If you’ve spent any time in ministry, especially with women, chances are you’ve been hurt, burned, back-stabbed or misunderstood.
It’s painful. It’s brutal. It flat out sucks the wind from your sails. And in order to protect yourself from getting hurt again, you put up a façade.
Chances are you probably don’t even remember when you started to wear that mask, but to protect your heart, you did.
I did it too. After fifteen years in ministry, I have seen it all, experienced a lot of incredibly tough stuff and had my heart broken many times.
I built a protective barrier around myself—the façade—in order to keep people from getting close to the real me.
In doing so, though, I also kept myself completely isolated.That led to feelings of loneliness, isolation and, at times, even depression. It wasn’t until about six years ago I decided to lay down the mask and let God show me how to put away the façade.
Paul told the Roman Christians,
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other” (Romans 12:9-10 NLT).
In other words, God tells us,
“Lay down your mask! Get real! Love people!”
If you are struggling with this like I have, here are a few things to help you as you learn to lay down your mask.
1. Pray First
Ask God to open your heart and allow you the opportunity to just be you. Ask Him to be your protector, and to also bring you a few truly special, safe friends who can come around you as you take these steps.
2. Talk to Your Spouse or Close Family Member
If you’re married, talk it over with your spouse. Ask him to be a part of the process with you and seek out his prayers.
If you’re not married, talk it over with a close family member who understands you and your struggle to be more authentic in ministry.
3. Talk to Your Pastor
If you’re in ministry at a local church, I encourage you to talk it over with your pastor. Ask him to pray for you as you step into new territory in ministry.
This takes another step of vulnerability. I understand that. But by bringing your pastor in on this process, he can help you venture into new territory.
4. Give Yourself Time
If you’ve been in ministry for more than ten years, you’ve probably slowly built up the façade. It’s not going to just disappear; it will take time.
Make sure you allow yourself time to release years of protective layers around your heart.
5. Give It All Back to God
Whatever steps you make, and however long it takes, if God has called you to ministry, He has equipped you to do it as well.
Celebrate the small steps. Give Him all the glory and continue moving forward.
I know it’s not going to be easy—it wasn’t for me either—but the women God has brought into our lives are desperate for women in ministry to be real, to show them what it is like to live out ordinary lives with God at the forefront.
Let’s take this step together and see what God will do.
Are you wearing a mask today? What is keeping you behind the façade? What will you do to “get real” so God can minister through your transformed life?
This post was originally posted on 2/24/15 over at Upgrade with Dawn.
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