How to Bounce Back from Losing your Ministry – Chapter 1 Spiritual Bankruptcy

Chapter
One

Handling
Change – a personal journey

Spiritual
Bankruptcy

 

 

Most
people have defining moments in their lives which cause them to
re-assess where they are and where they are going. Many great
achievers in life have gone bankrupt at least once. My husband’s
uncle, Arthur Earle was a billionaire. He developed most of what is
now called Robina on the Gold Coast. He went bankrupt at least three
times. But each time, he learned to re-invent himself and become a
bigger person. He worked hard and had this philosophy, “the harder
I work, the luckier I get.” His first job was taking the wool off
dead sheep! He worked hard to move ahead from that job!

 

It
is through some of the greatest struggles throughout your life that
you end up redefining yourself and finding your place in the
universe. My life is completely different than it has been for the
past thirty years. In the past five years we moved countries, changed
jobs, dealt with a major health issue in our immediate family, seen
our daughter married and move overseas to live and bury my parents.
This book is not designed to talk about the personal changes I went
through, but to share keys I found in God when I learned by God’s
grace to rise above the inherent challenges which change forces you
to face. The blessing of
God
is in
you! The
trick to life is in learning how to let the blessing of God come and
invade your life even in the midst of change. This is especially true
if trouble arises in the middle of the change and you find yourself
reeling from its effects, while at the same time trying to find your
feet! It is empowering when you finally grab control again and start
moving forward.

 

People
go through a number of different cycles when they have experienced
major change in their lives. There is shock at the initial
notification of the change, where life becomes unpredictable and
uncontrollable. If it is too difficult to handle people can go
through a denial phase where they retreat to what is familiar. From
that ‘mind-numbing’ phase, feelings of anger and frustration
start to emerge. This is where people shift blame to others, and
become confused about how to cope. Once change really “hits home”,
there can come a sense of powerlessness which has the ability, if you
let it, to plunge you into depression and loss of confidence.
Depression paralyses you and here starts a cycle where it is
difficult to initiate activity.

 

When
you finally feel you can start to move forward, you accept the
situation and begin to let go of the past. You find new feelings of
renewal, growth and excitement. Before you finally manage to
integrate what has happened there comes a period of reflection and
sharing insights, were you learn to balance past experiences.
Eventually new direction starts to emerge and with God’s help you
begin to get a sense of control.

 

Our
perception becomes ‘coloured’ in hard times and it is not easy to
see clearly. It’s important to have friends, family and a community
around you that helps you stay on track. One saying that has helped
us in our lives is never to make a life-altering decision in a
crisis.

 

I have
experienced all these to some degree, and this book is in part some
of my personal story on my way back into ministry.

 

 

For
the first time in 28 years I had found myself out of ministry. My
husband and I were no longer pastoring a church. It had come after a
very difficult three years where we had embraced many changes in a
very short space of time. We had moved country to take over a church
and my husband had been appointed to the international body managing
the Christian Outreach Centre movement in that nation. One of our
children had been diagnosed with a mood disorder and to add to that,
we had twins with special educational needs. We had left our eldest
daughter in Australia to finish year 12. We moved on our twenty-fifth
wedding anniversary. It had been an enjoyable twenty-five years of
marriage. We had started on what I thought was a new exciting phase
of our lives but it turned out to have more excitement than I’d
bargained for.

 

Too
many changes on too many fronts led to us to the decision to finally
move home to Australia. I was exhausted. I found that although the
Word of God was precious to me I had no oil in my life. I would muse
but there was no fire! The fire had gone out.

 

It
takes fuel to create a fire

 

The
same way water puts a fire out, struggles tend to take the edge off
life and leave you flat! Whether you are in trouble or living life on
the edge, it is important to have two things going for you. One is,
build a deposit of the Word of God in your life and secondly, wait
upon the Spirit of God in prayer. Both are essential: The Word
represents the Lamp of God in our heart and the Spirit is represented
by the oil. You need both to light a fire!

 

Matthew
25:1-14 tells us that the kingdom of God is like ten virgins who went
out to meet the bridegroom. The five wise virgins kept their lamps
filled with oil so when they needed light they were ready. The
foolish virgins did not and asked to borrow oil from the wise
virgins. Jesus illustrates the fact that you must keep your lamps
filled with oil. Whatever you are about to meet in life whether good
or bad, you must be ready. In good times it is easy to forget to keep
the lamp filled with oil. When trials come, your lamp may be empty or
near empty. The Lamp represents the Word of God. The deposit of the
Word of God must be built into your life. If you fail to wait upon
God, then the oil which represents the Holy Spirit, does not flow
into the lamp and there is no light when it is needed most. There is
a Scripture is Psalms, which says, “while I mused, the fire
burned.” When you wait upon God and meditate upon His Word, the
Holy Spirit illuminates the Word. The oil flows into the lamp and as
you “muse”, it creates a “spark.” This ignites a fire in your
Spirit. This is how God designed you to live. It is called the
revelation knowledge. God did not design us to live by natural
reasoning. You are to be led by the Spirit. It is an “instinct,”
“a hunch,” which speaks to us ever so quietly. If you wait upon
God, you can learn to hear it.

 

The
hardest thing was to get up and moving again. When you are hurt and
tired you want to crawl into a corner. Your confidence takes a hit. I
experienced this in the first two years when we moved back to
Australia. First, I was in shock then I went into denial, followed by
emotions of frustration and anger, but also a deep loss of confidence
which plunged me into a mild depression. Now I don’t think I am
alone in this experience, because it’s not what we go through in
life that determines the outcome, it is our reaction to it.
Successful people get up and get into life again. New experiences
that do not reach their desired end don’t have to spell the end. If
life were a game of “high jump,” you would keep elevating the bar
until you knocked it down. You never know how high you can jump if
you do not keep elevating the bar. The failure is not in knocking
down the bar; it’s not attempting to jump the bar at all.

 

 

Most
successful people have lives littered with shattered dreams and some
failures. But in there is their success too! The secret is they never
quit and eventually they do succeed. I am glad that Peter and I have
taken on every challenge ever presented to us because it makes life
exciting. It makes you extend yourself. You find your limitations,
and that in turn forces you to modify and improve your life. It can
only make you a better and more fruitful person. Most people stay in
the ‘safe zone’ of mediocrity because they are afraid of change.
I have never wanted to settle for mediocre. I hope this book will
encourage you to reach out for more. I hope you will find your
limitations, and then with God’s help push out the limitations and
become a bigger person. Therein lays the adventure!

 

It
is great to read autobiographies of highly successful people. One
thing they all have in common is that they do not blame their
poverty, their illiteracy, their families or their circumstances for
life’s troubles. Achievers take personal responsibility for where
they are and what they can do to improve their lives. When they face
change of any kind they embrace it; and with an unmistakable belief
in themselves and God, they set out and adjust their lives. They
adapt and work on improving themselves and their situation.
Successful people have their eye on a goal. They are looking forward.
Change is hard. Human nature doesn’t like to change but a certain
amount is inevitable. Some changes we can plan for, some take us
completely by surprise. Whatever way it comes, it has to be managed.
Our ability to adapt to change will determine how much of the
blessing we can walk in.

 

We
cannot move at all, unless we are willing to accept losing our
balance, at least temporarily.”

 

This
book is about how you can reach down on the inside and receive the
blessing. It doesn’t matter whether you are happy, sad, rich or
poor, content or discontent. You can be blessed, NOW! Take on trouble
and beat the hell out of it! If you believe you are a victim, you
will be one. But you don’t have to be a victim. You can make change
work for you! Dr. David Yonggi Cho who pastors the largest church in
the world in Korea, says that the blessing of God springs from
within. No matter what is happening in your life the best will come
from
within you,
not from your circumstances. People say, “if only I could find the
right partner in life, then I would be happy,” or “this job is
making me miserable.” Looking for something outside of yourself
will not make you happy, even if you do find it. The problem does not
lie with the outward circumstance; it lies within. Even if you could
change your circumstances it would not be long before you would be
unhappy again because the problem is within. Modifying our behaviour
and attitudes will help make outward circumstances look a lot
brighter even if nothing changes outwardly. Change itself can spell
trouble for many because it is unsettling, but we can be blessed and
content while walking through change.

 

Your
life is formed from the inside out.”

 

A
man whose wife had left him came to my husband for help. He was in a
dreadful state. Not only had she left and taken their four children
with her, he had just found out that three of his four children were
not his. Through personal coaching he is now functioning again. Not
only that, he has started more than fifteen small life transformation
groups with newly saved Christians. He refocused his life, took on a
new challenge and is moving ahead. His personal circumstances have
not changed, but despite adversity he has found the blessing of God.
In himself, he has never been happier and felt more fulfilled. Only
God can take you to that place. It is only by God’s grace that you
can find contentment in the middle of change. To be content in the
midst of change is a challenge. It is the skill to keep the heart
quiet. Grace is God’s divine ability. His strength is available to
you when you need help.

 

Let
us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain
mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

 

The
responsibility is upon you to draw on God’s grace when you need
help. Jesus did it all. He made all the provision He is going to make
through the Cross of Calvary. His Grace, His ability, His strength,
His adequacy is available for you to draw upon. His help comes in
different ways, from different people and sources, but you must ask
for it! When we are born again the Bible says we are partakers of the
divine nature. In His divine nature there is everything you need that
pertains to life and godliness. The blessing is in you! Everything
that pertains to life is in Him! You can access it through grace and
faith. If it’s in Him, and He’s in you, guess where life and
godliness and blessing are! They are in you. Everything you need that
pertains to a great life is in you by Christ Jesus!

 

There
tends to be a faulty theology which says that if you are in the will
of God all will go well for you. But the Bible doesn’t bear this
out. There is a passage in the Old Testament that says God left some
enemies in the land so that the younger generation coming up “would
learn to know war.” God wants us strong, and we need a few battles
to make us strong. Most Bible heroes lived their lives constantly
dealing with new challenges and changes or facing crises. We will
look at some of them closer throughout this book.

 

I
must confess that I have always found myself to be on the privileged
end of global injustice! I was taught from an early age, that there
is always someone worse off than me. My mother had a great saying
when I was feeling battered and bruised:
“find
someone
else
worse
off than
yourself then you won ‘t feel so bad!”
Teasing
would have to be the limit of what I would call being “badly off.”
I can remember crying to my mother that the “toughies” on the bus
had taken my bag off me on my way home. They had then thrown it out
the window as the bus was leaving after the bus driver had made me
get off the bus. This happened most afternoons while I was in primary
school.

 

Successful
people draw upon negative experiences in life to make them bigger as
people. The world is such a small stage now with technology advancing
so rapidly. You can watch a war as it happens, or view the
devastation natural disasters cause. We are so connected to our
fellow human beings. You cannot stay detached from the pain and
suffering in the world. When you feel you have drawn the ‘short
straw’ of life, it is a good decision to “go and find someone
worse off.” Helping others elevates you above your situation

 

Purpose
after displacement

 

When
I came back from America, we were displaced and had lost the
‘vehicle’ which had framed our sense of destiny for the past
twenty-eight years. My husband recently went to Chile and Argentina
and a ministry colleague Maria Theresa, told him of how she had
received a dream of our family at the airport with their bags packed
and nowhere to go. She received this dream at the exact time we were
leaving Americ to come back to Australia and said that she had been
praying for us ever since. Thank God for His body the Church, which
He stirs in our times of need to pray for the saints. If you are
going through a hard time or find yourself no longer in ministry, be
encouraged; God raises up his people to pray for others!

 

The
‘call’ to ministry

 

Coming
back to my ‘call’ to the ministry has often acted as a
shock-absorber and helped me stayed aligned with God’s purpose.

 

A
year after I was saved, God called me to the ministry. Peter and I
were living on the farm and Peter had received a very specific ‘call’
to serve God. I wasn’t particularly looking for a word from God,
but one night, I was transported from my bed and I found myself
standing before the Lord of Glory. I was speechless. I had never read
Revelation 1:14, but that is what I saw before me:

 

and
in the midst of the seven lamp stands One like the Son of Man,
clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest
with a golden band His head and hair were white like wool, as white
as snow, and His eyes were like aflame of fire. His feet were like
fine brass,
and
His voice as the sound of many waters…”

 

I
was speechless. I now understood what Paul was talking about in the
Bible when he wrote of being speechless before the Lord. In a moment
of time, I was standing before the Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ. The
light of His Glory is indescribable and overpowering. I heard Jesus
talking to me. I could not understand what He was saying to me
because it literally sounded to me like the “sound of many waters.”
I tried to speak, but I was dumbstruck, my jaw was on my chest, and I
couldn’t speak. I don’t know how long I stood in His glory, in
awe of His presence, but I do remember when the glory started to
fade. I didn’t want the glory that I was surrounded in to fade. As
I write this, I am transported back to that moment and I remember
that feeling of not wanting to leave His glorious presence! I reached
out as if in some vain attempt I could grasp it and hold onto it; but
it became dim and in a moment His glory was gone. Suddenly I became
aware of the walls of my bedroom, and I was conscious that I was
coming back into my body. I don’t remember leaving my body; did I
actually leave my physical body? What a strange experience! Was it a
vision? I had a vague idea about visions in the Bible. Was this one?
My husband, Peter was asleep beside me. I would have to wait until
the morning to talk about it. The next day seemed so surreal. I
didn’t know what Jesus talked to me about. I wished I knew what He
had spoken to me! Peter and I discussed it and he suggested I seek
God for the answer to that question. The next night I sought God for
the answer to what He had spoken to me. This is what He told me:

 

John
21:15
“…do you
love me? Yes Lord, You know that I love you” Then He said, feed my
lambs. ‘He said to me a second time, ‘do you love Me?” Yes,
Lord, you know that I love You. “He said ,tend my sheep.

 

I
knew I had received a privileged call to serve Him.

 

Coming
back to my original purpose for life has held me, like an anchor,
through many trials and tribulations.

 

You
may ask the question, “this isn’t what I expected?” or “why
did I start this?” Maybe Jesus had one or two of those fleeting
thoughts cross His mind during His ministry! If Jesus had of looked
up at the treatment He received from His Father’s Hand, it would
have paralyzed His ministry. Instead, Jesus always kept the ‘big
picture’ in mind. He was there for a bigger purpose than Himself.
He looked at how He could serve His fellowman and God exalted Him.
Jesus knew He was there to serve His Father. No matter what we go
through we have a loving Father that keeps His hand upon us. He wants
to give us a bigger picture. He wants us to keep the whole of our
life in perspective; to enjoy the good, learn from the bad, adjust to
change and ultimately live life well.

 

Read
Chapter Two “Being Productive” coming in the next few days.

If
you would like more of Peter and Lindsay Earle’s teaching go to
www.pastoralministrytraining.com

 

What do YOU think?

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About Michael Fackerell

The Christian faith is about Jesus. He came to save the lost. About Jesus Christ, Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

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