Moments of Desperation

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In 1999 we began attending a little church in a little town. Walking in for the first time it was scene right out of the 80’s. Wallpaper border, pink walls, fake plants, and lots of stuff spray painted gold. Like all churches, some of the people were nice and said hello and others didn’t. The pastor could not remember my name and I think addressed me by many names before he gave up. Can you tell I wasn’t really impressed?

I had come from a big city with a big church and big programs and lots of opportunities to serve. Small towns don’t really have all of that but somehow I expected the church to have it and I can’t even tell you why. We’d walk in Sunday after Sunday and I would look at the negative. The message was solid but I wasn’t happy because it wasn’t fulfilling my needs.

I begged my husband to commute to our old church. He was reassuring but firm.

“Susan, do they open their bibles and preach from it?”

“Yes, they do but they also are really concerned about Y2K and…”

“Yes, that’s beside the point. Is the teaching solid?”

“Yes, but that lady was rude telling us we weren’t allowed to sit in her seat.”

“I know you’re unhappy but you need to focus on God. We’re not leaving and commuting to church. Our family needs to be involved in the city we live in. So unless God speaks to me, we’re staying here.”

“But what if he speaks to me?” This was my approach at manipulation and my husband was wise enough to not argue.

Can God speak to us as wives? Of course he can. Does he lead us out of our covering? I don’t see it in scripture. Looking back to that unhappy beginning I could not have seen the things that I would face over these last 17 years.  I would lose my husband to an untimely death. I would raise my children in that little church. I would marry its pastor. I would answer a call to ministry and I would be sitting here today reflecting on how submission works for our good.

I could have fought hard for my way. I could have led my family out because I wasn’t getting what I needed but I knew my husband was a good leader if I would allow him to be and I knew that he would guide me well. Trust is the issue that causes us to do what we want despite our spouses protests. We don’t believe they are spiritual enough. We don’t believe they hear from the Lord as well as we do. We don’t ultimately trust them to lead.

Often in women’s ministry I am asked to pray for that backslidden husband or to pray for that husband to become more mature in the things of the Lord but what I see often is when that man does stand up for what he’d like he stands in the opposition of his wife.

Let’s be wise women, praying in unity with our spouse without manipulation. Allowing our speech to be pleasing and not divisive, and knowing that moments of desperation are not moments of flight but moments of submission to a greater cause that we know nothing about in the moment.

 

 

 

What’s The Image You Are Projecting?

My husband I were walking hand in hand talking when he said, “Goodness those poor girls need a mother.” The scene was two girls walking with low cut tops and shorts that were too short to cover their bottoms. From his perspective he thinks they don’t have fashion sense because no one has taught them. From my perspective, as a mother, this may be partially true and it could be a number of  other things like free will choices.

What is the message that you’re sending? In the workplace are you trying to be taken seriously or trying to be taken sexually? In your free time are you comfortable with people who see your body or your personality?

I saw a young unmarried woman who had way too much cleavage showing and hickeys on her breast for added effect. All I could think of was she had way too much self esteem by the mere fact that she felt comfortable letting us all know how immoral she was. Judgment? Yes. Will I be judged by the same measure? Absolutely. So the next time you see me with my cleavage out and hickeys you can call me a hypocrite and I’ll hang my head in shame and own the title.

Unfortunately society gives a mixed message. On one hand they say cover up to avoid being devalued, and on the other hand they say if you want to have value you must be sexy.  It feels like you can’t win. Top that off with a fatherless generation where girls really don’t have a true compass of what is right and we end up with this dilemma.

What these young women didn’t understand is that yes, men are visual but humans are creative and imaginative creations. Meaning the more you show the less there is to pursue. The more body you show the more you project how little power you have. Society tells us sexuality is power but when someone falls for the outside visual personification of you often they fail to see the inside characteristics of you.

The fact that he finds you sexy seems great at first, but when he can’t see past the exterior of you to who you are will that be enough? What about when you’re gunning for that promotion and you aren’t taken seriously? There is freedom in the dress code of a Christian woman. By no means am I suggesting she has to wear turtlenecks in the summer but there is a happy medium.

Here is a video I found on Huffington Post that I think is really great at showing us a before and after, please listen carefully to their comments it will give you great insight as to how women are perceived. Click Here.

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The Art of Bouncing Back

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

As a woman in ministry there is a big target on your back and you can fall prey to the haters if you aren’t careful. I want to speak to the wife of a Pastor today because she is especially vulnerable to the arrows that hit her blindside.

It’s not about going around trying to stir up trouble. As long as you are honest and you articulate what you believe to be true, somebody somewhere will become your enemy whether you like it or not. ~Criss Jami

I am watching two very different women in ministry. A young Pastor’s wife, we’ll name her Jane, with a heart for the Lord who is being torn apart by unrealistic expectations, and a Pastor’s wife, Chris, who is being slaughtered by those who profess to wear the banner of love. It’s painful even from a distance.

In both cases you have women who love the Lord and are actively involved in their church. They are there at every event and they are there to serve. They pray. They seek the Lord. They speak words of revelation and life and yet they are lonely. They want to be a part of something that they have not been invited to.

So what’s the problem? Young Pastor’s wife Jane is an intercessor. She’s friendly but introverted. She will be at the church praying on any given day once her children are off to school, however Jane doesn’t lead a ministry. Jane has prayed over me powerfully but if I ask her to speak at our women’s conference Jane politely declines and says, “but I’ll help you serve food and I’ll help you at the altar”. Her church feels she needs to step it up. Only who decides that? I read the bible and there is this ministry called Helps and it is very necessary in the church.

Then there is Chris she is prophetic and a powerhouse speaker. Her church would like for her to stand down based on a misconception of a biblical view of women that are to be seen and not heard. Man! If only we could switch churches for them maybe their congregations would be happy. Unfortunately, their husbands were called to their place.

The biggest difference between leaders of large organizations and small organizations isn’t their location, the size of their building, the scope of their vision, the number of staff members, or their talent. In fact, some of the best leaders I’ve met have small organizations. But in all of my consulting and conferences, I’ve seen a single factor: leaders of larger organizations have proven they can handle more pain. ~ Sam Chand

So let’s do away with the expectation of a pastor’s wife. She may be called to lead a ministry or support it. She may be called to be a pastor or not. I can promise you one thing is for sure, she will fail someone at some point because no one is perfect. From a biblical view I don’t think the church gets to decide who she is to be. I think God does and I think he’s pretty sure about his expectations, and I would bet money on the fact that we’re supposed to trust Him. Let’s show a little mercy. The art of bouncing back becomes a little more difficult each time.

The Pastor’s Wife’s Calling

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The Church often thinks when they select the man to shepherd their church they get his wife for free. During the interview process they interview the Pastor’s wife. I don’t see this done in any other career field and I’m mixed on it. I see the reasoning, I mean she’s hopefully going to be visiting his work often. If she is crispy fried over ministry issues it will play out in the role her husband plays in the ministry, there is nothing like the bitter Pastor’s wife who looks at life through the eyes of suspicion, because she will manifest her own betrayal. If she is helpful then the church has gained a saint but that doesn’t mean they’ve gained ministry help.

There is this thing that the church seems to miss and it’s a big thing.

Calling

Has she been called to ministry? Her husband’s call isn’t hers. One would argue that if she is saved and converted then she is called to win the lost, and it is right to think so, but being a disciple of Jesus and called to ministry are two different things. Calling comes with its own special set of parameters that the rest of the elect, that’s bible speak for those called to salvation, aren’t expected to live up to in the same way. I have met the Pastor’s wife who is the worship leader and awesome at it. I have met the Pastor’s wife who attends a different church and is lovely. I have met the Pastor’s wife who is raising little ones and is blessed to get to church with only one of her little children missing a shoe and she’s loving. Calling is a distinct thing and sometimes it’s seasonal too. Often I hear the cry from the church leaders who say she knew the expectation when she married a pastor (insert my jaw dropping here). What about the Pastor’s wife who met and married the business man who later became a Pastor? Did she sign up to lead a church or did she sign up to minister to her husband?

Let’s as people of God in the community of faith take a step back and cut the Pastor’s Wife some slack. Let’s quit being so quick to judge her ability to lead the Children’s Ministry and allow her to serve where she feels God is calling her to serve. Let’s quit looking for her to have an opinion on the direction of the annual Ladies Tea and see if she is even remotely interested in speaking to the group. She isn’t called to make decisions in her husband’s department of ministry yet so often we throw her in there and ask for her opinion and then criticize that opinion. She is the woman God has called as the partner to her husband. She hasn’t necessarily been called to ministry and maybe, just maybe, the horror stories of the horrible pastor’s wife is because she is in a role not suited to her gifting. Maybe she is bowing to the pleasure of man and isn’t called by God.

Maybe just maybe she is controlling and doesn’t fit the role. Maybe she has an opinion that doesn’t fit the vision of the church. Maybe she does feel the need to be “in” on every aspect of her husband’s ministry. Can we agree that it is  her husband’s to deal with, and the leadership of the church to deal with, and we, as the church, are simply called to pray?  Because if that isn’t the case then we are no better.

Holding Aces

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There’s a marked difference between acquaintances and friends. Most people really don’t become friends. They become deep and serious acquaintances. But in a friendship you get to know the spirit of another person; and your values coincide. Friends may disagree, but not about serious matters. A friend will stand for you when you are no longer able. A woman can say to herself, If I die, I know that my friend, my sister friend will be here to hold up the banner. Now that’s very profound. ~ Dr. Maya Angelou in an article written by By Marcia Ann Gillespie for Essence magazine. 

I think we get confused between our true friendships and acquaintances. My friend Cynthia sent me the picture that is posted above. No words just the picture. My immediate thought was, “Is she bragging that she is having a cup of hot chocolate and whipped cream? And why doesn’t that cup have enough whipped cream on it? I know we both love it.” It took me back 20, uh 25, uh almost 30 years ago as young women when we’d sit together drink chocolate with the can of whipped cream between us. There was never enough whipped cream in our cups and towards the end of our cup, our chocolate would be lukewarm. Cynthia is one of my Aces. She holds a place in my heart like none other. We’ve been friends for over 30 years. That’s speaks of storms and sunshine we’ve weathered together. Even though we don’t call each other often we both pick up exactly where we leave off each time. We know if there is something needed we have each other’s back.

I hold a few more Aces, I’d dare say more than one woman deserves. But the heart of this post is using your words carefully. Are you friends with someone, because that takes time and vulnerability, or are you acquaintances, which is friendly and kind and often strong? You can develop very strong acquaintances, but friends are different. You can develop very strong mentorship relationships, but friends are different. You can develop very strong maternal friendships, but friends are different.

We tend to be very casual about the word friend. We call someone a true friend, then drift away and  meet another true friend. That’s the difference. A true friend doesn’t leave. A true friend believes the same thing you do. A true friend loves you enough not to betray you or mistake the trust you’ve given her. Ever. A true friend tells you the truth even when you don’t want to hear it.

The person that goes it alone is worrisome to me. She has never given herself permission to be free she has too much at stake. She mistrusts others intentions or finds it too risky to love. She sees friendship as risky or there has to be something in it for her. That’s a hard way to live.

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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