A year ago around this time I left the church I had been youth pastor at for nearly five years. It’s funny what dates a person remembers. I usually forget peoples birthdays, anniversaries and a number of important meetings that I really needed to be at. However I have been thinking about this day for the last three weeks. As I have been reminded of my resignation from youth ministry I can’t help but think of three major lessons I have learned during this last year. Though these pertain specifically to my situation I think that all three have parts of them that we can all learn from.
1. Our Identity Is In Christ, Not In A Position Or Place
When we are apart of a group for such a long time we begin to get very attached. The more time one spends with others it’s only natural to grow closer together. You may not be the best of friends but there is something missing in your day when you don’t speak with them. This same thing happens with places as well. A specific house, restaurant, tree or a number of places and things can hold a great deal of value for us because of the events attached to them.
One such place for me was that church. Before becoming youth pastor I had assisted the former youth pastor. I had grown to love the people long before I had become attached by a position. So when it came time to leave I was saddened. I didn’t want to leave but knew that the situation was no longer working and that I was no longer compatible with the leadership. This made it difficult because I had placed a great deal of my identity on both my position as youth pastor as well as the place I had come to love.
However, when I lost both the position that I loved as well as the place and people I loved in one day it was jarring. Over the last year I have relived those moments again and again in my head. Through Gods grace I have learned that though understandably shaken I am still His. Our identity as Christians is in Christ and nothing else.
2. One Can Not Blame The Whole For The Actions Of The Few
I have known more than a dozen people that have left the church all together because of the actions of a few Christians they meet. They point to hypocritical actions and words as the reason for their departure. I can understand their aggravation and bitterness. I can relate to, at least in part, to their desire to never go back.
However one should not leave the church over the actions of a few. As Christians we are all in the process of receiving grace. Because of this we also show grace even to those that we disagree with. This means that we are kind to those that are rude to us.
So we invest in the Church because we love her and the people inside. We understand that we, like them, have at times hurt people as well and need to show grace as we have been shown grace by God.
3. Healing Takes Along Time
It would be nice to say that healing emotionally is easy and only takes a few days or weeks. However in truth it takes much longer than any of us anticipate. There are days were its easy and you may not even think about the event that caused the pain. Then there are other days that so quickly remind you of the pain and help you relive it again in your mind.
One can not expect to easily remove such significant parts of ones life without there being such pain. Though we focus on the negative aspects of pain there can also be positives.
This pain shows you that you were deeply emotionally invested in the activity/place/people. This type of investment is not easy to come by and means that you are capable of great things.
Knowing and understand that your identity is in Christ, taking blame for the things that were your fault and forgiving those that were also to blame all help.
If we remember that God has been so gracious to us we are able to understand our identity in Him and this show grace to others.