RECENTLY DAN CRAIN HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF SPEAKING AT DESIRE STREET’S “THRIVING LEADERS SERIES” HTTP://WWW.DESIRESTREET.ORG/PARTNERS/THRIVING-LEADERS-SERIES/ ON A TOPIC CALLED THE “UNDERBELLY OF SERVICE: WHY THE FALSE SELF PLAGUES SO MANY MINISTRIES.”
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The Father wound and ministry
Raising personal support is hard I’ve realized this many times after doing it for seven years. Of course being a white middle class man allows me more connections and resources than my brothers and sisters of color have.
I think the thing that I struggle with the most about it is the psychological aspect to asking others for help. I would much rather be self-sufficient and not have to ask anyone for help. But, this is not what Christ has called me to. On a deeper level I have struggled with it so much with it because of the Father wound in my heart.
I was first introduced to the concept of what a father wound is a few years ago. The father wound is the simple reality of that deep emotional scar that each of us carry that our earthy father’s didn’t provide for us. My earthly father is a good man and taught me many wonderful things. Yet, there are certain things I learned growing up in my family of origin.
We all have it despite how good or bad our earthly fathers were. Despite the work I have done in the interior of my life and dealing with my sin and false self, my kids will probably be sitting in a counseling office in a few years talking about the ways I have wounded them. Sin happens.
A few years ago I was in a lunch meeting raising support with my dad and his best friend. I had prepared a thirty-minute presentation updating them on the ways in which God was working through us in the neighborhood and around the city. I was pretty proud of the presentation and the work we had done.
As I got done with the presentation and asked for their thoughts, my dad’s friend looked at me and innocently said, “So how is what you do any different than what I do as a volunteer at my church?”
I was crushed and instantly started to cry.
He then very sensitively said, “I hit a sore spot didn’t I?” I said he did and apologized for my emotional state. After talking more he got a better sense of what we were doing.
But that’s not the point. The point is what triggered such an emotional response out of me at such an innocent question? It’s a good question and needs to be unpacked.
This is where knowing a tool called the “trigger exercise” helps. A friend, Angie Wynn introduced me to it a few years ago.
It’s simply working through the grid below when having an experience within community that is hard and triggers something.
What is the trigger?
What is the response?
What are you protecting?
What is the root?
What was the trigger for me? My friend critiqued my work.
What was my response? I started to tear up and got really defensive.
What was I protecting? The fact that in my family of origin I was never quite good enough for my dad. I never really believed in myself and constantly thought I was a failure.
What is the root? I was the second in the birth order of five boys and I was always a goof off longing for the approval and validation from others. I never really believed in myself and so I became a performer in sports in order to get the affirmation from my dad that my heart so desperately longed for. I quickly realized that if I performed for others that I could get a certain amount of validation and cover up what my heart was really longing for, a certain amount of safety and security.
The unfortunate thing is that after Jesus got a hold of my heart and led me into ministry the core lie still remained, I was not good enough and so I needed to perform. This worked really well when the first ministry job I had was a youth pastor and the youth group grew from 15 to 80 kids in a year and a half. It didn’t work well when the group shrunk from 80 to 50 over the next year. My identity was tied to my performance.
So, sitting at that lunch with my dad and his best friend his critique brought all of this back up. His simple question triggered all of this in me and literally crippled me.
What’s interesting is that the more I press into my own family of origin and discover the ways that Christ healing me is that I talk about it more with others and so many in the church and in leadership are struggling with the same thing.
This “it” is constantly at work in you. I am discovering that it doesn’t matter how wealthy one is or the job title that one holds, it’s there. It’s that little voice that is saying you’re not good enough and you need to prove yourself.
But, to take it a step further from the trigger exercise I am learning to ask additional questions, what does the good Father want to speak to you and what do you need to release to him?
The fact that in Christ we are God’s beloved child. A few years ago in a Dignity Serves class a women shared that she is discovering that God really delights in her. This is the truth of the gospel. God really likes us and we are good in him.
So, be free in Christ. You don’t measure up and that’s okay, because you do in Christ. Take the inner journey and begin to face family of origin issues. It’s hard, but don’t worry because as Paul says in Romans 1; “The kindness of God leads us to repentance.”
Read Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman and Emotionally Health Spirituality by Pete Scazzero. Go and sit on the couch with a trusted friend or a counselor. It’s worth it and so are you because God really likes you.
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