How can God Possibly use Brokenness in a Pastor’s Life?

Circumstances beyond our control (demographics or a location that hinders growth), an uncooperative board (they say no to an important initiative), or even family issues (a chronically ill child who requires an inordinate amount of energy) can hinder and dilute a pastor’s ministry efforts. These experiences can bring painful brokenness to our hearts. We seldom immediately see any benefit from our brokenness.

Brokenness has touched my life in the two places where it hurts the most: my family (one chronically sick child, one who rebelled for five years) and my ministry (many dreams yet unfulfilled). But Jesus said brokenness must precede fruit bearing.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.[1]

The nineteenth-century Danish theologian Søren Kierkegaard captured the essence of this idea with this statement. “God creates everything out of nothing—and everything God is to use he first reduces to nothing.”[2]

Richard Foster, one of today’s most influential voices on spiritual formation, described one of the greatest benefits from brokenness. He calls this the “crucifixion of the will” and says it brings “freedom from the everlasting burden of always having to get our own way.”[3] Having to always get our own way is the antithesis of the other-centered life Jesus modeled for us. Isn’t that our ultimate goal in serving the Church, selflessness?

How has God used brokenness in your life and ministry?

Related posts: The Apostle Paul’s Thorn: prescriptive or descriptive


[1] John 12:24, NASB

[2] Søren Kierkegaard, The Journals of Kierkegaard, ed. Alexander Dru (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1959), 245.

[3] Richard Foster, Prayer (New York: HarperCollins, 1992), 55.

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