• Dana L. Butler

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She sits on my couch, eyes intermittently filled with tears. It’s been a hard couple of years, and the end of the pain isn’t yet in sight.

Our conversations circles ’round life as a member of Christ’s Body and how to navigate within the church as a human being with a hurting heart.

Her eyes fill again as she quietly confesses to me, “Most of the time anymore, I don’t want to ask for prayer. I know this is terrible, but I feel like people usually pray the wrong things.”

And I nod, because woah, do I ever get it.

And while the desire not to receive prayer sure feels bad, it’s most certainly not terrible. It’s a symptom of a problem I’m beginning to see as systemic within large portions of the body of Christ.

I’m doing a lot of looking back lately — back at my 20’s and maybe even into my early 30’s. I’m contemplating the ways I’ve tended to operate within the church, among my Christian friendships, and how I’m learning to approach people differently.

I was put into leadership within a church at such a young age, and while youth and zeal are a valuable, valid piece of anyone’s journey, I sure wish I’d sat back and observed a while.

There are a number of facets of my former “leadership” style that I look back on and shudder, because woah, did I ever think I had things figured out. Ugh.

One of the main things I’m referring to is the way I handled people’s hearts, particularly when they were hurting. The way I counseled people. The way I prayed with people.

And mostly, the position of my own heart as I did so.

Because while I genuinely loved and cared for people, if I’m honest, I also had an unhealthy *need* to see their hearts healed. To see them brought into “right” relationship with Jesus. And that would be “right” by my definition, not necessarily His.

I could expound upon all the reasons why that need was present — why I so desired to have a hand in people’s transformation — but I won’t do that in this blog post. Suffice it to say I was carrying around a good-sized helping of pride, along with a side of insecurity.

What I want to focus on right now though is how those things manifested in my “ministry style,” because y’all? Jesus is still rooting this stuff out of me.

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