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Let’s face it, when someone hurts us, we can brush it off and often move on. We can be tough, ignore it, deal with it or get even (although that rarely helps), but something changes when it is our spouse, kids, a close friend or a family member who is hurt.

We feel powerless in that moment.

Especially if our spouse is hurt because of someone else’s sin or mistreatment. When our spouse is wrongly accused or betrayed by someone, those wounds cut deep. They often cut deep into our heart because of our inability to protect our spouse and to help them.

We can’t jump into a conversation, we can’t go to our spouse’s work place and defend their honor, it is difficult for us to jump into a relationship we aren’t a part of and defend them or shout about how they’ve been mistreated.

This is especially true in ministry.

I took one counseling class in seminary. I don’t remember anything from it but one thing. The professor said, “When people are hurt in their life or have been hurt by an authority figure (a boss, spouse, parent, coach, teacher) and they can’t do anything about it, they will take it out on the closest authority figure to them. Often that person will be a pastor, a boss or a coach. If they can’t find an authority figure, they will simply take it out on the person closest to them that they are jealous of.”

At first I brushed it off. I was 24 and hadn’t really experienced much of leadership or counseling at that point.

Now that is one of the truest and most applicable statements I have heard in my entire life. I have watched that play out so many times in our church and in relationships.

For example, when I meet with someone who is leaving our church, almost 50% of the conversation has to do with their spouse, a past hurt our church had nothing to do with (usually a father wound) or something else in their life out of their control that has nothing to do with me or our church. But they are mad and it gets directed at me and our church.

Back to your spouse or kids that are hurting and you feel powerless. What do you do?

  • Pray for them.
  • Listen to them.
  • Give godly advice, not advice that makes you feel justified for them. That is a crucial piece.
  • Ask good questions when it is appropriate. This comes after listening to them.
  • Help them see through the fog of their hurt to what God is doing and how He is trying to use this. I’m often amazed at how God brings about new possibilities through what seems like an impossible situation.

Josh Reich is the lead pastor of Revolution Church in Tucson, AZ, which is trying to live out the rhythms of Jesus. The church's dream is to "help people find their way back to God."

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