Thanks to my friend David e White who has contributed another guest blog. His heart is deep for fallen leaders and I love his message here about hope. Here, he shares his own testimony to help others. Please read this and share it with others. It’s for everyone – not just fallen ministers. Please also take time to read his bio at the end.
My Hope Is Built on…?
I am saddened when I think of the sheer volume of pastors that are falling out of ministry every year in North America. I am perplexed that there is not more being done to address the issue in some appropriate fashion — some manner of action that would see wholeness return, though I do not know what that would be.
I confess to being somewhat disillusioned that so many people seem to be willing to allow this to happen, or to stand in self-righteous (or fearful) silence, or worse yet, judgment. I am compelled to write, to reach out and to speak in vulnerability. However, it is here in this attempt that I come face to face with my own weakness.
I need to take you back a little ways to make sense of what I am about to say – please bear with me.
I am the oldest of four. I lost my Father to a permanent physical and mental disability when I was 7 years old (he, 42). My mother passed away just 5 years later (she 37), and the four of us were moved to another province to live with her sister’s family. I have been sexually abused as a child. My girlfriend and I were pregnant in high school (our 30th anniversary was this past spring) and this led me to dive hard into any work I could find. I rose through the ranks from laborer to CEO, driven by a need to prove my value, and amassed a career full of accolades as an overachieving executive. There is much more to say – but these are the highlights.
My childhood years seem a paradoxical combination of abandonment while shouldering inordinate responsibility. I believe that this led me to be driven in my career pursuit as well — alone in a hard world, if I did not come up with the solutions, who would? In truth, I have been good at solving problems. I have been the transformative change agent in many different organizations over the years, and I could give you a long list of testimonials to prove it — but my heart has longed for more.
Here’s the Rub
I am constantly told that I must promote myself (develop my platform) to be heard, I must learn the science of search engine optimization (SEO) and I must generate endless reams of content for blog posts, Twitter, magazine articles and books — all in an effort to solve problems for others and to make a living for my family — and so I try, but it is hard, and I feel vulnerable.
I am moved to help others through a deep and passionate sincerity – BUT – I am also addicted to validation. Though I know that only my Creator can validate me, I am vulnerable to the validation (even more so the lack thereof) from others. I have come to know that this is the root of why I fell, and this addiction can leave me tortured in my writing, for I long to see or hear of some impact arising from what I have said – something that affirms that my effort has been worthwhile, something that validates my being.
I sometimes feel as though I should ignore my compulsion to communicate and simply take a job outside of the realm of creative influence. While my financial advisor might suggest this is a good thing, my counselor reminds me of calling. It seems ironic to me that I feel like I struggle with resilience while I write, coach and speak about it. Some have suggested that I am a sage and that I am full of wisdom, but I feel like a peer, and sometimes even more like a novice learner.
I will vulnerably tell you that after 10 years of flying solo as a creative communicator I often feel hopeless — in my desire for personal wholeness, and in my effort to generate sustainable impact professionally.
What is Hope?
I enjoyed a deep conversation with a good friend of mine this week. She was telling me that she would not allow her counselor to ever use the “h” word (hope) during their sessions. She explained that the word hope had meant nothing to her during the 6 years that she was sexually abused. All hope was simply false hope, a mere placebo at best.
Then slowly her perspective began to change. She came to see that hope could have substance. Coffee in hand, she looked across the table at me at said, “Hope is to shine a light on God’s character.” She started to go on and explain more, but I implored her to stop so that I could absorb what she had said. I knew that she had endured much, and that whatever she would say would be substance, but these few words served as a wallop of truth.
Since then I spent some time searching scripture references for hope. Perhaps one of the most compelling is Lamentations 3: 21-24 (NLT):
“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail…great is your faithfulness…I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’”
It does not matter if you have arrived at a place of feeling hopeless due to something external, or your own personal failure. Our Creator God has proved over and over again that His arm is not too short to rescue; that no one is outside of the reach of His saving grace.
The Key to Resilience
I have been deeply discouraged (even despairing) at times throughout my life. I would like to tell you that it all happened many years ago. In truth, I have battled often over the last few days and weeks as I am facing uncertainty – where there is the possibility of significant downside outcomes. What keeps me going? Hope. I have shined a light on the character of my Creator God, and I believe that He will do as He has promised – to work all things together for good in my life – whether I understand the outcome or not. He is worthy. He is trustworthy. It is good to sit in silence and wait for the salvation of the Lord.
About David e White:
I have over 20 years of executive leadership experience, but I’ve also been a laborer, salesperson, manager, and consultant – even a professional musician! I have experienced the thrill of rapid growth and prosperity, but also the pain of downsizing and recession. I have been the leader who made the magic happen – I’ve made the tough decisions – I have also been the guy that got blown up by decisions made by others, and even a few I made on my own. Through it all I have learned how to be resilient and thrive in the aftermath of both scenarios.
I write, speak and coach in the area of leadership and organizational resilience. My content is anchored in the bedrock of core values, and I have come to appreciate that grace and love are wonderful gifts. I work to inspire, encourage and equip leaders with principles for resilience. Principles that enable you to persevere adapt and excel through life’s challenges, change, uncertainty and crisis.
I would be delighted to have you as a companion on this journey. I post weekly at www.davidewhite.ca.
Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.
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