Low Man on the Totem Pole and No Problem with That!

Galatians 5:13 “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love, serve one another.”

In VanCouver Canada 2012

In VanCouver Canada 2012

A lot of people may have a huge problem with the scripture above. Why? Because probably most people want to be served, not to be a servant.

We are a society that focuses on self and pleasing ourselves, and this is a far cry from the example that Christ gave us to serve others. We are taught in our Christian belief that once we become a Christian, we have a new nature alongside our old nature; we begin to reflect on the very acts and manner of Christ. We can choose between following our old desires and lusts or following the Holy Spirit within us.

Once God calls us and enables us, it’s easy to accept Christ as our Savior and trust Him to save us. The Holy Spirit moves us to do so. But Christians sometimes stop right there. They understand that acceptance of Christ offers forgiveness of sins – past, present and future. But Christians may count on this gift from God to see them through life -regardless of whether they continue to follow their old natures. But the Holy Spirit prompts followers of Jesus to change their focus on self. The Spirit continues to educate and change us into what God intends for us to be in Christ. The freedom we have in following Christ transforms us into wanting to be more like Him – not doing anything our old nature tells us to do and simply receiving forgiveness. This spiritual transformation freely allows us to shed what we once considered important: ourselves, and sense that others are also equally important to Christ. That transformation leads us to not only listen to His voice, but to move us into service to others. The service that He calls us to engage varies greatly. Some are called into the mission fields, others to the pulpit, and to many other less visible positions in the church.

I have to say at this stage in my Christian walk, I am content to simply be a servant of The Lord. And I’m even happier to be called to be engaged in positions that most folks would consider low on the totem pole. Give me the opportunity to meet and greet new people coming into our church. Give me the opportunity to go out into the community and help feed the hungry. Give me the opportunity to visit folks in the hospital or bring a meal to those who are experiencing illness at home. Give me the opportunity to hold the hand of an elderly person or to hug someone who doesn’t get a hug from anyone else, and I am genuinely happy.

I have recently been granted the wonderful opportunity to help our new members become more connected and integrated into our church family. I am helping them to find those small groups, circles, ministries, members, and committees that they feel God may be asking them to serve. God might use me to help them find their God-given gifts to share with others.

I love being with God’s people, doing what God has called me to do. I know that God has given me the gift of hospitality, and I am currently planning a dinner party for these wonderful new members, just so we can get to know them better. These are the people that God has given me to lift up in pray and care, and what a magnificent pleasure to be in Christ’s service even low on the totem pole!

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BE STRONG and BE COURAGEOUS

“Be Strong and Courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

I have had a very hectic and draining couple of weeks.  But I can only attempt to understand the distress, pressures and heartache that my pastor husband, Earl, has endured.

We live and minister in Charleston, SC, and I work for a company in Atlanta, GA.  Last week, I was needed in Atlanta for the week, coming back to Charleston on Saturday.  On Palm Sunday, Earl received a call that no one ever wants to receive.  His father, who was diagnosed with lung cancer only 2 months prior, had passed away.  With Holy Week ahead of him, we quickly made the arrangements to get to St. Louis on Monday morning, very early.

Upon arriving, Earl and I, his sister and brother-in-law and Earl’s mother, went to make the arrangements with the funeral home.  After spending most of the day there, the decisions had been made, but then they had to find a burial plot, where further hours were spent with more decisions being made.  Earl’s mother was a really strong woman that day and handled herself with pure grace.  She was strong, she was courageous!

Earl’s mother made a request of Earl that I would never have been able to fulfill.  She asked him to do the service for his father.  Earl was grieving, Earl was trying to be the strong son.  Earl was uncertain he could fulfill her request.  But she insisted.  Earl’s stress was intensified.  How could he possibly do his own father’s service and make it as meaningful for the family as he had done for so many other families in the past?  This request prompted me to remember how Earl was as a child.  He wanted to be superman; he donned his cape and climbed atop the garage so he could save the world and make everything right.

 

Earl had to go into super pastor mode, so he went into prayer and asked God for His presence.  He pastored his family; he gently and compassionately questioned them about their stories about his father.  He took in the stories and on Wednesday, he took those stories and developed them into a tribute to his father that was inspiring, loving and heart- felt by each person in the chapel. He began his eulogy with a prayer that so touched me that I will never forget his request.  He asked God to give him the spirit of a preacher and the heart of a grateful son.  Earl stood strong, he was courageous! 

God’s timing in the passing of Earl’s father was too soon for us, but oh so perfect for Him. Earl’s father suffers no more.  Earl will always remember that God took Aubrey home on Palm Sunday.  Earl mentioned that his father triumphantly entered Paradise on the day we celebrate Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem so long ago.  Jesus came in order that we too could triumphantly enter the gates of heaven.  Earl’s father lived a life full of compassion, love and gentleness the very personality of Jesus.  Earl’s father lived a life of giving and helping and being there for those that came across his path.  Earl’s father lived a life that most would shy away from, for Earl’s father did not live for self, but Aubrey lived for others.  Aubrey lived strong, he was courageous!

Easter is now upon Earl.  The day after burying his father, Earl was presenting the Maundy Thursday service to a fellowship hall full of our Charleston family.  Our congregation offered him more time to stay with his mother and take care of family business.  Our congregation offered a gift so very extraordinary, they gave that gift unselfishly, knowing that Holy Week was here.  But in Earl’s eyes, his church family in Charleston needed him now.  He needed to be back in the fellowship of his flock, helping to lead them into the Easter season, in the remembrance of the Resurrection of Christ, the most holy week of the year. He let the Lord lead him.  He knew that he had to be strong and courageous for his flock.  For he knows, “the Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you.” Deuteronomy 31:8

May you be strong and courageous through all of life’s trials and tribulations and may you always know that the Lord will go ahead of you and will always be with you. In Christ we can be strong and courageous!

Walking Down the Aisle to Serve…

Galatians 5:13
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

When Earl and I got married, I did very little of the planning. Truth be told, I did NONE of the planning. I did manage a week before our wedding, to take my good friend Bev and go look for a dress for my big day! Now, I am a very organized and detail oriented person. So looking back, it’s very hard for me to understand how I could have let this big day just happen.

Earl planned everything from the flowers to the music, the cake, and also the car that whisked us away after the ceremony. I got myself into my dress and waited for my queue to walk down the aisle with this handsome man on my arm. Our wedding was a full worship service with hymns, liturgies and a sermon. We spent the sermon portion of the service looking down from the church choir balcony listening to every word and in total awe of the over 300 guests present. We then took our moment to walk down the aisle together to say our vows. After saying “I do” and being presented as man and wife, we came back down the aisle to an instrumental piece that Earl had written, played on the organ…..it was magical! I still to this day, wake up to that beautiful piece of music entitled, “The Proclaimed Word” as it plays as our alarm each morning.

Why am I reminiscing about my wedding day so long ago when I’m talking to my fellow pastor wives? Well, let me just say that, every Sunday morning, I relive that beautiful day of saying “I do”.

Years ago, when I realized that God’s appointed ministry in my life was to minister to my pastor husband, I understood that Earl needed assistance after a worship service concluded. I let you know in my blog entitled, “A Rare Sunday in the Pew…”, that I walk around pre-service to meet and greet congregants and visitors. Well, an extension of that ministry evolved when I understood that Earl was being given numerous prayer requests and concerns as people left the church after a service. In the receiving line, Earl couldn’t greet everyone and at the same time write down prayer concerns I found that by sitting in the front of the church, usually 3rd or 4th pew, I could actually see the service better, but I could also take the opportunity to walk back down the aisle with Earl as he went to the doors to greet attendee’s. Each Sunday, I walk down that aisle with Earl and feel a renewal of our vows, to have and to hold, in good times and in bad, for better or worse.

I stand at the doors with him, hand him gum or a mint in order to relieve him of any dryness of mouth from speaking, and I offer him another ear. Some congregants hesitate to burden their pastor with their request feeling that the pastor has too much to do already. I am someone they feel they can inform and they know I will get it to Earl. I write down the requests, and he is free to continue to greet everyone.

I am right here beside him, being his helpmate and right here for HIM, in HIS service..to this day I say, “I do”…….

God, Family, Church?

If you are a pastor, your job is to serve Christ first and foremost.  Great, I understand that.  That would be under the God heading within a Christian’s priorities.  But within a pastor’s priorities, what happens to his/her family being second, or more specifically, the wife of a pastor being second?

I know that there must be a lot of pastors’ wives that ultimately feel that they don’t even come in a close second.  They feel that they are ranked way down on a list of priorities by their minister spouse.  Maybe they are 200th in a 200 member church.  Whatever the church roll is, add 1 and that’s where she is. It is hard to be dead last even if, at times, it is out of necessity. The reality is, the real priorities of being a pastor must at least feel different to the family.

God, Church, Family (spouse)………..and they don’t like it.

What we, as pastors wives, have to ultimately open our eyes to is what it means to serve Christ first.

It took me a little while to understand that when God united Earl and me, “for this cause a man …..shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh” (Matthew 19:5) and “Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh” (Matthew 19:6), I too was called into the ministry.  Yes friends, we were called into the ministry along with our husbands if we are truly one flesh. 

Therefore it really doesn’t matter if he was called into the ministry before you met, while you dated or even years after you were married.  If the two were joined in marriage, they are both called, because in marriage, God does not call one without calling the other.

And since every Christian is to serve Christ first and foremost, we may not have been called to preach, but we, as a ministers wife, have been called to do one of the greatest ministries ever mandated by God.  What is that?

We were called to serve Christ alongside our husbands as a helpmate to him.  A pastor’s life is not glamorous.  The statistics on a pastor’s life are horrendous.  Take a look at these I found under the Schaeffer Institute:  Statistics on Pastors, By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir.  Here’s the link if you want to know more:

http://www.intothyword.org/articles_view.asp?articleid=36562&columnid=

  • 100% pastors we surveyed, every one of them had a close associate or seminary buddy who had left the ministry because of burnout, conflict in their church, or from a moral failure. 
  • 90% of pastors stated they are frequently fatigued and worn out on a weekly and even daily basis (did not say burned out). 
  • 89% of the pastors we surveyed also considered leaving the ministry at one time. 57% said they would leave if they had a better place to go—including secular work. 
  • 77% of the pastors we surveyed felt they did not have a good marriage. 
  • 71% of pastors stated they were burned out, and they battle depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis. 
  • 38% of pastors said they were divorced or currently in a divorce process. 
  • 30% said they had either been in an ongoing affair or a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner. 
  • 23% of the pastors we surveyed said they felt happy and content on a regular basis with who they are in Christ, in their church, and in their home! 

I only took those statistics that directly related to family and marriage.  These numbers should prompt every good pastor’s wife to ACT. 

But what can we do when we hardly ever see this dear sweet, (well, not always) man of ours?

Serve him as He serves Christ!  Oh that is so politically incorrect!   But when you serve your husband the way he serves Christ’s people, you are doing a great service for God.  Who better to serve “God’s Man” than “God’s Woman”?  We need to focus on how to serve our husbands better in order that their lives in the ministry will be a little easier on them, and possibly, some of the above statistics aren’t fulfilled in your marriage.

One of the small things that I have chosen to do is to be up at 5 AM on Sundays, while he is preparing and dressing for a full day of service and meetings, and cook him a good breakfast.  Of course once he is out the door, I promptly take myself back to bed!. But this one little act (among others), has made a big impact on our marriage.  He goes out fully nourished to battle the day, and he really appreciates it.  I believe he even preaches a little better after a good early morning breakfast.  And it also puts me in a very good light in his eyes – and I believe in God’s eyes too.

Thank you so much for visiting my blog, you have blessed me! Please feel free to leave a comment, subscribe to my blog, and/or share this post with a friend. Be blessed my friend!
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