Topless in ministry

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It started with anticipation. We’d be flying to a staff conference of our old missions organization to reconnect, reconcile, and rejuvenate. As we walked toward the entrance of the conference center, I felt jittery inside, wondering what God was up to. Would people embrace us? Ignore us? Holler at us?

When the door swung open, and we saw everyone, a collective sound erupted from the crowd, but I couldn’t discern it. Was it anger? Joy?

And that’s when my hands did what they shouldn’t have done. One by one, they unbuttoned my shirt and everything else until I was topless.

For a moment, still no one noticed.

We took our seats while the mission’s president took the stage.

And then he pointed out my nakedness. I desperately tried to cover myself up, but everyone’s stare kept me vulnerable, somehow unable to cover myself.

Then I woke up.

I’ve wondered what this dream meant, how it plays into our healing in ministry now that we’re four years out. All I can discern is that walking back into the place where you were hurt feels a lot like nakedness and extreme vulnerability. And maybe it’s not always a good idea. Maybe the best idea is moving beyond it, forgiving and anticipating the future instead.

It reminds me of a quote in Mark Buchanan’s excellent book, The Rest of God. “Her past was a tragedy to lament,” he writes, “but her future was an epic to anticipate . . . which is a simple way to say: what will happen matters more than what has happened.”

If you’ve ever felt topless in ministry, let that quote rest deep inside. It’s time to anticipate, to look forward, to heal.

Q4u:

Have you ever felt vulnerable or exposed in ministry?

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