I told you some time ago about our Run for God Bible Study and training for a 5K. This past Saturday was the big day we had been working toward for so long and after finally getting some relief from shin splints I managed to develop a raging case of tuberculosis just two days before the race. So basically, this is me:
Pasty-white skin. Check. Exhausted eyes. Check. Blood spittle. Check. Facial Hair. Not yet but it’s only a few more swigs of Nyquil away.
My original goal was to knock this thing out in 30 minutes but considering I can’t even climb the stairs in my house without stopping to rest halfway, I decided maybe I would just walk with Luke. However, our teacher/trainer, Maury, was very correct when he said our competitive spirits would overtake us when everyone took off at the start line. When a gentleman easily twice my age went shuffling by me, I decided it was time to be his huckleberry and kick it in to gear. Luke may have to check this lunger into a sanatorium out west but I refused to be denied by a dude in Easy Spirit’s and dark dress socks. (And if you don’t get the Tombstone references, I am so sorry for you. It was Val Kilmer’s finest hour.)
We had 71 of our group run the race and every last one of us completed the course. We had 3- 1st Place finishers in their age groups and several top 3. To clarify, I was not one of those but here’s my official result:
Overall Finish: 171
Total Runners: 382
Age Group: F4049
Place in Age Group: 16
Age Group Total: 54
Not what I had hoped but it could have been worse! Heaven help me for saying it, but I’m looking forward to trying it again when hopefully I’m not sick or injured. Let me conclude with a few pics:
Moms and daughters. I know, it’s hard to tell which is which.
98% of the pictures I have of these two are a variation of this pose.
Syd with Mattie close behind.
If you can expand this photo you will find me looking eerily like Doc in the one above. Oxygen deficient doesn’t begin to cover all the ailments right here.
Luke and Stan. Stan had a bum leg so he and Luke were partners for the day. Luke did not have a bum leg but his slogan for this entire training has been, “Ain’t no shame in the shuffle.” So, they shuffled together and near the end got the eye of the tiger and crossed the line running.
Luke’s other slogan for the day: “I’m so glad that is over.”
Preacher photobombs. It should be a meme.
Awwww…this week was our 25th wedding anniversary. How fitting that we would run a race to mark the occasion.
And our beloved IBC group. I am so proud of each and every one of you for commitment toward this goal. We love you dearly and can’t think of any one else we’d rather run alongside. And of course, a special thank you to Maury and Kim. Every bible study they undertake for our church body is done with excellence and we are all so grateful for their investment of heart and time.
RUN FOR GOD * PRATER’s MILL * 2015
I received an email from a darling girl I’ll call Lindsey. Her husband is new to the full-time pastorate and her note perfectly represented so many of us who struggle with finding a balance between the time required to effectively minister to the church versus the energy needed to keep those home fires burning.
Here’s an excerpt from Lindsey’s letter:
“We are having the hardest time finding a balance in our relationship and his relationship with the church, and I was wondering if you had any advice to offer me. He is either always on the phone or with church members, or we are at the hospitals, or a funeral. I joke with him all the time that we don’t do dinner and a movie for dates–we do dinner and a funeral.”
Been there. Done that. Got the collection of black dresses to prove it.
The way to address this particular issue can vary somewhat based on the amount of time you’ve served in your current position. Obviously, it is much easier to state your family priorities before accepting a pastorate so there can be no question later if you choose your son’s championship baseball game over Sister Susie’s cousin’s hernia surgery.
However, most of the time we find ourselves a few months or maybe even a few years into our current ministry and have zealously said ‘yes!’ to every request made in hopes of making Jesus proud and assuring the people you are worth all that money they pay you. So what do you do when the candle that has been burning from both ends finally meets in the middle?
1. Evaluate the Situation
The most important gifts you and your husband can give one another are those of honesty and patience. Is he spending too much time away from home? Does he put the needs of others in front of your family’s needs? Is his mind somewhere else when he’s with you? Then girls, it is time to talk! Don’t let those feelings fester into private resentment and bitterness. An honest assessment of where you are and where you would rather be relationally is step one in working together toward a solution.
2. Prayerfully and gently let your husband know how you are feeling.
Proverbs 21:19 rightly says, “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.” As with any situation that comes up in your marriage, the approach affects the reaction. “Honey, I’m really concerned about how hard you are working and how very little we see you”, will be received much more calmly than, “I am SO sick of you being gone all the time!”
Put yourself in your hubby’s shoes. Most likely he isn’t any happier with the situation than you are but doesn’t quite know where to draw the line between personal and church life. I can promise you he will be more willing to find a solution if you are a refuge for him rather than another battle he must fight.
3. Avoid growing bitter towards the church for your husband’s preoccupations.
It can be so tempting when things are not going well in our marital relationship to seek someone or something to blame – in this case the church who is taking him away from us. Often Our husband’s tendency to overwork has nothing to do with any actual criticism but rather his own sense of What will people think if I don’t make sure the youth have an outing every single month or if they see my vehicle at home during the 8-to-5 hours? My own husband can be guilty sometimes of putting way more pressure on himself than anyone has ever placed on him.
In Denise George’s book, What Women Wish Pastors Knew, she reports that a majority of the women who responded to her surveys, “worry that a pastor’s role leaves him with ‘insufficient time’ for his own family.1 This revelation is a confirmation to me that–though certainly unfair expectations are placed on our families–the congregation isn’t always the source of the burden. Sometimes, it is our hubby’s own work ethic and fear of being seen as the stereotypical, ‘only-has-to-work-one-day-a-week’, preacher.
4. Determine a plan of action together and be patient as it is implemented.
If you have determined that your schedule needs to change, then decide together how to streamline hubby’s calendar. Can he plan visits for one day a week instead of spreading them over five? If you are an associate pastor’s wife, can you help with some planning related to your next event (youth, choral, discipleship)? Can he publish scheduled office hours for counseling/etc. so the congregation will know convenient times to meet. Obviously, there will always be emergencies that arise and blow the best laid plans out of the water, but knowing he is trying and that you are a part of the solution instead of the “dripping faucet” that sends him running out the door will make these times much easier to accept.
Most importantly, be patient with him as he incorporates these plans into his schedule. As with any new thing done in church life, you can’t make ten changes at once. Choose one thing and once working well, move on to the next.
5. Involve the church leadership in your plan of action. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being honest with the church and telling them when you are overwhelmed. There are wise and unwise ways to do this but for now just know that the same positive attitude in which you approach your husband when the schedule is out-of-kilter should be the same heart in which you talk with the leaders of your church. I believe the majority of parishioners want to love and support their ministers and are willing to do whatever is necessary to encourage healthy relationships within the body and in your personal family.
What Can a Church Do?
My husband and I are blessed to be part of a congregation who demonstrates their love in intangible and tangible ways. Here are a few ways that church members can acknowledge the importance of the ministers’ family:
- Give a gift certificate for a night out and arrange for babysitting if necessary.
- Send them to a conference you know they would enjoy.
- Do you have a favorite couples’ devotional book? Give them a copy.
- Pray for their families to be strong, healthy, and encouraged.
- Go out of your way to recognize the signs of burnout in your ministers and express your support. Let him know if he’s working too hard and give him permission to relax!
These are just a few suggestions for turning Dinner and a Funeral back to Dinner and a Movie. Thank you, ‘Lindsey’, for a great question!
1. Denise George, What Women Wish Pastors Knew (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), 138.
I hope you had a fabulous weekend. Mine was full of laughs and tears, football and more football, excellent sermons, and friends. Does it get any better? I’ll have more to say on those things later but in the meantime I ‘ve been wanting to purge something that won’t leave my thoughts. I’ve had calling on my mind as of late and a conversation with a dear sister reminded me once again of an utterly profound counsel that my husband gave me some time back. Perhaps you are in the need for some profundity as well. Or maybe you’ll just listen along while I talk to myself.
The counsel to which I am referring came one night as I was belly-aching about my teaching the youth and children at our church. Put me in front of a group of women any day but being before a room full of glazed-over-sneaking-to-text-during-the-lesson teenagers or 40 rambunctious 2nd graders who must have eaten straight sugar for lunch will leave the most confident person (of which I am not) weak in the knees. I was feeling particularly ineffective one week when I said to Luke, “It’s obvious these kids hate me and are getting nothing from me. The problem is that I am operating outside the call. I am supposed to be teaching women, not kids.”
In the way that only Luke can do and get away with it, he said, “That is the most ridiculously unbiblical thing I’ve ever heard.” And then he asked a question, “What would you say is your gift and the thing you are called to do?”
Me: “I guess teaching.”
Luke: “Find me one place in scripture where it is specified that the one gifted to teach is given one age group in which to exercise that gift.”
Save for the Titus 2 reference of older women teaching the younger which is somewhat out of context for this conversation, I couldn’t think of a one. Then Luke said, “Every single time you are given the opportunity to stand in front of a person and teach – irregardless of that person’s age – you are operating within the call. Now stop your whining.”
Okay, he didn’t say that last part but he might as well have.
What he said is absolutely true and something that had never occurred to me until that moment. I am not at all saying there aren’t different groups to which we are drawn but what if the opportunity is not there to serve that singular segment of the population? Even though I feel most drawn to teaching women, God has not given me my own church ladies but rather has opened the wide door of ministry in the direction of the kids. It’s not what I would have chosen but I do my congregation a disservice to withhold my gift because I can’t use it in the precise manner I have determined. (God has been gracious in still allowing me the opportunity to serve women outside my congregation but I personally do not believe He ever calls us to neglect our families of faith for the broader reach of ministry.) If we aren’t careful, we can over-specify our call into oblivion and see our usefulness to the Body disappear right along with it. Our gifts were never meant to be made irrelevant by our overly-sensitive inclinations. And who knows, we may even discover we love the thing to which we previously only had an aversion.
I don’t know if this word means a thing to you but submitting to the truth of it has given me a fresh energy for being faithful in those opportunities to serve others whether or not the job matches my carefully defined parameters. Don’t minimize a gaping hole of opportunity to a minuscule bulls-eye of preference and falsely assume the call is made void.
I pray this day finds you joyfully serving and realizing that as long as we are operating within the gift we are never operating outside the call. The question is…are we operating at all? Lord, when you return may you find faithfulness upon the earth and more specifically – in me.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject?