A few weeks passed after my church incident, and I still could not process what had happened! The anger inside me started to swell up. I would cry every now and then, thinking about how I’d lost my chance to do something great for God. It had been my dream to enter SOM and go on to Bible college and get a degree to become a pastor or a biblical counselor.
Now, all gone!
While my mind was full of confusion over what had happened, I couldn’t process the limitation my church had set on me. I couldn’t dwell on these things for too long because I had to go back to school and work. I had to push all the worries away and deal with them later.
At least one thing was still going for me — my college Bible study!
Before I applied for SOM, some friends were talking to me about becoming a Bible study leader. I grew thrilled at the idea of leading and serving there.
Before the service started, I got an application and filled everything out. I held onto it until the sermon ended and everyone was let out. I gave my application to two of the college pastoral assistants, and both were thrilled to learn that I wanted to do this.
Both men knew my heart and had watched me grow at my home church, as well as in the college ministry. One of them knew in-depth about my struggle with homosexuality and encouraged me as a friend to keep fighting. The other had found out about me through a men’s small group, where I’d told everyone there about my SSA.
I set a date and time to meet the pastoral assistants and discuss the logistics of being a leader at my college Bible study. I knew the basic stuff since I was already helping out with setting up chairs, organizing the slides for worship music, praying with people, etc.
Right after giving them my application and setting the meeting, the thought popped into my head: They’re gonna do a background check on you.
This sick feeling came upon me, but it was already too late. Both guys had left for the night, and they’d closed the place where the Bible study was being held.
I had to wait the whole weekend to see if I was right; if I was, I’d have to face another huge disappointment. The weekend passed, and I had my meeting. When I got there, both guys greeted me with delight and gave me hugs. I thought, Phew! I am going to make it!
But then both their faces turned from smiles to sadness, and I knew my past had destroyed my chance to become a leader.
Just as the SOM assistant pastor had explained I couldn’t enter the school because of my past, my two friends gave me the same explanation for leading a Bible study. Both told me they wish they could allow it, but I’d already been red-marked in the church’s system. They couldn’t do anything about it.
The conversation ended with both of them giving me deep hugs, and they said they were deeply sorry that I had to endure this. One of the guys did mention that since he saw how dedicated I was in my faith and wanted to grow, he would happily disciple me. I gladly took the chance and thought this story could still have a happy ending.
Weeks passed, and the other assistant pastor moved away to help start a church in another state. The other stayed and did his best to disciple me, but that soon dwindled as he grew busy with other priorities like starting a family and carrying the weight of his ministry.
Eventually, he and I stopped meeting. And I was back to where I started. With nothing.
Have you ever been stopped, prevented, or asked to step down from a church leadership role? How do you “fit” into the Church and church leadership?
* Photo courtesy davidspinks, Creative Commons.