I was standing at the door after church, talking with folks, when a woman who’d been visiting our church approached and blurted, “Can we be friends?” I knew immediately what she meant: she wanted to connect with other women and with the church, because she was in a time of transition and needed a lifeline of relational security. The surest thing, it seemed, was the smiling pastor’s wife who’d greeted her at the door each week.
I swallowed hard, trying to think of a response to a difficult and uncomfortable question from someone I didn’t know. In the past, I would have immediately answered, “Yes, of course!,” taken down her number, and then invited her to coffee, not so much because I was a bleeding heart but because I felt guilty if I didn’t do it. After all, I told myself, wasn’t that what a good pastor’s wife would do?
I know now that unless it’s prompted by the Holy Spirit, it’s not what a good pastor’s wife would do. Spending time with people to avoid feeling pressure, guilt, or the discomfort of knowing we’ve disappointed someone is not Spirit-led ministry, and it’s certainly not the gateway toward friendship, for either party.
In my last post, I discussed how important it is for us, as pastor’s wives, to have a hearty and healthy perspective on friendship. It’s important because it helps us navigate our many relationships, but it’s also important because we have the opportunity to model for other women how to do the same. We not only need a healthy perspective regarding friendship for ourselves; we have the opportunity to teach others a healthy perspective on friendship.
Talk about friendship and community
When women come to me for counsel, they usually want to talk about issues related to community or friendship. Some are feeling lonely or left out, some are in transition, some need help forming words as they consider approaching a friend who is in sin and some have been hurt by other women.
Pastor’s wives, we are often a type of security blanket for other women in church or group settings, especially if we’re open and friendly. I think this is mostly a good thing, because it offers us an opportunity to shepherd and speak into the lives of women around us. We can say hard things or challenge perspectives because we often have worked to build the relational capital.
In conversations with other women, as I have opportunity, I often speak about the “big picture” in our church, which I can uniquely see from my vantage point as the pastor’s wife. I tell the older women that the younger women desperately want to know them, even though the younger women may not know exactly what to ask or how to approach them. I tell the younger women, much to their surprise, that the older women can relate to their fears and insecurities. I challenge perspectives regarding age, marital status, race and educational choices—all the things that keep women apart because they assume they’ll have no commonalities. I challenge assumptions, trying to teach giving others the benefit of the doubt.
Being a type of security blanket for others, however, can be a bad thing if we think of ourselves as the answer to every problem. If someone is not connecting within the church or has been hurt, it’s easy to slip into “fix it” mode and feel responsible for that person’s well-being. We may began to feel we have to include everyone in everything we do or that we need to constantly be the “giver” and never the “receiver.”
Again, we have opportunities here. The opportunity comes through refusing to be the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present Christ, because we aren’t and only hurt ourselves and others when we try to be. In other words, much of our opportunity for teaching others comes through disappointing people, and that opportunity is for the person to find their hope and comfort first and foremost in the Lord.
In conversations with women, we can voice these truths in gentle and loving ways. I often have to help people see that hurt in relationships is inevitable, no church is perfect and each person can make choices and take responsibility for pursuing deep community. They need to know that, in fact, friendships and connection within the church takes persistent intentionality over time.
I’m not advocating a cold-hearted approach to women in our churches. Not at all. I am, however, advocating for pastor’s wives to not try to be everyone’s all-in-all. The way we avoid being the all-in-all is to personally connect with those the Holy Spirit is nudging us toward for discipleship and friendship and then, for all others, use our influence to connect other women with one another.
The possibilities for connection are ongoing and endless, and by intentionally connecting others, we move from being the overwhelmed hub of a wheel to being a part of the living, growing body of Christ.
With the woman at the door requesting my friendship, I tried to remember my own advice. I smiled and said, “I’d love to invite you to the small group that meets in our home.” I wrote down the details on the bulletin and handed it to her, and although later I felt a twinge of guilt at not running to rescue her, I realized that instead of accepting responsibility for fixing her situation, I’d put the responsibility for her community where it belonged: with her. I’d opened the door. Then I prayed she’d walk through it.
1. How would you answer the question, "Can we be friends?" if it was asked of you at the next Sunday church service?
2. What is your take on Christine's comment, "We have the opportunity to teach others a healthy perspective on friendship?" Have you ever thought about friendship and the pastor's wife in that way?
3. What is your perspective on friendship and the pastor's wife?
Christine is wife to Kyle Hoover, mom to three energetic boys, and the author of The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart and From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel. In 2008, their family planted a church in Charlottesville, VA. She enjoys encouraging ministry wives and helping all women apply the gift of God’s grace to their daily lives. Christine offers fresh doses of biblical truth and grace on her blog, GraceCoversMe.com.
More from this author
“Are you saying no because of your weight?”
Those words caught me off guard and stung. I’m always amazed at the freedom some feel to say what they do.
Rather than respond with a full-frontal attack, I used gentle words so I could hide the hurt. “No, I just don’t want ice cream right now. Thanks, though.”
In that moment—at a dinner with old friends that should have been filled with joy and celebration—I found myself in a very tangling situation. I put on a brave face and pushed through. The last thing I wanted to do was ruin the evening for everyone else. But honestly, I’m so tired of just pushing through. Even more, I’m frustrated that my self-worth is still so easily tangled.
Isn’t there a point in our lives when insecurity shouldn’t knot us up anymore?
The shaming voice inside tells me I should be able to overcome it. And so often I agree:
The struggle to see the truth of our worth isn’t new. Chances are you’re intimately aware of the places you don’t feel like you “measure up.” And dare I say it’s a battle we’ll most likely carry to the grave because part of the human condition is wondering if we’re good enough.
Those insecurities cause us to take a sobering look at our life to see if we’ve been a success. We want to know we made a difference—our lives, our words, our actions—during our time here. We need to know we matter.
So we wonder… Am I raising my kids the right way? Have I been the kind of wife my husband needed? Am I doing enough to create healthy community and love on others well? Am I a good friend? Have I volunteered enough hours? Am I nurturing my relationship with Jesus enough? Do I handle our finances like I should? Am I as encouraging and affirming with my words as she is? Do my opinions and ideas matter?
We want to know we’ve contributed to the world in significant ways. Our hope is to know we’re beautiful in our own way, and others see it too. And we need to know that no matter what, we are valuable.
So when a careless comment tightens the tangle of worthlessness, it hurts so deep.
In my naivety, I thought I’d eventually grow out of insecurities. I assumed being an adult meant the craving for worldly acceptance and approval would stop. But for many of us, we are still getting tangled by the same ole people and the same stupid situations.
But here is what I’ve learned. Victory doesn’t mean we’ll never struggle with insecurity again. Victory means that when we feel the knot begin to tighten, we are quicker to see it and faster to take our tangle to God.
And even more, God never measures our value by the way we look, what we’ve accomplished, the money we have made, the health of our body, or any other worldly measuring stick. God values us simply because we’re His.
“You are the ones who make yourselves look right in other people’s sight, but God knows your hearts. For the things that are considered of great value by people are worth nothing in God’s sight.” (Luke 16:15 GNT)
What a beautiful reminder that God’s scales are not the same as the world's. And this scripture offers a powerful warning not to allow the world’s definition of success and beauty be the judge of our value and worth.
So how can we learn to see ourselves through the eyes of God?
Because when we do—when we truly untangle—words won’t hold the same power over us anymore. And when someone questions why we’re skipping dessert (or we get triggered in some other way), we’ll remember that God sees the beauty and complexity of our heart… and delights in His creation!
This blog post was written by Carey Scott for Propel Women in June, 2017. She is an author, speaker, and life coach, honest about her walk with the Lord…stumbles, fumbles and all. She is the author of Untangled, a book where she bravely shares her story of abuse, the insecurities birthed from it, and offers practical advice on how to live in freedom. Carey lives in Northern Colorado with her family. Learn more at CareyScott.org. You can also connect with her on Facebook,Twitter or Pinterest.
No matter how great of a minister, husband, leader or father he is, he’s not immune to adversity.
Church dilemmas erupt, leaving his leadership landscape shaken. Sin happens, either committed by him or against him. A friend that was life-giving awkwardly leaves the church. Exhaustion eventually affects his emotional stamina. The list continues.
Whether his struggle is private or public, as his wife you feel a version of his pain and walk in the aftershocks of his struggle.
How do we walk wisely with our husband in the landscape of his suffering?
Resist reacting with emotional solutions that bring temporary relief.
When he hurts, you hurt. Any path to relief, even if temporary, seems right in the moment. Job’s wife could only think of one thing to relieve her husband from his suffering – quit! “Curse God and die.” Let’s not rush to be too harsh on her. I’ve entertained saying, “quit” to my husband, too. Everything they had built together was gone! She had been the wife to the “greatest man of all the people of the east” (Job 1:3). They both lost children, financial security and reputation in the community. And now she’s watching her suffering husband and probably thinking, “ENOUGH!” Yet, temporary relief doesn’t change reality.
Cling to the reality that God is sovereign in our suffering.
Pain in the present distorts our ability to comprehend anything beyond our present circumstances. Job and his wife didn’t have a clue that a conversation had occurred between God and Satan. While their circumstances were incredibly painful, there was another reality they weren’t privy to. And no amount of logic attempting to answer the question, “Why is this happening?” would have unveiled the real reason. God’s sovereignty shadows our suffering.
Recognize his vulnerability and the value of your strength.
In suffering our husband is more vulnerable than he may admit. He may flirt with quitting or react by isolating. Chuck Swindoll confessed, “Men are weakened when times of affliction hit…In our weakened condition we lose our objectivity, sometimes our stability. We become vulnerable and most men don’t know how to handle themselves in a vulnerable state of mind. We become – hard as it is to admit this – afraid. So in light of all this, hear me – we need your clear perspective, wisdom, and spiritual strength. We need your words of confidence and encouragement. We even find it hard to say, ‘I need you right now.’”
Be present, but don’t always talk.
A loving presence that is courageously resolute and unconditionally available speaks loudly. Sometimes, there are just no words that need to be said. Give him a safe place and space to process. At times he needs be alone. Other times, he needs you near without words. If he speaks, listen. A safe space is comfort to a hurting soul. Your presence in pain creates a deep, unspoken intimacy.
In the shadow of our leader-husband, we often default to his initiation in spiritual intimacy. However, we are in partnership on this journey. When my husband was in his own pit of despair I asked him, “What do you need from me?” His first answer was, “I need you to initiate praying because I just have no words.” Don’t ask if he wants to pray, just start praying out loud with him. Initiate ushering both of your hearts before the throne of God.
Discipline yourself to build-up strength reserve, now.
Adversity will come. You can’t fake strength. Those who possess it have built it from a disciplined conditioning of the heart. Build up strength and you will walk wisely beside him in his pain.
Here's a blog from Breeze Church Management Systems. Their slogan is "We're sharing everything we're learning as we help churches simplify." This is a topic we don't always hear about, but is one of vast importance in our churches. How important are your volunteers to you?
Recently, my team embarked on a project. We asked ourselves:
“What’s the one thing?”
In other words, what’s the one thing that if we focused on it, it could impact everything else in our ministry in a positive way? We wanted to focus. Our desire was greater effectiveness in our ministry.
After some research and a series of team debates, we landed on volunteers. In our ministry, our success rises and falls on the effectiveness and longevity of our volunteers. My suspicion is that your ministry is the same. Whether you lead a children’s ministry, student ministry, hospitality ministry or care ministry, the number and quality of your volunteers is a determining factor in your success. So, here’s a question: How do you inspire volunteers towards greater effectiveness?
This is a question that we’ve been wrestling with and although we’re not completely where we want to be, I think we’re headed in the right direction. Here are a few ideas.
Stories that Need to be Told
Over time we’ve come to recognize that nothing inspires like a good story. We’re built to resonate with a good story. This is why we love a good movie or book so much. Because of this we include a segment in each of our staff meetings called, “Stories that need to be told.” During this time, we share stories of impact in our ministry. These stories remind of why we do what we do and they energize us toward our goals. In short, a good story inspires.
Recently, we decided to expand this tradition by also starting each of our volunteer meetings with “Stories that need to be told.” The truth is nothing inspires volunteers like a good story — a good story that reminds them of three things:
If you want to inspire volunteers, you, as a leader have to become a story collector. Everywhere you go in your ministry and everyone you talk you, your job is to collect stories and then retell them in ways that inspire the team.
Most volunteers battle with a nagging question: “Am I doing a good job?” Everyone hates to fail. It’s part of human nature. We want to win. We want to succeed.
The trouble with volunteering is often that the win isn’t clear. In my experience, when the win isn’t clear, human nature often leads us to believe we are failing. Volunteers who believe they are failing won’t last long.
The remedy for this is clear wins. When your volunteers know exactly what it looks like to win, they are very likely to hit the mark.
So, in your ministry, what’s the win? Can you clearly and succinctly state the win for each volunteer role? If not, it’s time to gather your team and create one sentence job descriptions for each volunteer role. The clarity will inspire your volunteers.
Something I’ve learned in ministry that is incredibly frustrating and yet liberating is that people only want to know what they need to know only when they need to know it. It’s the principle of “right now.” What I mean by “right now” is “what is immediately next?” It’s perceived as “right now.”
In other words, your volunteers aren’t going to catch most of the information that you share concerning what they need to know next month or next semester but they will listen attentively to what they need to know next week, or even better, what they need to know today.
For years, I bucked this phenomenon saying things like “people need to plan!” and “people need to care about what is coming!”… and finally, “people are just the worst!”.
And then I found myself ignoring most of the communications from my kids’ teachers that didn’t pertain to right now. Sigh. I am those people.
Here’s what I’ve learned: The way to maximize your communication impact and keep your sanity is to focus on what matters right now. Why? Because that is when people are actually listening and you are serving them well by helping them prepare for and understand what is coming up next.
If you want to inspire your volunteers, adjust your communication and training plan to focus on what is immediately next. Focus on the right now.
Two recent conversations led me to a breakthrough in understanding encouragement. The first conversation was between myself and a co-worker. My co-worker told me that when people write him a letter of encouragement it’s basically a waste of time. He doesn’t even really read them. I was like: “Wow. You’re a horrible person!”
That was conversation number one. Conversation number two involved my entire team as one of our team leaders led us through a conversation about the book “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace”.
You probably know Gary Chapman from “The Five Love Languages”. The book follows the same ideas but in the work-place. In the course of our team conversation, we all discovered that everyone on our team has one or two languages of appreciation that really speak volumes and one that really speaks nothing.
What I learned from this exercise is that while I may believe I’m appreciating the heck out of one of my teammates, they may not be receiving it at all. Hence, my teammate who could care less about an encouraging note.
One of the best ways to inspire your volunteers is to appreciate them really well. It may be worth your while to explore this book and learn more about speaking the appreciation languages of your volunteers.
The last strategy for inspiring volunteers is the easiest and quite possibly the most effective. Food. That’s right. People love food and when you show up for a meeting and there are great snacks, you know it changes your mindset completely!
If morale is low among your volunteers, you probably have a lot of work to do to get moving in the right direction but quality snacks can provide a quick boost.
Let’s wrap this up. For us, everything rises and falls on the effectiveness of our volunteers. I’m guessing, you are much the same. So, how do we inspire our volunteers towards greatness? Tell stories, provide clarity around the wins, focus on the right now, target encouragement and for crying out loud feed them!
I would encourage you not to become overwhelmed with this list but rather to focus on whatever one thing you believe would create the most immediate impact. Let’s inspire our volunteers!
This post was written by Aaron Buer on June 14, 2017 for www.breezechms.com.
Many times throughout life, we are called to be still. This call is prevalent throughout the Bible. A very well-known verse, Psalm 46:10, says, “Be still and know that I am God.” I have found this instruction to be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding of the biblical calls; I usually prefer issues to be solved immediately. I find it frustrating and painful to be still, as I would rather not suffer so long. Suffering is overwhelming; prolonged grief, is, at times, almost unbearable. But often, God calls us to inaction during the dark periods. Being still does not imply we stop our daily routine, rather we give our burdens to the Lord, allowing Him to navigate.
During a very stressful time in my life, the Lord impressed a message on my heart. He gave me an image of the two of us on a plane together. Even if you know me, you may not be aware that I did not like to fly. However, my job insists that I fly for 17-36 hours at a time—and often! During this time in my life, I felt so wasted by the stress and filled with such anxiety, the thought of allowing someone else to steer a plane that I must sit on was beyond overwhelming to me.
I became very acquainted with the people next to me on a flight. I had a coping system in place. I would apologize before take-off—letting the person next to me know that certainly during the flight, he or she would be holding my hand (and it may hurt!). I had chest pains; I could not breathe; I could not speak. The terror of that time was overwhelming—indeed, an example of my larger world.
When I received this message from God, I had to laugh—of course He chose an airplane! He has a sense of humor! God revealed this mental image of an airplane to me as a safe place where we could be near one another. In my mind, I needed to find that safe place—to allow my thoughts to rest, and to grieve and heal from the pain. So, God chose a plane.
In my mind, when I crawled into the plane, I was OK, but very weak. All the seats were open; I could choose to sit wherever I wanted. I found myself drawn to a well-worn co-pilot’s seat. I knew the Lord was in the Pilot’s chair. As we flew, God navigated all of the mine fields that appeared in the plane’s path. I sat still, very still, not even able to look over at the Pilot. I knew He was there, that was enough. I was not strong—I was too weak, too worn down by life, and thankful someone was steering. All around the plane, a great battle was underway. Arrows were trying to pierce through the aircraft. We could not see who was fighting off the arrows. God kept flying. I kept sitting—still.
As I sat in my seat, I suffered great pain—yet, God still flew. He was carrying me. He was fighting for me. After what seemed like a long while, I could finally turn my head—and look at my Pilot. That is all I could muster. I continued to be still. He continued to navigate . . . for the navigation we needed was beyond anything I could handle or control. After all, I didn’t know how to fly. I continued to be still. I gave up all control.
The plane—a place that once terrified me became a place for the biggest hand-over I had ever given the Lord. I was at my end, and He took it all for me.
I gave Him myself, my kids, family, others, finances, future, pain, hopes, dreams—and in return, He gave me peace—and the ability to continue to be still. He continues to navigate my joy and pain and carries my burdens as if they are a piece of luggage I can check under the plane. My burdens still exist, but they no longer weigh heavy in my arms. Mind you, I usually pack my luggage to the last ounce!
The verse God gave me through this time:
"I will fight for you; you need only be still." Exodus 14:14, NIV
Eventually, after much healing—we began to have conversations. I was too weak before, when I could only speak in what felt more like groans. I knew He could understand these. Now, after years of healing, we have plenty of chats. You see, we are flying this life together. I make plenty of suggestions. He listens—and even allows me to fly when I want to. I have found it much better to give Him the controls! After all, I want to serve Him.
Through stillness, the Lord works. Through stillness, the Lord heals. Through obedient stillness, the Lord will fight for you. It is as if God says to us, “Sit in that cockpit seat and let Me fly this plane. You can trust me, as I can navigate better than you can. You have an army of angels fighting on your behalf—fending off arrows and flames . . . though you have been—and still are in pain, I am in control.”
Certainly, at times we are called to action—but, sometimes when we hear these calls, they are refined in stillness before the Lord.
Article can be viewed at Her Green Room.
Amy grew up in Lynden, Washington. She attended Calvin College receiving a BA in Biblical Studies and Theology. After finishing college in 1997, she moved to Jerusalem, Israel, to attend Jerusalem University College. While there she pursued her MA at Jerusalem University College. Her area of study was in New Testament Backgrounds/Jewish History of the Second Temple Period. Amy lived in Israel for a total of 6 years, and two of their three children were born while living in Israel. After living in Israel, she moved with her family to Belgium where she taught classes at Continental Theological Seminary. After departing Continental, she moved to Springfield, Missouri, where she now works full time for the Center for Holy Lands Studies as the Director.
holistic beings with a spirit, body and soul. But how many of us truly connect the dots on a daily basis and realize the direct impact our emotions have on our physical health? When we aren’t feeling well, often our instinct is to relate the problem to a physical illness, what we’ve been eating and drinking, or whether we’ve been exercising and getting enough rest. But sometimes the deeper part of the problem—the root of it all—stems from negative emotions that we permit into our life.
So while you’re reading this article, I’m going to ask you to be honest with yourself about the kinds of thoughts and feelings you permit into your life. God wants you to feel strong and healthy. He also wants you around for the long haul. And for many of us, taking better care of ourselves emotionally needs to be just as important as how we care for our physical needs.
Seeing the Symptoms But Not the Problem
Years ago I became really sick. I was dealing with shortness of breath and just felt horrible. I couldn’t relax. Every muscle in my body felt like it was tied in knots, so I went through various rounds of medical tests. Eventually, the doctors found a tumor on one of my adrenal glands and I thought, Aha! That’s it! But then they said, “Actually, Joyce, this has probably been there all your life, and it’s not really doing you any harm.”
Even though it was good news, I was disappointed to find out there wasn’t anything physically wrong with me that I could blame for how badly I felt. It all came down to one thing: I was a workaholic, living as if I had no limitations.
We like to think we can handle everything. And sure, we can quote Philippians 4:13 all we want: We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. But God won’t strengthen us to do something that’s not His will for us to do.
When I learned how my emotions were affecting my overall health, I was forced to take an honest look at the problem. I knew if I didn’t learn to control my emotions, they’d continue to control me. And I couldn’t go on living that way.
Where to Start With Managing Your Emotions
The Bible is filled with Scriptures that warn us to guard our hearts against emotions such as fear, worry, anxiety, anger, unforgiveness, jealousy, grief and guilt. Yet most of us could name at least one or two that we’re struggling with right now. Maybe you’ve even been holding on to one of these for a long time. Well, now is the time to do something about it!
In John 8:31-32, Jesus says: “ If you abide in My word ... you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free” (AMP).
It’s easy to face the truth for or about someone else. For example, it’s easy for me to spot my husband Dave’s problems or my children’s problems. It’s more difficult for me to see my own problems, which means I have to seek the truth about me. And with the help of the Holy Spirit, each of us can face the truth, obey God’s Word and make positive changes for our own emotional well-being.
Some people pay big money for professional help but never find the answers they want to hear. I’m convinced this is because many of these people don’t really want to be helped; instead, they want someone to excuse them from the problem: “It’s not you. It’s other people in your life who are causing you problems and making you upset.”
I’m not saying that people don’t do things to us they shouldn’t do. People hurt us and it’s not right. But the bottom line is this: You cannot control what everybody else does, but you can control your reaction to it. It’s time to stop letting someone else’s bad behavior steal your joy.
It’s Hard to Admit That It’s Us!
I remember when my kids were young. I could spend the whole day at home, listening to music and singing praise and worship songs. But as soon as my kids came home from school, somebody would drop their books and somebody else would want something to eat, and then maybe they’d get in the refrigerator and spill something—and I became a totally different person.
I will never forget the time I was under the dining room table cleaning up spilled milk when the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “You know, Joyce, no matter how big of a fit you have, this milk is not going to run back up the table legs and into the glass, so you might as well learn how to go with the flow.”
At that moment I realized how my emotions and behavior were playing right into the devil’s hands.I decided it would stop right there. Since then, I’ve spent years studying the topic of emotions in depth, and I can share with you some good, sound advice to help you overcome negative emotions. Let’s take a look at three of the biggest: anger, guilt and grief.
Anger: Is It Ever OK to Be Angry?
When people mistreat you, it’s not wrong for you to feel anger. What’s wrong is to not manage the anger. In fact, the Bible tells us to do this quickly. Ephesians 4:26 says, “When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down.”
The longer you hold on to anger, the more it eats away at you.You can try to pretend everything is OK for a while, but if you’re really not letting go, anger will slowly destroy you.
When you’re upset with someone else, I encourage you to ask God to show you how much mercy He gives you every day. At times, you’ll need to do that over and over again, because even when you’ve prayed all the right prayers and said all the right things, you can still feel as if there’s something missing: What’s wrong with me? I’m trying to forgive and I can’t!
We need to understand that forgiveness is not a feeling, it’s a decision.
When you make the decision to forgive, pray for your enemies and treat them with kindness because that’s what God’s Word tells us to do. Eventually, God will cause your feelings to catch up with your decision to forgive.
Guilt: Getting Back Up After It Gets You Down
Isaiah 53:4-6 says that Jesus not only bore our sins, He also washed away our guilt. It’s vital for us to understand this, because over time unresolved guilt will affect our mental health.
Not long ago I went to a mental institution in St. Louis to minister to the patients. I saw a woman there whom I’ll never forget. She was shuffling along down the hall with a big cross around her neck, and she kept muttering under her breath, “It’s all my fault. It’s all my fault.”
Jesus washed away our guilt because we were not created to carry that kind of burden. Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
If you’re truly sorry in your heart, there is no reason for you to shuffle your way through life feeling guilty or ashamed. Jesus made a way for you to live free from condemnation. So if you are struggling in this area and frequently battle feelings of guilt, I encourage you to let this Scripture sink in until you receive true revelation about who you are in Christ.
Grief: What Keeps You From Getting on With Life
Grief is another powerful emotion that God wants us to learn to release. To be clear, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with grieving something or someone. The problem becomes when we cling to this emotion and allow it to control us and prevent us from moving into what God has planned for us. The key to victory is understanding the difference between a normal, balanced grieving process and a spirit of grief that will try to attach itself to us. One helps us get better with the passing of time; the other causes us to sink deeper and deeper into the pit of despair.
In Deuteronomy 34, when Moses died, the people were allowed to mourn his death for 30 days. Then the instruction came for them to move on. God does give us a period of time to work through our mourning, but if something or someone is gone and you can’t get them back, then you have to go on with your life. We need to give God a chance to mend our hearts.
Revelation 21:4 says, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither shall there be anguish (sorrow and mourning) nor grief nor pain any more, for the old conditions and the former order of things have passed away.” This Scripture may be referring to our time in heaven, but I believe it also applies to today—because as we walk in the Spirit, we can experience heaven here on earth. That includes allowing the Holy Spirit to comfort us in our time of grief, and then heal us so we can move on.
Your Emotions and Your Health
One of the most frequently quoted verses in the Bible instructs us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your way acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6, NKJV). What many people overlook, however, are the following verses connected to this passages: “Be not wise in your own eyes; reverently fear and worship the Lord and turn [entirely] away from evil. It shall be health to your nerves and sinews, and marrow and moistening to your bones” (7-8, AMP, emphasis mine).
God connects our physical health to how we trust, acknowledge, revere and worship Him. Think about it: Each of those things is intrinsically tied to our emotional well-being, and by deciding to do each of them—regardless of if we feel like it—we supply God-given health to our physical bodies.
The reverse is true, then: When we allow emotions such as anger, guilt and grief to dominate our lives, our physical bodies are affected. With God’s help, however, you can learn to manage these and every other negative emotion that comes your way. This will take a measure of self-control on your part to succeed, because I can assure you there will always be things that try your emotions. But in Christ Jesus, you have the power to change your response.
You can rise above your emotions. After all, you are not what you feel.
And remember that in good times and in bad, it is God’s will for you to be emotionally healthy and constantly at peace.
our failures and mistakes. Some of the most impactful conversations in my life have come when someone I respect says, “Watch out for that pothole!” Here’s what I want to share in this post. I want to share two of the potholes that have tripped me up. My hope is that my mistakes might keep you from falling into the same potholes. So, here we go: Two of my biggest mistakes in ministry.
1. Making It About Me
When I entered into student ministry, I discovered a level of personal meaning and fulfillment that I’d never experienced in my life. I felt like I was doing what God created me to do. I loved it. Maybe you’ve been there.
Because of this, I went all in. I did everything. I was the teacher, I was the worship leader, I was the counselor, and I was the trainer. I took on all the roles. I spent five years in my first church having the time of my life. The ministry was effective. The ministry grew and I grew. There was just one problem. When I made the decision to leave, the ministry struggled. Why? Because I put myself I the center. I made it all about me — my skills, my presence, my personality. It was all about me.
In the years since that mistake I’ve reflected on the magnitude of my failure. My choosing to focus on myself instead of empowering others severely limited the effectiveness of the ministry. I robbed others of the privilege of exercising their gifts and I set the ministry up for a season of struggle when I left. I’d give just about anything to go back and redo those five years.
If I could offer a challenge to those of you who lead: Empower others! The lesson I missed was that the scope of your impact is exponentially increased when you empower others to lead.
Another challenge that a mentor if mine consistently talks about is this:
“What happens to the ministry when you get hit by a...truck?”
“Are you empowering and training others so that when the day (planned or unplanned) comes, the ministry will be in a position to keep moving?”
Let’s get practical:
Don’t make it all about you.
2. Burying My Frustrations
About nine years ago I discovered that I had developed a bitter, caustic and toxic attitude. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t life-giving. In fact, it was destructive. I found myself thinking, writing and saying things that shocked me.
“Where did that come from?!?”
Have you ever been there? If you’ve been in ministry for any length of time, I bet you have.
Here’s what I’ve learned about bitterness. It doesn’t flood into our hearts like a tsunami. It doesn’t rush into us, uninvited in a day. No, bitterness seeps into our hearts like a leaky faucet. It happens so slowly that we barely even notice.
In my case, the leaky faucet was my frustrations with volunteers, programs, decisions, parents, leadership and specifically, my decision to bury those frustrations. Each decision to stuff my frustrations down was a drop from a toxic, leaky faucet. Eventually, over several years, I finally woke up to the fact that I was angry and bitter.
It took a very long time to leech out all this toxicity. There were relational and ministry consequences. The big lesson I learned from this experience is this: There is a cost to burying your frustrations. It’s like drinking poison.
I’ve had to learn the discipline of embracing conflict. These days, I’m much more likely to vocalize my frustrations with staff members, volunteers and friends. I have learned that being honest with my frustrations is a far more healthy way to live and lead.
So, if you want to survive and thrive in ministry over the long-haul, I would plead with you to find ways to talk about your frustrations.
Perhaps you’re sensing the value of verbalizing your frustrations but you’re worried about going too far and being seen as “that guy” or “that girl” who is always negative. Here’s a suggestion: Instead of attacking, ask questions about your frustrations.
Here’s what I mean: Go directly to the person who is frustrating you and instead of accusing them of something, ask them questions. For example:
“I felt frustrated by your comments in the team meeting, could you share a bit more of what you meant? Maybe I’m not understanding you.”
“You haven’t been showing up on time lately. Is everything ok? Is there something I can help you with?”
“I don’t understand the purpose of this program. Can you help me understand the value?”
In my experience, asking, rather than attacking gives you an avenue to share your frustrations without putting others on the immediate defensive. And, if you’re able to regularly discuss your frustrations, you’ll begin to close that leaky faucet and protect yourself from developing a bitter and caustic attitude.
Making a Change
Let’s wrap this up. Two of my biggest mistakes in ministry have been making it all about me and burying my frustrations. Both of these mistakes led to deep regrets and seasons of ineffectiveness.
My church body is currently in the midst of one of the greatest tragedies I’ve ever seen. Our community is suffering, mourning and asking difficult questions.
It’s been one of the most exhausting weeks we’ve ever experienced in ministry. In many ways, we have felt unqualified for the task before us. Yet, my husband faithfully visited grieving family members, counseled church members in office and by phone, led our church staff through their sorrow and preached a funeral—all in a span of five days.
As a pastor’s wife, when tragedy strikes your church body, it strikes your husband’s heart and mind. In the overflow, it strikes your home. When so many have experienced a personal loss, your sufferings might be overlooked during a time of crisis. Rightly so. However, it does not diminish the difficulty of the days for you and your husband.
As we weather this current storm, we are clinging to truth in order to minister well and take care of our own bodies and souls. I pray these five actions we're taking provides you encouragement in whatever you also may be facing.
1. Recognize the spiritual battle.
Begin with Ephesians 6. Every tragedy involves people. At times, it’s easy to see a person as an enemy that caused your sorrow. It's better to avoid this temptation. The truth found in Ephesians 6 allows us to remove antagonists and protagonists from the narrative and rightly focus our eyes on and prayers against the devil’s schemes.
"Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand" (Ephesians 6:11-13).
2. Soak in the gospel.
My husband and I have read and re-read Romans 8 together. Its reminders of what Christ has done for us, that the Spirit is alive in us and of how the Spirit and Christ intercede for us offer such sustaining grace.
No matter what we may face, “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38).
And this too is what we have to offer others in their grief. As C.S. Lewis wrote in the introduction of The Problem with Pain, “when pain is to be borne, a little courage helps more than much knowledge, a little human sympathy more than much courage and the least tincture of the love of God more than all.”
3. Create temporary boundaries.
When your church body is in the midst of crisis, many are affected. Everyone and everything feels urgent. However, there are logistical and physical limits to you and your husband’s ability to respond to all requests for counsel while still maintaining your own rest and emotional energy.
Likely you and your husband will need to set boundaries with people for a period of time in order to minister to those truly affected. Tragedies will reveal those who are ill-equipped to handle trials. You will need wisdom to discern who they are and set boundaries.
My husband and I have done everything we can to rest well these days including cancelling some morning appointments and leaving housework undone. Some evenings, my husband turns off his phone for a few hours to be with our children. We do this because we know we will need physical strength to sustain our emotional strength.
Even though I spend most of my days at home, I ask for help on weeks like this. I call the sitter. I order take-out. I simplify our life as much as possible so that when my husband is home I can give him my emotional energy.
"But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one" (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
5. Call in the troops.
This might not be able to happen right away, but as soon as possible, I seek to create life-giving scenarios for me and my husband. I invite over friends who are easy and understanding. I sit at a friend’s kitchen table and let the kids play. I ask our parents to come to town. Whatever others offer, take advantage of it. We are made for community and are strengthened by community.
In the midst of such sadness, God provided people who encourage me and my husband. We have seen how He sustains us through the prayers of those we didn’t know were praying. We have seen our church body serve and love and encourage each other in ways that blessed us as well. We can see God working in so many lives through this experience, redeeming what was meant for evil. We are left knowing He “will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Genesis 50:20; Philippians 1:6).
repetitive, and others completely exhausting. It’s not that we don’t love what we do, but the pressure of performing is almost too much to bear. Sweet fellow sisters, can we all take a deep breath for just a moment? Let me look you in that beautiful face and tell you, “You are more than enough through Christ!”
You don’t just barely squeak by on the “approval meter.” You are altogether more than enough!
These words, to me, feel like rain on a parched land. They make me inhale, not just deeply in, but exhale out as well.
I am more than enough . . .
We can put that unicycle away now.
Honestly, I can blame a million things, people, or places for the pressure of performance in ministry that I’ve felt along the years, but recently I’ve discovered that most of the pressure has come from within. I’ve exhausted myself trying to strive to keep it all together. My “doing” has trumped my “being,” and I’ve been left trampled in return.
Last year, God asked me to enter a year of rest. The longer story may be how hard it was to finally comply, but I went through a complete and total undoing the first several months. Taking a break from the juggling act was killing me because I have now discovered it’s where I had for so long found my worth.
Who am I if I’m not doing all these things?
What worth do I have if I’m not helping or leading something?
I’m surely just a giant disappointment—to any and everyone, but especially the One who called me. Or was I really called?
In all honesty, approval grew silent from all in my life but a few entrusted souls—until heaven suddenly got louder. It was as if His applause was going wild over my being. For the first time in my life I was discovering what it meant to be loved and valued “just because!” I had become excellent at being a doer, but forgotten to be a daughter. One of my favorite passages about the Father is when He wildly and proudly exclaimed over Jesus, “This is my beloved Son; with Him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17, NIV). Jesus hadn’t begun His public ministry yet; no one knew His name or followed His miraculous feats—but His Father was so proud and so pleased. Just because.
His pleasure and approval in my life is overflowing, and I’ve learned to just calm down. I’m living, and doing, and walking out of a place of rest these days. No longer do I feel the tremendous pressure to perform, to get it right, to keep the balls flying high. I’m learning to just wear one hat—the hat of “sonship.” It was a process which required a whole lot of undoing and maybe squirming for a bit, while people couldn’t understand why you’re no longer “doing” that thing, but it’s worth it.
My closest friend once told me as I struggled to let some things go, “Sons don’t put on a show; they live wildly from acceptance.” The pressure’s all off now. We only have one set of eyes to please—and He’s already crazy about us!
By Christian Fauth
We continue with this powerful, yet vulnerable entry from licensed minister, Christian Fauth. Last week she shared about her lifelong struggle with depression and the process to finding help.
To read last week's entry, click here.
Let's pick up where she left off...
I guess I’m writing this for two reasons. The first is for someone to know there is help. No matter what the problem or the pain, there are professionals that are waiting to give treatment to those who feel they are at their end. There are people, whether it is a church or other organization that will support those who need to know someone cares. I can’t stress enough how important it is to take that step and acknowledge a need for help.
The second reason I wanted to write this is because I want people to know there is hope. My story does not end with seeing a counselor every other week and taking medication daily. Early in 2014, a few months after my stay, I met with a friend and as we watched our children play at McDonalds I told her my story. She, in turn, told me how she too had struggled with depression, but God had healed her. Now, I knew God heals. God heals cancer. God makes the deaf hear. I had witnessed healings of others in my life. But did God heal mental illness?
Does God heal mental illness?
Over the next few months, I wrestled with this. I prayed. During the summer, I started getting sick when I took my medicine. I thought maybe the strength was just too high. But I talked to Carl and told him, “I think God is healing me.” In October, I had another doctor appointment. I shared with my doctor and she said she didn’t see a need for me to take the medication any longer! It has been a year and I still haven’t taken anti-depressants. This is the longest I have ever gone unmedicated since 2003.
Our family is happy. Our marriage is healthy. I am whole. Christ has set me free. I am healed.
I hesitated to write this. I don’t want people to think I am seeking fame or attention. After all, it took me two years to write this down for myself. However, I want to make God famous. I want to give Him the praise He is due. Revelation 12:11 says “and they overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.”
Word of their testimony.
Part of this healing is sharing what God has done. I’ve kept it to myself for too long, unsure why God chose to heal me while others fight everyday. I still don’t know why, but I can’t just keep it to myself if there is someone who needs to hear of a hope and light in the darkness of this world. God can take you at your lowest point and He will carry you through. Today, I share that no matter where you are, no matter what you are going through, there is help, hope and healing.
Let me leave you with a few practical directives if you find yourself in a similar situation. What should you do if you find yourself feeling hopeless?
Christian Fauth and her husband, Carl, celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary in June. They currently serve as worship pastors at Life 360 in Springfield, Missouri, where she also serves as the creative arts pastor. They have three "handsome, hilarious, and wonderful" boys. "I have shaped my ministry philosophy around growing up with mental illness in a pastor’s home and seeing the need for more vulnerability and honesty about what God can do, not in spite of but, through our struggles." When Christian finds free time, she likes to read design magazines and spend lots of time with family and friends. Her greatest passion? "My greatest passion is to see people connect with God and to know who they are in Christ."
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