Much is made in confessional Lutheranism of the Theology of the Cross. This is good. However, even among those who have the best intentions, sinful natures will subtly steer some to vain glory disguised as cross.
True Theology of the Cross is found in weakness, if able to be pointed out and named specifically at all. When we are weak, then we are strong. The elderly man whose family tries to spare him heartache by withholding a diagnosis of dementia from him, who experiences the fear of confusion and darkness where there once was clarity; the woman who is so weak from illness that she can do no more than wait patiently for release in death; the pastor who quietly fights through exhaustion to minister to those who have no earthly support and no earthly hope; this is the Theology of the Cross. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
The Cross you bear is not of your own making. Sometimes the crosses you can identify are not true crosses. The pastor who is too lazy to tend to his responsibilities and then, in his opinion, receives mistreatment at the hands of his flock, has made his own cross. The church-hoppers who claim to just want a church where their kids are welcome, but have had screaming matches over relatively unimportant issues like the kids’ Christmas service with almost every pastor in a 50-mile radius, have made their own cross.
The same goes for the complaining and playing for sympathy that goes on among those who work in the Church. Many times (though definitely not all) a bad situation is at least partly of your own making. It seems some at Church gatherings wish to be Chief Martyr: the most persecuted person in the room. Keep in mind, there is always someone who has been treated worse and has deserved it less than whatever happened to you. Your sufferings are not that important. They are transitory. They do not compare to the glory that will be revealed.
Young pastors, take a cue from your older members: suffer in silence. If your suffering is of your own making, seek forgiveness and see to your duties faithfully. You probably won’t be rewarded. You’ll get no exhilarating rush like you do when successfully attacking or arguing in the relative safety and anonymity of cyberspace. Yet, it is while faithfully carrying out your vocation that you will find the true Cross. It will hurt. It is not pleasant. Through it you will be blessed.