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.
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