God repeatedly, intentionally, aggressively closed some doors in my life that I REALLY wanted open. And I was wrecked. I spent the better part of a couple weeks crying to God from the deep disappointment and despair lodged in my heart.
Ever noticed how even when you hurt, life marches on? Well, in addition to being a full-time seminarian, I'm a Student Ministries Director at a brand new church campus plant, and there was no time to stop and wallow in my hurt. So I bumbled and cried as I worked.
In the midst of all this, my boss asked me to pray before a team meeting. That day, the Holy Spirit was powerfully present through my prayer in a way that surprised and moved me, and then I realized that He was there not in spite of my brokenness but because of it. And that was when this idea sprouted in my heart: personal brokenness is essential for effective leadership.
I am not talking about brokenness for X,Y,Z injustice in the world (though having one of these is important). Neither am I talking about brokenness in the form of a deep unconfessed, festering sin or a long-standing addiction (though one of these things can be the root cause of the brokenness I am talking about).
When I say “personal brokenness,” I mean a vibrant and sincere awareness of the heart-wounds nearest and dearest to us that no matter how hard we stuff, ignore and deny, just reappear in the form of fresh lacerations for which there is no balm except the breath of God.
I am learning that for effective (read: compassionate, sincere, powerful) leadership, there has to be something personal that you are on your face in prayer and pleading with God about. You may not feel the hurt of that brokenness forever—but that is certainly where effective ministry must start.
Because when you are on your face before God, not only praying but also crying because it hurts and you don't have enough, grace prevails in your life. And when you are on your face limp from hurting before God, and yet there are people entrusted to your care, the Holy Spirit moves…in spite of your brokenness!
And when the Spirit moves, all (you included) meet God, you are surprised, and then you remember and relive the vital truth you forgot in the midst of all your reading, preparing and duck-aligning: the heart of the gospel is hope because of a broken (and resurrected) Body.
So, don't run from that persistent hurt—it is likely the very location of God's greatest work in and through you!
This post originally appeared on Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary's "Voices" blog. The original post can be found here.