by Tamie Bixler-Lung
We have all found ourselves in a place of disappointment. Perhaps someone close really hurt us or a planned event didn’t quite come together as we hoped. In ministry, it’s easy to get disappointed with fellow leaders, congregations, events, students, or even yourself. Most of the time, we can get past it and move on. One of the most difficult struggles is when disappointment finds you and refuses to leave.
As women in ministry, we may feel added pressure, as if under a microscope, by who’s watching us. As leaders, we’re surrounded by people looking to us to set an example in our everyday lives. So, when it comes to disappointment, we must carefully demonstrate a healthy response.
Over the years, I’ve learned that lingering in disappointment too long leads down a dangerous path into self-pity, bitterness, and unforgiveness. We women have a responsibility to be an example to our families and others to whom we minister. Our unique design gives us the capability of being sensitive, emotional at times, and hormonal. These characteristics aren’t negative if they’re not being used in negative ways.
It’s easy to get on a pity-pot if you stay focused on the hurt for too long. Years ago, a woman, who was part of the outreach program at the church we attended seemed to have a new story of heartache and disappointment every week. She complained how it made her feel and affected her life. I encouraged her to forgive, let it go, and focus on the good things happening around her. She found more gratification in the attention she received by victimizing herself to others. The strife in her life caused her to spiral into a dangerous mental state of suicidal attempts. She became disappointed with everyone around her, including God. Her self-pity led her to unforgiveness and self-destruction.
Sometimes in our journey through life and ministry, we find ourselves teetering on the edge of a “disappointment” disaster. We may think we’ve let it go and it’s under control, but the first time that same person disappoints us or a similar situation happens, we dig up the past and fall into a self-pity mindset. Perhaps we really haven’t forgiven them or we become disappointed with God thinking he didn’t come through for us.
It’s interesting how women in ministry can find themselves in these delicate places. We would never see ourselves living in self-pity or unforgiveness, but here we are, doing just that. The beautiful thing is: we are not alone. God sees our heart and desires to help us. If we can keep a healthy perspective on our situation, we can learn to handle disappointment with finesse and wisdom. There’s nothing wrong with being disappointed if we don’t take up residence there. It’s easy to become distant from God when deep inside you feel he hasn’t come through for you.
The enemy strategizes to convince you that God doesn’t care because your prayer wasn’t answered the way you wanted. If Satan can get you focused on yourself, your disappointment, your inconvenience, and your hurt feelings, then, he can begin to make you feel sorry for yourself and get you on that pity-pot. He knows that you can’t be pitiful and powerful at the same time.
Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher that the earth, so are my ways.” In this passage, God reminds us that although we might not understand why certain things or people don’t work out to our expectations, he is still on the throne and in control. He sees things we don’t see. God operates out of time and space, and he sees the beginning as well as the end.
Sometimes we must forgive ourselves. As women in ministry, it’s common to feel outside pressure to be many things to many people. We don’t leave room for imperfection. We set up expectations for ourselves and become disappointed when those aren’t met. We confuse our disappointment with ourselves with God’s view of us, imagining he’s sitting with a club, ready to hit us on the head. As God does with us, we must give ourselves and others grace and mercy.
The best way to handle disappointment is to embrace a perspective that leaves room for God to work. Romans 8:28 NIV reminds us: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” We find in 1 Peter 5:6-7 to “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” When we choose to handle our disappointments with confidence in God we will see and experience a peace that only God can give through his Holy Spirit. If you are disappointed by not meeting your own set expectations, remember that God’s timing is perfect. Keep him first and trust his leading. As the previous verse stated, “he will lift you up in due time.”
Women in ministry are a vital part in the kingdom of God. For some, you are your husband’s right hand with encouragement, friendship, support, and leading programs in your church or organization. For women who are single or widowed, you’re working with fellow leaders using a special focus that has a unique perspective of commitment.
Disappointment will find you at some point. Regardless of the reason, try not to linger too long in that place, so the enemy doesn’t take you down a path of self-pity. Remember, forgiveness isn’t an occasional act, it’s a constant attitude. Be generous with extending it—especially to yourself. The enemy fears God’s work inside of you and he’ll stop at nothing to lead you down the wrong path. If you’re struggling, pray in a way that leaves room for God to astound you. Let the Holy Spirit work to give you new perspective and vision for the ministry where he’s placed you.
Growing up most of her life in Springfield, Mo, Tamie experienced much of what the Ozarks had to offer, including a few years at Evangel College. During that time, she met her now husband in a college Sunday school class. They’ve been married for 36 years. Tamie and her husband, Tim, have been involved with various lay ministries throughout the years while living in his home state of Illinois with their five children, whom she homeschooled. They own a gourmet seasonings company called Crawdad’s Classics, which was purchased from Tamie’s father in 2009. Various entrepreneurial endeavors brought them back to Tamie’s roots of Southwest Missouri in 2016, where her husband became a licensed minister and they took their first pastorate with Mt. Sinai A/G, a small, rural church in Rogersville, Mo. Tamie is not only a business owner, but also an inspirational speaker and author. Her most recent book, This Life We Live, is a 31-day devotional with inspiring stories of challenges and triumphs that we all can face. Her six grandchildren are very close to her heart and she can be found many times during the week entertaining them and finding new adventures.
by Angelia Crane
In 2021 God asked me if I would be vulnerable. That was the word and question for me. I was raised in extreme legalism and that word was never used. How do I share my heart in vulnerability?
Here is just a small portion of my heart that was filled with disobedience for a season. God has healed what I thought was a mistake and as He did, He turned it into a blessing. I want to share with you today a small portion of my story.
It was an early morning on a fall day when I got up after a season in battle for my life in ICU for twelve days. Before that experience, we had gone through a harsh battle in ministry that was very challenging and hurtful.
After a few months out of the hospital and away from the battle of a major church split, on that fall morning, I stood with a list of things to do for the day still on my mind. I turned to my husband and said out of a heart of pain, “I know people can be imperfect because we are all human. I can see how people we pastor can be deceived and cause divisions due to their own blindness. But I am mad!!! I want to know where God is in all of this.”
Have you ever been through a thing that has rocked you to your core and exposed things in your heart that caused you to question God?
After all, Jeremiah 29:11 NIV says He knows the plans He has for us:
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
It was during that day after a season of struggle in my own heart that I had to go pick up a rental car in Springfield for a pastors’ conference in Texas. I pulled out of the driveway with the new car and flipped the radio on. What happened next rocked my world.
I had distanced myself away from God because, frankly, I was really hurt by God's ultimate power to control the outcome of my life, after He had allowed church people to hurt us. I felt like He was the bully. I was mad at God!!
Yes, everyone gasped together…. “She was mad at God. What?”
I told my husband during this season of grieving that I have always been the good girl and if I am His child and He really is my Abba Father, He will love me when I am mad at Him. I didn't pray as much! I read the Bible less! I listened to more jazz music, watched more Hallmark, and just had a negative outlook toward ministry. But the weird thing was, I had a positive outlook towards my own life. I had such a conflicting heart issue through this. I really struggled to navigate the real grace of God through that season. Believe it or not: I found out God does love us unconditionally. He was teaching me a great lesson that I needed to go through. He was teaching me how to get unstuck in grief. He was also teaching me the rest of the scripture in Jeremiah 29:12,13 NIV:
“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”—His part--"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”--my part.
How am I supposed to seek God when I am mad at Him? But, yet how do I navigate a church wound without Him? There is nothing more that I hate than wasting time on ungrateful people. My time is valuable and so is yours. But how do we change our perspective from us to the Father?
Hebrews 6:10 NIV “God is not unfair. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love for him by helping his people, as you continue to do.”
Time, grieving, and reaching out for help.
I made up my mind I was not going to be bitter in ministry. It was not easy. I turned that same anger toward my husband, and it just kept creeping into all areas of my life. I could literally see the bitterness growing like weeds choking out the blessing of God. Not because of Him but because of my perspective. I had to have his help. So here is what happened the day after grieving for a year.
Remember when I told you I got a rental car?
Here is the rest of the story. I asked my husband that morning, “Where is God in all of this?” I left that parking lot and turned on the radio. The radio was tuned to a Christian Station. And this is what it said, “So you want to know where God is in all of this? God never said it would be easy.” Then the man on the radio continued to talk about Paul and how he faced all the trials in his ministry. Then he said something that humbled me and healed me at the same time. “God never said ministry would be easy but, He did say….IT WILL BE WORTH IT!” That broke me. All my anger melted. Not to say I didn't struggle a little through the grieving as a pastor who was rejected, betrayed, abandoned, and used. I was healed and I did forgive God in my heart. I now have a better understanding outside of grief and PTSD! I am now in love with God more than ever. I think He saw this all along. I am so grateful.
Guest blogger Angelia Crane and her husband Anthony began full-time ministry in 1991 and have been in missions or pastoral ministry for over 25 years.
In 2006 they established a ministry to rural pastors and their wives called Tour of Life. They provide retreats, helps, refreshing, and connection to ministry leaders. Tour of Life recently built the first phase of a Pastoral Media center/retreat in Ozark, MO.
Tour of Life is partnered with Pastoral Care Inc. For more information, see their Website or Facebook page.
This is a safe place for ministry wives and women ministers to be renewed, resourced, and build relationships with others just like you.