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Showing posts with label pastors family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pastors family. Show all posts

22 May

Is All This Struggle Worth it?

She locked the church door and jiggled the knob. Her car was the only one left in the parking lot, and Taneka was taking the speaker to the airport. Tired fingers dropped the key into her new summer purse. Memories of the tender hugs that accompanied all the goodbyes warmed her heart as she walked to her blue Toyota hybrid.

Once in the gray cloth seat, Beth paused. “Lord, it all seemed to go well. Thank you for keeping everything on track in spite of that major disruption.” She dropped her hands from the wheel to her lap.

“Now I need you to help me figure out what’s going on with Ruth. Her outburst was totally out of character. Her words stung, and I’m sure you noticed the shock on the faces of those who heard her.”
She realized her response in the moment to address the older woman’s concerns was more second nature than felt kindness. The confrontation itself was easier to handle than all the little upsets that occurred throughout the planning and preparation. A deep breath poured from her lungs as she pulled the lanyard out of her jacket pocket. Keys slid into ignitions so easily. Her years of ministry played across her mind.

“I have to tell you, Lord. As much as I appreciate being able to serve you and the women you send my way, I’m feeling a bit tired. I know the message this weekend was sound and what we all need to hear, but I’m not sure what I got out of this gathering. Is my effort worth so much struggle?”

She put her head back and relaxed, as if into the arms of her Savior. “But you know me, Jesus. When you and I are making our way through these stretching seasons, I feel closer to you than I can express.” Her eyes narrowed. “Hmm, could that be one of the reasons for them?”

A smile of knowing relief captured her countenance as she reached over and started the engine. “You’re so sweet, Lord. Thank You for reminding me I’m forever safe in your loving and powerful grasp.”

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of my hand (John 10:27-18 NASB).

When was the last time you felt worn out and overdone?

I’d love to hear how God met your need once you turned to Him.

About the Author:
Sandra Allen Lovelace is a continuing missionary, a pastor’s wife emeritus, and a homeschool pioneer. She’s an award-winning speaker and author, and a faithful encourager. Sandra’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and an Agented Author at Credo Communications. Her current manuscript addresses the topic of Wallflower Women. She enjoys hiking with a camera in her hand, best done on an international adventure. Sandra and her husband Curt are transitioning to South Carolina.

Get to know Sandra at her website, http://sandraallenlovelace.com/

You can also connect with Sandra on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

21 March

When the Offense Isn't Against You.

One of the challenges ministry wives face is that when things are going badly for our husbands at church, often we can’t directly respond. We see the toll it takes when he drags in after another difficult board meeting; we encourage him when he gets blindsided by another petty critic. And as Karl Vaters recently wrote for Christianity today, those snapshots our husband bring home can be harder on us than on them. Where our husbands can be proactive in handling conflict, we can only react. And while they get to walk through the process of reconciliation, we only hear about it secondhand. How can we respond when the offense is against our husbands, not ourselves?

  • Acknowledge your own hurt. It may not be your job on the line, but challenges to your husband’s leadership still feel personal. Sometimes we try to dismiss secondary pain, saying things like, “It wasn’t about me, so I should just let it go.” But stuffing feelings into a closet doesn’t make them go away. In times of church conflict, we need to identify what  we feel and why we feel it. “I feel threatened and insecure because I’m afraid my husband is going to lose his job.” “I feel angry because it upsets me to see my husband hurt unfairly.” “I feel betrayed that people can be nice to my face, then gossip and complain about my husband behind his back." Acknowledging our hurts brings them into the light so we can examine them, work through them, and heal.
  • Walk through the process of forgiveness. We may not get the chance to be on the forefront of reconciliation, but we can still walk through our own process of forgiveness. Forgiveness is an essential tool for ministry longevity. I’ve written more about the process of forgiveness at my blog, but the heart of forgiveness is accepting Christ’s payment as sufficient for the offenses committed against us and trusting him to heal our hurts. We don’t have to demand payment or retribution when Christ has already paid it all.
  • Choose blessing over bitterness. One of the great dangers ministry wives face is the temptation to give in to bitterness and cynicism. Satan wants us bitter—focusing only on the bad and viewing the church through skeptical, untrusting eyes. But there’s a way of escape: blessing is the antidote to bitterness. As God brings healing to our souls, we can choose to be channels of blessing. We follow Christ’s example in offering grace and mercy—even to those who have hurt us, wounded us, and betrayed us. We keep loving--not putting ourselves in jeopardy, but offering kindness and choosing to do good. Bitterness closes us off. Blessing opens us up so we can continue to experience God’s mercy and grace as we pass them on to others.
When the offense isn't against us, we don't always get to personally experience the reconciliation process. But we can still look to Christ for healing, grace, and the courage to keep loving well. Be blessed.

About the author:
Leigh Powers is a pastor's wife, Bible study and devotional author, freelance editor, and mother of three from small-town West Texas. She is passionate about helping women find hope and healing by meeting God in his word. You can connect with Leigh on Facebook or Twitter, or follow her at her blog: My Life. His Story (www.leighpowers.com).

06 March

Raising Healthy PK's

"Some of the worst kids in the church are PKs".  I couldn't believe my ears as my girlfriend cavalierly vented those words.
I glanced down at my latte as she continued to drone on and on about her church's children church - and the PKs that were making her life miserable every single Sunday.   I was hoping the subject would change, but it didn't.
Looking me straight in my eye, she shook her head and said, "Teri, I just don't understand why pastor's kids are always so ...so...bad".
Waiting for her to read my facial expression and remember my kids are “pastors' children" too, I looked away. She never quite caught on to what I was feeling and I didn't say anything.  Do you want to know why? It was because I sort of agreed with her and nodded my head in agreement; a gesture that felt like betrayal to all the pastors' wives in the universe.
I, too, often wonder why so many pastors’ kids are so “bad”. When you think about it, it really doesn't make sense, does it? Those little buggers actually live with the pastor and his wife, right? They have access to the church's undershepherd 24 hours a day. How could so many of them be such hellions?  Seems some holiness would rub off just by association, right?
Wrong. Wouldn’t it be nice if life were that simple?

What’s with me?
This is oddly personal for me.  Aside from being a mom who happens to be married to a senior pastor, I'm not sure why I take this topic incredibly personal. It's bothered me for years that so many “PKs” struggle with their faith.  I just could never quite understand it. Growing up, I remember being almost jealous of my pastor's children.
"Man", I would think to myself: "I sure wish Elder Cofield was my dad".
My own father was a remarkable parent, but he couldn't preach, tell great jokes and wear a robe on Sundays the way Elder Cofield did. 
The mind of a child, huh?

My theory about PKs.
As you know, our children’s first “love” is us - their parents, right? Even before they can verbalize it, they yearn for us. They crave our attention, praise and time.
With that in mind, what if both parents are consistently consumed by ministry work? What do you think happens? Well, it’s only logical the children would resent the very thing that pulls their parents away.
That family structure (a child's primary nucleus) becomes unreliable and unstable when we don’t nurture personal connections and meaningful relationships with our children.

In my work for a national youth development organization, I’ve learned children tend to “act up” when their core developmental needs are not met. 

How does that relate to us as ministry parents and our children?
If love isn’t provided for kids at home, they seek it in other ways. They may elect to trust someone [completely opposite] of their parents to supply the love they don’t' perceive they are getting from home.
If a sense of belonging isn’t provided for them; they search for it outside the home. The crowd they create to satisfy this need may not be a safe or healthy one.
Finally, if they are not getting the attention they need, be sure of this: they will find outside ways to get it. Young people will ensure their needs are met - either by us, their peer group or from other adults. When we "drop the ball", they find ways to pick it up again. These are not always healthy or desirable ways.

In all fairness, I know each child must, at some point in his life, choose for himself whom he/she will serve - the God of their parents or the world. Please do not think I’m asserting kids choose wrong paths exclusively based on parents' performance. No way!
Still, allow me to be harsh and assert: emotional neglect is neglect -whether it's for the church or not.  Children need stability and attention- plain and simple.  It's our responsibility to supply it. They can never feel that the most important people in their lives don't love and esteem them above all else, right? That means we have to esteem them above the church body’s needs. That means, we must delegate and equip others in the church to meet the needs of the church. It can’t all fall on our shoulders all of the time. We cheat our children when we carry that burden.
Sure, we should serve in the church, but...
I'm not advocating for us to avoid serving in the church. However, "works" should never usurp family commitment to its detriment.
In the end, God will hold us accountable for how we handled these little human beings.  After all, they didn’t ask to be born and definitely didn’t ask to be ministry children. We have to give them the grace we give others and keep their needs paramount.
You know, I honestly believe I will stand before God and be judged - not so much for my work at the church, or for my efforts in the community but for my ministry to my family. Sure, I think He’ll judge me on those other things. However,  I believe how I cared for those closest to me will carry a much heavier weight.  What do you think?  May I never allow the care of others to take preeminence over them. That would make me nothing better than an infidel.
I always say my church will never get a “no” when I’m able to serve.  That means, if I’m needed, I will always do my level best to "show up" and serve the Body of Christ. It also means I'll need to creatively find ways to serve that don't require copious amounts of time away from my children.  It may mean I take a vacation day from work to serve.  It may mean I use my lunch hour for a hospital or nursing home visit.
In the end, I want my children to know they are our priority and that we will supply their needs for love, safety and affirmation. They needn’t look anywhere else.
The next time I hear anyone else slam PKs, I hope to introduce a different perspective and remind them how difficult it can be for children whose parents carry the burdens of souls.

But, you and I, let’s be intentional about keeping our children first, ok? It’s a tough balance for us all as ministry couples; nonetheless, with God’s grace and a little creativity, we’ll manage it. 
About the Author: 

Teri Brooks is a consummate lover of people.  She refers to herself as a “forced extrovert” who loves meeting new people and reflecting God’s love and acceptance.  
She came to know the Lord in 1987 after hearing a sermon preached by her uncle.  Since that day her life has been a journey in God’s faithfulness.  
An innovator at heart, Teri inspires hundreds of women a day on her blogs GodsyGirl.Com, MarriedtoaPastor.com and TeriCBrooks.Com.  She even blogs about getting older on My40somethinglife.com.
 She is a graduate of the University of Missouri at Kansas City and enjoys working as a training manager for a national nonprofit organization.  Almost twelve years ago, she married a senior pastor of an urban ministry of about three thousand members. Her husband has pastored the church for nineteen years. They have two sons and reside in Missouri.

01 November

When “Home for the Holidays” Isn’t Possible

Ministers work when everyone else is on vacation. Someone has to lead the Wednesday night prayer service just before Thanksgiving. Many churches have a Christmas Eve service or three, and if Christmas is on the weekend, your pastor will be there. When your pastor is also your husband, these situations often indicate you’ll spend the holidays away from your extended family.

I’m not discounting the loneliness that arises because of these situations. It’s real. If, however, you choose to redeem the distance, you may find greater significance and some special memories in your new normal.

Four Ways to Redeem the Distance at Thanksgiving

1.      Evaluate what’s really important about the holiday.
Chances are, your previous Thanksgivings were taken up in the stress of preparing your own home or taking your family to someone else’s home. Either way, you were thankful, but giving thanks probably wasn’t at the top of your to-do list. This year, be thankful for the lack of distractions, then take some time to really think about thanksgiving. Not Pilgrims and Indians (although that’s fun) but gratitude for the previous year. Search the Scriptures (Psalms are a good place to start) for verses that help you generate gratitude; make crafts with your children or decorate a board with one of the verses. (There are probably a thousand ideas on Pinterest to help you do this.) Let your actions become an act of worship.

2.      Establish your own special traditions.
What did you love about Thanksgiving as a child? As you’ve grown as a Believer, what do you realize has been missing from your past observances? Now you have the opportunity to incorporate those things into your family story! Maybe one of your activities from above will become an annual practice.

3.      Bless others.
Most of the time, our holidays are centered on our extended families and those feel-good, kin-folk moments, but many people will be lonely this Thanksgiving. Seek out others in your church or community who also cannot travel and invite them to your home for Thanksgiving. If you want to maintain the eat-until-you’re-stuffed tradition, this is the way to do it! In opening your home (or carrying your hospitality to someone else’s home) you’ll lose your own loneliness without even realizing it.

4.      Schedule time with family outside the holidays.
We don’t want to distance ourselves from our families, so before the holiday arrives, make sure everyone knows why you won’t be there. Find a time when you can visit each family and schedule it now so that, when the holiday hits, you and your extended family will have something to look forward to.

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a dreary, lonely time just because you can’t be “home for the holidays.” Remember God has placed you in this place for a purpose. You can choose to redeem the distance and glorify God in your right-here right-now.

Come back next month, and I’ll tell you about our first sweat-drenched Christmas overseas!

In the meantime, what about you? How have you redeemed the distance when you couldn’t travel for the holidays?

About the author:

Carole Sparks is passionate about God’s Word—about how it can change our everyday lives! After years of globetrotting, she now lives, learns, and loves (plus a good bit of writing) in the hills of East Tennessee. Connect with Carole through her website, http://carolesparks.com or her blog, http://notaboutme1151.wordpress.com.

You can also find Carole on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

24 December

The Clergy/Parent’s Christmas Eve Survival Guide from Patheos

Humorous article from Erin Wathen over at Patheos with great suggestions on how to keep your health and sanity while managing small children and Christmas Eve services... http://www.patheos.com/blogs/irreverin/2014/12/the-clergyparents-christmas-eve-survival-guide/

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