It’s the start of a very busy weekend here, and I have a lot to do, but I feel the pressing of the Lord so strong to write this blog post right now. If you are going through the pain of betrayal, don’t quit – keep going!
They asked Derek Prince at the end of his life if he wished he had done anything different, and he said that he wished he had been more forgiving to the people who caused him pain through betrayal. That is thought provoking – betrayal hurts, no matter who you are. And if you are a pastor, at some point you will be betrayed.
David was betrayed, and wrote a Psalm about it:
My heart is sore pained within me (Psalm 55.4)
David was betrayed by a man called Ahithophel, the man was supposed to be a good friend, and his trusted advisor. But he turned against David and David’s rulership and it hurt. Let’s start here leaders – it hurts when people betray you. It really hurts, it’s a pain that nothing else comes close to. In Psalm 55, David pours out his heart and lets us know the pain. The sad thing is I have seen pastors and leaders who have never, ever recovered from the pain of betrayal. I do not want this to be your story!
When you preach and teach on the importance of loyalty, some (young) ministers will tell me don’t teach on that, it’s not important, just teach grace and peace. Then they get betrayed, and they call me and ask where can I get that teaching. What happened? Their Ahithophel betrayed them!
Give ear to my prayer O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication. Attend to me and hear me, I mourn in complaint, and make a noise. (Psalm 55.1-2)
That is what it feels like when you are betrayed, you pray but you doubt God hears, you feel like God has forgotten you, you feel suddenly very sobered up.
Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked, for they cast iniquity upon me and in anger they hate me. My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. (Psalm 55.3-4)
One of the worst and most painful parts of being betrayed is that when people betray you, they invariably bring false accusations against you. When you hear what people who have betrayed you say about you, you might wonder if you are satan himself!
These accusations get under your skin and they hurt. They re-describe events and paint you evil; they fabricate half-truths to make you look terrible. And just days, weeks or months ago, these people were your friends, your associates – you loved them, you trusted them.
It’s part of the pain of betrayal – they “cast iniquity upon you” – they say you sinned and you did this wrong and you did that wrong and you were wicked. It helps them feel less guilty about betraying you, to paint you as a demon.
Fear and trembling have come upon me (Psalm 55.5)
The shock of betrayal can make you very scared. You can be scared of failing, scared others will betray you, scared people will believe the inquities being cast on you.
You start to think, well if someone thinks I am a thief, if someone thinks I am arrogant and wicked, how can I ever have a successful ministry now?
It is a real fear. This fear gripped David when Ahithophel turned on him – he thought his reign was over, he thought his successes were nothing, he thought that he could never move forward, he thought more people would backstab him.
Now LISTEN CAREFULLY – this fear will kill your ministry, not the betrayal. The first thing that happens is fear, but the second step is also universal:
And I said, oh that I had wings like a dove for then would I fly away and be at rest. Lo, would I wander off and stay in the desert. Selah. I would escape from the windy storm and tempest. (Psalm 55.6-8)
Accompanying the fear that comes with betrayal, is a desire to run away. If you run away from everyone, then no-one can betray you ever again. When those false accusations come, you want to run away. I’ve been caleed names before and I just wanted to run away. Some pastors do – they start a travelling ministry or they move churches all the time, trying to run away from it. Others run away on the inside, they are still there but not all there, refusing to give their life to others, refusing to help others, hating getting up and preaching. It’s not easy being betrayed.
The third feeling when betrayed is the desire to get revenge:
Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings and among them. (Psalm 55.15)
That’s how you feel about people who betray you. Let them die and go to hell. If in pain you have ever prayed that prayer, you are in good company.
But you need to know this: satan sends the disloyal to you to do one thing – he doesn’t care about them or their lies. He cares about your heart. His plan is to trick and con you into bitterness and unforgiveness. That is why I am talking to you today about this! Failing to love is going to destroy your ministry – not betrayal, not slander, not gossip. Their behaviour isn’t going to kill you – yours is. That’s the cunning plan of the devil – to make you polluted with vengeance and wicked imaginations.
FAILING TO LOVE WILL WIPE OUT THE FRUITS OF YOUR MINISTRY.
If you have the gift of tongues, the gift of prophecy, if you are the smoothest preacher in the world, if you have faith that moves mountains – but have not love – then you have nothing, gain nothing and will achieve nothing. (That’s a paraphrase of 1 Cor. 13.1-3).
Why would you want the accuser to poison me and fill your heart with negativity? Why would you let them decide how much you show love?
David was honest with his thoughts in v. 15, thank God he was – as you and I have felt the same thing. But he didn’t keep in that place. And this is my heart for you this morning: don’t stay in verse 15. Admit you have been there, that’s fine. End up hurt and in pain and annoyed and frustrated – of course – someone you trusted, someone you treated as an equal, someone you went to church with and prayed with, discussing issues with (see vv. 13-14) has stabbed you in the back.
Admit it hurts, admit you want to stab them back. Admit you feel hell is too good for them – we’ve all been there. But don’t – whatever you do – stay in verse 15. Let’s move onto verse 16 today:
As for me, I will call upon the Lord and the Lord will save me (Psalm 55.16)
God is on your side. You are not the tail, you are the head. Start to call upon the Lord today, He will save you from bitterness, from pain, from the negative voices, from it all.
The pain of betrayal can and will become something in the past. God will bring new advisers to you, learn to trust them, not reject them on the behaviour of others. This is your time!