“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.
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!
But, those who have not been so fortunate, may still be seeking approval from authority figures even as adults, never quite feeling they measure up to others around them.
Words kill, words give life; they are either poison or fruit . . . you choose (Proverbs 18:21, MSG).
If we are honest, even the best parents can give a mixture of blessing and cursing, healing and hurt within moments. Florence Littauer, author of Silver Boxes, inspires us to weigh our words knowing the value of encouragement and the pain caused by criticism. She shares an illustration of how many building blocks it takes for a child to construct a castle, yet all it takes is one kick to knock them all down. I was challenged that even when giving so many compliments and words of support, all it took was one sharp word of correction and my children would experience pain. I am not saying we should not give instruction or discipline, but we can ask God to show us how to encourage positive behavior rather than focusing on the negative.
Watch the way you talk. Say only what helps, each word a gift (Ephesians 4:29, MSG).
...In the Old Testament, God tells Abraham that his offspring will be instruments of blessing to the whole world both in their deeds as well as with their words (see Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:16-18). From these early examples, the power of blessing began to develop, and we see it became a practice for generations. Their very names were often used as a form of blessing and prophetic promise based on the meaning of each name. This was evidenced by the names Zelophehad gave to his five daughters, declaring their individual gifts and abilities which he prophetically spoke over them (Numbers 27:1; Joshua 17:3-6). A patriarch’s final blessing was important in biblical times as a matter of inheritance rights. In addition, some final blessings included prophetic statements that revealed God’s supernatural power at work in and through those that received the blessing.
...The principle is clear: God has given parents and grandparents the privilege and authority to speak blessing over their children and, with that blessing, to advance life, health, growth, joy and self-confidence! We need to learn to incorporate this privilege as a dynamic aspect of raising our children and blessing them in every way we possibly can.
In the same way we are admonished to speak blessing over the next generation, we also feel that God is pronouncing His blessing over each one of us in a powerful and prophetic way, blessing our lives and our future. As a spiritual leader to the women placed under my care, I speak God’s blessing over your lives and His favor for you to be used mightily in these last days...read more
Have you heard the old joke that ministry would be great if it weren’t for all the people? Be honest, have you ever thought this was true?
You don’t have to be in ministry for long to realize just how personal this life is. We work with people—sinful, fallen, imperfect people. We work with people who will sometimes hurt our feelings.
And we, in turn, will hurt theirs.
We live, work and play with the people in our churches. We pour into their lives, and they pour into ours. We are with them during their most vulnerable seasons, ones of birth, illness, victory and death.
People will hurt your feelings. When that happens, you have a choice. You can either take it personally and seek to inflict hurt in return, or you can choose to respond as God commands us in Ephesians. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).
Let's take a closer look at the three biblical responses found in Ephesians.
1. Be humble and gentle. Being humble means taking ourselves out of the spotlight. I love how the dictionary defines humility as “freedom from pride or arrogance.” Pride and arrogance only exist to enslave us to ourselves. Through pride and arrogance, we see all the ways we are overlooked and the ways our husbands or children have been hurt. Being humble is being free from self. In commanding us to approach others with humility and gentleness, God is freeing us to love them regardless of what they have done to us.
2. Be patient. We work with real people—people who are flawed and sinful but who are hopefully on their own journey to holiness. As we lead them, they will mess up; so will we. We need to be patient with one another, remembering that we are all tempted, that we all sin and that none of us will reach perfection until we see Jesus. We need to give ourselves patience and extend it to the people with whom we minister.
3. Bear with one another in love. Why did you feel called to ministry? I hope your answer includes a love for people and a desire to lead them to know and love Jesus. When ministry becomes difficult, we need to remind ourselves of why we began in the first place. We are commanded to “bear” with one another. The Lord knows it is going to be a struggle for us to love one another, but He will give us the grace to do so.
A few years ago, we transitioned from one ministry position to another. I had served in several areas in the church we were leaving, and I felt like God must be growing me for something similar (and if I am honest, bigger) in the new ministry. But those were not the plans God had for me. I felt overlooked and unwanted. No one seemed to see how I could contribute in our new ministry position, and I felt like I was wasting the abilities God had grown in me. My feelings were hurt, and there were times I took it out on those God had chosen to use in the areas I wanted (in my selfishness) to work.
As I looked back on that season of ministry, I saw God was taking away my plans and desires so He could give me His desires and grow me in new ways. Whatever hurt you are facing in your current ministry position, I want to encourage you that God is not going to waste this pain. He is going to grow you into a better servant and minister for the gospel, if you will yield to His teaching.
How we respond to those who hurt us matters. We are sharing the gospel through our actions by forgiving our offenders in humility and gentleness and by showing patience and love with those we serve. We don’t take things personally because we are super-Christians, but we do so through the enabling of the Holy Spirit because we desire to grow in godliness.
This blog post was written by Beth Holmes for Flourish - Ministry Wives on February 17, 2017. She is a minister's wife and mom living in Owensboro, Kentucky, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2014. After spending a year learning to be brave through cancer treatments, God is teaching her again how to celebrate in 2016. Join her journey at bethholmes.wordpress.comMore from this author.
1. How do you respond when you are hurt by someone in the church?
2. How is your response different if the hurt comes from someone outside the church, i.e. a family member, a friend?
3. What is your response when you are the one who causes the hurt?
4. What are some positive actions you can take when you are hurt?
When you think of emotional maturity what do you think of? Do you think of someone who doesn’t blink an eye at human critique, disappointments, relational hurt, strenuous schedules, or an unexpected bill? Some zen goddess whose inner thoughts are like a peaceful field with wildflowers blowing in the wind? Emotional maturity is not the ability to renounce certain emotions never to feel them again, but the wisdom to understand and manage your emotions appropriately. Controlling the outward reaction to our emotions is not enough. Sure, we want to avoid mishandling our emotions and negatively affecting someone that we are leading. Beyond this, emotional maturity is vital for the soul care of a leader. We can control our outward responses, while negative emotions take a serious toll on the health of our heart and mind causing burnout, discouragement, or much worse...read more
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