There is no place for you

May 2, 2024Archive, blog

When we suffer, according to the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 1, we suffer with an eye toward helping others. “Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer” (2 Corinthians 2:6).

In shouldering the burden of the hurting, our pain begins to transform, from burden to bearing, from myopic introspection toward an outward focus. I have found profound joy in helping others. That’s the whole backstory of the term restory--we are healed to be healers, shepherded to be shepherds, loved to love the broken.

Perhaps the deepest pain we’ve experienced in leaving a church has to do with not being able to step into the places of those who suffer or need guidance. We sought to minister to folks in different ways. We felt like there was some sort of unwritten rule to ask to serve, but that we were using the wrong phraseology. We approached different people in different ways over a long period of time, trying out new ways to ask. Was there a secret we were missing? Did we ask the wrong way?But door after door closed, though, in the past they’d been wide open.

Finally, we got our answer. (And honestly, I’m glad it was so very clear. It made our decision making process much easier).

A leader with the authority to do so basically said, “There is no place for you.”

The pain of that statement is not necessarily from a hurt ego–it springs more from the desire disciples have to help others.

To be thwarted by the powers that be is its own pain. Why?

  • You learn that the system you once loved no longer needs you.
  • Your desire to step into the messy places now has no place to go–at least not in that place anymore.
  • You realize how little agency you have.
  • You feel discarded.
  • You hurt for the people you wanted to shepherd, and you feel the weight of their pain.
  • You wonder if all those years of service meant nothing. Perhaps they did?
  • You grow perplexed by a system where only a few chosen people can serve in bigger capacities and you mourn. Isn’t the job of church leaders to equip the saints for service?
  • You seek the Lord, asking him where he would like you, because you’re not sure if you’re no longer capable of serving, or this thwarting is simply someone else’s opinion about you. You struggle to find the truth.

I’m sorry if this has ever happened to you. I’m sorry if you’ve felt unseen or dismissed. In our case, as I mentioned above, this statement served as a signpost that it was time to move on.

Have you experienced something like this? How did you react? What did you learn? How did you move forward? 

8 Comments

  1. Ralph Chen-Green

    Thank you for sharing so vulnerably Mary. My experience was 30 years ago when the church leader changed. I was one of the elders. He didn’t have the skills to run a church. But kept in place by church hierarchy. It got messy and controlling when issues raised. Church split into two factions, those who saw the issues & those who didn’t or refused to see them . Then the “don’t touch the Lord’s anointed” chorus.

    By Gods’ grace I have worked through this trauma. Did not trust churches & leaders fora very long time. Went on a journey of rethinking my faith and what church was really meant to be. My ecclesiology rebuilt through trauma. Took me on long path of initial disappointment. Helped by inner healing prayer ministries.

    Abba used it all to work in good things: hearing him better, growing in my prophetic gifts and receiving revelation of his Abba Father love.

    It was worth it all to receive all of this.
    He has restored the years the locusts had eaten.

    I bless you on the new journey.
    I pray he will lead you into green pastures and restore your soul.

    Dr R

    Reply
    • Mary DeMuth

      Amen, thank you for sharing your pathway through. It’s encouraging to hear.

      Reply
  2. Collin

    I definitely think your years of service meant something to God and the families you directly or indirectly influenced or served. Generations of my family will likely benefit from aspects of your book “Building the Christian Family You Never Had”. I doubt I would’ve read it without your influence in our church.

    I’ve known of overseas mission projects that came to an end due corruption in those countries. But the community served was still blessed and eternally impacted by the project despite it’s unceremonious end. As bad as it hurts, I do not believe it was all for naught.

    Reply
    • Mary DeMuth

      I’m so grateful you appreciated/used/read the book!

      I love that second example. No one can thwart God’s purposes, not even narcissistic leaders.

      Reply
  3. Brian

    I hope it’s okay to share a quick thought, rather than an experience. An exciting question I’ve heard a Pastor frame is, “What is the Holy Spirit doing in your life, and what can we do to help that.” That’s quite a shift from the typical top-down, command-and-control approach often seen in corporate-like church settings. Of course, I’m not saying that vision and direction do not come from eldership and set leadership. But there must be an honoring of the Spirit’s activity in the Body. Ministry sprouts in that way too. Probably more than we know. Are we too often quenching the Holy Spirit? Some have even argued that the unfinished task of the Protestant Reformation is authentically embodying the “priesthood of all believers” doctrine.

    Reply
    • Mary DeMuth

      Oh I love that question. I want to be a leader who asks those kinds of questions.

      Reply
  4. Kellie

    Ive experienced it a couple of times, in different ways. When we first came to our current church, I was told the mission team didn’t need any new members. I actually thought that meant the church was so healthy they had tons of volunteers. I never quite got to the bottom of that one.

    The other times are more direct, always having to do with kids. We weren’t able to have kids, and yes, I don’t need to be reminded of that. So, a few times it was pointed out that I didn’t know what I was talking about (because I don’t have kids). I never remember acting like I did know…because I definitely don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to kids. Finally the last time it sunk in and occurred to me that, well, this wasn’t where God wanted me to put my efforts. I was volunteering for all the wrong reasons. I’m feeling better about it as time marches on.

    Reply
    • Mary DeMuth

      Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry you walked through all that. Grateful you’re feeling better about things.

      Reply

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