On the night that he was betrayed, Jesus invited his disciples to go with him to the Garden of Gethsemane and there instructed them to stay alert while he prayed. When he returned to them, he found them asleep. “Could you not keep watch for one hour?” (Mark 14:37)

As he hung on the cross, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)

 Jesus knew disappointment.

 Ministers know disappointment.

 The search committee showers you with affirmation and dreams with you about future possibilities, and now they are calling to tell you that “they are going in another direction.” The finance committee chair assures you that the committee will provide a salary increase, but then she sends you an email to tell you that no raise is forthcoming. The personnel committee meets with you to explore how the church can better care for your family, but they shift the conversation from generosity to business-like, bottom-line expectations that leave you feeling devalued.

Ministers know disappointment. 

They have families who don’t understand why they can’t be “at home” on Christmas Eve. They have friends who criticize non-attendance of weekend events. They work with leaders who ask them to keep quiet or to speak up or to mind their own business.

 Ministers know disappointment.

 What’s a minister to do? Don’t expect as much of people? Stop caring so deeply? Guard your heart against hurt?

 Protecting yourself from more pain seems like a good answer, but Brené Brown offers a different way forward. She advises that disappointment avoidance is isolating and will keep you from living fully and investing your heart. Those are good words for ministers to ponder.

 Brown also proclaims, “I see courage in myself when I’m willing to risk being vulnerable and disappointed.”*  

 I have no suggestions or advice on how to develop disappointment tolerance. I do know that it isn’t easy or instantaneous. It demands intentionality and careful attention. It requires holding on to hope. It is risky. It calls us to be brave.  

 Pam Durso is executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, Atlanta, Georgia. 


* Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, 2010.