rustypants speaks

youth pastor. husband. idiot. why should you care? it's beyond me.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

God, protect me from your followers!

over the last couple weeks, i've gotten some friendly inquiries from a couple folks wanting to know if my faith is doing ok.

and my response would have to be, "faith in what?" or "faith in whom?"

well, you know, ever since you were somewhat screwed over by your last church. since you and lise have been dealing with mind-numbing medical and mental health issues for the last 3 years. you know, since you feel like you've been on the continual downside of the rollercoaster. since you've not gone back to church since leaving the ministry. you know, since you don't really talk about Jesus in all of your blog posts (i mean, you are a minister, aren't you? you are a christian, right?).

let me dispel this myth.

i admit: after the shock of being treated the way i was at the church, my faith in God got a little shaky. it sure felt like we were being singled out for continual persecution and kicks in the crotch and if God has the power to stop all this and i keep begging him and begging him to do so, and then the people who are supposed to help me by ministering to me (even as i minister to teens) take a swift kick at my crotch, too... well, that certainly was difficult. since God didn't stop it, then it must be God having fun kicking us around.

depression hit me pretty hard. self-doubt hit hard. questions and anger at God hit hard. i couldn't believe that God would do this to me!

and the reality is: he didn't.

another reality is: i can cry, moan, whine, beg, plead, be angry, scream and hold my breath until i'm blue in the face, but God didn't set out to prove a point by torturing me or lise.

sometimes crap happens.

and i think that God gets too much of the credit and too much of the blame. i also think satan gets too much credit and blame as well.

so towards what, then, has my faith suffered?

God's people.

i know, i know - it's an unfair, blanket statement. but the shock of 17+ years of following Jesus and seeing God's people treating others of God's people with SO much disrespect (and then being on the receiving end in such a time of need) - this really put me over the top. it's made it difficult for me to trust and even listen to Christians because i'm wondering what their motives really are. wondering what they're really thinking.

jim snyder told me back in december as i was first dealing with what had happened: scott, we're all broken sinners and we don't play well in the sandbox together. it still seems too simplistic to me but i guess it'll have to work.

in the last 2 weeks alone, two friends of mine who are also in ministry have been dealt with in similar (yet different) ways, the end result being their leaving the church/ministry. over the last 17 years, we've seen people in leadership get forced out over the silliest things. we've seen folks in the congregations we've been a part of get hurt (at the hands of leaders and/or other lay people) to the point of leaving and with no restoration of peace or fellowship. we've seen people get used and discarded. we've seen people who needed to be taken care of and ministered to get shunned and ignored.

and i can't imagine that God sits back and says, "good work, folks! this is exactly what i was talking about when i sent my son to die for y'all! keep it up!"

am i guilty, too? definitely.

are there good and awesome things happening in the name of God? absolutely.

but right this minute, i can't imagine going to a church and opening myself back up again, sharing my life with a group of people who i'll wonder if i'm going to get hurt again. see, several older guys who've been in ministry a long time advised me that i shared too much - with the youth group and with the senior ministers. they advise me that i should have kept my mouth shut and just dealt with the things going on in our lives alone.

but i don't think that's what ministry's about - ministry can't be conducted in a vacuum. God works, leads, directs us through our lives and the everyday things, in part.

keep it to myself? hold it in? don't share myself with the folks i minister to? keep it on the superficial? i've served under a minister who did just that. he's a good teacher but his interpersonal skills and compassion (as well as leadership skills) are awful. he admits he doesn't like dealing with people and would rather not be leading a church.

i'd rather not do ministry at all than to have to guard and shield myself from God's followers.

my faith in God? rock solid. i don't understand why all this is happening, but God's not up there with levers and switches angling a big shoe at my crotch.

my faith in God's people? shaky. will this improve? i hope so.

i may just have to invest in a good jockstrap before i get back into church.


  • At 12:45 PM, Anonymous JM said…

    Your openness and honesty is one of your most endearing qualities and anyone who tells you to hold it should be kicked in the crotch. Ok, so not really kicked but come on people... As a former member of many many youth groups, one of the things that helps you deal with day to day life is knowing you aren't alone and YOU Mr. Rustypants are an incredible example to others on how to help out us kids (I don't care who says! I'm still a kid!).

    I feel silly and obvious for asking this but have you spent some time in the book of Job lately? ;) Luv ya!

  • At 9:41 PM, Blogger Lawrence said…

    i like the link! jockstrap is a funny word.

  • At 9:29 AM, Anonymous Jason said…


    i know last time i commented on your facebook, i told you that if you needed to talk, to shoot me an e-mail, i hope that response didn't make you think i was being ingenuine.

    brother, it stinks that you were treated this way in your ministry. i agree with you about your assessment of the church. we are not very neighborly to each other. and we wonder why the world views us suspiciously?

    i will be praying for you,


  • At 10:28 PM, Blogger scott d said…

    It's impossible to teach students how to be real with each other without being real with them. As leaders, we have no choice but to put ourselves way out there with students. They know when we're fake. We have struggles and issues, and if we're fake with them, they have no use for us, and we have no way to reach them. A youth leader who isn't open and honest with his students is a youth leader that is a failure.

  • At 9:38 AM, Blogger David said…

    Scotty beam me up. I just wanted to say that. Yeah I too have had a lot of friends shunned. I myself have been beaten up before and some might even say I am currently getting the shaft. SO WHAT! I agree with you that there are too many whiners. Julie and I have talked about this and she understands, doesn't approve, but understands. How many of God's prophets/esses (men and women of God, they don't just tell the future sometimes they just speak the Word of God), major and minor, lived a full happy life? For that matter, how many died of old age?

    On a side note, read the book A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. Short, brief, powerful, the book is TNT and will allow you a different perspective on dealing with God's people.


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