One of the most common things I’ve heard over our time in ministry – which for the record, for me, has been my WHOLE life – is how much we must love ministry. Most times this comes out of the notion of another that when God calls one to ministry, there must be angels singing and a lot of running through the wide open meadows singing and dancing as we go! It’s a lot of “everyone must love you, want to spend time with you and living in a ‘happy place’ all the time.” I don’t mean to make a mockery of it…really, I don’t. It’s just that I sometimes like to use my blog for others in ministry, building a network of encouragement for others living the life of a pastor’s wife, or any aspect of ministry. And goodness knows, we people in ministry sure like to “ponder these things” this time of year.
Pondering is my love language…well, OK, sometimes is my hate language, when it decides to take me to an unhappy place of false assumptions, “I’m a failure,” no one likes, me, everybody hates me, think I’ll eat some worms kinda place. That’s another blog (and probably a therapy session, too!).
As I ponder a lot of things at the end of this year, one of which is what I have learned, and continue to learn, from a calling to ministry:
1) We are ALL called! Wow! That took a lot of pressure off me, didn’t it? None of that blog post about just me being in ministry. We get to run through the meadows together! Seriously, it’s my favorite thing to ponder this year. At LifeSong, we hear ALL the time how we are to be “missionaries where we live, work and play.” I LOVE that. This year, this has become more and more real to me. One day, I’ll write about just how it has. It’s really just been over the last three months. I love the freedom of knowing that finally the day came that something I really knew in my heart most of my life, is now REAL for me. My friend, Misty, said it best to us when we started LifeSong. She said, “Everyday, I put my church clothes on because we are ALL the church everywhere we go.” She and her family really live what they say, too.
2) Ministry is not about me. This is something I struggle with a lot. It’s the kind of pondering that takes me to the false assumption place. God did not call my family to be served, but to serve. He didn’t call us to be taken care of, but to take care of (the orphans and widows). Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling alone, unwanted, not taken care of, but the truth is, that’s just where Satan would want us to be. He wants to keep us discouraged so that we stay offended when no one speaks to us, think we are not loved/included, feel burnt out from trying to please everyone, or he will lie to us that no one is really following our leadership, or have us believe that we are fractured as a leadership. The list really can go on and on. Where he finds a place to attack, he will. Just when I think I’ve endured all the attack I will ever have to endure, well, in walks in a thorn. I love the fact that we GET to serve others. When I am serving by having new people in our church into our home, my heart is full. When I am asked to pray for another, my heart is full. When I see a woman grow in her relationship with God because she attends a Bible study, a weekend retreat, reads a blog, shares her faith with another, my heart is full. When I witness the Holy Spirit falling down on one of our corporate worship times, my heart is so full.
3) Ministry is hard. I read this today. It’s specifically about church planting being hard. It really summarizes anything I have to say about ministry being hard. There is always the possibility of failing…failing when WE get in the way. We make it hard, more times than not. Point #2 really talks about this, too, but the aspect of church planting is not for the weary of heart.
4) Ministry is about relationship. I love the friendships I’ve made over our 14 years in ministry. From the relationships we made in seminary, to each place God has called us to serve, the relationships he gives us are priceless. Some are given to us for a short while, some to invest in, some invest in US, and some give us accountability. I love knowing that there is always someone in my life that God has given to me to spur me on to a better me. I’m thankful for those that love me for me, and do not breathe false assumptions about who they think I am over me, but they have taken the time to understand me and love me, challenge me and pray for me.
We say sometimes that we are lonely in ministry, and yes, that is true, but not from lack of relationships in our life.
Another filling of my heart is knowing that others walk hand in hand with me.
5) Ministry is about investing. Jeff and I are always grateful for those special ones that God gives us more opportunity to invest in their lives. We wish we could invest in everyone in a one on one basis, but I’d clearly need another brain to manage that. Rather, we’ve had the honor to disciple some in their faith, be a part of God calling them to a specific life of ministry, traveling on mission trips outside of our community, and to daily be a part of leading a church to invest in lives around them. Really, what more could we ask for. I am personally grateful for the lives of women in which I get to invest. Seeing them changed is amazing to me!
These are just a few things that God has specifically spoken to me about over the past year. I am constantly on a path to understanding the calling God has on my life, and being called to be a Pastor’s wife is something that I will learn more about for the rest of my life. For me, being married to Jeff, the man, not the pastor, is the greatest gift of my life. The fact that God has chosen him to shepherd people is a bonus. Jeff teaches me everyday that ministry is always about others, and to never waiver from the mission that no one ever die without the life-changing message of Christ. We are called to live that our with a fervor and a passion. We are called, all of us, to make sure that we love THAT ministry above all others!