This is part 3 of ‘Losing The Christian Economy: Confessions Of An Ex-SuperPastor’: Read from the beginning here.
My tears are beautiful.They’re beautiful because they are connected to my heart, and when I cry I realise my heart is alive, with me on my journey. I don’t desire tragedy. I take no interest in any kind of pain. I hope, like all of us, that misfortune passes by my household. However, if it does arrive upon my doorstep, I’m glad I’ll have my tears to accompany me. I’m glad my heart has been softened by the love of God enough to do more than acknowledge the facts; it can feel the situation.
Throughout the years of my successful accession to my glorified position as a Senior Pastor, I lost sight of the necessity of a soft heart. In fact, I thought having a hard heart was actually a strength. Of course I never would have used the word ‘hard’ to describe my heart. I would word it more along the lines of ‘well protected,’ but upon reflection I can confess that I believed a hard heart, with the ability to discard people at a moment’s notice, was of great value to my ministry and leadership position. People were around my life constantly, but they weren’t in my heart. My heart was the exclusive sanctuary of something that had to be protected at all costs: my ministry vision
How sad a man I truly was. It was a sadness my wife knew about for years, but the hardness of my own heart stopped me from realizing it for so long. I’m an emotional man these days. I’m not afraid to let people see my weaknesses, my challenges, my questions – my sadness. I’m also not afraid to be filled with joy and outrageous hope.
I’m a rollercoaster, big highs and big lows, but I’m happy because I’m finally being honest to myself. Back in my days as a career clergy man I was more like the never-changing church mascot. Always the same. Always well-kept. Always smiling. Always inspiring. Just like my vision, I was perfect as much as I was lifeless. All that time I held my vision tightly, nursing it, protecting it, and allowing the walls of my heart to turn into a concrete fortress, all entry points securely locked in order to protect the vision inside. For so long, my great ministry vision was the only thing I cared deeply for. That’s why I was so lonely, because no matter how much I loved my ministry vision, it couldn’t love me back.
What I’ve come to realize while journeying down this honest road is that my heart wasn’t designed to hold lifeless things; it was designed by its Creator to hold other hearts. God has given me the blessed opportunity to collect the hearts of others around me, as many as I’m willing to receive, and store them in my own heart. I’ve learned that my heart is a place of refuge. It is designed to keep its doors open. Trying to protect my own ministry vision caused my heart to become so hard and calloused it no longer functioned as God intended it to. It wasn’t until I allowed my relationships with other people to make their home in my heart that I began to realize what it meant to have a soft heart that was fully alive. It was only then I could cry for others, and only then did I develop friendships that allowed others to cry for me.
My tears are beautiful, because no matter how sad the situation that caused them may be, they remind me my heart is soft enough to feel. To care. To love.