By Maina Mwaura
One day my wife got a jarring phone call. The person on the other end of the line told her some terrible things about me.
The good news is, those things weren’t true.
The bad news is, I was betrayed by someone at my (then) church.
Even the very mention of the word betrayal can bring about strong emotions within people. But almost anyone will experience in life at one point or another. And being active in ministry certainly doesn’t make one immune to it.
The other good news is that my wife knew my character and didn’t believe the misrepresentation of me coming from the church member. I never thought “Jared” (not his real name) would do something like this, because he is someone I loved and trusted.
Speaker and author Phil Waldrep points out in his new book, Beyond Betrayal, that we rarely see betrayal coming our way.
In fact, he points out that when Jesus experienced betrayal those around him probably didn’t see it coming.
Because we don’t see betrayal coming it leaves us feeling vulnerable and lost. Here are four steps I learned to take that helped me navigate this painful betrayal in ministry.
1. Tell God everything before you tell anyone anything.
I took long walks in my neighborhood talking with God about everything from bewilderment to complete anger.
I have no clue what my neighbors might have been thinking seeing a grown man talking to himself—and sometimes crying.
But as I look back, those were some of the sweetest moments between God and me.
In the book of Psalms, David lays out his soul to God in how he feels about Saul’s betrayal. This rawness and authenticity is what makes Psalms one of my favorite books of the Bible.
Talk with God about your betrayal or pain inflicted by another person. For Waldrep, it meant journaling his feelings. Because God already knows everything we won’t shock Him with our feelings of anger and hurt.
2. Don’t blame yourself.
When we’re betrayed we second-guess ourselves. We question our judgment. We tend to beat ourselves up for even being friends with the betrayer. But your betrayer was placed in your life for a reason.
I believe Jared was placed in my life to help me build boundaries that didn’t previously exist.
As I look back, I can say I’m thankful for Jared in teaching me how to create necessary boundaries—healthy boundaries God intended for us to have.
The inadequate boundaries in place would have never prevented Jared from betraying me. My new boundaries helped me begin to discern what I share and with whom I share it.
3. Don’t make others pay the price.
We’ve all heard the old saying, “Hurt people, hurt people.” As Christ’s followers our lives are to be used for His purposes. God wants to use our pain to minister to others and point to His goodness—not punish others or stifle relationships with people.
Waldrep says in Beyond Betrayal that we must give up our rights for revenge. We must also remember that God is clear in His word that He is the one who gets vengeance, not us. That’s His job—not ours.
4. Pray, Forgive, and Serve.
One of the reasons why I love the Easter season is because it reminds me of my place before God. You have been a betrayer and I have been a betrayer—even if not to others, we have toward God.
Every time I read the Resurrection story I’m in awe at how Jesus called out to God, then forgave Judas and served him.
Yes, served him. By washing his feet.
These acts of forgiveness and service give us a clear picture of how God loves us and wants us to serve even the ones who betray us.
Praying, forgiving, and serving will help keep our hearts pure in a culture looking for forgiveness—and even justification—which can only be found through Jesus Christ.
MAINA MWAURA is a freelance journalist and minister who lives in the Atlanta area with his wife, Tiffiney, and daughter Zyan.