A Path Well Worn
by Terry Magness
Ever asked that age old question, “How in the world did I get here?
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a secretary. When I put on that perfect black and white plaid dress with a red sash my aunt Jean bought me, I felt like an executive assistant. I imagined sitting behind an important looking desk, erect, shoulders back, legs crossed, and poised with pad and pencil in hand, ready to take notes for an appreciative boss who couldn’t get along without me. The thought of it warmed me inside. I felt valued. That was something I desperately needed in those days.
Sure enough, one of my first jobs when I entered the world of employment was as a secretary in a loan company branch office. Next, I worked as a typist in the secretarial typing pool of a large corporation, and finally, I served as a G2 clerk/typist for a Company Commander on a military base. I learned relatively quickly that being a secretary was not what inspired me.
aren’t they—even amazing?
There is a distinct but narrow path in our front yard that begins in a field across the road. The path divides and circles in opposite directions around our house to the concrete patio at the back door. This path was made by a badly scarred but beautiful Golden Beagle. The first day he showed up at our door I could clearly count each rib in his badly malnourished body. Extraordinarily skittish, he jumped at the slightest movement and wouldn’t allow me within five feet of him, and least of all, to touch him. Hunger urged him to forge this path to our house. We comforted him with soft words, and we fed him.
Each day for two and a half years he faithfully followed the path--often many times over--and peered through the glass, hoping to catch our attention. One day, his friend, a small black, brown, and white Beagle, joined him. She too came hoping for food and was just as nervous and afraid as he had been.
In short order their sides filled out, and then one day their eyes shined, and their tails waved high flagging their contentment. Happy, healthy, and strong, they continued learning to trust, because now they were valued and loved. Their basic needs were being met. To this day the grass does not grow in their path to our house, because it is a well-worn path.
What about my path? At the age of thirty, I too was badly undernourished in my soul, was replete with old and new hurts, and found it hard to trust. My scars were not visible, but the wounds were deep, and my heart was dry as stone. I found myself trudging alone on a hopeless, destructive path until unwittingly, I stumbled upon another path that changed the course of my life forever.
The Master of the House saw me peering through the glass, opened the door, spoke softly to me--and then He fed me with love.
If you were to come to my home today, I would be hesitant to let you see the room I call my office. At any given time, you might find stacks of unanswered, unfiled, unattended papers, various begun-yet-unfinished projects, research, teaching and counseling materials, writing assignments, and books in various stages of completion, covering almost every surface in the room. It is now I who needs a secretary!
I love neat and complete, but my interest and energy these days is spent on the path that I know has brought me healing, restoration, and is God’s path for my life. Who but He could have imagined that one day I, an unlikely minister of the Lord, would take hurting women by the hand to walk this well-worn path with me, so they too may know His loving grace to live free and whole, and discover God’s path for their lives? “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” Prov. 4:18 ESV
Now an ordained AG minister, Terry Magness was once a broken, wounded, angry, and abuse-hardened woman, until God’s redeeming love confronted, delivered, healed, and transformed her life. In 1995, Terry founded Grace Harbour Ministries, a not-for-profit, Biblically-based teaching, prayer, and discipleship ministry to women. Through Biblical counseling, coaching, and mentoring, she helps soul-wounded women come to know God in a personal way, conquer sin, overcome life challenges, and live Spirit-empowered lives. Throughout her global ministry she has witnessed God’s captive-freeing power at work. Terry has authored two books--Ever Increasing Grace and Azadiah Reynolds: God's Jamaica Man—and three booklets in her Pocket Scriptures series. She enjoys people, writing, photography, art, nature, and relaxing on the water while fishing with her quick-witted husband, Don, who keeps her laughing. Their amazing children and three priceless granddaughters remind them daily to be ever thankful for God’s wondrous blessings.
Marriage + Ministry + Romance
by Jill St. John
Indoors vs outdoors; movies vs museums; late nights vs sunrises–those are just some of the differences between my husband and myself. Those differences can cause disagreements and frustrations; however, they are ultimately good. They help expand our points of view and experiences. Those differences help in parenting our adulting kids as well as in ministry as we serve a very diverse community. After twenty-nine years of marriage and twenty-seven years as ministry partners, we still have not entirely mastered how to handle the challenges of our differences, and we are still learning and growing together.
If you are married and in ministry, or if you serve alongside ministry couples, you know the unique challenges of that life combination. Some navigate it well; some struggle; all of us are working it out.
It is a challenge to continue to grow together with all the dynamics of ministry life. The Bible has divine perspective and inspiration from the start. It begins with Adam and Eve being joined together by God Himself (Genesis 2:23-24) and is reiterated by Jesus that a man and woman become one as they join their lives in marriage (Matthew 19:4-6). God is the Biggest Fan of us, our marriages, and our ministries!
Along with marriage and ministry, there is the idea of romance: “a spirit of adventure, excitement, or mystery.” ¹ How does romance enter into and remain in a marriage relationship, particularly for ministry couples? Marriage itself could be considered an adventure as two very different humans join their lives. Perhaps in ministry, unlike most other careers, there is ample opportunity for adventure, excitement, and mystery--for romance!
Not many vocations and livelihoods rely upon people donating their hard-earned money. That is an amazing adventure to me and a perpetual miracle of the Lord!
There is also excitement of all kinds. It looks like counseling someone who is choosing to get help for their addiction as they take breathtaking steps toward Jesus–Who is changing their life and the generations that will follow.
Mystery is the door of the church opening to a person giving a donation in the exact amount as an unexpected expense. Part of the beauty of being a ministry couple is sharing those stories with one another and praising God together for His good works.
"The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord" (Proverbs 18:22 NLT). For me to be a blessing requires daily personal time in God’s presence and Word and relying upon Jesus to fill me with Holy Spirit fruit and power for the demands of family and ministry. That time with the Lord is also for confession and repentance, pouring out to Him where and how I have blown it, and receiving His forgiveness and grace. Whether a married or single minister, or the spouse of a minister, you are a treasure.
As an alcoholic far from God at the age of twenty, I walked into an Assembly of God church and was greeted with Jesus’ love before I had any idea of His love for me. One of the people who profoundly impacted me with God’s love was my pastor’s wife, Donna. She accepted me and believed in God’s work in me. Whether you are the pastor or the pastor’s wife (or like me, you are both), this side of Heaven you may never know the impact of your ministry. Thank you on behalf of all you have loved and will love!
The New Testament highlights a ministry couple, Priscilla and Aquila, in Acts 18:2-3, 18-26, Romans 16:3-5, 1 Corinthians 16:19, and 2 Timothy 4:19. They were a team and did great work for Jesus, growing the Kingdom of God together. We know from these passages that they worked together professionally, as well as pastored a church that met in their home; they accompanied Paul in traveling ministry; and they actively discipled others. Priscilla is a great example of a woman committed to her husband and to their ministry life.
A great way to pray is that we will be committed to our husbands and that we will be committed to the life of ministry to which God has called us, whatever it may look like.
Some of the challenges of being in ministry are the demands on our time and emotional energy, along with being somewhat public figures. Jesus says in Matthew 11:30 that His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. What is not light are the expectations and demands of others, nor our own self-imposed expectations. When we are struggling, may God tend to us, and may we be brave enough to share our burdens with others as Galatians 6:2 encourages.
For ministry couples, maybe this is where romance comes into play. We can suspend the pressure and enjoy some adventure, excitement, or mystery: walking in the dark with flashlights, swinging on a swing set, sitting close together on the sofa while watching something that makes us laugh–especially when there is way too much to do. Try setting a timer for fifteen seconds, then spend every one of those seconds gazing into one another’s eyes. It could remind you that God never breaks His gaze from us. It also may end in a lot of laughter! These kinds of moments will infuse our marriage relationships with connection and chemistry.
Here is what I commit to and wonder if you will as well:
Jill St. John, once a high school English teacher, is an ordained minister in the Assemblies of God. She serves as Co-Pastor alongside her husband, Jason. For the last 23 years, they have served at Evangel Church in Kansas City--6 years as youth pastors, and 17 years as lead pastors. Jill has a passion for Jesus and a zeal for teaching God’s Word, helping others walk in God’s love and purpose. As a 4-time cancer survivor, she knows the goodness of God through the highs and lows of life and ministry. Jill is an authentic, enthusiastic messenger of God’s joy and hope. Teaching, cooking, laughing, and hanging out with her husband and two children are the delights of her life!
This is a safe place for ministry wives and women ministers to be renewed, resourced, and build relationships with others just like you.
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