Facing Personal Crisis While Maintaining Public Ministry by Rev. Dean Hawk

Facing Personal Crisis While Maintaining Public Ministry
by Rev. Dean Hawk

Rev Dean HawkDean Hawk is the senior pastor at Rock Family Church in Colorado Springs, CO. He has served in the full-time ministry over the last 27 years in various capacities. Prior to starting Rock Family Church in 2004 he served as youth pastor, associate pastor, Bible college instructor, and conference speaker. He has also authored 14 volumes of H2O Sermon Source. Each creative and illustrative sermon comes with a teaching outline, Power Point presentation, handout, and small group guide. Dean’s success in ministry can be summed up in one word: creativity. He believes it is a sin to be boring in church which motivates him to continually seek the Lord for new and creative ideas to reach people with the good news! Check out their H20 web-site at www.h2osermonsource.com.


Back in early 90’s my wife, Kim, and I faced a family crisis. We were crushed, gasping to catch our emotional breath, and wounded by an attack of the enemy. What we faced is irrelevant. Sorry, no juicy details. However, you can probably fill in the blank with any number of difficult situations or tragedies which have rocked your own world.

The first reaction to hit you is often anger and to falsely blame God. “Here I am serving you God . . . how could you let something like this happen? Do you not see me working my butt off for the Kingdom?” If you take that attitude you end up ejecting the only person from your team that can get you through this difficult time. Don’t blame God for the test or trial. James 1:13 tells us that it is not God who is testing us. Verse 17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” The goal of the enemy is to weaken your faith and create a valley between you and God. He loves it when you go this direction because as a leader it hinders you from leading others to the cross of Christ with boldness and faith.

The second challenge will be maintaining your personal relationships with your spouse and family. When a crisis explodes the shrapnel can be extensive and it typically causes everyone to run for cover and find their own fox hole for protection. Stress builds and it becomes all too easy to take it out on the ones closest to us. Jesus said, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Walking in unity and harmony is vital to attaining victory. Colossians tells us to “clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Kim is my best friend on planet earth. Whenever tension mounts between us due to a crisis or just the simple demands of working in the ministry we are each quick to retreat to that place of unity and harmony. As family allies we are stronger than trying to face life on our own.

The third challenge will be the invitation to play the “What If” game. Many minor situations are inflated to world crisis level because of this. “What if the surgery doesn’t go well? What if the situation gets worse? What if they die? What if we don’t get the money? What if….?” Don’t go there. The Bible tells us to take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things (Phil 4:6-9). You control your thoughts or they will control you! We have learned to only deal with the facts and not over speculate potential outcomes.

The fourth challenge will be to continue leading others through your own pain and trauma. Regardless of your physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual “injuries” you must not lose sight of the sheep God has entrusted to your care. Some leadership guru made the eye opening statement years ago; “When you become a leader you lose the right to have a bad day.” I’ll never forget receiving horrible news on a Friday and putting a smile on my face Sunday morning and teaching a message with 94% God’s grace and 6% of my own ability. We cannot quit or give up! As leaders our lives are bigger than our own. What I have discovered is this was a time for me to live out the faith and endurance that I had preached for so many years. When life is good it’s easy to tell people to “just trust in the Lord.” It’s an entirely different scenario when you’re facing a hopeless situation and there is nothing in the natural that looks like it could improve.

This is where Romans 1 comes alive, “The righteous will live by faith!” James tells us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” No matter what you are facing or how dark the horizon may look you must hold steady. Paul said, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Jesus said, “All things are possible to those who believe.” We must keep the faith and hold steady. Be confident because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.

This may sound like a weird statement but I am extremely transparent about my life’s ups and downs, yet very guarded at the same time. Let me explain. When it comes to personal family issues and crisis I am very guarded. I share with a very close knit group of people. I honestly don’t want mass doubt and gossip to spread under the guise of, “We need to pray for Pastor Dean.” I take my need to close friends and family that I know will stand in faith with me according to God’s Word. On the flipside I believe it is very important to share real life experiences with your people as you teach and present your messages on a weekly basis. Too often ministers portray an unrealistic perception of themselves and people don’t connect or relate. Pastors pump themselves up as “super believers” and the average Joe believer never feels like he can match up. Here is the key: I share my pain, tragedies, and trials with the general population AFTER the smoke has cleared. Kim and I went through years of infertility after we were first married. At the time it was so sensitive neither of us could talk about it with a dry eye.

Three kids later we have helped countless couples through the same trials of life by being vulnerable and sharing about our life’s troubles. People can relate when I share about getting a call from my 16 year old daughter’s mission’s team leader in Peru telling us they were on the way to the hospital. We prayed here in the States, but the next morning she had her appendix out before Kim could get in country. Pastors can relate when I share about our first church plant Bible study and I got so excited when I saw a car pull into our drive. I had played a serious game of, “What if nobody shows up?” When I can share that we as a family have gone to family counseling and Kim and I go annually for a marriage check up it breaks the stereotype of “never admit you have any problems” and opens the door for people in my church to be real and transparent as well.