I’ve been in ministry for long enough to understand that when someone hurts another person it’s often because they themselves are hurting.
When someone seeks to hurt you as the pastor, either consciously or subconsciously, there is often something deeper at play. The issue is not the issue. What they are presenting is likely not the real problem.
Everybody is Hurting
Hurt people hurt people. Everyone is hurting. Human beings are deeply wounded from sin and loss. As a leader in ministry, you must understand that everyone is coming to your door with injuries. I have been on the receiving end of harsh treatment and this has came from hurt people. Hurt people hurt people. Just below the surface, the real issues lurk. They pop up and catch us off guard.
Shakespeare said, "Thou doth protest too much." In other words, "Your reaction to me is NOT in keeping with the level of this situation." Something else is possibly going on.
I can give a lot of grace when I realize that out of the overflow of their own injury, people seek to injure others. I try not to take it as personal.
Pastor = Shepherd
The word "pastor" is synonymous the word "shepherd". In Biblical times, a shepherd was responsible for the sheep. When it comes to sheep, the shepherd gets it all: the good, the bad and the ugly. When I signed up to be a pastor/shepherd, nobody told me that the sheep bite. And...it can hurt.
Hurting, injured, emotionally pained sheep look to be perfect on the outside, but are wounded in the inside. Pastors are easy targets for hurting people. It has happened to me. If it hasn’t happened to you, it is only a matter of time.
Hurt people hurt people. I encourage you with all of my heart to give grace. Often it is a simple act of psychological displacement. When someone kick the dog because they are overwhelmed with a failing marriage, we call displacement. The dog didn’t do anything wrong. Their anger and frustration has been pent up long enough that somebody is going to be on the receiving end of that wrath. Sometimes its the dog. Sometimes it is the pastor.
Jesus Christ said He came for the sick, not for the healthy. We are in emergency room care business. Well meaning, polished looking people are often deeply, deeply injured. They often take it out on us. We are an easy target. I don’t want to condone sinful behavior and we are all accountable for unbiblical, un-Christ-like behavior. However, I want to give YOU a free grace card. Use it often. The shots you have taken should not be taken personally.
Consider our role as pastor, shepherd or priest. Listen to the truth from Hebrews 5:1-2
Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.
I should have compassion with hurting people because I myself am "subject to weakness". I have hurt others when I have lashed out in tired frustration. You have too. We should be able to deal gently since we too have hurt others out of our very own hurt.