by Amber Mills
(re-printed from a previous "Refresh" blog)
This time was different. The atmosphere wasn’t friendly. Fans were edgy. There was yelling and booing. The opposing players were pushing the limits of what is acceptable. Now don’t get me wrong. My boys have played competitive sports for a very long time and I fully appreciate all that comes with it. Games are loud, intense, and very physical, but this went beyond. There were no post game conversations between players or parents.
The entire demeanor of this competition was different than the last. What had changed? Same team. Same players. Same parents. New coach. The leadership had changed. The new coach encouraged this behavior. He congratulated his players when our team was injured. He gave a thumbs up to the booing fan section. He also demeaned his own players when they didn’t perform to his expectations.
The previous coach had been a very intense, but godly man. He had demanded his players give 100% at all times but he valued character above all else. It trickled down throughout the entire program just as this new attitude has.
Do they not see the change? Do they even care how they are being perceived? How are the parents okay with the behavior of their boys and the attitude change on and off of the court? It is as if they are completely oblivious to the change.
The complete 180 of this team stirred something within me. It made me think! It made me examine! Have there been changes in me, my family, and my church to which I am oblivious? Has my leadership, in any way, cheered on or encouraged bad behavior? When others fall, do I give a thumb up to those under me? Does my leadership make those around me strive for greatness or does it glorify the destruction of others?
Our attitudes and actions are magnified in those over which we have influence. We cannot control how people behave, but we can control how we influence them. If a church is arrogant, cliquey, and more concerned with whom they have rather than whom they can reach, the leadership is usually of the same mindset. On the other hand, humble leadership usually leads the giving, inviting church to reach out and bless their community.
I did not choose to be a pastor’s wife. Nonetheless, it is the path laid before me, and I wouldn’t want to walk any other. I am in leadership; therefore, I must be mindful of my attitude, my words, my facial expressions (if you know me you will agree that the latter is the one, I struggle with the most!).
Philippians 2:3-4 NLT says, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
A trickling faucet left alone can cause your water bill to skyrocket. A bad attitude trickling down from ministry leadership can destroy an entire church.
What am I allowing to trickle from my heart into my family and my church? As a children’s pastor, I want the kids under me to be accepting. As a women’s leader, I want my ladies to be inviting and loving. As the lead pastor’s wife, I want my church to be burdened for the lost and more concerned with our community around us than with our own agendas. But most importantly, as a mom and wife, I want my family to be examples of how to truly love each other.
She has served as a full-time children’s pastor wherever they have ministered for over 20 years. “Organized chaos” describes more than just her style of children’s ministry; it can also be used to describe life in general around the Mills' house.
Amber revels in the moments she can simply be the pastor’s wife and support Greg as he leads with excellence in their community. She also craves the other side of the spectrum, where she is blessed with opportunities to share precious words God lays on her own heart.
Amber enjoys creating beautiful events, indulging in chocolate desserts, sharing her heart with the women around her, and living this amazing adventure called life.
by Rhonda Barnes
(Reprinted with permission from the blog Secret Place Revelation.)
It is that time of the year in many parts of the country to change shoe styles. I have accumulated too many shoes, so in order to make room, I pack away my sandals and get out my boots. It is important to have a variety of types of shoes to be prepared for every season, but today’s inspiration is less about style and more about fit.
I have a great video of my daughter when she was about 18 months old trying to wear my heels. I heard the clicking sound on the floor and peeked around the corner to see her trying to walk in shoes that did not fit. It was video-worthy and something I enjoy watching, but trying to walk in shoes that don’t fit is simply exhausting.
She no longer needed those cute little white walking shoes I had purchased, but she was not yet ready for mommy’s heels. In fact, as I watched my daughter grow into the wonderful young woman she is today, she never fit in mommy’s heels. First, she inherited her shoe size from her dad instead of me, but more importantly, heels were just never her thing. I remember in her teen years how she tried to fit into the mold of wearing what friends wore, but she quickly went back to the style that was more comfortable.
Have you noticed that every shoe store or department has a section housing accessories for shoes that really do not fit? There are pads for the back of a shoe to keep it from slipping off. There are pads for the bottom of the shoe to keep your foot from slipping forward. There are barriers for the sides to keep your shoe from rubbing blisters.
The interesting thing is none of these items is needed if the shoe fits!
If we go to a store to buy a suit, it often will not fit. There are individuals trained to alter it. This may work for suits, but not shoes!
If they are too small, they hurt, stifle, and hold you back. They are not satisfying at all to wear. If they are too large, they slip off when you try to walk. You cannot effectively walk, climb, or progress forward.
While foot size grows during stages of maturity, for most people there is a point where the foot size is maximized and will not change. That is why I have too many shoes! I have been wearing the same size for a very long time. Over the years, I have collected a variety of styles and colors for many different seasons and activities.
I love that I am not limited to one style. Seasons and conditions require us to have choices. These are options, but the size is not. The Creator determines the size! We read in 1 Corinthians 12 that there are a variety of gifts distributed by the Spirit to the members of the unified Body of Christ. Each is necessary for the Body to function properly.
THE CREATOR DETERMINES THE SIZE!
I have a passion to remind each person reading this how much your Creator loves you and how He wants to see you walk in the shoes He has selected for you. He chose them long before you were even here:
13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. 17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
YOU WERE FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE!
Each one of us is unique and distinct--no two of us with the same thumbprint--but each is given precious thoughts and plans from our Father!
What we must contend for is our own unique size or individual identity in Christ. Each one is critical to the kingdom; if you are trying to wear someone else’s shoes, your identity is left abandoned on a shelf missing God-ordained opportunities.
For example, my sister-in-law and I are very much alike. At her first Christmas with our family, we showed up wearing the exact same sweater before we even knew each other. A couple years later, we actually came to vacation with the same swimsuit, cover-up, and shoes!
We are the same age, we have the same last name, and we even have the same shoe size. However, those who know us well will attest that if I tried to wear many of her shoes, it would not end well! Her style is often different from mine, and she wears heel sizes I cannot tolerate.
This paints such a vivid picture of the fact that even though we have many similarities, I can’t be her and she can’t be me. We can only complement one another, encourage each other, and fulfill our own unique callings.
This simple mistake has caused too many of God’s children to abandon the plans He has for them...trying to wear shoes that do not fit!
We often feel like square pegs trying to fit in round holes, trying to fit the mold, or to meet everyone’s expectations. Let’s change that today and become free to be who He has called us to be!
No apologies! Just be who He is asking you to be! No comparison, no intimidation, no jealousy or envy--just wearing the shoes that fit you in the right season and on the right occasion! Make a commitment today if you have not already done so to walk in the steps He has ordered for you.
DON’T ALLOW YOUR ONE-OF-A-KIND DESIGNER SHOES TO BE LEFT ON THE SHELF!
Rhonda Barnes is an author, speaker, Christian blogger, and gifted teacher of God’s Word. Rhonda was credentialed as an AG minister in 2002, and currently serves as Associate Pastor at Grace Community Church in Salem, Missouri. She has written three books, Road to Transformation, Journey to God’s Glory, Keys to the Kingdom, and It is Written. Rhonda is passionate about sharing the truths of God's Word and launched the Christian teaching blog Secret Place Revelation, inspired by Psalm 91:1. She enjoys writing, speaking, and teaching small groups.
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