or to conform to what they think is "right," "true," "Christ-like," etc. They mock religion for a host of reasons.  Religion is not the enemy.

People enforcing their beliefs on others, through manipulation, are the enemy.


When we are more invested in "winning" than in connecting and respecting others (because "winning" is about getting respect for one's self), this enforcement happens.

But HOW can we get past this?

Tip 1: while it is scary, assume positive intent. Most of us think that we wear the "white hat."

In my training and tradition, there is the notion that every behavior has a positive intention from the perspective of the person who is engaging in the behavior.

Tip 2: following on the previous, find out what the person values.

It could be "doing the right thing" as they see it.  Most of us value "doing the right thing" as we see it.

Tip 3:

As you see the person realize that they are considering your perspective, allow them to save face.

If you are really interested in someone else and his/her feelings, your need to "win" the argument by "I told you so" will be lessened, and a healthier relationship can be restored.


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