by Amber Mills
The holiday air is electric! Family dinners are frequent. Seasonal desserts are everywhere. The fragrance of Thanksgiving and Christmas is in the air. Naturally, we want to consume as much as we can. The light displays, the music, and cuddles during movies, the aroma of turkey, and the taste of grandma’s fudge—we recall precious memories through all of our senses during this season.
By the time we have ventured through this wonderful time of year, we do not feel so wonderful. We have eaten too much and gained a few pounds; spent more than we should, and feeling the effects. However, one of the biggest side effects of the holidays is pure exhaustion as they come to an end. Having stayed up late too many nights making sure that every moment is used to its fullest with every corner picture perfect. I have accepted every invitation to join friends and family to celebrate. I have seen seventeen parades and twenty-two light displays, built six gingerbread houses and decorated a hundred dozen sugar cookies…or so it seems. As I sit on the couch, instead of seeing the remnants an incredible few months with my husband and boys, I just see an endless list of chores to return our lives to normal. Decorations that I couldn’t wait to display now cause anxious thoughts of how to pack it all away! I am ready for this time to be over! Somehow, I don’t think this is what God had in mind for this time of year. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have thoroughly enjoyed the time, but have I savored the moments?
While pondering all of this, God pricks my heart reminding me of times in my life I have experienced the same affects of a season. There have been seasons in our ministry when we felt alone. We felt as if no one saw us. We were invisibly spinning our wheels and no one knew the struggle. Then, there have been times of incredible favor. In those times, I received many opportunities to serve in new and exciting ways. Because I knew all too well the feeling of being invisible, I wanted to seize absolutely every opportunity given, walk through every open door, and give all I had just in case this season didn’t last. Instead of feeling fulfilled in these moments, I am overwhelmed with exhaustion once again. It is as if I have experienced yet another holiday meal, over-filled my plate, consumed too much, and now I am so full that I can’t breathe. All of the things consumed were good things but moderation would have allowed me to savor each item a little more.
If I can be completely honest, I am currently experiencing a season of an over-piled plate. God has given me opportunities to minister in areas that have truly captured my heart. I revel in these ministry moments. They are not just titles, but have become who I am, and I run to these experiences with great expectation. In addition, God opened some new doors and prompted my heart to walk through them. I am out of my element and unsure of my abilities in these new areas, but they are exciting as I anticipate all that God will do in them. Then, I look at my plate and I don’t know where to begin. I have added new things to try, but kept all of my old favorites. I know the outcome if I try to consume all of this. The problem is: I know I should take the new opportunities, but my heart isn’t ready to release the old ministry areas. They have my heart, my investment.
Psalm 104:19 NLT: You made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to set.
I have a feeling I am not alone in this journey as I see many trying to balance an over-filled plate. We carry heavy loads sometimes because no one else is there to take some of it from us. God is teaching me something I want to share with those who are also deciding where to start: It’s okay to let go. I want to put an exclamation after that statement, but my heart needs a whispered: It’s okay to let go. If God asks you to move, He already has a plan for the hole you leave.
I want to savor each item more. I want to revel in the moments as I watch God do miracles in the lives of those I get to serve. In order to do that, I have to let go. God is moving, signifying we should as well. A new year is beginning; let’s take that step of faith together.
SOMO Kid’s Camp. My heart is working with women and girls, even though I have a house full of boys.
My husband, Greg Mills, and I grew up in the same church in Joplin, MO. We have been married for 20 years. We have served in full time ministry for 19 of those years. We are the lead pastor’s at Camdenton 1st A/G in Camdenton, MO.
We have 4 boys which I homeschool. Brandyn, 18 is a freshman in college. Zach, 16 is a sophomore. Camryn, 14 is in 8th grade. My little Kyle is 9 years old and in 3rd grade.
I serve as the Children’s pastor and women’s leader in our church as well as the sectional Women’s and Girl’s Ministries rep. I have worked as a children’s pastor for over 15 years. Kids are the key not only to our survival as a church but also in our endless pursuit to evangelize our world. They must be taught who we are, why we are, and what we are truly called to do and be. To be able to walk alongside these little ones as they discover these truths for themselves is both a blessing and personally inspiring beyond measure.
By Terry Magness
Have you ever found yourself so caught up in your day that you forgot to eat? I confess I have, but not often. Usually, my body signals when it is hungry or thirsty, and well, you know the rest.
It's a fact: we need food and water in order to live.
According to Peter Janiszewski, Ph.D, records show that severe symptoms of starvation appear approximately thirty-five to forty days in someone deprived of food. Death usually results within forty-five to sixty-one days, that is, if the individual has a source of hydration. In a vegetative, inactive state without food and water, survival would only be ten to fourteen days. The more active the person is the more resources he uses, therefore, lessening his time of survival.
Did you know the less we drink, the less we want to drink? Likewise, when we fast for several days, our sense of hunger diminishes, so that after a week or so, we no longer desire food. Perhaps our internal warning system simply shuts down, or we somehow fail to hear the signals. It remains, unless we decide to eat and drink, and our body dies.
Could the same be true of the human heart deprived of daily intimate fellowship with the Spirit of the living God and His Word? God said through His prophet Ezekiel, "I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."
I remember clearly the day when God took my dry, hardened heart and replaced it with a soft, pliable, and tender heart, one not afraid to be vulnerable. For the first time in many years, I could feel again. I was no longer in survival mode, but I was alive. Once again I could cry tears that had long ago dried up.
We all experience some desert places in our lives. A good question we can ask ourselves during those dry times is, "Am I malnourished or dehydrated in my spirit?" In order to find the answer to that question, I do a pulse check.
"Has my intimacy with Jesus diminished? How is my Word intake level?" If the answer is "yes", I run, not walk, to the Wellspring of Life, and spend some quality time with Him.
Are you feeling parched and dry? Are the pressures of life and ministry mounting? Do you feel yourself going through the motions, or maybe even shutting down? Are the pangs of hunger in your soul acute or are they dangerously fading away?
Stop! Take a break.
Breathe. Nothing is more important than this moment.
Nestle back in your chair and prepare your heart to be filled by Jesus, the Bread of Life. He knows you. You can rest in his Presence. Tip the cup of remembrance to your lips as you sip the essence of His peace, His goodness, His kindness, His love. Let your mind feast on His Word. Drink deeply of the living waters of His Spirit. Acknowledge His eternal life within you, and give thanks for the dawn of a new day.
Terry Magness has been in Christian ministry for forty years, is a licensed minister, author, pastoral counselor to church leaders, missionary, and founder of Grace Harbour Ministries, a Bible based international teaching and discipleship ministry to women. She oversees and teaches needs-based Overcomers classes in her local church, dedicated to helping men and women apply Biblical principles to every life situation. Terry is a lover of people in general, and her family in particular. She enjoys good friends, stimulating conversation, writing, photography, and fishing with her husband, Don.
Discipline...sometimes I cringe when I hear that word. In some ways it comes across negative to me: hard work, restriction, sacrifice, failure. But deep down I know discipline is good for me, especially if I'm the one imposing it upon myself. I'm just not good at it.
This is one definition of discipline from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
1a : control gained by enforcing obedience or order
b : orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior
c : self-control
Basically, we're talking about creating habits in our life. It seems that it's easy to create bad habits. Ever try to stop yourself from eating ice cream when you're sad? But good habits can be hard to create; it takes time, self-control, and determination. Remember hearing it takes 21-days to create a habit? Well, now they say that's a myth. Science now says it takes anywhere between 18 days and 8.5 months. Can it get any harder!
In her Propelwomen.org article, Building a Better Life Through the Power of Discipline, Hannah Brencher says,
It’s said that discipline leads to freedom, and I fully believe that now. When you learn to take care of yourself and order your tasks, your mind gets freed up. You're able to love people better and experience more peace.
Is it true that taking control of yourself, disciplining yourself in things you know are good for you, in things that you want for yourself, can make you happier? God's Word says yes!
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11
I also know from personal experience that when I succeed in creating a good habit in my life or breaking a bad habit, it brings an overall good feeling of well-being, accomplishment, and happiness. For example, several years ago I took on the Whole 30 challenge. It was hard, but in the end I found out what was causing me to feel unwell...dairy...and I kicked a years-long habit of using Sweet 'n Low. Just that one thing alone, taking artificial sweetener out of my life, has made me feel like I accomplished a good thing and I am living a healthier life.
So, if disciplining myself is such a good thing, why is it so hard? I think it's hard for me because I'm weak and selfish - most of the time. I'm busy, distracted, and tired. When do I have time to add 'habit-making' to my agenda, let alone finding the energy to implement it? I don't think it's as hard as I make it out to be. Those excuses just might be my mechanism to justify not putting forth the effort.
But there are ways to make this habit-making or goal-making easier. Hannah Brencher suggests steps to start adding good and better habits to our lives:
I was recently having coffee with a girl about setting monthly goals. We were talking about how we love setting goals for the month and she told me that, for some unknown reason, she wasn’t nailing any of her goals. When she elaborated, I pointed out that her goals were really extreme. These goals were asking her to completely stop living one way and make a hard left turn in in the opposite direction.
So, what's keeping you from creating some good habits in your life? You know you've thought about it. Whether it's drinking more water, quitting artificial sweetener, reading the Bible in a year, or you name it, adding a good habit or deleting a bad habit in your life is good for you. And God's Word tells us we all have the power.
"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7
Read full article written by Hannah Brencher for Propelwomen.org here. This article written by Lisa Harris for Refresh Ministry Women.
Every day, I get to do what I love. Create, teach, equip, resource, and encourage.
I could live by the motto: Eat, breath, sleep, repeat, when it comes to my vocation. Events, training, collaborative meetings, serving, new ideas, emails and social media messages seem to come as if I am playing a rapid fire game of Minute-to-Win-It.
It has never been my desire to create an on-demand life, but some days, I find myself fighting an uphill battle of firefighting instead of purpose making.
Looking back, an on-purpose fixed schedule is the only way I have ever accomplished big dreams, like graduating from college, writing books or running a marathon. When I finished my masters program a few years ago and had more space in my schedule I decided I would try an on-demand schedule (say yes to every invitation). I do not regret that choice. Saying yes to every opportunity or need is how I discovered what was next. It has led me here.
Over the last six months as God started putting bigger dreams of what was next on my soul, I knew it was time to put down the fire hose and have a calendar makeover.
That means this leader needs to quit playing whack-a-mole (thank you Carey Nieuhwof for the analogy), responding immediately to every need or dust bunny that appears and go back to an on-purpose fixed schedule like the one that led me to success in school, writing and running. If you are not already doing this and have a dream, I hope you will join the adventure.
Here are five ways to live a life on-purpose:
Living on purpose is how we offer our best selves to the world.
When our focus is intentional and single focused, people will know we care.
Angelia Craig is a wife, a mom, a daughter, a friend, a writer, a minister, a coach, and a social justice and non-profit junkie. Angelia says, "Not necessarily always in that order. In my role as director of the Women’s Department at the Northwest Ministry Network, I get to do what I like to do best: create, teach, write, and learn through others. I am also passionate about helping people discover and live out a passion—and purpose-filled life in my role as a certified Gallup Strength Coach and president of the Give Good Awards Foundation. My favorite quote by author Paulo Coelho: “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation” encapsulates my mission in life." This blog was posted on June 19, 2017 at hergreenroom.com.
In every storm and heartache, he carried me, especially when I couldn’t carry myself—and he does the same for you.
God loves you. God is good, God does good, and God is always working all things for our good—even through all the unexpected events (Romans 8:28). He doesn’t cause bad things to happen, but he’s always there leading us, working in the midst of them for our good. He always has a plan, purpose and destiny for our lives regardless of what we see going on (Jeremiah 29:11).
These are words written by Christine Caine of Propel Women to speak life into us. These are words we should indelible write upon our hearts and preach to ourselves each and every day. This piece was written by Christine at the beginning of 2017, but forget about the year these words of wisdom were written for, and apply them to this year, this time, this moment in your life.
1. Stop doing things that aren’t working so you can start doing some things that are working.
I know this sounds so basic, but it’s amazing how long we will continue to do the same old thing expecting a different result—and it’s not going to happen. Just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean that’s the way you need to continue doing it. Maybe it’s something you’ve connected to—like the pain from abuse—and it’s time to put it down and let it go. Maybe it’s how you’re balancing your family life or how your running your office. I continually evaluate our leadership of A21 and Propel, along with my team, to see what is working and what is not. And what is not, we have to let go.
2. Stop investing in relationships that are taking you nowhere so that you can start building relationships that will take you somewhere.
It’s amazing how many friends and acquaintances we have in our lives that really just drain us. It’s time to lean away from the people who might have been good for you in the last season, but they are not good for you in this season. You may love them dearly, but they are no longer good for you. God wants you building your inner circle with people who can help you get to where you’re going—who can help make a difference in your life.
3. Stop trying to change other people, and just let the Holy Spirit change you.
In my 50 years of living, I can tell you, no one can change anyone but God. Changing people is the Holy Spirit’s job, not yours. You are simply not that strong. If you will drop this, you will sleep much better and have a whole lot more peace in your life.
4. Stop trying to please everybody, and start just trying to please God.
The truth is you are never going to please everybody—not even some of the time. So set yourself free. If I tried to please everyone with what I post on social media or write in my books, I would be a man-pleaser and not a God-pleaser. I certainly don’t want to offend or hurt people, ever. I love people, but I can’t please everybody—and neither can you. Drop it and let it go.
5. Stop looking for the path of least resistance, and start embracing the challenging path of going to where you want to go.
You’re not going to build the spiritual muscle, the tenacity, that you need to end up where you’re going, if you take the path of least resistance. We’ve grown accustomed to having an app do the work for us in so many areas. But there are no apps for building character or tenacity. We have to do the hard work of crucifying our flesh, obeying Jesus, and going the distance in our race.
John Maxwell says everything worthwhile in this life is uphill. He’s right. By choosing to be all that God has created and called me to be, I’m choosing the challenging path and daring adventure of where he wants me to go—even if it’s uphill.
6. Stop procrastinating, and start doing what you need to do.
Just because you’ve decided to do something doesn’t mean you’ve done it. Too many women make New Year’s resolutions and a year later haven’t accomplished any of them. Don’t be that woman. Don’t put off what you can do today for tomorrow. Don’t say, “I’ll go to the gym tomorrow. I’ll eat healthy tomorrow. I’ll start reading my Bible tomorrow. I’ll start being nice tomorrow.” It’s not good when that becomes the story of our lives.
I have wanted to get my master’s degree for years, and I have decided to go for it in 2017. No more putting it off until tomorrow. Whatever it is you need to do—apologize to someone, get a relationship right, address inner issues in your heart—stop procrastinating. Do it today.
7. Stop expecting people to be Jesus, and let Jesus be Jesus.
A lot of the conflicts in our marriages and friendships could be eliminated if we quit expecting from others what we can only get from God. I get up early so I can get from Jesus what I need from Jesus—and so I won’t unintentionally try to get it from my family or pastors or team.
When we let people off the hook, when we quit expecting them to be Jesus in our lives, then we quit being a victim and start taking responsibility for ourselves. That’s when we make Jesus bigger than anything anyone has done to us in our past. That’s when we get free.
8. Stop blaming everything and everyone else for where you are in life, and start making what Jesus did for you bigger than what anyone has ever done to you.
Maybe you’ve had a past like mine where there’s been pain and abuse. It wasn’t our fault. We didn’t ask for it. But we can’t live our lives as victims. I’ve made what Jesus did for me bigger than what anyone did to me. I’ve made what Jesus said to me bigger than what anyone else has said to me.
This is your year to drop the baggage. Get my book, Unashamed, and learn how to walk free from all that you’ve been through. God has used this book more than any other I’ve written to help people find freedom.
9. Stop being so hard on yourself, and start loving yourself.
Jesus took all the commandments and summarized them into the two most important points: Love God, and love your neighbor as you love yourself (Matthew 22:36-40; Mark 12:29-3). When you don’t like yourself, you tend to not like others. When you’re hard on yourself, you tend to be hard on others.
So give yourself forgiveness, grace, mercy, genuine love and kindness. Start with discovering and loving who you are in Christ. Learn to truly love yourself so you can genuinely love others.
10. Stop doubting and start believing for the best.
Perhaps from your perspective—and certainly from so many who’ve posted on social media—you think everything that happened in 2016 was a mess—from the political process to the social unrest to the tragedies around the world. And it has stirred up insecurities in you, anxiety, fear and doubt. Consider this instead: Two thousand years ago, God said he would build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
Well, I’ve read the end of the book and we win. So, even if all the economies of the world are in flux, let’s keep moving forward sharing the love and grace and mercy and goodness of God with everyone we encounter.
Let’s stay focused on the truth: The government rests on Jesus’ shoulders (Isaiah 9:6). All things are possible with God (Matthew 19:26). He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, and no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9). We are on top and not on the bottom (Deuteronomy 28:13). We are women of God, women of prayer, women of faith.
So let’s stop doubting and start believing for the best. We’re entering... 2018 on the winning side!
Christine Caine is an Australian-born, Greek-blooded activist, author and international speaker. She is cofounder of the anti-human trafficking organization, The A21 Campaign, the founder of Propel Women and the author of the new book Unashamed: Drop the Baggage, Pick Up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny. For more information visit www.christinecaine.com.
I didn't know how tired until I face planted in my lunch the next day. I dragged myself to the car, having to concentrate lifting my foot as high as the curb. I kept my eyes open long enough to crawl in my car, and I slept for two hours in a crowded parking lot. I realized jet lag was more than tired. This was beyond my control!
Burnout is much the same. I think of burnout this way…there's a dark recess of your mind that is the end of you. The bottom of the rope, the last step before the cliff, that moment just before you fall asleep...the end. That place is a different spot for different people. Some people have a deeper reserve and can take much more of what life can throw at them. Others have a shorter fuse and reach their spot of depletion sooner. Either way, burnout takes you to a tired that sleep doesn't fix.
I found that dark recess in my mind I didn't know existed until now. Burnout. I feel stupid and weak admitting I was there. The lack of admission was part of the reason I got there. Because I feel stupid and weak admitting I have this breaking point, and I let my actions and the actions of others break me.
Being in ministry means being about people.
Honestly, I like helping people. I don't say that to make myself seem all humble and servant-like. If you know me, you know servanthood does not come naturally to me. Being bossy on the other hand does come naturally to me. I like helping people realize stuff. I am addicted to that moment when a girl sitting in front of me has the realization she can walk in total freedom from the past bad choices she has made. Or that moment when my husband and I are working through marriage problems with another couple, and they realize sticking it out is far more rewarding than being a quitter. There's no drug or alcoholic beverage that tops the exhilaration of seeing someone turn around and change their behavior for the better. I'm addicted. I admit it. I love seeing people be happy and work out their problems and I LOVE that I get to lead people to God's Word and watch their lives unfold.
There is this turning point, though, when you are in the business of helping people, that often times you start taking in information only to pass it back out. You hear a great sermon, a wonderful song, a cool quote, and you think "I could use that in a blog post. I need to tell my pastor wife friend about this podcast. I need to share this book with my friend who needs to hear this. I need to livestream the sermon so this other person can hear it who is at home with a sick child." And before you know it, everything you take in is getting passed right through you to other people. Even your morning devotions become note-taking sessions for others. Nothing is sticking, nothing is getting snagged for YOU!
...before you know it, everything you take in is getting passed right through you to other people.
During this season of burnout and comeback, we took a sabbatical for three weeks. My husband Jack and I went to a different church one weekend. We wanted to go some place we could just go in and sit down and go to church. We haven't done that in something like 14 years. It was an amazing feeling. I had forgotten how much I love God's Church and His people. Now keep in mind, I was reading the book, "Leadership Pain" by Sam Chand while I was on sabbatical. Guess what the whole sermon was about that morning? You guessed it. Leadership pain.
God definitely had something for me that morning, but instantly I started the pass through. I thought of my friend who needed to hear a certain quote. I thought of all the people I knew who I wanted to hear this sermon. It was an incredible message. But I was in the middle of the pass-through, thinking of all the people I could minister to from this sermon when God so sweetly showed me...maybe it's just you who needs the ministry right now. He showed me how it was alright to let these words from Bishop Walker at Mt. Zion resonate with me, and only me, for that moment. Tears filled my eyes and I allowed myself for the next hour to just sit and soak it all in. I did not want to miss one moment God had for me. I stopped the pass-through and I snagged every morsel taking notes as quickly as my thumbs could type.
It truly was a wonderful feeling. So many of us in ministry want to see our church family succeed. We deeply want the best for them, so we get in this state of pass-through, not retaining any of the wisdom and knowledge we hear from others to teach us, lead us, and help us grow. We eventually become empty; nothing more than a slot machine. Put in a quarter, pull the lever, out comes the advice.
It's okay to keep the pass-throughs going. But take time to snag some for yourself. Or better yet, snag the whole thing for yourself; let it steep for a while; then continue the pass-through. I challenge all my pastor friends, counselor friends, pastor's wife friends to notice how often you go into pass-through mode. The next time you realize it, stop and think about what you're hearing or reading and how it can apply to YOUR life first, and you will take a step in guarding yourself against burnout.
This blog by Sheila Harper was posted on Dec 11, 2017 at Sanctuaryministrywives.com. Sheila and her husband, Jack, have been in full-time ministry at SaveOne since 2000. The couple planted a church in 2007, so Sheila has been a pastor’s wife for 10 years. Sheila and Jack have two sons, ages 27 & 29. "Neither are married, but I am looking for wives for them so I will be one step closer to having grandchildren," quips Sheila. When asked what shaped her ministry philosophy, Sheila answered, "Pain. Plain and simple. I started SaveOne from a place of wanting to make sure others didn’t experience the same pain I did after an abortion. I wanted everyone to know the truth of what abortion really does to you." As far as the church, "what shaped my ministry philosophy was realizing, if I’m not healthy I could derail my husband’s ministry. As a pastor’s wife I am possibly the most vulnerable in the whole church. I have to take time for soul care, and the whole church remains healthier because of it." Sheila enjoys "hiking, drinking coffee, hiking, reading, hiking, hanging in my hammock in the woods, and hiking" when she comes across some free time. Sheila's greatest passion in ministry comes from seeing people be transformed from the inside out. "When a person walks in and doesn’t know Jesus, gives his/her heart to Him, lets themselves be discipled, and their life start to come together….I don’t know of a greater joy than that."
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.
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“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.
Adversity is wrapped up in anxiety. Where there is trouble, there is also fear, worry, fretfulness and distress. Statistics tell us that over forty million Americans struggle with anxiety disorders, with women diagnosed at a rate twice that of men. Even without an official pronouncement of a “disorder”, worry affects even the most spiritually mature and faithful. It drains us spiritually, emotionally and is exhausting. How can we best manage anxiety? Here are three suggestions:
FACE THE “WHAT IF…?”
Years ago I learned a valuable lesson when I least expected it (isn’t that how it always happens?) One of our young daughters had plaguing allergies, making her very uncomfortable. Traveling always exacerbated her problems, making her miserable. One Sunday morning prior to a family trip, I ran into Luanna, one of my prayer partners. I asked her to pray that Holly’s allergies would not flare up while traveling. She agreed, then casually remarked, “But if they do, it’s not the end of the world.” I was stunned...Continue reading
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