I've been writing for a few days to church leaders and challenging them to be careful in regards to their volunteers, so they do not hurt and/or damage them by their words and/or actions. While I sincerely believe it is the rare person who would intentionally cause damage to, or hurt a volunteer, sadly, it does happen unintentionally in far too many churches.
Today I want to try to encourage you if you are a volunteer who has been harmed by staff/leaders in your Children's Ministry.
- First of all I want to say, I am so sorry you have been hurt. I know when someone is hurt, it makes it more difficult when no one seems to be sorry for your pain.
- Secondly, and more importantly, please know God sees your pain and it is not what He wants to have happen to you. While He can - and will - bring good from it, He does not want staff/leaders to cause pain to you or anyone. Please do not "blame" God for the poor actions/words/behavior of people.
- Thirdly, it is very important for you to find a church where you can heal and once again experience the joy which comes from serving. Don't give up looking for this church.
- Finally, don't give in to gossip. It may feel "good" to lash out and return pain for the pain you experienced, but don't give in to this. Refuse to say anything about the specifics to anyone other than the person who harmed you. Refuse to talk about it with anyone else, unless the person who harmed you is present. Don't give in to gossip.
Yes, it hurts, a lot, when a staff member/leader causes you pain; and even more so when you end up losing the ministry you love. But, please know, God can, and will bring good to you through this. Perhaps you will be more sensitive to others who have been hurt and will be able to bring them comfort. Maybe God will use the experience to "pivot" you and point you to another area of ministry where He wants you to serve. And just maybe you will learn something which helps you be a more effective volunteer. However He does it, God will bring good to your life - even through the harm caused by others.
So, I'm sorry for your pain. Please do not give up. Find a place where you can heal, serve and grow in your love for God. And know God loves and values you; don't blame Him for the bad actions/words of people. The day will come where you will be able to look back on this pain and see how God's hand was there with you, guiding and protecting you. I know because I have been hurt by staff in a church and while it was extremely painful - and at times still is, I can see now how God protected me and used the situation to guide me to a truly better place. (If you wonder how God "protected" me through a situation where staff hurt me - it was by getting me to leave, so I was no longer in a position where I could continue to be harmed by this person.)
And once again, those of you on staff or who are leaders in your Children's Ministry, be careful, be watchful, be aware - do no harm.