I’m looking at the losses that cause us to get stuck in exile. There are many but the last category I’ll discuss is unmet needs. An unmet need is any area of your life where a legitimate need exists but it goes unmet by God or those you look to for help.
When I moved off our farm and into ministry, I was so broke, any salary seemed like a fortune to me, so I was grateful for the salary I was given at my church. But it wasn’t long before I realized that I couldn’t live on it.
My wife …gets a husband that has been run over, then backed over, and then steam rolled.
I told them about my dilemma and they seemed concerned but they never did anything. So I started selling my plasma to help ends meet. The senior pastor said he felt bad and they needed to do something about it. But they didn’t, at least at that time. After many months of requests, I was finally given a livable wage.
I cleaned out my files the other day and I came across a letter I wrote to the elder board telling them how frustrated I was that they hadn’t done anything about my salary. It hurt to look back and feel the pain of that time. Can you relate? If you are in ministry, I bet you can.
Not only do we hurt when our needs aren’t met, our family is hurt too. Our losses cause them losses. Here’s how one pastor put it to me:
Coming home with heavy burdens have also brought struggles at home. My wife knows the difficulties that come my way each day and at times she gets a husband that has been run over, then backed over, and then steam rolled. Not much left, and perhaps not that enjoyable to be with. Life at home can become trying and my family gets what is left. Not sure how to describe all that was lost at home but I do know a significant amount of pain and loss has taken place at home…
Unmet needs go way beyond finances. It might be time off. It might be the lack of friends. It could be a spouse that you aren’t connecting with very well. Or it might be a ministry that is less than stellar. You have no sense of accomplishment.
But remember, these are all primary losses. There are secondary losses associated with unmet needs. As is often the case, one secondary loss is a sense of control. You can’t make people meet your needs. It’s very frustrating. You feel trapped with no ability to alter your situation. You wonder how long it will go on? Will it ever change? That’s where the sense of “exile” kicks in.
Another secondary loss is respect. When your needs are ignored you wonder why people don’t care. How can they just look past your obvious need? Are you that insignificant? Is your work valued so little?
Unmet needs can also result in a loss of purpose. You begin to doubt your call. If your needs aren’t being met, maybe it’s because God doesn’t want you in that place. You might think he is withholding his blessing to get your attention so you will move on.
With these numerous losses the natural emotional response is anger, sadness and often fear. It’s these emotions that create the feeling of exile. Have you experienced these?
What are some unmet needs that you’ve experienced in ministry? What kind of secondary losses have followed?
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