From that moment when I knew I wanted to serve God with everything that I was, I began praying for God to use my life in a mighty way to bring Him glory and to draw people to Him. I surrendered my life at that time for whatever it was that He had in store for me, knowing that I desired to be used by Him to draw people to the love, grace and peace that I have experienced since I chose to have a personal relationship with Him. It has been a privilege to serve the One who gave Himself for me and I would have it no other way, but I have to be honest in saying there have been many days when I wondered if I was still up for His calling on my life.
A friend of mine just recently posted an article on facebook about a pastor's wife that was shopping one day and saw a lady that looked a lot like her. She literally walked up to the lady and asked her if she would like to make $100/week. The task to earn the money...sit on the front pew every Sunday morning posing as the pastor's wife. The lady agreed and got away with it for 10 years. Another friend of mine happened to post an article that same week by someone who had interviewed many pastor's wives and came up with "Nine Secret's Your Pastor's Wife Wishes You Knew".
As I read both of these articles, I just wept because it happened to be a week that I would have liked to hire someone to sit in my spot and I would love for people to know what is hidden behind the smile that I put on every Sunday morning when I arrive at church. I haven't written in a while, mainly because our whole world revolves around the calling that God has on us to lead, teach, shepherd, mentor, care for and pastor His people and I just couldn't pull the words together to make sense of all that was transpiring. I still can't make sense of it, but I know that I can shed some light on things that, like the article I read above, every pastor's wife wishes you knew.
In our ministry together, Derrick and I have seen great days where God's purpose was being served of people surrendering their lives to Him and we have witnessed tremendous life change. We have seen marriages restored, people healed, and the broken hearted rejoice. We have witnessed those with a childlike faith see their prayers answered. We have experienced and seen life-long relationships with a common bond of Jesus. We have seen a rising generation excited about their creator and serving Him all of their days. We have sat by the bedside of those who breathed their last breath and went to meet their maker. We have visited many in the hospital, prayed with and held up those who are weak physically and those who are weak spiritually. We have had the honor of conducting many wedding ceremonies. We have also led many funerals of those who have gone on before us.
It's for all of those wonderful experiences that we have found joy in the call that God has on us but in the midst of the purpose and the greatness of it all, there is an enemy that is looming about wanting only to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Sad to say, I have never experienced this as much as I have over the last few years of our ministry. I have to be real because I have no other way to sugar coat it. I am so weary of crying. Of hiding behind closed doors because I don't want my children to HATE church or church people. I'm tired of my children hurting because their friend's families have left our church with no explanation and they never see their best friends again. I'm so exhausted from being "beat up" by "Christ followers" that I told Derrick the other day I would rather go hang out with a bunch of people that don't claim to be Christ followers because they treat us so much better. Ah ha! That's why Jesus hung out with all the sinners instead of all the Pharisees! The gospels are very clear about how we are to act...they will know that we are Christians by our LOVE. (Jn 13:35/Mt 13:44) It's no wonder that so many turn their backs on Christianity because they see the behavior of "Christians".
We served at a church for 8 years in Ocala, FL and we used to see pastors come through there all the time that were so wounded, exhausted and alone that they stepped out of the calling that God had at one time placed on their life. I always thought how tragically sad that was and could never understand it.
Hebrews 13:17 says, "Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you."
"So that their work would be a joy..." These men had given their lives to a very high calling of caring for the souls of the people that God entrusted to them and in return they were shunned, judged, made fun of, and made to feel as though they couldn't do anything right. This is exactly the way that the enemy would have it! We, as church bodies, have to change this! Especially in this day and age where the lines are being drawn in the sand between good and evil. If we, as Christ followers, don't start standing firm on our firm foundation and begin behaving like Christ in ALL of our actions, there will be many that shun the name of Christ because of us!
1 Corinthians 13, I know you know that is the love chapter. Read it! Read it again!
Here are a few things you could do to support your faith family and your pastor:
1. Think of your church family as you do your immediate family.
When Derrick and I were dating, he was a youth and music minister at a small church while he was going to college. I began helping him with both of those ministries but also tried to cover my roles of choir member/children's choir teacher at the church that I grew up in. I will never forget my dad sitting me down and talking to me about needing to choose which church I was going to serve wholeheartedly in. Pick one and serve faithfully there. Maybe this was a bible-belt type of lifestyle because it seems so foreign here in Florida. People will go to one church for one thing they like, another church to get something else out of it and another church to feel totally fulfilled.
As a wife and mom, I will serve my family faithfully and with my whole heart. I will not get from my husband what he is good at, then go and get from another man what he is good at. Enjoy some time with my kids but go do things with the neighbors kids more because I have more fun with them. When things get hard, I will find a way to work it out and not just walk out the door. It's in good times and bad...we as a church family need to understand this concept and realize if each church body began serving faithfully and wholeheartedly within their faith family, there could be such a greater impact on the community that they are in!
2. A church family is to love one another, support one another, hold each other up, grow together in Christ.
This includes your pastor. People tend to forget that pastor's are just as real and human as they are. They have the same fears, insecurities, temptations, and emotions as you. They will have times when they are low, weary and spent and will need you to hold them up just as they do for you. I can't help but think about Exodus 17 when Moses' arms were tired and Aaron and Hur got a rock for him to sit on and held his arms up for him.
Pastor's need this too. A pastor's job is never over. Unlike many secular jobs, pastor's are on call 24/7, 7 days a week. They will have times that they need to be supported and held up by their faith family. So many just walk out and leave because their needs are not presently being met. "How dare our pastor have a time where he is not on a high!" Love on and support the man of God that God has called to lead your faith family! Not just on pastor appreciation day either!
3. The 30-40 minute message you hear from your pastor on Sunday morning is not supposed to sustain your spiritual well being.
As a Christ follower, you have to spend time with God to grow closer to God. You can't expect to know the ways of the Lord if you are never in His word. The Bible is a daily map for your life. Study it, memorize it's promises, and live it out. To say your pastor is not deep enough in his 30 minute sermon is very clear that you are depending on him to sustain your walk with Jesus. Your walk is your walk. Take responsibility for it and get into a small group at your church. Begin serving at your church. Spend intimate time with your Savior. Your pastor can't do that for you.
4. Realize that when God calls a man to pastor your church family, as it said in the verse I mentioned above, Hebrews 13:17, your pastor has an account for your life and each ministry that is held within that church family.
No one likes to be corrected or told what to do but in any corporation, everything rises and falls on the owner of that business. Who he hires, how he conducts his business and how each entity of that business functions ultimately falls on him. As a pastor, God entrusts to him the flock that he is to lead, and every entity within each ministry falls back on him. Don't criticize him for protecting the church body. Support him and realize he accounts for it all.
5. Take time to pray for your church family and your pastor!
Instead of grumbling because someone didn't show up in their ministry area to serve or grumbling because you didn't like the pastor's message that day, pray for them! Call that person that didn't show up and check on them. Pray weekly for God to pour out His wisdom on your pastor so that he will be anointed in his teaching.
The enemy likes to disrupt within your church walls! Stand in the gap and pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ. Lift up your pastor and his family and know they are being attacked. Encourage one another and pray without ceasing!
These are just a few things that I pray you will be encouraged to do for your church family and your pastor. It's personally been a rough road these last few years and many times my smile on a Sunday morning is hiding the pain of hurt and loneliness. And yet underneath the hurt is always the underlying joy of the Lord. The confidence that "He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it!" Philippians 1:6 I continue to "run the race and not grow weary" and I know the "joy of the Lord is my strength!"
The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. Psalms 28:7
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1