Saturday, November 27, 2010

Joys and Pains of the Ministry Life: Part II

Welcome back to my blog series on life in the ministry. I hope these writings encourage you as you walk through the calling that God has placed on your life. If you're like me, you have days that you thank God you've been called. Other days the calling seems so natural and fitting, it's not even a conscious thing. It just is. Then there are days when you scratch your head and ask yourself, as I have from time to time, "How in the world did I get here?" Trust me, you're not alone.

And if, at the moment, you are not in ministry or married to someone in ministry, please continue to read on. We need your encouragement, grace and prayers!

 Challenge #2: Life in the Fishbowl

I'm sure all of you have heard of the "fishbowl life" in ministry. Now this may not be a challenge for some of you, but I personally never aspired to a life on Broadway! An introvert, I  am most comfortable behind the scenes, supporting those around me. I am the encourager, the sensitive girlfriend, the "actress in a supporting role", if you will. Ten years ago, however, ministry life threw this introvert into the forefront, the spotlight, the front-lines. And for years I think I was about as shocked as the fish in the fishbowl above.

Today I have settled into my role, but I sometimes still find myself overwhelmed with the fishbowl life. Just this past Sunday my family slept in just a tab bit too late. When it was time to leave, I noticed I had just enough time to get to church a few minutes early. As I went to grab my keys from where I always keep them, my heart sunk with the realization that they weren't there. I searched for several minutes to no avail. I couldn't find them anywhere: not in the bathroom, not under the coffee table, not between the couch cushions. Finally my oldest son Kalin yelled out "Mom, the keys are already in the van!" Unbeknown to me, my son Christian had grabbed the keys to open the van doors, and left them right in the driver's seat.

Needless to say, we were late for church. I was faced with a dilemma: do I sit all the way in the front row next to my husband as usual or do I slip quietly in the back? Well, at a small church plant, there's no such thing as slipping quietly in the back, so to the front I and the four kiddos marched. I felt embarrassed about my lateness in a way that I'd never felt before my husband became a pastor. After all, I wondered, does my lateness communicate a lack of support for the ministry, for my husband? Thank the Lord, by the second worship song He had aligned my heart back with His. I remembered that church was all about Him anyway: not my fellow church members, not my husband, and definitely not me!

A few months ago a lady at church complimented a pantsuit I'd worn the Sunday before. She commented on the slim cut of the suit and told me she'd said to herself, "Oh, she's not a regular pastor's wife." Without any more clarification from her, I wasn't sure if that was a compliment or not. I made the choice to take it as one. But then I asked myself, "What's a 'regular' pastor's wife?" I've met hundreds of pastor's wives in my lifetime, and they've probably been more different from one other than alike. We believers have got to let go of preconceived notions of our brothers and sisters in leadership. The preacher, the women's ministry leader, and the choir director are all human beings -- fallen, yet redeemed. We need the grace to make mistakes and reveal ourselves as the imperfect, and sometimes downright pitiful, human beings that we are.

God's Grace for this Challenge:
In Galatians 1:10 the Apostle Paul said, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." No matter who we are or what our station in life, God wants us to live our lives to please Him. We are to love and support one another as we live in community together, but we are not required to please each other. After all, we can never please everyone all the time. The funny thing is, the more I try to please other people, the more displeasure I sense from them. Perhaps that's God's way of realigning us with His will for us.

Ladies (and gentlemen, if you're reading too), let's vow to let ourselves and each other off the hook. Until we reach heaven, we will constantly fall short of our own and others' expectations. As we view our sisters and brothers in ministry, let's turn off the spotlight and let's "live and let live." We should neither place our ministry leaders on pedestals, nor throw them under the bus! We must strive for a balance of honoring and respecting our leaders, while allowing them to walk in humanity. We are all desperate for God's -- and one another's -- grace and acceptance.

Sisters, let's take our pastor's wives, ministry leaders and missionaries out of the infamous fishbowl and wrap them in our prayers, love and support.

Walking With You...


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