FIRST-PERSON: Why did I sign up for this?
IMMOKALEE, Fla. (BP) -- Do you ever wake up in ministry to ask yourself "Why?"
Why did I sign up for this?
If we were all honest with ourselves, we would say that at some point or another, we have asked the "why" questions in ministry. Typically, we come to the answer that we believe God has a plan and purpose for us in this specific ministry (Romans 8:28). Ministry is tough, but being in the will of God makes the reward well worth it.
Flourish where God plants
We may not like where our lives have been planted. God may have called you away from everything you define as comfortable. However, until He replants us in a different mission field, we are to thrive and flourish where we are -- not just survive. How do we flourish? Get involved with the people around you. Meet business owners in the community, go to sports games at your local schools, volunteer at the community pregnancy center, etc. Don't withdraw, get involved.
Love unlovable people
Let's be honest, some people are hard to love. They may have wounded us. They may have said something hurtful about our husband as a pastor. They may have turned their backs on the church. They may be a constant troublemaker or gossip. Surprise them by loving them (Matthew 5:44).
Speak truth in love
This phrase sounds simple, right? We often say it so flippantly, almost like it comes as second nature to us. It is hard to speak truth in love to someone who has hurt you or is a constant critic of your husband. However, that is what we are called to do (Ephesians 4:15). In each instance, we must control the desires of our flesh and choose godliness with our words.
Grow through criticism
Criticism is unavoidable and stings to the core. The words are hard to hear and they break our hearts. However, at times, there is a partial truth in what is being said. You must take the words being said to Scripture and evaluate whether they have any credence. You must allow the words to transform you and teach you to grow in your knowledge of God's Word. Let the criticism help you grow.
Don't let bitterness take root
After being hurt or betrayed, some ministry wives retreat and take on the attitude of "I will never do that again" or "I will never allow myself to make a friend in the church again." To be honest, I have declared these bold statements before. Very early in ministry, I allowed a temporary feeling to dictate whom I ministered to and whom I wanted to ignore. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. It is in those moments of vulnerability that God has used me to minister to women the most.
Unfortunately, in ministry, wounds will come. Some are deep and some are shallow. Often, our hearts want to keep score. Keeping a scorecard is heading down a slippery slope. Instead of walking around with bitterness and resentment, choose forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35). The blood of Jesus demands our hearts to be broken and to forgive those who have wronged us or our husbands.
Keep a servant's heart
There is something humbling about serving the local church. Sadly, many church members do not expect the pastor's wife to lift a finger or serve selflessly. One of my favorite ways to serve the church is to serve in unexpected areas: help the janitor clean the bathrooms once a month, volunteer to fold the bulletins, be the door greeter on a Sunday morning or help in the parking lot with an umbrella when it is raining (Matthew 23:11).
Love your husband
Choose to love your husband each and every day. Early on in ministry, I was completely broken by a situation concerning a church staff member. The wife of this staff member was extremely vocal regarding the fact that she hated being a ministry wife and what that life entailed for her and her children. She despised her husband for answering God's call to ministry and it greatly affected the attitude of our church members. I made a choice in that moment that I would love my husband and pray bold prayers for him. When God called my husband to ministry, He called me too. God called me to be my husband's encourager, prayer warrior and helper (Genesis 2:18).
I don't know what you're facing in your ministry, but I hope these words help with those tough mornings and give you some practical, biblical truth for the tough days ahead.