I’m continuing to look at the losses that cause us to go into “exile.” On Day Thirteen I looked at the pain of being invalidated. Today I want to look at limited choices.
Whenever your choices are limited, that’s a loss. Choice helps you to feel powerful: in control. Take that away and it hurts. When someone puts you in a position where you have fewer choices it complicates your life. It’s like you are in a card game and you only get dealt half a hand. It puts you at a huge disadvantage. It makes you mad.
Whenever your choices are limited, that’s a loss. Choice helps you to feel powerful: in control. Take that away and it hurts.
Or imagine having to work with one hand tied behind your back. Or, what if there are 100 options before you and someone says, you can pick two. That means there is a loss of 98 items. That can make you mad.
If you are in ministry, the minute you chose the ministry, you limited your choices in life. One pastor friend of mine was struggling financially and he realized that, short of getting another job, he didn’t have any way to increase his income. Working longer hours or working harder made no impact on his income. He was stuck.
So, becoming a pastor might mean a limited income. And with a limited income you are limited in all kinds of purchases from your car to your house to your vacations and more.
If you live in a parsonage (a house provided to pastors) you don’t have limited choice. You have no choice! That’s a loss.
Becoming a pastor means you give away your weekends…for life. I don’t know about you but I rarely do anything on Saturday and when I do, I’m preoccupied.
Becoming a pastor means you’ll never have a normal holiday. You’ll always come late to the party, maybe days late, if at all. And when you finally arrive, most people are gone and you are too tired to care.
Becoming a pastor means you’ll never get to see the kickoff on Sunday. I know it’s a small thing, but I’m trying to get you to understand that ministry causes losses of all shapes and sizes.
Becoming a pastor means you automatically give up some of your evenings because that’s when people are free to meet.
Start adding up these losses and the sum total can make you feel boxed in: it’s an exile. You can live with an underlying anger at these losses. So you need to look deeper. What’s the real issue? What really bothers you about these losses? What are the secondary losses?
There are a few. As I mentioned, there’s the loss of control. You feel boxed in. Dallas Willard talks about the importance of a person having the ability to choose:
In creating human beings God made them to rule, to reign, to have dominion in a limited sphere. Only so can they be persons. Any being that has say over nothing at all is no person… They would be reduced to completely passive observers who count for nothing, who make no difference.
For this reason, limited choices create a loss of control as well as a loss of respect. You feel like less of a person. Limited choices also create a loss of freedom.
Think through your life. Where have your choices been limited? Those are the primary losses. Then think deeper; what are the emotional losses associated with those limited choices? Those are the secondary losses.
Bring all of these to God. Tell him how you feel. Ask him to speak to you about these losses. What does he want you to know? How can he show you his abundance in the face of these losses?
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