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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Just As I Am

"So why are you now trying to out-god God, loading these new believers down with rules that crushed our ancestors and crushed us, too? Don't we believe that we are saved because the master Jesus amazingly and out of sheer generosity moved to save us just as He did those from beyond our nation?"

Acts 15:10-11 (The Message)

If you have ever read my biography, you know the very first advice I was given after my husband was called to ministry was to "learn to play the piano! Churches will be more likely to ask Luke to be their pastor if you can play the piano!"

That well-meaning man had no idea he was ordering up a Ruth Graham to be incarnated from a Roseanne Barr. I didn't play an instrument! I couldn't sing! I was a rough-around-the-edges, one-year-old babe in Christ who barely knew how to pray and yet this man was telling me my husband didn't have a chance unless I could become what I then considered to be a 'typical' pastor's wife.

I never learned to play the piano, but I did do my very best to mold myself into the Perfect Preacher's Wife in every other way. I tried to keep my loud mouth closed and become more reserved - demure even. (That is SO laughable to me now!) I said goodbye to my large, funky earrings and default black clothing. I was the only twenty-two year old I knew who was shopping in the Misses Department for elastic-waisted pants and birdhouse embroidered sweaters. I made sure to take casseroles to every church meal and volunteered for any available position. You can thank me now for sparing you the rest of this never-ending list.

I did all this because I desperately wanted to be an asset to Luke and a jewel in God's crown. In those early days, my understanding of being worthy had everything to do with meeting other's expectations. Externally, I suppose I was shaping up nicely but on the inside, I was miserable. The challenge to live up to an unwritten code of Preacher Wife conduct was exhilirating as I checked off another issue on my "To Re-Do" list. However, what began as a thrill quickly became a yoke and it wasn't long until I realized I was making everyone happy except me.

I imagine the feelings were similar for the early Gentile Christians who were overjoyed over receiving the salvation offered by Israel's Jehovah - The One True God of all heaven and earth. It wasn't long until the Judaizers came along and laid the burden of the Law upon their new found freedom. Undoubtedly, some of the Gentiles attempted to live up to this standard because they believed in order to please God, they must please His Chosen People. The Jewish Christians, though they believed salvation had been extended to the Gentiles, still thought the Greeks must become proselytes or what I call, 'little Jews', in order to inherit the Kingdom. Paul's ministry was revolutionary in proving Gentiles did not have to become Jewish in order to receive God's gift of grace. Salvation had been given directly to the Gentiles, free from any obligation to the Jewish way of life.

The Gentiles had to be so relieved to know by the blood of Jesus Christ, God accepted them as they were - with their own culture, their own customs, their own personalities. They did not have to look like someone else or adhere to the Mosaic Law in order to be loved and greatly used by God in the Kingdom. The Jews in turn had a hard pill to swallow - God had turned his affections to a foreign people in order to cause His chosen ones to be jealous again for their special relationship to the Father.

I have a few questions for you to consider. Have you embraced your life as a worthy one which God can use? Do you believe the only requirement in being useful to God is believing on the spilled blood of Jesus? Are you trying to live up to another's expectations and find yourself falling short? Has this resulted in a sense of inferiority which causes you to shrink back from opportunities to serve Christ through His church body?

If any of these are true for you, please know one thing: All God expects from you is your 'yes'. Your unwavering obedience. Your desire to know Him and His Word. He doesn't need you to waste time craving another woman's ministry - He desires for you to embrace your own. This truth was one I needed to hear, loudly and often. When I began asking God to make me want His will, He was very faithful in lining up my desires with His. He helped me to understand my personality and interests were given to me by Him. Most importanly, He made it clear He had never asked me to lay aside my uniqueness to become more like someone else. He wanted me, just as I am.

If you have no idea where to begin in finding your place in the body, ask yourself, "What do I like?" Love scrapbooking? Work on church bulletin boards. Like writing? Start a women's ministry newsletter. Hungry for God's word? Teach a kid's discipleship class. Children are so forgiving and God will not be mad if, with a sincere heart, you accidentally tell them Noah's ark was oak instead of gopher wood!

I recently heard a wise pastor say, "It's much easier to steer a moving car." God's word to you today?? Get going! You can adjust your ministry, but you won't know in which direction until you put it in 'Drive'. And whatever service He asks of you, I can promise on experience it will be as unique as the woman He created to do it.

He wants you, girls! Just like you are.

Please visit my personal blog, The Preacher's Wife.

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Blogger Amy Grant said...

This is just what i needed to hear this morning. And it is easier to steer a moving car. Mine has been stalled lately... in children's church. Most people think I should serve there. I mean I have for the last 10 years. I was even a youth leader for 2 years. But, I don't belong in children's church. I know I have kids there but I don't belong there. I know I teach my own kids but that is just it... they are mine. I know that this is not where God wants me.

My ministry is to the mothers of these children.

Now, I feel much better already!! Excellent post!

July 17, 2007 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger Debbie said...

Thanks for an outstanding post! So many folks expect pastor's wives to model their expectations but it isn't about what they want. It's about God's plan for each of our lives. Pastor's wives are also called to ministry as a helpmate and encouragement to their husbands. If we submit to Christ with obedience and committment He will do incredible things through us. His calling is not the same for each of us. His plan is unique and his design is different for every pastor's wife.

It is apparent that God certainly has an awesome plan for your life. Blessings to you for your obedience as God continues to use you to minister to each of us in an incredible way.

July 17, 2007 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger Denise said...

Bless you dear lisa.

July 17, 2007 at 10:32 AM  
Blogger Laurel Wreath said...

What awesome concrete examples today!!

July 17, 2007 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger mandy said...

Thank you for these words... I'm sitting in the seminary library wondering what MY ministry is gonna look like, while my husband pours over pages and pages and pages of what he loves! Also, I've often wondered what kind of Pastor's Wife I'd be: i don't do embroidery at all... play the guitar and the drums but not much of the piano... and I don't really like to meet new people every week.
sigh: but i have to believe that God made me to be Drew's helpmate because of who Drew needed me to be, not because I was the cookie-cutter Preacher's wife....
so. again. thank you for your words. they bless me endlessly.

July 17, 2007 at 12:47 PM  
Blogger Andie said...

I don't know how many times I have been asked if I can play piano??? :-) How funny that everyone expects a pastor's wife to play! I don't!!! I play Mary Had a Little Lamb very well, but don't think I could figure out Amazing I don't think I would be much help during a worship service! Thank you for the reminder that we don't have to conform to some mold, just try to follow Jesus and use the gifts that He gives to each of us!
Blessings...and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

July 17, 2007 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger Shelly said...

Thank you for the reminder that all He needs is my 'yes.'

May we run more unto Him and be jealous for a relationship with Him as He is with us!

July 17, 2007 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger The Preacher's Wife said...

Amy - do you find people think you are the devil when you don't want to teach kids? I love kids and have taught them for many years, but I am like you - I want to teach their moms! :))

This goes to what Debbie said...sometimes we are expected to do certain things and when we don't, we are labeled as one who doesn't want to do 'what is needed'. What IS needed? For all to step into the callings God gave us as individuals...If everyone is doing their part, we will have a healthy church body! :))

And Laurel...thanks for the encouragement! I love your new bio pic btw...:)


July 17, 2007 at 3:01 PM  
Anonymous Lynn said...


I wish I lived near you to be part of your church family. You present what a "real" pastor's wife needs to be. Authentic, real, fallible, and used by God.

Wonderful post!!! I love reading your posts. Thank you.

July 17, 2007 at 3:43 PM  
Blogger Lisa writes... said...

You said it, sister! And said it well, I might add. All God wants from us is our YES: Whatever You ask, Lord, my answer is YES...

July 17, 2007 at 5:56 PM  
Blogger Changed by His Love said...

Hope you had an enjoyable birthday yesterday! :) Love everything you said! I have seen so many godly examples of PW's and I hope that people will see me as that, but that they wouldn't compare me to other PW's, ya know. Absolutely - if everyone in the church would do what God called them to it would be so much healthier. I learned to use my spiritual gift because if I wasn't, I would get frustrated. God gave it to us for a reason - to use it!
Thanks for all you shared today.

July 18, 2007 at 6:35 AM  
Blogger Cyndi said...

I just loved this post! Amen, and amen. I have loved where God has steered our ministry-mobile, but I had to get it in gear and let go of the emergency brake! (Oh, and scooch over and let Him drive, LOL)

July 18, 2007 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Gretchen said...

Thanks for the insight and the reminder that we have only one master. We don't need to keep up with the Joneses or any other pre-conceived notion of who or what is "right"--like a pastor's wife who plays the piano.

You are an awesome light in the blogosphere, Doll.


July 18, 2007 at 7:22 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

Just so happy you let go of the elastic waists and birdhouses, since it wasn't really you! Happy birthday, great post--challenging.

July 20, 2007 at 10:54 AM  

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