“I had a receptionist job once. Man was it tough. I got yelled at, had things thrown at me, I was lied to, lied about, hit on and called names — yeah, last time I ever work in a church.”
Do you know that joke get’s high laughs. Not just a polite chuckle, but high sustained laughter. Are people laughing because they are shocked, or because they can relate? Church workers have it rough.
It’s often said that great humor is born from tragedy. And there is truth in that. I poke fun at a lot of things that did not start out as funny becauseI choose to find the funny through the tears. Like my funeral story — pastor has a funeral on Friday, Wedding on Saturday and Sunday service. That’s three services and three sermons. Friday morning pastor gives me his funeral sermon and asks me to put it on the pulpit for him. I start to read it and realize he may have given me the wrong sermon so I go back to his office. I try to tell him it’s the wrong sermon and he tells me it isn’t and to do what he asked. Walking away I mutter “alright, but I don’t think the Browns are going to be happy when you open Mom’s funeral with I see Dead People. Just sayin” — I promptly received the correct sermon for the funeral and no one was the wiser. Funerals might not necessarily be funny — but that story is.
Pastor started his Sunday Sermon with a quote from the movie The 6th Sense. “I see dead people. They just don’t know they are dead yet.” I’m really glad that one didn’t make it to the pulpit for the funeral, that would not have been good. His sermon verse was Matthew 23:27-28 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
Many of us walk around as part of the living dead. Including ministry workers. We either kill ourselves with overwork or get killed by flying arrows so to speak, either way we keep standing up until we fall down.
I rarely write about that season. I’d rather write about this season. I’d rather write about the fruit I’m living in now than the saddness I lived through then. But maybe that’s not the right approach.
I read and hear so many stories about broken ministry leaders. There are so many people walking around with severed limbs, bleeding profusingly on everthing they come in contact with. The burnout rate for ministry leaders is higher than any other field. We should talk about it.
Are you a ministry leader? Have you ever been burnt out? What did you do?
Written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. February 10,2010