Occasionally it happens. It can take various forms: The dreaded phone call; the difficult conversation; the angry parent; a family distraught over a suicide; volunteers or parents bickering with each other; a child who dies unexpectedly; correction from the Pastor or another church leader; gossip; and the list goes ever on. With these and so many other scenarios comes pressure. Sometimes mild; other times more profound.
In the crucible of these situations God calls us to lead our families and parishioners to hear and follow his heart. And lead we must. But do we always? Or do we scatter in those moments when the pressure seems to hit us in our most vulnerable places?
Such a moment sorely tried my resolve several years ago. A former church attender who had volunteered in the children’s ministry for about one year was later arrested during a major international child porn sting. He was alleged to have manufactured and distributed child pornography.
During his time at our church we had never left him unsupervised during his brief stint of volunteering and we had run a background check on him. The situation leading to his arrest occurred a few years after he departed our church and was not related to any of our families or church activities. Yet, when we learned the news it was like a kidney punch to our collective church body.
When I heard the news, my heart sank to a profound low. I hurt for the children who were impacted by these crimes. For their families. For my church family. Frankly, for myself and the disappointment and horror I felt. It was a crisis season. It was a calling to leadership.
I remember that night when we came together, a large group of us who had been working on our worship center renovation. We came together and leaned on each other. Not knowing what to say. But just being there. My pastor mustered the heart to lead in that moment. I don’t remember the details of what he shared; only that he reminded us that God has not forgotten us, and that even in this dark hour God is present. Most importantly we prayed for the children and families. And we prayed for the full weight of the law to be expressed in dealing justice.
Leaders do not get to pick the times and circumstances in which they will be called on to rise up in dark situations. But rise up they must. For me, it meant redoubling my efforts to provide a safe environment for the children and families on campus. It also meant encouraging volunteers. It meant being present even when I did not feel like it. Even when it hurt.
Are you currently going through a dark time? God hasn’t forgotten you. Call on him. Rise up and lead those under your care. Soon the dark hour will pass, and seasons of refreshing will appear.