[4-5 minute read]
I recently came across this extract by author Khalil Gibran. It spoke to me deeply.
“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
These kind of letters are always hard for me (David) to start. Mostly because I’m not coming with much to give and teach, as I most often do. Instead, I’m wanting to share some of my own joy and sorrow. I do this in the hope that Comfort may come to us.
As you may know, Natalie and I have been serving our world in a unique way; that is, we serve the body of Christ through inner healing and teaching on the heart formation. It’s a space that holds rich sorrow and joy. I have spent the past 4.5 years travelling, teaching and sitting with countless individuals, mainly Christian leaders, working through emotional, spiritual and relational struggles. When I’m honest with self and others, I admit it’s often hard, lonely, dirty work. Anyone who has worked in inner healing, advanced pastoral care, chaplaincy or therapy will tell you of the emotional labour and trauma exposure that is part of the vocation.
I actually believe many are called to serve the world in this same way… but they chose a different path, an easier one – and I don’t blame them. It is a narrow path with few comrades and frequent casualties.
From January to July last year I had preached around 100 times in 5 countries and spent many hours in inner healing sessions – mainly with pastors and leaders. Most of this was done on my own, which wasn’t wise but was a commercial reality (wages, flights and accommodation are not cheap). By July I started to lose steam. I forgot things on planes, missed flights and was not able to be present to clients in the way they deserved. I decided to minimise my travel as much as possible. In August I started some online mentoring classes and moved private appointments to webcam based sessions. These changes also meant I could be home more. I refuse to sacrifice my kids and wife for the ‘good work’ of the ministry.
I was rolling along well with the new arrangements in August but by September 1st I hit the wall. Compassion fatigue set in. I just couldn’t care. The thousands of hours, flights and environments caught up with me. I had to close my calendar and say no to those needing help, including trainees, leaders and pastors. In October I spoke at my last church service, where I was doing all I could to bracket a panic attack. I wasn’t in a good state. I had all the blood tests to see if the fatigue and slump were physical, but the tests came back normal. Some visits to a psychologist confirmed it was stress and pointed towards burnout.
In November my back spasmed badly. I spent most of the month walking slowly between my bed, the sofa, and the physiotherapist. I started wondering where God was in all this and how on earth I would ever work in the same capacity, and how we were going to survive the Christmas break as a family. Natalie was doing a lot of extra work and seeing extra clients which helped some. We were also blessed to have a new team member move from interstate to help the ministry – without her presence and help, I dare say we’d be in a terrible place.
Over the next three months of our Australian summer, I was in survival mode. Praying and simply hoping for a breakthrough somewhere. We chewed through all our savings. Over this time many of our regular financial ministry supporters were no longer about to give to LeaderHeart (the ministry) and I couldn’t take up any preaching or teaching invites. (As a result of the trauma exposure, the thought of going to a church service made my heart race.). Mid-January, when I started feeling as though I could move forward, I tore a calf muscle and my son broke his finger. More forced rest and medical expenses.
Determined to still contribute to the world in some way, I used some of the little energy I had to produce over 60 daily blessing videos which were watched by many thousands on Facebook and Youtube across January and February. The impact of those went further and wider than I suspected, which felt positive – but again, I had to cut the Lenten daily blessing project short due to the limited energy I had and the little that was returning to me.
March has marked 6 months in this dark hole and the last 3 weeks has been internally painful and deeply insightful as we’ve discovered keys to healing and sustenance. I thought the bankruptcy sorrow of 2013-16 had carved out enough space in my heart, but there were more inner caverns to discover. More treasure to find. More room for joy to be made.
Through strategic prayer, dear friends, time and a supportive wife, my 20% capacity have now moved to about 70%. Light has come and I’ve started to feel like I’m back – just wiser and a little more tender.
I feel a mix of relief, gratitude, anger and grief over what has transpired. When we go through these dark valleys, it’s hard to see how we ended up in them, let alone how we might get out. The teacher in me feels tempted to share the lessons learnt, but some pearls should only be handed out on special occasions. So they stay hidden in my heart and amongst the precious pilgrims I’ve been blessed to have by my side. I am convinced of this though; that like medics on the war field, those called to the heal broken-hearted, are never immune an enemy attack. They are actually well targeted – and the enemy can be found both within and without.
The thing is, it’s all come at a great expense. There is no work-cover. No sick leave. No compensation or insurance in these circumstances. It’s easy to feel like a fool in these seasons. Shame knocks at our heart-door often, reminding us of the fact that we only just came out of bankruptcy. I do my best to punch shame in the face by sharing my story and keeping my eyes on the One who called us by name to mend a fractured world. Pride would have us hide. It would have me keep my shortcomings to myself. But I’m not. I’m sharing them with you in the hope that you might be able to help us restore that which was lost.
We’re believing to raise $20,000. It’s what we lost. It’s what we need to move forward. It’s what we need to pay outstanding bills that have accumulated. I moved into the full-time ministry space 5 years ago wanting to give it our best shot. We’re certainly not in this for money, but we can’t move forward without it.
If you can help in a small or large way, we’d appreciate it. All gifts can be given to LeaderHeart Ltd. It is a registered charity in Australia. Gifts are not tax deductible but some Trust structures can benefit from giving to registered charities. We are governed by a board of directors and authorised contractors.
Giving details are below.
David, Natalie and the LeaderHeart Team.
P.S. A final word for those that are reading this with the thought, ‘Oh great, another ministry asking for money!’ Please do not give me a piece of your mind. Keep your combative emails, comments and messages to yourself. Please just unsubscribe to our emails or unfollow us on Facebook. Find another enemy. Find another cause.
If you are in Australian and want to give by bank deposit , here are the account details:
Credit Card and PayPal:
Tally: $26,411 of $20,000
Thank you God. Thank you friends!!
UPDATE: Thank you message from David