Tag Archives: shame

Updating Healing the Hurts of Your Past

Did you read my first book, Healing the Hurts of Your Past?Healing the Hurts of Your Past

If so, was there something missing? Did you need something clarified: some questions answered?

If so, LET ME KNOW. I’m giving it a rewrite, cleaning things up and adding new thoughts.  The book has gotten very good reviews so I’m not messing with the essence of the material. But it was my first book and had some literary weaknesses (i.e. bad writing). Thankfully God has used it in spite of my novice writing skills.

My publisher is working on a new cover too. That tree just looks weird to me! We are thinking of a picture of a broken heart being stitched up. But we are open to suggestions!

Thanks for any input you send my way. I’m looking forward to offering a “new and improved” book for people.

The Toxic World of the Insecure Pastor

I exchanged emails with one of my pastor readers yesterday. She too has a ministry to pastors and realized that we share a common mission: to help pastors get emotionally healthy so they can have emotionally healthy churches.  blog_insecurity

But the truth is, with so many things to think about in pastoring a church, emotional health often falls to the bottom of the priority list. And that’s easy to understand for at least two reasons: one, it’s always easier to do most ANYTHING rather than focus on your weaknesses. And two, leadership training typically focuses on leadership tactics and strategy. In other words, there aren’t many people out there emphasizing emotional health in pastors.

That’s unfortunate because failing to look at your dark side – and deal with it – will undermine the greatest strategy. Worse, it will create a culture that nurtures unhealthy attitudes, which will remain long after you are gone.

What is the dark side? In my opinion, insecurity is at the heart of the dark side. Insecurity feeds all kinds of dysfunction. I’ve seen too many leaders use their leadership to find healing for their insecurity. In their mind, if people will follow them, it will prove to themselves and others that they are valuable. Most leaders would never admit this is their motivation to lead. And honestly, they probably don’t see it. But it’s there. And it’s destructive. 

The odd thing is, insecurity, in a backwards way, often creates leaders.

Years ago I was listening to a pastor talk about how his father never gave him any credit. I suddenly got this uneasy feeling that his pastoral “calling” may have been his way of dealing with his “father wound.” This is a danger in any helping field, wounded people seek to help others as a way to help themselves. It’s so important that pastors and counselors find their wholeness in Christ before they seek to help others or they will actually cause harm.

Insecurity will make you:

  • Competitive: you need to show others that you are better than they are.
  • Jealous: you constantly compare your ministry to others you consider more successful.
  • Ungrateful: focusing on what others have causes you to hold what you have in contempt.
  • Defensive: when people try to correct you, you are quick to offer excuses in fear of being exposed in your weakness.
  • Argumentative: defending yourself isn’t enough. You feel the need to go on the offensive.
  • Risk Averse: afraid that a challenge will expose your weakness, you play it safe.
  • Over Confident: in need of affirmation, you take unnecessary risks.
  • Unforgiving: easily hurt, you find it hard to “turn the other cheek” to your critics and brood.
  • Legalistic: because you never measure up in your mind, you make it hard for others to measure up to your standards.
  • Think Scarcity: not abundance. The insecure person lives in a small world where there is never enough to go around. It feels like the sky is falling.
  • No fun: when you are trying to justify your existence every day, life gets pretty serious. People around you walk on eggshells because they realize how fragile you are.
  • Toxic: add up everything I just listed out and, man…who wants to be around that? You will make people miserable and they’ll either stay and be miserable with you, or leave.

The odd thing is, insecurity, in a backwards way, often creates leaders. People become leaders to find the affirmation they lack. And since they are so driven to succeed, they often attract followers. It’s usually not until the organization is well on its way before followers notice the “cracks” in the leader. Churches that got off to a great start can slide into a slow fade or quick dive leaving people wondering, “What happened? I used to think he/she was great.” Church planters beware!

What happened is the leader was deeply insecure and sought to salve it by gaining followers…usually unknown to them. Left untreated, it created a negative culture that slowly began to erode. The vacuum of insecurity sucked the life out of the congregation.

On the other hand, when insecure pastors find wholeness in Christ it breeds a culture of grace. No topic is out of bounds. Mistakes are forgiven, not punished. Freedom is in the air, along with a “can do” attitude. And it’s just a lot of fun to “do church” together!

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in ministry for two years or twenty, your insecurity will hurt the church. Before you go to another leadership seminar, take an honest look in the mirror and ask yourself how much insecurity drives what you do.

I didn’t try to answer the problem of insecurity here because I’ve written about it many times on this blog. I added a few links below that you might explore, drop “shame” in the search box in the margin to pull up more posts, or check out my book, Healing the Hurts of Your Past.

Out of Exile: Day 31 – Facing Your Shame

In a recent post I talked about facing your nakedness; that’s what happens when exile strips you of everything you’ve leaned on for your self-worth.  I asked: can you live with that person?  Can you love that person?

If you can’t love yourself “naked” (that is, in your weakness) you won’t be able to love or even tolerate anyone else. We are as harsh with others  as we are with ourselves.

If you find yourself hating your weakness or hating other’s weakness (including God for allowing your exile) then I hope you see the red flag that is waving in the mirror. Something is seriously wrong and you need to admit it and deal with it. 

When we can’t cope with our shame we act out in many self-destructive ways.  This is one reason exile can be so long and painful. 

There are many reasons we feel inadequate.  One is: we are! Ha! How do you like that? We work so hard to tell ourselves and each other, “I’m okay and you’re okay.” That’s not true. We are all flawed.  That doesn’t mean we are worthless. But it is our condition. The quicker we can admit that the better.

It’s like people in recovery through A. A.  How do they introduce themselves?  I’m Remy and I’m an alcoholic.  They aren’t trying to humiliate themselves. They are just being honest because you can only strengthen what you first admit is weak.

We typically look to cover up our flaws. But that’s a lot of work isn’t it? In my book, Healing the Hurts of Your Past, I took an in-depth look at how we make many attempts to compensate for our weakness. I compare it to a tool belt that we strap on every day with a variety of coping mechanisms to face the pain of our shame: things like perfectionism, people-pleasing, isolation, medication, etc. When we can’t cope with our shame we act out in many self-destructive ways.  This is one reason exile can be so long and painful. There are many posts on this site detailing this.

But the answer to the pain of shame is to shift your identity from what you do to who you are as God’s child.  What would it be like if you could be accepted just as you are, warts an all? What if you could feel valuable no matter how much you failed or fell short of your goals and dreams…no matter how little you accomplished in ministry? And what if you could, in turn, share that kind of love, mercy and grace to others?  Not that you abandon goals or ethical ideas, you just don’t use them as tools to punish yourself and others.

I can remember the day it hit me that God saw me as perfect in his sight, not because of what I’ve done, but because I put my faith in what Jesus did for me (and the entire world). If you are a minister in exile, now is the time to make this a reality in your life. It can’t be something you talk about glibly.  This message will never become good news to others if isn’t good news to you first.

I’ve always loved the prayer that Paul includes in his letter to the Ephesian church:

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

What does “fullness” look like to you? Is it something you need to earn or can you simply receive it as a gift from God? Could it be that you’ve been stuck in exile so long because you don’t like yourself very much and you feel the need to punish yourself for it? Think about that before you are quick to discount it.  I’d love to hear back your thoughts.

Top Five Posts on readingremy.com

I haven’t done a Top Five list for a while. I thought you might like to see what tops the reading list.

Here are the top five posts on readingremy.com from the past three months.

  1. shame

    from readingremy.com

    Forgiving Yourself: Consider the Lie

  2. What Does the Bible Say About Shame?
  3. Regret-Proof Your Life with Better Decisions
  4. The Spiritual Implications of Brene Brown’s TED Talk on Vulnerability
  5. Ten Ways Denial Numbs the Pain of Shame

Would you share this post on Facebook to expose others to these posts? Thanks!

If you are a subscriber to this blog, have you requested the free STUCK sampler?  It’s a preview of my new book “STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships“. Just leave a comment below and I’ll send it right off.

Here’s what a recent reviewer of STUCK said about the book…

STUCK is a very well written and helpful resource that will help many people. God has gifted Remy with the ability to synthesize his life experiences, what he’s read and seen and put them all into an easy to read and understandable work on a very difficult and challenging topic. 

If you aren’t a subscriber, subscribe and you’ll get the STUCK sampler too!

Forgiveness Let’s You Start Over

forgiveness looks to the future

Forgiveness looks to the future

Earlier this week I talked about the fall of Eliot Spitzer and his residue of shame. I asked if he would have to live his life with the brand of his indiscretion or could forgiveness give him a fresh start.

The Bible tells a story about a woman who might give us some perspective. She was caught in the act of adultery and dragged to the center of town where the religious elders surrounded her and were ready to stone her.

In that culture her sin defined her. Adultery made her worthless and disposable.  It didn’t offer her any hope of a new life.

But just before the men threw the first stone Jesus stopped the men and said…

If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.

Slowly the men dropped their stones and walked away…each one aware of their own sin issues. And then after the men left, Jesus turned to the woman and said,

Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared.Go now and leave your life of sin.’ John 8:10,11

Forgiveness gives you a new life

Jesus refused to define this woman by her sin.  He refused to reduce her entire existence to her weakest and most shameful moments. He knew that there was more to her than that. He refused to condemn her… which means to pass judgment on her, or make a negative decision about her value. Instead, Jesus forgave her and gave her hope of a new life beyond adultery.

If Jesus were to sit down with Eliot Spitzer today, I don’t think he’d spend much time talking about the sins of his past. I think he’d spend more time talking about the hope of his future and the potential that he has. That’s the nature of forgiveness.

Forgiveness looks to the future

Forgiveness doesn’t dwell on the past. Guilt dwells on the past. Condemnation dwells on the past. But forgiveness looks to the future. And so if you are struggling with guilt today I want to encourage you that God has a future for you. He hasn’t given up on you.

Why not receive his forgiveness and hit the “reset” button.

Question: Has forgiveness enabled you to hit the reset button? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below.

  • This post is taken from the free e-book, Forgiven...once and for all. To get your free e-book subscribe to this blog.
  • To learn more about overcoming shame see Healing the Hurts of Your Past

The Residue of Shame

shame

Forgiveness hits the reset button in life

A few years back TIME magazine wrote an article about the reemergence of Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York.  He was known as a man who fought corruption with a vengeance only to be exposed as a regular user of a high dollar prostitution ring.

To make matters worse, to cover his addiction he would send money to shell corporations that funneled the money back to the prostitution ring.  TIME called it…

 …hypocrisy on a scale that was hard to fathom…as if Eliot Ness had been busted for peddling gin from his apartment.

When the news hit the paper his career was over.  Now he is trying to find his way back into politics but the writer of the story wasn’t so sure it could happen.  She said…

To learn that Spitzer was the world’s biggest hypocrite, that he’d thrown it all away to frequent prostitutes, was devastating, a lapse that could never be forgiven.

When she mentioned this to Spitzer this is how he responded…

‘How do you think I feel?’  He said, his eyes welling up. ‘I know exactly how you feel. At one point I stood for something that was important and useful. I was in a place in time where I had a purpose, where it mattered. And then I destroyed it.

The Residue of Shame

Thankfully his wife seemed to forgive him but not without some residue of shame in their relationship.  The article said …

His wife…appears to have forgiven him. ‘I don’t know if you can ever mend something like this, in the sense of repair the canvas so that you never see the tear in the fabric,’  he said. ‘ I’m incredibly lucky to be with a woman who is willing to deal with that tear in the fabric and keep moving forward.’ Eliot Spitzer’s Impossible Mission, by Sheelah Kolhatkar, March 15, 2010, TIME

Spitzer said there would always be a scar in the fabric of his marriage. The writer of the story said that the public would never be able to forgive him. And Spitzer himself said that he destroyed his purpose in life.

As I read this it made me wonder if Spitzer will be defined by his indiscretion for the rest of his life. Will his name be synonymous with hypocrisy and prostitution forever? Will he ever be able to move beyond his mistakes or the shame in his new destiny?

Do Indescretions Have to Define You?

I don’t bring this up to add to Spitzer’s shame but because I’m concerned for those of us who – like Spitzer – have a past that overshadows your present and your future. You have some big time mistakes or failures that haunt you and rob you of God’s best.  I don’t want these failures to define you. I don’t want you trapped in shame and feeling distant from God because that’s not your destiny as one of God’s children. God has something much better for you than that.

I want to talk over the next several posts about God’s forgiveness because I believe that receiving God’s forgiveness is like hitting the “reset” button on your life.

Question: Are there others that come to mind, like Spitzer, who have severely broken trust with the public to the point of never recovering?  Leave your comments below.

  • These posts are taken from my free e-book, Forgiven...once and for all. To receive your free copy subscribe to this blog.
  • Learn more about shame here: Healing the Hurts of Your Past