Monthly Archives: July 2014

Find Some Monkeys in the Cage with You

As mentioned in previous posts, for the past couple months I have had the privilege of meeting one-on-one with a young woman who will marry a pastor the 2nd weekend in August. When I heard the good news of her engagement, I sensed the Holy Spirit prompting me to take her under my wing and teach her some of the things I have learned along the way about being married to a pastor. There were five distinct topics I wanted to share. To read the other four click on the links below:

Figure Out Your Role

How to Support Your Pastor-Husband

Work Hard to be Healthy

Get Some Prayer Support

This post is the final heart to heart we had. From the title, you may be wondering what on earth it is about. . . A few years ago a study was done on monkeys. They took one monkey and put it in a cage in a dark and quiet room. Being caged in darkness and quietness can be scary enough, but then they started flashing blinding lights and deafening noises. They tested the monkey’s stress levels and, as you can imagine, they were through the roof! Next, they put a second monkey in the cage with the first monkey and started the bright lights and loud noises again. This time when they tested the stress levels, they were cut in half, just because he had a monkey friend in the cage with him.

There is no denying that ministry is stressful. There are seasons where it is quiet and dark. Then the bright lights and deafening noises start in. Thankfully, it is not God’s plan that we are in the cage alone, therefore, He provides “monkeys” in the cage with us. Our job is to ask Him to show us who our “monkeys” are and seek out and pursue relationship with them. I encouraged my young friend to look for the following qualities in her “monkeys”:

  • Availability – time, emotionally available, proximity in distance
  • Deep relationship with Jesus – your “monkeys” will influence you, make sure they are influencing the way Jesus would
  • Trustworthy – this is of utmost importance
  • Speaks the truth to you – not just what you want to hear, but the truth of what you need to hear

As a reminder, I gave her this little sock monkey that says, “Be You Tiful” on its shirt and I also let her know that I am available to her as someone who has walked the road as a pastor’s wife and I am available to her.

Kate & Whit

Just last weekend we had her bridal shower and at the end I was able to pull her, her mom, her sister and sister-in-law aside to share with them how much she is going to need them as she steps into this calling that God has on her life. I explained the “monkey in the cage with you” concept and then this amazing group of women and I prayed over her. It was one of those moments in life that was so special it will be remembered a long time. (Ministry is full of those moments!)

Monkey Friends

Do you have monkeys in the cage with you? If so, cherish those special relationships and hold on to them tightly! If not, begin to pray for the Holy Spirit to send a monkey or two your way. Since it is His plan for you not to walk alone, that is a prayer He will delight in answering!

Your Friend in Ministry,

Signature

 

On Comparison

Last week, I was visiting with a friend about the similarities she is seeing between herself and her mother. She said the older she gets, the more she is like her mom. This reminded me of one of my own mom’s favorite quotes, “Mirror, mirror on the wall… I am my mother after all.” Can you relate? As I began to think about that funny quote, I remembered the origin of it.

Snow White was one of the first Disney movies ever made and one of the first I recall seeing. In it, the wicked step-mother was so consumed by her own beauty that she regularly asked the magical mirror to validate her as the “fairest” in all the land. “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” Things are smooth sailing, day after day, until the mirror reports there is another fair maiden, none other than her step daughter, Snow White. This brings fear to the heart of the wicked step mother and she does some very bad things in order to once again be the “fairest of them all”. Interestingly enough, the way she acted was neither beautiful nor fair.

Consciously or sub-consciously, we’re all a little like the wicked step-mother. We compare ourselves with others – our looks, our talents, our smarts, our abilities, our children, our ministries, and on and on the list goes. When we feel superior to others in any of the above, it makes us feel good. When we feel inferior, it makes us feel terrible, doesn’t it?

At its basic level, comparison is caused by pride. A simple definition of pride is thinking about yourself too much. Consider the following quote by C.S. Lewis: “It’s the comparison that makes you proud; the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition is gone, pride is gone.”

Comparison and pride go hand in hand. It makes sense then that if you want to walk in humility rather than pride, you need to stop comparing yourself to others. I have struggled with comparison in the past and I know firsthand how it grips your heart and paralyzes you from becoming the person God designed you to be. As I look back upon how I gained freedom in this area, here are some suggestions that may help you as well.

  • Take a break from social media. I was one of the first people I knew to have a FB page. I realized, however, that I was comparing my day to day life with the highlights of others. Because this was an area of immaturity in my life (and consumed WAY too much time) I decided to get rid of FB. Now that I have freedom in this area, there may come a time when I start FB up again.
  • Thank the Lord for others gifts and abilities. Don’t be threatened by them, be grateful for the excellence in other’s lives. God made us all so unique and He wants us to work together to reach the world for Him! It is an amazing & beautiful thing when people work together, offering what God has given them, to see lives changed for God’s kingdom!
  • Realize you don’t have to be THE BEST at everything. God is simply calling you to do YOUR BEST for Him. Once I got this truth deep in my heart, I was able to walk in true freedom.
  • Meditate upon or memorize this verse about comparison – “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” 2 Cor. 10:12

Comparison will get you nowhere, but stuck in fear in bondage. Stop comparing. Be secure and confident in who God has made you to be. You are His valued workmanship. He didn’t make a mistake. As you continue to walk with Him, He will smooth off your rough edges and mold you into a beautiful vessel through which He can do some amazing work! I believe the best in you and for you.

Your Friend in Ministry,

Signature

To receive new blog posts straight to your inbox, click on the subscribe button at the top right corner

 

Serving Outside of Your Calling/Gifting

It has been pretty quiet on the blog recently. I have only posted one thing in the past two weeks. I wish I could say it’s because we’re on vacation or I am having so much fun with my kiddos that I don’t have time for blogging. Although I am enjoying the kids being home and we will go on vacation a week from today (HOORAY!), the reason the blog has been quiet is because we are without an administrative assistant at our church right now. That means my focus has been making sure things are covered at church.

Last week, I had that old, familiar feeling of stress crop up into my heart. It was so strong that I needed to physically leave the church building. My son and I enjoyed the break as he got froyo and I got a passion tea/lemonade from Starbucks (AKA “summer in a cup”). smile* As I had time to process what I was feeling, I realized that my stress was caused by serving outside of my calling and gifting.

When my husband and I first arrived at the church where we currently serve, it was hurting and many people had left, except for a few faithful families who knew this is where God had called them. My husband and I jumped in with both feet, loving people and getting things in order at the church. For the first three or four years, we were the only staff. We each had to do things that we were not gifted to do. When I look back on those days, I marvel at God’s grace for that looooong season. However, as the years went by and the church grew, we were able to hire additional staff to help lighten the load. Currently, we are in a season of change and, therefore, things that were off my plate have been placed back on it. For me, it’s not so much the tasks that are stressful, but carrying the load of making sure the day to day operation of the church is running smoothly that causes me stress.

The half hour break I took allowed me to get some perspective. I was stressed out because I was serving in a place outside both my calling and my gifting. We all have seasons in ministry where we serve outside of what God has gifted and called us to do. What do you do in those seasons? Consider these helpful suggestions:

  1. Acknowledge – it is healthy to realize areas where you are serving only because you need to for a season. Even as leaders, it is not God’s plan for us to do all and be all that is needed. Taking time to figure out what God has both gifted and called you to do brings clarity. Removing the things He has not called you to do brings peace and longevity in ministry.
  2. Ask for grace – anyone who has served in ministry understands that there are seasons where you do what needs to be done because you are a servant and that’s what a servant does. God’s grace is sufficient for those times. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Lately, I have heard God’s Spirit whisper these words to my soul over and over again. Even though I don’t enjoy seasons of serving outside my gifts and abilities, they are a reminder that I need to stay humbly reliant upon God. His grace lasts for as long as the season lasts. However, I know seasons don’t last forever, so my job is to . . .
  3. Train someone else – we are praying for God to provide the people He has gifted and called to come alongside us. As He provides, it is our job to train them to fill the role He has called them to. This is the part I love! To see people grow into all God has called them to be, is part of what God has both called and gifted me to do. It comes naturally and is a joy to my heart.

In the meantime, His grace covers me and He gives me what I need to get through this season of serving outside of my gifting/calling with humility and patience. If you are in a season like this too, acknowledge it, ask God for His grace to saturate you, and then wait for Him to bring someone you can train and release. He is good and faithful and will answer your prayer!

Your Friend in Ministry,

Signature