By Nick Brzozowski
Looking around the auditorium, He turned to me, “One thing you have to remember more than anything else: Pain is your companion.” When we first decided to start a new church, we tried to learn as much as we could, talking with others who have done it before. And two themes came to the surface: calling and pain (we’ll have to save “calling” for another time). Everyone we talked with had some horrible, odd, painful story. One talked about scrubbing graffiti. Another talked about scrubbing sewage. Disappointments. Betrayal. Stress.
But, no one was more emphatic about the pain a church planter has to endure than Dave Nelson from Great Lakes Church in Kenosha. “Pain is your companion.” He said it so confidently. As if to bring comfort.
Dave’s church just celebrated its tenth anniversary. In ten years, they have impacted thousands of lives. As we sat in the auditorium where hundreds have come to know Jesus, Dave had to give credit where credit is due: pain.
In his book, Leadership Pain, Samuel Chand states how indispensable pain is: “you’ll grow only to the threshold of your pain.” What if pain isn’t just one way God works in us and shapes us? What if it is THE primary way God works in us and shapes us?
Not sure I really understand this, but even Jesus learned and became perfect through suffering (Hebrews 5:8-9). Later, Chand explains how it works: “Reluctance to face pain is your greatest limitation. There is not growth without change, no change without loss, and no loss without pain. If you’re not hurting, you’re not leading.” Looking back, I think this is the main way that God prepared me to go into church planting. Tom Bennardo gives a list of four trials church planters will experience to some degree: finances, marriage/family, emotional/physical, ministry. In the last two years, each one of these has been tested in my life in some significant way.
Now, one of the things I tell myself everyday is that the fire is my friend. God has used pain to help me be less anxious, more courageous, less greedy, more compassionate, less unaware and more dependent.
As you look back, can you see the good out of the grief?