[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
Thank you so very very much for your ardent, sacrificial, and persistent pursuit of love and relationship(s).
If the opportunity presents itself, which it well might, keep “punching shame” in the face, as you, David and Natalie, are precious revered forerunners in communing with God and man.
The unloving and antichrist spirits definitely would not like to see your souls, spirits, bodies, emotions, provision, and relationships prosper. But, of course, as you know, and as you model and teach so well, He is greater and you are His Beloved.
I am sad that you have had such a roughing-up by circumstances, people and situations. It makes me feel sick and mad at the torque that that exerts upon you while your heart is pure, valorous, and ardent. I hate the losses of pushback. I hope and pray that the carved and chiseled-out areas within you both and within your lives will SOON bear such wells of holy oil, love, joy, and robust propulsion that the depth and width of the excavation will only be remembered by the reputation and tenderly engendered feelings toward the divine surgeon as well as abundant redemptive territory. My heart is for you and I am, personally, very grateful for you. The excavation in my own life, while of much smaller scale but nevertheless of great emotional/relational dismay and logistical/financial difficulty during this seeming desert-like period, has been made ever so much less lonely and less dazed by incomprehension – due to your heart to share your gifts and your journey.
THANK YOU EVER SO MUCH!!!!! May you be gloriously restored to full vibrancy and prosperity.
Most affectionately, Patricia Johnston (from Ohio).
BTW: before digitally meeting you, I already had a great draw to the word “Shalom” and had/have for quite a time closed my communications with “Shalom!” 🙂 Hence: “Shalom, Dear Ones!” xoxoxo
If you will, David, if you have the ability, would you remove my initial “A” and last name “Johnston” from the comments.
I am not confidant that I want that published publicly.
The commentary is from the heart and I don’t want to be anonymous to you, Natalie, and LeaderHeart, nor do I mind the reflections being public- but I am not so interested in my name being fully digitally out there.
Thank you for your kindness and flexibility!
Morning, it seems many of us are walking through the same valley where we are all putting down deep deep wells of refreshing, not only for ourselves so to draw upon but for the many. For all of us this past weave months has be a number of battles in a very intense war, a war that is being fought in the heavenlies.
As I looked back over my journals of the past twelve months I never realised how many times I declared that over all the Lord is and the peace he has given me and the deep lessons learned about myself. I praise Jesus for his example of drawing aside to be with the Father just him alone, as I reflect these were the times of refreshing that has sustained me to continue on, but very aware of my human failings and the blessed reassurance that it is not my efforts that will strengthen me in the battle but the Lords.
I continue to praise him in my darkest moments that are now my brightest days in the power of His Word, thank you Father for grace praise and thanks Jesus and Holy Spirit for the continual peace and love that surround me in the midst of it all.
I continue to praise and thank Him that brings us all through a little stronger each day, Father continue to touch us all restoring renewing removing replenishing us in the spirit and in the natural. Our eyes look to the horizon to see our mighty warrior who is leading the armies of the Lord. All praise to you Jesus. Praying for you always blessings to you and your family during this time.
Thank you David for sharing your heart and I’m so sorry to hear of your struggles. I understand them very much and have been in a forced rest myself. I pray for full restoration for you, your family, your finances and energy and thank you for all you’ve given to others and for what I’ve received personally through your ministry. Bless you! ~Deborah
Thank you for your passion for Jesus and your family and indeed His entire family! I applaud that you are standing and I see you wearing a crown of enormous victory that is visible in the Kingdom realm. I gave a small amount but it is what it represents … the Lord says Genesis 41:46 is your time to reign! When Joseph went out from Pharoah and went throughout all Egypt. David and Natalie it’s your time to administrate heaven on earth gloriously. Your hearts are tender and wise … you are loved by far more than those who do not ❤️
David, I am so sorry for everything you’ve gone through for the sake of ministry.
I really wish I had $20,000 because I would give it all to you. I was introduced to you once I became enrolled in Elijah House. I am still healing from losing my husband of 37 years and anger at the people who caused his death. He was a pastor. EH has tremendously helped me through this season. Right now, I am still homeless and trying to obtain a job to move forward so I have nothing financial to give.
I would like to know how I can help in other ways. God has given me the burden of wanting to help others to heal various issues. It’s difficult to know how to set this up for the benefit of others
If you can think of a way that I can help, I’m there with you! You have been a definite blessing to me and my healing!
Blessings to you and your family and ministry!
Hey David, I love Kahil Gibran, his teachings are deep and insiteful, interesting how this teacher was able to help you, thanks for sharing your heart, I have appreciated your teaching on Lent. Wondered if the reason you stopped as I hadn’t given and understood that in itself. My prayers for you and your family are sincere, yes Restoration, our Savior is into that, His promises are true and Amen, and if I can encourage you in any way, rest your weary soul, your family and friends will stand with you and for you and pray the abundant blessing on you. I will speak with Tony and get back to you as my heart is to act rather than just take, blessings, Dawn
Hi Dawn, Great to hear from you. I only discovered Gibran recently – this poem is one I’ve read several times to myself and cried. It reflects the words I couldn’t utter. Blessings.
Thank you Denyse
Thank you Ann
Thanks for sharing Lesley
Hey David… you have been such a blessing to so many people in the body of Christ… i want to encourage you with… This is a day of new beginnings for you… a season of opportunities… a time of restoration… i bless you with strength and courage… and with fullness of joy from the presence of the Lord
Hi David, thank you for sharing and I would love to be a part of seeing restoration! Will This opportunity be open for the next few weeks at all?
Yes, I think we’ll keep it open. A few people have asked.
Thank you Andrew
I second Andrew Crawley’s comments. Saddened to hear you’ve been going through such a tough time. Just wanted to say thanks for the blessing you’ve been to me and many others. I see the restoration fund is growing:) May you be refreshed, healed and restored soon as you wait in the Lord’s presence. Hope you and your family are feeling the love, Many healing blessings to you David
I pray that He do abundantly more for you than what you can imagine, that He will blow your mind, lift your soul and give you a double blessing for your trouble. I bless you to open your arms and except the abundance of the store houses of heaven. I bless you with complete mental and physical healing in Jesus Name. I bless you to be restored and whole and to be unstoppable, undefeatable and a true warrior of God. I bless you to relentlessly push boundaries with magnificent faith. I bless you to be like Joshua..In Jesus mighty Name. I bless you with ressurection life of Jesus and the breath of God, living water and Gods glory light.
David, I will be forever grateful for all the Leaderheart teachings you posted. I learned so, so much. But now it’s yours and your families time together to restore your health, finances, and valuable time together. I will pray for you and family. Stay well. God bless. ❤❤❤❤⚘⚘⚘⚘⚘
I just want to say thank you so much for sharing your struggles. This was such a timely read for me and brings me such encouragement.
I’m all too familiar with the frailties and dark places of which you write. It seems as though the onslaught has been relentless over this past several years and even worse in recent months.
Just when I think I’m making progress another wave hits me and I’m down again.
It’s been true for every area of my life, physical, emotional, financial, relational and spiritual. It’s been one thing after another. All the while I’m giving all I have to minister to others.
I’ve come to a place of letting go of everything that I’ve been doing including leading worship. I’m completely spent and desperately in need of rest. I’m in the worst financial position I’ve ever been in and unable to work the way I need to support myself and my daughter due to chronic illness. I’ve been in a forced rest that seems to be very bad timing.
I know God has not forgotten me, I know in my heart change and blessings are coming. I’m just trying to hold on, be wise with the energy I do have, keep healthy boundaries and trust Him in the midst of this very difficult season.
There are so many in the body of Christ going through this same type of thing right now. We are going to be overflowing when those deep places are filled with joy once again!!!
In the name of Jesus I speak life, health, healing and blessings of every kind over you ,your family and your ministry.
We’ve never met or had any contact but you have made a huge impact on my life over and over again. God has given me great comfort and confirmation through your ministry and I’m sure to countless others as well.
I know He will bring you back into a place of strength and even more wisdom. The beauty of this is the fact that in your weakness right now he is using your heartfelt honestly to minister more powerfully than ever. He is so good !
This really encourages me all the more to continue doing the same in my sphere of influence. People just need to see real ,and they need to see how God brings us through in real ways.
Thank you again for your honesty and for sharing. It’s beautiful…
Oh, I so understand. Been doing the medical thing 12 mths, only to realise exhaustion is behind it all. Can’t lift my head some days. And just when I feel better & venture forward, I’m back in bed or sitting on my patouche! Can only say it’s our precious LORD who’s keeping me hanging in there.