Living Life As a Woman In Ministry

Archive for the ‘Etiquette’ Category

You’re Supposed To Be The Church

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Here are some things I am thinking about today as I was told I am not a Christian and I am a liar because I chose to believe in our staff and our store policy.

Sometimes love say no.

Sometimes love has discipline.

Sometimes love has boundaries.

Sometimes love doesn’t allow the trampling of a soul.

Sometimes love points out wrongs.

People have this misconception about church that we are supposed to do everything anyone asks because we’re supposed to love. So we get these crazy asks sometimes. Take for example our thrift store. The conversation goes something like this:

“I’m sorry we won’t be able to take your couch, it has to be usable and without the cushions it isn’t usable.”

“Well, don’t you people help poor people? Beggars can’t be choosy. My dogs tore up the cushions but it’s still good for the homeless.”

Alright so at this point in the conversation I’m not thinking nice things, in fact my thoughts are quite sarcastic and this I realize is why I will never hold political office. My thoughts are going in the direction of why would we donate a couch to a homeless person? Sleeping bags, clothes, food, blankets, tents, yes but a couch? Not so much buddy. Not even on my radar. I know, I can’t say these things and maintain customer service as much as I would like to. These are thoughts though and I gather myself together and get back on track.

“Yes we do help people in need but this couch doesn’t help them. They can’t sit on it like this.”

“Well what I am supposed to do with it?”

“Well you can take it to the local dump.”

“WHAT? DO YOU KNOW THAT COSTS MONEY? I THOUGHT YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE THE CHURCH?” Huff, puff, slam and yell, “SO YOU’RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT? YOU GUYS DON’T HELP PEOPLE.”

“I understand the dump is expensive. It would cost us $20 to take the couch to the dump. We don’t get a Christian break or anything and we run on a very tight margin here. If you’d like us to take it to the dump for you, we can but you’ll have to pay the $20.”

He elects not to do that.

Whenever I hear the phrase, “I thought you were supposed to be the church.” or “I thought you were Christians.”, what I hear is, “You’re not doing what I want.”

I know your next question. What are some things we’ve been asked to do because we are the church? Mostly things that are wrong or unwise to us.

Cashing checks for people we’ve never seen before. 

Making exceptions to policy when it will ultimately hurt us. 

Writing letters of reference for people we don’t know. 

Loaning our vehicles to people without a license. 

Doing things that compromise our moral belief. 

Where do we get this idea that Christians are weenies who should do everything that is asked even when it’s contrary to their belief system thus saying no means they are hateful or not Christian? Jesus didn’t do everything asked of him and he asked people to make some very tough choices for the betterment of their life. Yet he was Christ. Not everything goes our way nor should it.

Oh and by the way, the guy came by and dumped the couch on our property after hours. Guess he showed us! So pray for me as I work through the nonsense of a thought process that I don’t understand and learn to let it go and move on.

 

It Feels Personal

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I posted this on my Facebook page and received many comments and likes but I also received quite a few private messages with stories from women who were trying to learn not to take things personally. This was coming on the heels of the  Kelly Clarkson body-shaming tweets so I thought I’d respond with what I’ve learned.

First off, there are mean people out there. They have no filter. They mask it under the, “I just say what I think you know? I’m just being honest.”, only their honesty is aimed as the knife that stabs you to your core, and remember this, their honesty only pertains to the output not the input. In other words speak the truth to them and it’s WAR. Not everything needs to be said but so often we think what we have to say is important, because it is important to us. No one is exempt from this not even me, hence this post.

Compound that with the phenomenon of social media where because we can’t see the hurt look on someone’s face it is easy to blast people. These are your typical pounce and flounce people at a new level. I have a friend who seldom replies to online posts because she says the attacks begin immediately and sadly she is right.

So how do we not take things personally when they seem so personal? My husband taught me a great trick I’m going to pass on to you. He said,

“If they have nothing nice to say about anyone, and they talk about everyone then it isn’t personal. If they don’t say nice things about even those they love then they aren’t going to say nice things about you. It isn’t personal, it’s just how they are.” 

“If they don’t have problems with others but they have problems only with you, then it’s personal to them not to you. They have things that need to be worked out and they need to grow up and come to you about the issue.”

Listen, you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Friendships happen with like-minded people. Leave it at that. I often hear people say, and I’ve said it myself,  the solution is to go and confront the person but the problem with that is that those who talk behind your back never say it to your face so oftentimes my experience has been that  I’ve gone to the person and asked if there is an offense because I’ve heard such and such from so and so, I get the standard answer of nothing is wrong it was a misunderstanding, and more often than not, the pattern continues.

So here is a pattern that I chose to live my life by, and so far it’s working, so let me post it and hopefully help you.

I no longer take it personally. The comments, the blasts, the opinions, come from people who don’t know me. It’s okay. Those comments and opinions don’t pay my bills nor do they pour my cup of coffee in the morning. I have a choice to snuggle with those opinions in bed at night or kick them to curb. I choose to boot them out of my life. I hope you’ll try it because you’ll find your life is a lot less messy.

Flesh Eaters

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picture from http://www.alphacoders.com

There is the word Gheebah in the Muslim faith that means backbiter but even more so they translate it flesh eater. There is an interesting teaching on it that was shared with me and I’d like to share it with you.

“If what you say is true about your brother then you have backbitten him. If what you say is not true about your brother than you have slandered him.”

Have you ever thought about the word backbiter? It describes someone who eats the flesh of a friend or family member. Muslim or Christian I doubt it’s worthy of our faith. In reading books on psychology, backbiting is said to be a trait of young people, only I disagree. I know women who are in their 30’s who are professional flesh eaters. The bible says backbiters soothe their own appetite. Flesh eaters. What a horrible description of a person of faith. It actually made me shudder.

Galatians 5:15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

Is eating live flesh something you’d like to be a part of? You can’t stop the flesh eater’s insatiable appetite but you can stop them from eating others in your presence by not participating in the flesh eating frenzy. The bible says when we have an issue with someone there is a way to handle it. It’s taught in Matthew 18. If the flesh eater continues to devour then ask yourself if the person is a believer? Even the devil knows the word of God.

Romans 16:17-18 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

What causes a person to continually backbite? Honestly, they are bored people who have nothing else to do. They look for things to be critical of and people whom they are jealous of to tear apart. Think about the picture of a person who bites someone in the back. They are biting the back of a person. They are behind that person, not in their own lane guided by the Holy Spirit, handling their own business. These are hopefully not the people we wish to be nor is it the people who we call friends because can I be honest with you? It’s all fine until they begin to eat you alive.

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Before You Judge It Fake

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There is this backlash to social media. The naysayers think no one’s life is perfect and therefore the things people post are fake. This is the problem with judging isn’t it? You don’t know motive until you step in the shoes of God and I don’t know about anyone else but I don’t need that stress.

What if the poster decides not to focus on their problem and instead to focus on their blessing? Is that okay? We all know no one’s life is perfect but if they have chosen to be happy no matter what then why is that bad? Why does that goof us up?

“Well we all know what’s going on in her life.”

Yes, and now we’ve resorted to judging.

Let’s stay in our lane and live our own lives. Maybe the poster has a parent with cancer and maybe her car broke down today but someone at work told her there was a sale on shoes. Instead of throwing up a woe is me post,  she bought a pair of shoes and decided to walk home in them, making the best of a worst situation, and then she threw up a post about that. Can we just be happy for her? In the midst of the chaos, she found something positive. I can totally cheer that on. I wish I had the ability to be positive in the midst of chaos. I don’t without careful thought so that is something I admire. Can I please have some of what she is having? Instead of calling something fake that we know nothing about, let’s be happy that each of our friends can etch out a little happiness. I think that makes us better friends.

Ask yourself this simple question; does the negative post make you happy? If the answer is yes then you’re not a real friend. Does the bullying post make you happy? You know the ones, “Sad. You know who you are. You’re a fake friend.” I heard those posts are called Vaguebook posts. Then you’re a drama friend because now there is something to get worked up over. Hopefully, you enjoy the happy posts, the funny posts, the frank posts, and you’re not deciding for anyone else what is fake and what is real because honestly, that is what makes you a wonderful friend. That you can take the good with the bad and still be love. True friends do that, they see the good, the bad, and the ugly and they love you anyway.

The Pastor’s Wife

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When you hear the words, The Pastor’s Wife, what does she conjure up for you mentally? For so many she is the object of perfection in the church. She has it all together, her children are perfect, her responses are wonderful, and her life is one to be admired and emulated. For others of you, she is a working woman, playing the piano, leading the women’s group, feeding the homeless, and running the children’s ministry seamlessly. Yet for others, she is the epitome of judgment. She glances at you head to toe and makes a sad determination. Sadly, you’d be right with all three versions because she exists in all of these forms.

Back in the day there was the thought process that the Pastor’s Wife was to be set apart. She was not to mingle with the commoners of the church and she was to be held in high regard. Only that doesn’t really fly in the face of scripture does it? Jesus says he is gentle and lowly in heart. Jesus says he is set apart by believing and obeying his Father. It wasn’t about being set apart from the people, it was about being among the people and being set apart in action.

The question that has been stirring in my heart as I see this attitude is what false hope it gives to women in the body. To think that any life is really that perfect and the average woman cannot attain it because it’s for an elite group is just not realistic. There are no scriptures to back this thought process up. There is no elite group of  Navy Seal Christian Woman. There are women who achieve great things and who have applied godly principles of life to their everyday walk but no one’s life is pure perfection. There are Pastors Wives who silently suffer, and because they are supposed to have this perfect image, they can speak to absolutely no one about it. So they put their makeup on and hide behind a smile and because no one really looks at each other anymore they are able to pose.

The problem with that is that we are called to mentor and to love and to help. We can’t ever say we have a problem because then we have this perception that no one will think we are as perfect as we pretend to be and therefore leave the church. So we lift up this unattainable goal to woman in the church that they too can be a perfect woman in Christ and she flounders because she never can quite get there. She feels inadequate and that’s good for us because it makes us feel more powerful.

I will never forget a story I heard Ruth Graham tell. She was Billy Graham’s wife who has now gone on to be with Jesus. Because her husband was often traveling she raised her children primarily alone. She said her son Franklin Graham, who is now an evangelist himself, gave her fits on a regular basis. One day while out and about he was acting out so much that she threatened to put him in the trunk of the car if he continued his behavior. Of course Franklin continued and she pulled the car over and stuck him in the trunk and drove on. Yes, she admits not a crowning moment for her but instead a desperate mom moment. While none of us would advocate putting your kid in a trunk, we relate to the feeling.

I have learned a few things in my life as a Pastor’s wife over the years. I know that life happens to the Pastor’s Wife. She gets flat tires on the way to a meeting. She has bad hair days. She has arguments with her husband sometimes. She yells at her kids. She sometimes skips her devotional time in the morning. She blows it at work. She gets mad at people who cut her off in traffic. She has issues. Her life is just as full and as busy as the next woman. She has flaws and temptations and everything else going on in her life. She isn’t married to a calling or a church. She is married to a man and she has been called, just as any wife, to minister to her family and then the church. So pray for your Pastor’s Wife because she’s as human as every other woman but sometimes she can’t say it.

 

The Silent Treatment

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There’s

The Silent Treatment

and there’s

THE SILENT TREATMENT

and there is

the silent treatment

Each one has a different meaning and a different outcome. Which one do you use?

 

The Silent Treatment

 

Our first fight was one in which after trying to make a point and not feeling heard, I walked to the foyer, put my shoes on and prepared to take a walk. My then boyfriend looked at me and said incredulously,

“You’re actually leaving? You’re walking out?”

I replied, “If I stay, I will say something stupid. Yes, I’m coming back, but I need time to think and cool down.”

He responded, “Okay, anything can be fixed if we can discuss it.”

In that moment, I wanted to say, “Duh Einstein”, but I didn’t. I held my tongue and went for a walk to put together what I wanted to say and not what was swirling around in my mind to say. Once you say something, it can’t ever be taken back and it can cut so deeply. Better to take a moment.

This is considered a healthy time out and it’s not a punishment to the other person although I have to be honest and tell you that when it’s happening to you it feels like punishment because you have things to say and the person needs a time out. This silent treatment has a time limit. You aren’t talking days, you’re talking a few hours most often, and you’re not sending off all of these mad vibes, you’re just trying to come up with a solution. You aren’t unkind or completely silent, you explain. The person is assured you are coming back to the situation and that you are not dismissing the conversation, only that it’s become toxic to speak, it’s about the relationship and not about having your way.

THE SILENT TREATMENT

This is the one that is just emotionally abusive. I’ve done it, it didn’t work in my relationship.  My husband didn’t notice I wasn’t talking, or he chose to ignore my attempt at manipulation, which is closer to the truth. In our home we discuss we don’t shut out. The silent treatment when used as punishment is nothing more than an attempt to control another person. It’s bullying at its best. The person who is being shut out becomes desperate to talk to the person giving the silent treatment and that person is punishing them determining when if ever the fight is over. The terms are strictly in their hand and they have power. This sort of behavior never works positively except for the bully who learns to get their way.

Then there’s

the silent treatment

This is the disconnect. This is when all attempts to have a mature discussion have failed. This is when another dinner to discuss the issues isn’t worth it. It’s the goodbye. You aren’t rude. You’re not mean. You just choose your life to be less dramatic. You don’t hate and in all honestly you don’t feel anything. You wish the person well, but you’re just not willing to play their games anymore. The cons outweigh the pros to this relationship. This is a sad place to be but sometimes it is what it is. You are polite, but you are no longer engaging. The person has become too much.

 

 

I Choose To Believe

Michael Moss

Michael Moss

 

“I choose to believe that people can handle the truth.” ~ Dr. Laura

Today Dr. Laura Schlessinger told a story that stuck with me. Here is how it goes.

A woman took her car to a mechanic because of a noise it was making. The mechanic popped the hood, adjusted something and closed the hood and said, “That will be $100.”

The woman was outraged and said, “$100?! All you did was adjust some little part.”

The mechanic looked at her and said, “I didn’t charge you anything for the adjustment. I’m charging you $100 for the knowledge.”

I loved that story. We’re always so busy tip-toeing around the truth because we’re afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, but if they don’t know any better? What is that worth to them?

I loved the day when a beautiful friend, MaryLou Lerma, came up behind me at church and untucked some hair in the back of my head that was crunched under the headset microphone I was wearing and then adjusted my look. She’s a lioness. Lionesses will groom each other. She was making sure I didn’t embarrass the tribe. I love her for that. She didn’t worry about whether I’d be offended that I didn’t check myself before I got ready to go on the platform in front of a live audience and Internet. She did it for me, and for our team. This is her using her truth, her information, of a situation.

It’s quite a bit different from the woman who uses her truth to be mean. “That dress is hideous.” While it may be truth, it doesn’t need to be spoken. She is not a lioness as she is on the attack due to her jealousy and low self esteem. She uses her truth to wield a sword. Women such as these can dish it out but they can’t take it.

Now, could it be that there would be a time to give wardrobe advice? Of course! When you’ve developed a relationship and you don’t feel superior but know you can be at service and have the trust of the person you are speaking to. Quite a different scenario.

I choose to believe that people can handle the truth.

I choose to believe that not all truth needs to be spoken.

I choose to believe that one day as strong mature women, we’ll all figure out which is which and which is witch.

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