Stewardship of Your Story

The last few years has been a study for me in learning through pain, and this past Sunday my pastor added a new chapter in my notes.  If you want to hear the entire message, click here and listen to “Impact #3 Stewardship of Your Story.”  It is worth your time.

He asked the question, “What if God wants to use your pain to help others?”

We like to hide our failures so that we look the way we think people want us to look.  In the end we all end up hiding from each other, afraid to open up and get help when we need it.

The Scripture is full of examples of situations where people’s pain turned to salvation: Joseph saving his family after being sold as a slave, Abraham having to leave all he knew to go somewhere about which he knows nothing.  In Isaiah 53 we read that Christ’s pain was part of our redemption.

At a time when she was vulnerable, poor, a foreigner, and essentially a migrant worker, Ruth was working in Boaz’s fields.  Instead of exploiting her he had compassion on her.  Long story short they end up getting married and restoring the honor of her mother-in-law’s family.

Question: Where did Boaz learn to protect vulnerable women?

When the Israelites were preparing to attack Jericho, they sent in some spies.  Two of these spies got trapped and ended up escaping the authorities because a prostitute hid them.  Hmmm, what were they doing at the prostitute’s place?  But I digress . . .  In return the prostitute, Rahab, asks that she, her parents, and her brothers and sisters be spared when the Israelites attack.  The Israelites honored her request and Rahab went on to live with the Israelites.

Turns out she marries a man from the tribe of Judah.  His name was Salmon.  Their son was named . . you guessed it . . Boaz.  Boaz most likely learned to protect vulnerable women from his father, who married a prostitute and gave her honor back to her.

Check out Matthew 1 and you will find that Christ’s lineage goes through both Rahab and Ruth, two foreigners and one a prostitute.

Question: Would Boaz have learned the same lessons if Rahab had been afraid to live with the Israelites because of her reputation?

Pastor Ken’s point was this. If we have made it through our situation but keep it to ourselves, how will someone else in the same situation get encouragement?

Perhaps, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1, we are given comfort that we might comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received.  We can choose to hide our pain and be ashamed of it, or we can share it with others so that they can be encouraged and learn from it.

I was so grateful for my friend who was willing to share his painful story with me while I was going through separation and divorce.  He was such an encouragement to me.

Sharing the good things is easy, but sharing pain is something else altogether.  Do you have the courage to share your pain?

When have you been encouraged because someone shared their pain with you?  Have you been able to encourage someone else with your pain?

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failing well

Just because you fail does not mean you are a failure.

Seth Godin preaches this mantra.  I do not know why I only began to grasp that idea after hearing it from him when the Scripture preaches the same thing.  In Christ we can begin again.  We can fail and try again.

I have lived most of my life up until recently consciously or subconsciously feeling like a failure because I failed at some point.  I’m changing that.

I have failed many times.  I am divorced, something I never dreamed would happen.  Does that make me a failure?  No.  I surely took the long route to learning some things, but God takes me right where I am and those failures have no power over me.

In college I entered the piano concerto competition twice at the University of Florida and once at the state MTNA level and lost all three times.  Does that make me a failure?  No.  I played some fabulous music and learned a lot about myself in the process.

Several times I have raised my voice at my two wonderful boys.  Does that make me a failure?  No.  I am human and I do not always manage my frustrations well.

The beauty of the Gospel is that I am allowed to learn by failing, not just by succeeding.  In fact, in some weird twist of reality, I find that I learn more from my mistakes than from my successes.

If you struggle with accepting yourself and your failures, read The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning.

From a business standpoint I recommend anything by Seth Godin.  He will help you understand the value of failure in the practical things of life.

How do deal with failure?