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Ministry Musings: I’d Rather Be Broken

“The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart.” Psalm 34:18

This thing called “sabbatical”- it’s a first for me. Most of me is wondering where it has been all my life, and why we have never done this before. In some ways, it’s been the best thing we ever decided to do. In other ways, it’s been the hardest thing we ever decided to do. How could that be?

Well, with lots of extra time to read and ponder and refresh, something has happened. I’ve realized how needy my heart and soul are. One month into this rest time in our lives, and I’m realizing the reality of what many pastors and pastors’ wives do for years at a time: We stay busy. Unbelievably busy. Exhaustingly busy. We sometimes lose the ability to listen to our thirsty souls as they cry out for more of the rest that is found only in frequently quieting ourselves before God, and resting there for a long time. Just listening.

When this happens in our lives as leaders, it’s not like we haven’t been in the Word or in prayer at all. It’s not like we haven’t sought God and seen Him work and move on our behalf.  We have. But we’ve unknowingly covered up the one thing that is our best “asset” as ministry couples: the fact that we are broken people.

We are broken just by being sinful human beings. We are broken by life’s circumstances. And we are broken by ministry.

We are broken by the woman who says our hairstyle or clothes are too fancy or that we’re not friendly enough. We are broken by the deacon who criticizes our husband until he feels worthless. We are broken by the once friends who betray us and try to ruin our reputations. We are broken by the families who invasively give their opinion on how we spend our money or our time. We are broken by the brutal meetings where fellow believers hurl fiery darts that should only come from the world. We are broken by the score keeping of written lists of offenses and false accusations. We are broken by the staff members who turn ministry into competition. We are broken when our children are held to impractical expectations. We are broken by wrongdoing that is swept under the rug. We are broken from tasting the bitter cup of Christ’s suffering in a place- the church- that is supposed to be a place of grace and healing.

All of it screams “You’re not good enough” and “You are not enough” and “You’re too broken to be our pastor’s wife. Fix yourself. Or else.”

Here’s the thing: we agree with our critics! We know we are broken, struggling people. And we choose to forgive, to move on, to respond with grace, and to walk back through those doors when we really want to run far away. Then we do what we know how to do well- we get busy.

Until we have a moment to think about God, about life, about the state of the heart. And then the waterfall comes- all of the real feelings, all of the “mess” that we thought we worked through when it happened.  Because we had to keep going. And we thought we were fine. 

I’m noticing something in my own heart as I dive deeper into this sabbatical: I do long to be “fixed.” And don’t we all, as leaders? We want to be at that point where struggles are at a minimum and pain is no longer searing and life is settled and uninterrupted by drama. “God, fix me! I have to help fix others! I need to be whole!” We pray, we beg. Maybe it’s the pressure from others that drives us to “be ok?” If so, is it really worth it to ignore the symptoms of the soul and just push forward?

Here’s the amazing truth about being broken, humble, needy ministry leaders: Nothing else drives us to God. Nothing. Nothing else creates a hunger so deep for knowing God more personally than ever before. Nothing else enables us to see His face, His touch, in the details of our being. Nothing else brightens the mundane. Nothing else paves the way for us to delight in Him as He delights in us.  As promised in Psalm 147:3, nothing else elicits His tender healing.  As Psalm 34:18 comforts, nothing else brings us quite so near to Him…

Nothing but being broken.

So, I beg the question to the people in our churches around the world that we dearly love, but who sometimes misunderstand us:

Wouldn’t you rather have a broken pastor’s wife who depends on God with her very life than one who appears to (or really does) have it all together? Wouldn’t you rather be led by an openly broken family than one who looks good now but breaks later? Wouldn’t you rather ‘settle’ for an imperfect image for your church, knowing that you have more impact on the world for Christ that way because He gets the glory?

Take it or leave it. We- the pastors and pastors’ wives of the world- are broken. We no longer want to be fixed. We know that you are broken too…and we aren’t trying to fix you. We want to be broken together, before God. Because that’s when we really get to know Him. That’s when we really see Him move.

Brokenness isn’t a curse. It’s a key.

Being ‘fixed’ has curb appeal- it looks great on a resume and it gives a good visage in the community. It shines pretty on Sunday but it doesn’t fulfill on Monday. It doesn’t lead to utter dependence on God. It doesn’t lead to the unspeakable joy that close communion with God does. It doesn’t lead to soul rest or eternal rewards. It doesn’t enable us to be poured out before God, to be used to bless others.

This I know, as a pastor’s wife {you know it too} – there will always be those who are trying to fix me…fix you.

But with all my heart I say “I’d rather be broken.”

Wouldn’t you?


A Kindred Spirit

10 thoughts on “Ministry Musings: I’d Rather Be Broken

  1. Amen Amen and Amen. Brokenness is a wonderful place to be! It’s the only place to be to see God’s wonderful work! I’ve experienced this and it’s a wonderful blessing.

    1. Thank you Molly. I’m so thankful that it encouraged you- that is always my prayer- that God will send my words to the hearts who need them most. While brokenness is not usually something we crave, the sweetness of fellowship with God is unparalleled. Makes one want to linger there.((hug)) to you.

  2. Yes. If there’s one thing I have learned through my experience with spiritual abuse it’s that God doesn’t want to just “fix” us. He wants to heal and transform and renew us, and that can only be done on the other side of brokenness. Thank you for sharing your heart, Leah. I look forward to reading more in the days to come. <3

    1. Sherri, yes! Not a quick fix, but lasting healing and purpose. And as of recently, this is how I pray….for healing that produces and blesses beyond myself. I’m so blessed by you, friend. Our meeting was arranged by God for this specific time. I’m amazed.

    2. What a small world! A friend in St. Louis emailed a link to this blog, and, what do you know, here’s Sherri! 🙂 Hello, friend.
      Thank you for this post, Leah. It has set my mind to thinking, but, oddly enough, perhaps not so much about brokenness as about being renewed. We have experienced some of what you wrote about, Sherri, over the past months. Over and over the assaults have come, leaving grieving hearts further shattered until I begin to wonder how anything can possibly be left. But our Shepherd is in the business of restoring souls…my soul. And of leaving heart-shaped, bubble holes in my pancakes—how precious His love and care for us!

      1. Rachel, so nice to “meet” you in this place! I like what you said about being renewed and restored. I just studied this morning about how God restores our souls. I think brokenness and renewal go hand in hand. Brokenness makes it possible. I just love the ways that God reaches into our pain and makes us whole…..not like we were before, but better and more like Himself! Oh, and guess what? I look for hearts too!! Just sent Sherri some pics of a heart shaped cloud and a heart shaped Kleenex. Love it!

      2. It’s my Rachel! Hello! =D But, I’m so sorry. I had no idea this is what you have been going through. If you ever want to talk, I’m here for you. Always. Love you bunches! <3

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