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Confessions of a Selfish, People-Pleasing Pastor | Seminary Student Blogger

November 14, 2013

Joelinda Coichy

I have been a people-pleaser most of my life. Actually—I think I made it through high school and college in the shape that I did because I knew that being a good student and Christian would very much please my ambitious, emigrant, Haitian family.

I should have known then that I would probably end up working in the church, because it turns out people-pleasing is an area in which many of us pastor-types excel.

To a certain degree, this makes sense. Our call is to care for people and help them find wholeness in Christ. Generally, whole people are “pleased” with God and with us by extension. And we do our best to “give all the praise to God,” but c’mon, we love the goodwill that we receive because of God’s awesomeness (at least I know that I do). And this is not necessarily bad…

But when there are more people than we have the resources to care for and we get tired, our call degenerates. For me—generally into pandering, appeasing and thoughts along the lines of: “If I just show up and smile, I can make it through and they will be happy.”

But, if despite your people-pleasing tendencies you have genuine concern for your flock, here is the BIG, sad catch: people don’t want to be pleased and appeased; they want to be genuinely loved.

I have learned the HARD way that every time I show up to “serve” someone who needs (nags) me without explicit marching orders from the Holy Spirit, my “service” blows up in my face.

Generally, I show up tired, and despite my best acting Needy-Person-X can sense that I am not all there. Needy-Person-X doesn’t get what he/she wants/needs. Needy-Person-X is hurt. And I leave exhausted and—worse—discouraged about myself, Needy-Person-X, and about God’s ability to heal, in general…

Yeah, not ideal!

Genuine love is hard. Really, it can only come from God’s Holy Spirit making me aware of how much, despite my own brokenness, I am adored and provided for. And really, it can only happen within boundaries.

Boundaries that tell me that I am not God. Boundaries that remind me that I only can give what has been first been given to me by the Holy Spirit. Boundaries of rest, quiet and Sabbath that prove to my heart that God is the one at work, not me. And boundaries that prevent me from showing up, tired and needy myself, to “serve” what ends up being nothing more than my own ego and pride.

Joelinda is a second year M.Div. candidate. She currently serves as the Student Ministries Director at Grace Chapel’s Watertown campus. She is a lover of all things beautiful including theater, fall days in New England, chick flicks and the mountains. She counts bargain-hunting her sport and enjoys singing loudly while driving. Above all, Joelinda’s passion is to build relationships that help others understand the transformative power of the gospel.

 

Tags: Author: Joelinda Coichy , spiritually vital , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Brokenness & Leadership: Not “In Spite,” But “Because” | Seminary Student Blogger

October 15, 2013

Joelinda Coichy

Lately, I have been recognizing the profound link between brokenness and leadership and it has been blowing me up—in a completely good, leadership-style-transforming way. But before this idea was good-blowing-me-up, something else was wrecking me—in a completely heart-breaking and shake-your-fists-at-God way.

God repeatedly, intentionally, aggressively closed some doors in my life that I REALLY wanted open. And I was wrecked. I spent the better part of a couple weeks crying to God from the deep disappointment and despair lodged in my heart.

Ever noticed how even when you hurt, life marches on? Well, in addition to being a full-time seminarian, I'm a Student Ministries Director at a brand new church campus plant, and there was no time to stop and wallow in my hurt. So I bumbled and cried as I worked.

In the midst of all this, my boss asked me to pray before a team meeting. That day, the Holy Spirit was powerfully present through my prayer in a way that surprised and moved me, and then I realized that He was there not in spite of my brokenness but because of it. And that was when this idea sprouted in my heart: personal brokenness is essential for effective leadership.

I am not talking about brokenness for X,Y,Z injustice in the world (though having one of these is important). Neither am I talking about brokenness in the form of a deep unconfessed, festering sin or a long-standing addiction (though one of these things can be the root cause of the brokenness I am talking about).

When I say “personal brokenness,” I mean a vibrant and sincere awareness of the heart-wounds nearest and dearest to us that no matter how hard we stuff, ignore and deny, just reappear in the form of fresh lacerations for which there is no balm except the breath of God.

I am learning that for effective (read: compassionate, sincere, powerful) leadership, there has to be something personal that you are on your face in prayer and pleading with God about. You may not feel the hurt of that brokenness forever—but that is certainly where effective ministry must start.

Because when you are on your face before God, not only praying but also crying because it hurts and you don't have enough, grace prevails in your life. And when you are on your face limp from hurting before God, and yet there are people entrusted to your care, the Holy Spirit moves…in spite of your brokenness!

And when the Spirit moves, all (you included) meet God, you are surprised, and then you remember and relive the vital truth you forgot in the midst of all your reading, preparing and duck-aligning: the heart of the gospel is hope because of a broken (and resurrected) Body.

So, don't run from that persistent hurt—it is likely the very location of God's greatest work in and through you!

Joelinda is a second year M.Div. candidate. She currently serves as the Student Ministries Director at Grace Chapel’s Watertown campus. She is a lover of all things beautiful including theater, fall days in New England, chick flicks and the mountains. She counts bargain-hunting her sport and enjoys singing loudly while driving. Above all, Joelinda’s passion is to build relationships that help others understand the transformative power of the gospel.

Tags: Author: Joelinda Coichy , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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So true - thank you Joelinda. I recently read Sally Lloyd-Jones' children's Bible story about Naaman. In it she says "Naaman wanted to be healed and all he needed was nothing - the one thing he didn't have." Why is it so hard for us to accept our brokenness? Thank you for this reminder that it is the heart of the Gospel and the place where we meet, and are empowered by, Him!
Deedee Morton 11:11AM 10/25/13

Introducing Joelinda Coichy: Seminary Student Blogger

September 24, 2013

Introducing Joelinda Coichy, another one of our new student bloggers! Welcome to Gordon-Conwell Voices, Joelinda!

Name: Joelinda Coichy
My dad’s name is Joel and my mom is Belinda, and that is where my name comes from. I am thankful because that blending of names could have ended much worse for me. ;)

Degree: Master of Divinity

Hometown: Medford, MA, and Savannah, GA
I was raised in Massachusetts and by most standards I am definitely a Yankee, but there is a part of me that really, really wishes I was actually from and still lived in the South—that part of me rears itself each time I visit my mom, who now lives in beautiful, slow-paced Savannah and when I am cleaning snow off of my car in the dead of winter…

Where were you before seminary? Atlanta. I worked for a social media marketing technology company where I got paid to be on Facebook all day—literally. When I was not working, I was a small group leader for an awesome group of middle school girls at Passion City Church and served as an InterVarsity volunteer at Emory College.

Favorite hobbies? Singing loudly while driving, costume design, bargain hunting, community-building, jewelry-making and admiring beauty in nature.

Favorite food? My mom’s Haitian codfish…yum. French bread and French fries!

Favorite hero of the Christian faith? My mother. An imperfect but courageous follower of Christ who has reflected the beauty of the Father in the midst of the good, bad and ugly of life through an undying, whole-hearted and fervent trust in Jesus.

Favorite book? One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Interesting fact about yourself? I am first generation Haitian-American, so I speak French and Haitian-Creole in addition to English; I also studied Spanish in college….but Biblical Greek still kicked my butt!

Issues you are passionate about? Helping youth discover the life transforming freedom that is theirs in Christ and the joy of living out their God-given purpose—not as adults but NOW!

Tags: Author: Joelinda Coichy , student blogger

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