This summer has been a wonderful season for growing things. A long spring with lots of rain gave way to hot summer days where everything flourished. Sporadically I spent time clearing one side of my lawn for a cutting garden. As always happens, other duties would intrude and several days would lapse between the weeding and planting. To my dismay, each time I returned, the newly cleared ground was rampant with thistles and weeds. It was a losing battle until I discovered the remedy was to not leave the patch bare. Immediately planting the empty space with flower cuttings and ground cover, left less area for weeds to gain hold.
In the same way, if we neglect ourselves spiritually, our hearts become just like my cleared garden plot. A root of bitterness can spring up in the rocky soil of hurt feelings; the weed of discontent will take hold when we don’t spend time in prayer and praise; and the snare of covetousness will rapidly take root in soil not cleansed by repentance. Like the weeds in my flower garden, that seemingly appeared overnight, little sins find fertile ground when our spiritual life has not been cultivated by the Word and prayer.
From the book, “The Power of Prayer,” by R.A. Torrey, some hindrances that keep us from setting aside time each day to pray are:
1. Idols in the heart (Isaiah 14:1-3)
2. An unforgiving spirit (Mark 11:25, Matthew 6:14,15)
3. Doubt (James 1:6,7)
4. Mistreating our spouse (1 Peter 3:1)
5. Unconfessed sin (Isaiah 59:1,2)
6. We don’t ask according to God’s will (James 4:3)
7. Stinginess in giving (Proverbs 21:13)
If you see any of these noxious plants appearing in your spiritual garden, you can find the perfect weed killer in Psalms 51:2 – “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” Happy planting!
Here’s a newsflash for you: churches have power struggles. (I’ll bet you were surprised.) Often novice ministers are unprepared for this fact of church life. This is why a mentor is so important because it is usually at the first board meeting our husband’s discover that sheep bite, and that supremacy in a church’s power structure is very important to some members.
Church members sometimes take on the characteristics of children. This makes sense when you realize we are their spiritual parents. One of their childish practices is to pit one pastoral partner against the other. It can be done in several ways, but one is by seeking the power of private knowledge: “Do not tell anyone about this, not even your wife (husband).”
We have found it levels the playing field in church politics by rarely agreeing to keep confidentialities from each other. When Michael is cautioned, “Let’s just keep this between ourselves,” he generally inquires why. We are one before God and therefore feel that free-flowing information is important to our ministry. It doesn’t mean that we do share it, just that the confider needs to know that we might share it with our spouse. The advantages are:
1. It keeps someone from gaining emotional superiority. Knowledge is power, and manipulators exult in the feeling that comes from being privy to information even the spouse doesn’t know.
2. It keeps both our eyes open to what’s going on in the church.
3. Two of us praying over a situation are better than one alone. This does not mean that I know everything. Michael is very wise in knowing what information I can emotionally handle and what needs to be kept to himself. It is not that I have to or do know everything, it is that when a situation arises in which little antennas go up and common sense demands: why shouldn’t my spouse know this? that we civilly inquire, why not? Just something to think about.
I had been a pastor’s wife for about three years before I discovered there aren’t two types of pastors’ wives (as I’d assumed), but three:
• Type A is the PW with her own specific call to ministry. I assumed she soared — anyone with their own “God-mantle” surely didn’t battle the same doubts and fears that I did.
• Type B married a man with a specific call to the ministry. In this category are actually two sub-categories: those who are thrilled to share their husband’s call and those who feel that their husband’s call is just that — their husband’s – and spend their life busily drawing the boundaries between his call and their life.
• Type C, however, are pastors’ wives who didn’t marry a pastor at all. They married an electrician or an accountant, maybe a bus driver. However, sometime after the marriage their husband admitted to or received a call to the ministry and their life changed drastically.
I have great empathy for what they must go through. It is one thing to get on the road of life and aim your car for a specific destination. The road may be bumpy, but there’s security in knowing where you’re going. To suddenly be driving to one destination and have the driver wheel onto an exit and head in exactly the opposite direction must be catastrophic to the emotions. Jill Briscoe, in “Renewal on the Run” has encouragement for those who fit Type C. She uses Peter’s wife as the example. This is a woman who married a fisherman. It was a lifestyle she knew, it had a stable income and was socially accepted. However, God had another agenda for Peter’s life and took him down another road.
What this boils down to is it does not matter if you have a personal call, you’re sharing a call or whether you were drafted mid-season, for in whatever situation you find yourself you can rest in the knowledge that God foresaw it, even foreordained it, and with His help you can succeed.