Archive for Ministry

A Parenting Gem from Charlotte Mason, That Nearly Every Other Parenting Book Missed

I’m re-reading Home Education by Charlotte Mason and I stumbled upon this nugget of mothering goodness that stayed with me for months and wanted to share it, as I don’t recall ever reading it explained this way anywhere else.

(And let’s be honest, you’ve seen my bookshelves! I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on parenting and education books.)

brandon-morgan-16641

Charlotte Mason, as you might recall, was an educator in England during late 1800’s, known for her compassionate heart for the plight of children and her keen observations about what made them tick.

She knew how to win their hearts, and understood the difference between being lectured to and being fully educated.

In volume 1 part 3, Entitled “Offending the Children,” she talks about a code of ethics for dealing with children, taken from the gospels:

It is summed up in three commandments, and all three have a negative character, as if the chief thing required of grown-up people is that they should do no sort of injury to the children: Take heed that ye offend not––despise not––hinder not––one of these little ones.

She opens by telling the story of a mother who thinks it’s “funny” to get a reaction out of her baby by saying “Naughty Baby” just to watch the way the child’s face drops and her countenance changes. In short, teasing the baby by saying something untrue. She notes that the baby’s face changes because her little conscience is working and she’s aware of right and wrong. Then she asks how this child could grow up into someone who couldn’t care less about doing right?

She contends that is because of the inconsistency of the mother and her example of not loving virtue.

By slow degrees, here a little and there a little, as all that is good or bad in character comes to pass. ‘Naughty!’ says the mother, again, when a little hand is thrust into the sugar bowl; and when a pair of roguish eyes seek hers furtively, to measure, as they do unerringly, how far the little pilferer may go. It is very amusing; the mother ‘cannot help laughing’; and the little trespass is allowed to pass: and, what the poor mother has not thought of, an offence, a cause of stumbling, has been cast into the path of her two-year-old child. He has learned already that which is ‘naughty’ may yet be done with some impunity, and he goes on improving his knowledge.”

 

She contrasts this behavior with that of the “law compelled” mother–one who upholds virtue as a standard for all in the house, including herself and doesn’t allow herself to rule her children from a place of convenience, selfishness, moodiness, or whim.

This mother believes it’s her DUTY to live under the very laws she upholds as beautiful and right to her children. AND, conversely, to parent any other way, especially to parent on your whim or moods, it to train your child to live selfishly and hate virtue.

She explains that children are born into the world with a sense of justice. They recognize injustice when they’re called “bad boy” or “naughty girl” when they weren’t truly bad.

Children know and learn quickly that sometimes the only truth they have to get around is mom’s bad mood or dad’s tired hour to get what they want. They are trained to manipulate when parental whims are the prevailing law in the home and God’s law, or virtue and right and wrong is nothing.

michael-podger-41325

A mother who “does not offend or hinder a child” is one who consistently calls good good and evil evil.

She teaches the child that they both have a duty to God and to truth.

Therefore, she doesn’t laugh or overlook when the child throws a fit or hits another child, or steals cookies before dinner, even if she’s in an upbeat, silly mood and doesn’t feel like dealing with it.

And when the mother is aggravated or tired or stretched to her limits, she refuses to come down hard on the kids for little offenses, as though she’s the only consideration in the house and she’s above the law of God. She has a duty to love virtue and live virtue, and well, unjust anger doesn’t fit into that rubric.

I think many times we parent to our own whims. We know the right things to do, yes, but we don’t love virtue enough to do the hard things, and consequently, our children don’t love virtue either. It becomes a big game of pushing limits, testing mom and dad, or seeing how far we can go to the edge without getting in trouble.

Charlotte Mason, in Home Education says,

The child has learned to believe that he has nothing to overcome but his mother’s disinclination; if she choose to let him do this and that, there is no reason why she should not;

On watching a mother who lives by whims, not principle or law:

if his mother does what she chooses, of course he will do what he chooses, if he can; and henceforward the child’s life becomes an endless struggle to get his own way; a struggle in which a parent is pretty sure to be worsted, having many things to think of, while the child sticks persistently to the thing which has his fancy for the moment.

After describing the battle of wills that will surely result from self-centered living in parenting, she asks where it all stems from:

In this: that the mother began with no sufficient sense of duty; she thought herself free to allow and disallow, to say and unsay, at pleasure, as if the child were hers to do what she liked with. The child has never discovered a background of must behind his mother’s decisions; he does not know that she must not let him break his sister’s playthings, gorge himself with cake, spoil the pleasure of other people, because these things are not rightLet the child perceive that his parents are law-compelled as well as he, that they simply cannot allow him to do the things which have been forbidden, and he submits with the sweet meekness which belongs to his age.

In short, the child needs to know that his mother

“is not to be moved from a resolution on any question of right and wrong.”

I have done a lot of parenting and I’ve seen a lot of parenting and I know how easy it is to parent out of “convenience” for mom.

“Stop fighting.”–This house is so loud I can’t hear myself think.

“Do your chores.”–I don’t want to have to remind you and I want the work done.

When it all comes back to us as the center, and we forget virtue all together, we are woe-fully off of our goal of parenting to the glory of God.

Virtuous parenting looks up to the will of the Lord. It insists that we all live for God’s desires. Parents can’t live as though they are above God’s law. They don’t get a pass. They must not shirk their duty to live a life worthy of imitating.  To do so is to imitate another thing entirely.

In a Christian home, the standard must be God’s Word. What does God say about a matter? How would he have us act and react?  We don’t “seek our own” because we are not our own.

It’s worth working through Part 3 of Home Education if you want to read more about this. I found it very helpful.

For further reading on CM’s method’s, you might enjoy A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola. Her blog is also enjoyable and refreshing.

A few ways that mid-life is better than being 20-something.

We live in a culture that worships youth and all that goes with it. Advertisers daily remind me that I need anti-aging creams and miracle fixes to make my middle age wrinkles re-wind the clock and bring me back to a better time and look.

And although I do have a few aches and pains that I didn’t have five years ago, there are aspects of mid-life that have given me perspective that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Mid-life has been surprising, I’ll admit. We took in a 2 year old foster boy the same year our oldest daughter got engaged to be married. That’s something I never would have predicted.

Still, there are aspects of mid-life that are better than when we were young, and I thought it would be fun to share that today.

couch

Personally & Spiritually::

When you are 40 something, you know who you are. You know your limitations and quirks. You know what you believe and why. Experience is your friend and time has been your teacher. This gives you wisdom to know what is worth pursuing and what is a waste of your time. You know when to walk away from a toxic relationship and you feel freedom to do it and you know when a toxic relationship is redeemable. You value time and relationships and realize that life is short and people are where you should invest. Money, fame, health, power all fade. Love stands forever. You know and appreciate that people come from all different places and that we respect other people not because they deserve it or not, but because we are respectable. You understand the love of God more each year and it causes you to grow in humility and compassion, thankfulness, and dependence.

Motherhood::

Mid-life motherhood means raising teens and adults and there’s a fundamental shift in the relationship. It’s easy to think of toddlers as your babies, but teens are full-fledged people with likes and dislikes and hearts that struggle with fear, people pleasing, idolatry, and sin in general just like their mother and father. Mid-life mothering is more friendship/discipleship based and it’s wonderful. My adult kids are truly such wonderful friends. And as much as I can guide and encourage them to follow hard after God, I have to remember that God wants this more than I do and He is able to shape them, convict them, teach them, correct them and love them when they go the wrong way or love the wrong things too much.

You sleep less because you’re up watching late night movies, or waiting for them to get home for curfew. And sleep evades you because teen problems are bigger than potty training and tantrums. Late night thoughts remind you that you were not the perfect parent and that all of your sincerest attempts were woefully short and your motives were often askew at best and sinful at worst and you beg God to be the Father and Mother that you wish you could have been and you learn to pray for your children like never before.

Friendships::

Mid-life friendships are the sweetest. You’re mature enough to appreciate other people’s gifts and talents without being threatened by them. You are realistic in your expectations and you have grown up enough to know that life is not all about you and you stop taking everything personally. You know that anything someone does or says is a reflection on them alone, not you, and you just worry about yourself.

You aren’t as needy as you were in your 20’s so you don’t expect your friends to fulfill you, be there all the time for you, or never let you down. You’re not jealous when friends get together without you {GASP} because you know that life happens and time is precious and you want good things for your friends by this point. You believe they want good things for you, too. You know that even the best people will fail you and that this is why grace in your interactions is the only way for relationships to thrive.  We don’t have time for drama, and we don’t mind walking away from it. We know who we are, we have nothing to prove, and it makes us much more comfortable to be with. We prioritize our time to be with women who make walking with God a priority as well.

Hospitality::

Mid-life hospitality is more comfortable and focused. It’s less about entertaining than ever, although I love sharing a great cheese platter or simple appetizer.  Life is busy, so any chance to minister “in house” is always welcome. Come by. If my hair is a mess, I’ll let you in and pour you some tea. If I’m making dinner, I’ll hand you a knife and you can peel my cucumbers with me. I’ll listen as you talk about life and struggles and I’ll pray with you over store-bought cookies. I’ll offer advice when I’m asked, but my goal is to encourage you, not fix you. We can both admit our faults and thank God that He’s patient with both of us and in control of our lives and have a wonderful time resting in that knowledge.

Ministry::

Mid-life ministry is easier because there’s less trying to do everything and more listening to what God wants you to do in the first place. You value your time in the Word like never before and you read to know God, not simply to know the facts or to be a wealth of information. You value the amazing and forgotten ministry of prayer because you realize that God does answer and that intercession is one of the kindest gifts you can give another person.

There’s more humility which means fewer people problems. You realize that all ministry is God’s work and He doesn’t care so much what I do but how I do it.  He cares about how you treat His sheep.  My main job in ministry is to be an example of a woman who fears the Lord, and this will open up more opportunities to serve than I could ever handle. There’s a sense that every ministry trial is a test of my obedience and humility before God and really, nothing else matters.

Mid-life has also afforded me more opportunities to write and speak, but I can take them or leave them. I don’t look to them for validation and I don’t need people to look to me, answer to me, or respect me at all.

Ministry life is about service and loving one another. When problem people arise, I try to understand what makes them tick and help them get busy doing something that makes them feel valued. When people fail you in the church, you realize that no matter who they are, they are responsible for their sin and it’s not a reflection on you even if they are antagonistic, accusatory, odd, unkind, or territorial with you. They own their sin–you own your responses. When you are satisfied in Christ, it doesn’t matter what your job is. You’re working for Him and you’ll always have Him. You have everything you need for your happiness and holiness.

 

I’d love to hear what you’ve learned as you’ve aged. Feel free to tell me in the comments or on FB.

Thanks for coming by, friends. I appreciate you.

 

A Little Encouragement For When Life Isn’t What You Expected

Some people like surprises and some don’t. I like good surprises like flowers or a card, but I don’t generally like surprises, especially when it comes to “life.” I like to know the ground rules. I like to know what I can expect, and of course, life isn’t like that at all. We don’t have a crystal ball and we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

So when life unfolds differently than we expected, we can be thrown for a loop. We can begin to fear and become discontent.

balloon

Over the years I’ve learned that being in control is NOT something we get to be. God is in control. So, the secret to being content is to know your God and to really believe His Word.

I know this sounds simple, like Christianity Lite 101, but as I’ve talked to women and have experienced my own fears and reactions to life, I see that this is often hard stuff. Knowing words and head knowledge does not always translate into actual belief. And we see this by our expectations and our reactions.

Oh, those expectations! We hold on to them don’t we? And they can really do a number on us if we don’t let them go!

We expect things to go smoothly. We don’t expect trials. We hate suffering. We get mad when we’re treated like a servant.

Our expectations are deflated when real life sets in.

  • We want a perfectly understanding husband.
  • We want kids who have the wisdom of parents so that we don’t have to spend so much time and energy parenting.
  • We want a home that is self-cleaning.
  • We expect people to be kind and considerate and get mad or even when they aren’t.

We get frustrated with the bumps and set-backs that come with inefficiency, sinful interaction, messes, and timetables that don’t run smoothly.

It’s in these times that we have to ask, “What is the truth about my God right now?” and “Do I really believe the Scripture?”

If you are an idealist like I am, you are easily annoyed by the seeming contradictions of this life. You know how things should be, and you’re irritated when they’re not that way. This can be good, when it leads to helping those who are unjustly treated, but it can also be a curse, when you have ideals about what your own life should look like and be, and you disappoint yourself.

These are the grounding truths you need to meditate on when life is disappointing:

I am a most beloved daughter of the God of Heaven.

I’ve signed up to be His servant and to do His will because I believe He is God of the Universe and in control, and I trust Him.

Did you skip over the servant part when you read that sentence? If so, let me encourage you to let that sink in and take root in your spirit. Those who follow Jesus Christ are here to do His will. Servants.

So, yeah…

A few questions about servant hood.

  • Do I get really upset and mad when I’m treated like a servant?
  • When my husband leaves his socks on the ground, do I have the mindset of a servant?
  • When my toddler presses play doh into the rug, do I see myself as a servant?
  • When I am in ministry, “serving others” do I get ruffled when I am treated as a servant?
  • When God brings the “needy” to me, do I get exasperated that there are always people who need my help?

balloonsunsplash

I’m thinking that our irritability and impatience show that we don’t really have a servant’s mindset but a master’s mindset.

A master wants his will obeyed. He expects things to be his way. He wants others to respect him and honor him. He doesn’t want to be crossed EVER.

So, recognizing our servant status and thinking in terms of picking up a towel and basin for the sake of others will help us accept the will of our Master.

Because, isn’t that what a servant does–the the will of his master? He expects things to be the master’s way. He expects that people will see him as little and sends all “respect” and “glory” to his master. He doesn’t expect anything but to serve.

We’d all verbally affirm that we’d like to be like Jesus, so let’s look at Philippians 2, to see our example:

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

If we want to live as Jesus lived, it involves extreme humility.

Humility means dying to self.

Moms, do we really have the mind of Christ? Would your kids say that you are humble? Are we putting others first for the sake of the gospel instead of acting like our kids are distractions and hindrances from the grander duties of life?

Wives, do we have a “mind of our own” or the mind of Christ? Do our interactions with our husband show humility? Do we consider his needs? Help him? Pride ends (and contention) where humility begins, doesn’t it?

Ministry wives, do we get our knickers in a knot when people exclude us, talk badly about us, expect the unreasonable from us, and use us? Do our reactions reveal a servant’s mindset or a master’s mindset? Would the last congregant who hurt you say you reacted with humility?

Another way we can be like Jesus is to value God’s will over our own:

““Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22:42

Jesus, the man, was submissive to God’s laws. He treasured the law. He never crossed God’s law. We also need to value, treasure, and obey God’s Word. This is not legalism, or bondage. God’s Words and ways bring freedom and life. They’re our guidebook for living.

When you are disappointed in your situation,

or you feel that you’re not getting your fair share,

I’d encourage you to take another look into Scripture.

It’s clarifying. It’s hopeful. It reorients your expectations. It fills you with gratitude and hope and most importantly,

it points you to the Savior and shows you once again what it means to live a Christian life. You’ll see the suffering Christ. You’ll see the merciful Lord. You’ll see the Sovereign One. You’ll see the satisfaction He offers to those who are destitute and thirsty. You’ll see that the suffering is only temporary, and that God is good eternally.

You are loved, dear friend. What verse encourages you to think God’s way during times of trials? What do you to put those things in the forefront of your mind? I’d love for you to share in the comments or on FB.

Have a great weekend, friends!

 

Recent Posts You May Have Missed:

Spanning the Racial Divide With Authentic Love

Let’s End Parental Condemnation and Shaming

A Blog About Nothing In Particular

Homeschooling Mom, You Are in Charge of Your Happiness.

I spoke to a younger homeschooling mom this week who was clearly exhausted and suffering from burn-out.

After telling me why she was dreading the next two months of “school” , I asked her if she’d ever considered this:

“You are completely in charge of your own happiness. You don’t need permission to make changes for your own sanity. If you are discouraged, change something or nothing will change.”

homeschool 3

She needed to look for creative ways to make room for things that bring her joy. She was suffocating and needed some soul-oxygen.

I have been in her shoes too many times to count. We don’t have time so we don’t take time. It’s a vicious cycle.

Sometimes we get so stuck in the same old rut, that we don’t even know we are spinning our tires and headed nowhere. Spinning our tires requires movement and energy, so we equate that with productivity. Fast paced, multi-tasking, non-stop activity does not guaranteed progress. In fact, I’ve found that it almost guarantees burnout.

homeschooling

The great amount of work that is truly on the shoulders of a homeschooling mom can scare us into a life of hurry and worry.

We begin pushing our kids to perform with a “standardized expectation” where kids can’t be themselves or excel in their own strengths. No, come end of the year, we must all perform for the test. Proficiency in every subject. Just call me Drill Sargent Mom.

Maybe we forget that education is not simply about gaining knowledge to pass tests.

It’s about relationships, training, direction, discipleship, character, and the atmosphere of home.

Charlotte Mason was a huge proponent of the “The Atmosphere” of education, that sense of well-being, connection, and joy that you share with your child that assures them that you are glad that you are together today!

We are training for real life situations.

Grandma is sick. We’re packing it up to get her some ginger ale and make some soup.

Mrs. Jones lost her baby. We’re headed there to watch her kids so she can rest.

Mrs. Smith is really struggling this week. She’s coming here for coffee and we’re going to cheer up her kids. 

photo-1421338443272-0dde2463976a

Homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s real life training. And we have to plan time for small things that will yield big results in our happiness. (This will be different for every person, depending on your interests!)

If you are dreading the end of your school year and you find yourself less than enthusiastic about it, evaluate why.

  • What has zapped all your energy?
  • Where are you stretched too thin?
  • Have you become the “do everything” mom, so that the kids aren’t carrying their weight?
  • Have you let behavior slide so that your days are filled with a constant chorus of whining?
  • Have you taken time to refresh your own soul?
  • Have you purposely pursued time away from the kids/classroom to nurture life-giving friendships?
  • What inspiring friend can you plan to spend time with this week?
  • Are you looking for ways to serve others outside of your own home?
  • How can you provide moments of beauty in your daily routine?
  • Are you over-committed somewhere? What can you cut?
  • Have you under-nourished your own interests? What can you add?

Being a homeschool mom should not mean that you are now cloistered into your locked house, only to emerge for necessities like groceries and doctor’s appointments. You don’t stop being a sister, daughter, friend, neighbor when you teach at home. In fact, this role almost requires you that intentionally pursue a connected lifestyle to spark imagination and inspiration.

tomato

If you are suffering from burnout, and you still have a way to go in the semester, it’s time to change something. Write down two things you can do this week to plan for moments of beauty and inspiration.

tea

Oh, I know. It’ll slow down your pace. You may only finish 130 lessons, rather than 140, but I think your kids’ experiences will be richer. (Don’t worry. The traditionally schooled kids rarely finish all their textbooks either.)

  • Make tea time a daily thing.
  • Take an afternoon to shut off all electronic devices and spend some serious time in the sun and fresh air.
  • Take a nature walk.
  • Arrange a small display of flowers for the table.
  • Notice the beauty around you in nature.
  • Notice the negative self talk in your own mind. Maybe your own words rolling round and round in your head–words or failure, or bitterness, regret, or disappointment–are the reason you are so sour and drained. Dwelling on the negatives will always do that to you.
  • Take a walk.
  • Get some exercise.
  • Head to the library and find books that inspire you to learn something new.
  • Paint outside with the kids.
  • Laugh with a friend.
  • Make a bon fire.
  • Read aloud to the kids.
  • Enjoy a treat together.
  • Invite people over. Connect in meaningful ways. Live. Enjoy your life and the people in it.

If you are dreading the homestretch, change it up. You’re on your own schedule. And you don’t need anyone’s permission to care for your self. You are in charge of your own happiness!

What are you going to do this week to plan for happy and inspiring moments? Share in the comments!

 

Getting Help {Ministry Wives Series}

We’re continuing our Ministry Wives (MW) series where I try to answer your questions about ministry life. Last week we talked about difficult friendships. This week, we’re answering a frequent question: “Where do I go for help? Who’ll mentor me when I struggle?”

I’ll tell you what I’ve done and hopefully it will give you some ideas.

It’s pretty much a universal truth that none of us feels like we completely know what we are doing. When we struggle with sin, embarrassment can keep us from getting help. See, we know the right answers, but sin has a way of deceiving and entangling everyone. We can either fake it and take the bull by the horns not knowing the damage to us or others, or we can admit we don’t know and ask for help.

finding help

We are all just all sinners at different stages of sanctification. Pretending to have all the answers or living like we are “above” getting help is not only proud, but it puts people off—the same people who can see clearly that you don’t have all the answers and the same people you try to encourage to get accountability for their struggles. Integrity and truth are your bff’s in ministry.

We are all just beggars at God’s grace table along with everyone else. We’re all dependent creatures, held together and breathing the air of our Sustainer God. Any time we take ourselves out from under that place of dependence, and place ourselves in a position where we believe we have no need, or worse, where we think we have it all together, we are in trouble.

Here’s what I’ve seen and heard from the MWs I talk to. We avoid going to people who could judge us for help. We head to self-help books or commentaries, our spouse, or our mother. Although these all have their place and can be good things, I do think they have drawbacks.

  1. Books allow us to hide. They never look you in the eye and ask heart-probing questions about our sin or blind spots. A book doesn’t gently tell you that your attitude is wrong and your spirit, sour. Books let us skirt the issues reading what we think we need. There’s no uncomfortable confrontation with a book.
  2. Spouse. Until death do us part. For better or for worse. Our spouse is safe and isn’t going anywhere and we know this, so we ask him. Our spouse is resigned to our quirks–sometimes even our sin. He may, for the sake of peace, avoid confrontation and just listen to you vent. It’s almost hard to gauge whether he can see clearly through the situation because he’s so close to it.
  3. Mother. “Mother love” blinds us to our own kids’ bad behavior, therefore, when we need help with a struggle against sin, Mother is probably going to be too soft with us.

Taking advantage of a variety of counselors helps us to see our potential, and brings us face to face with our failures so we can deal with them. Though painful, it’s good because we don’t want our testimony to be a stumbling block to others.

One of the biggest challenges is finding “the woman” to mentor us.

It’s like we’re looking for superwoman–the one person who has it all together in all areas of life. Mary Poppins would be nice. Obviously, that person doesn’t exist.

Instead, look around and notice excellence. I look for a woman who has ONE excellent quality that I want to emulate. If she also has the character qualities I mentioned in the last post, namely the ability to keep her mouth shut…keep her counsel and not gossip, I’ll ask her to help me out. :)

I’ve sought counsel for writing, bible study, counseling, organization, health, parenting, marriage, etc…

Most recently I asked for help for weight loss.

A few months back I had a physical and the doctor told me I had gained 15 pounds in the last 8 years. Disturbed, I called my friend, Toni, who is a health coach. You might remember her from this post, Missionary Wives Speak: Have We Lost Something?

12472723_1015442525209575_6982709575175182960_n

In her sweet, unassuming way, she asked me a battery of questions about my eating, sleeping, and exercise habits and I have to tell you, my eyes were opened to several glaring problems with my weight loss struggles. For one thing, I don’t get enough sleep. I also skip meals when I am busy with the kids, reeking havoc to my metabolism. Just these probing questions were enough to help me correct several issues. (If you want to contact her, her email is tonihealthcoach@gmail.com . She’s super helpful and just a lovely person!)

All this to say, don’t be afraid to ask help from the people who really can help you and won’t be too soft on you.

Side note:

I think it’s very interesting that “Life Coaching” is an exploding, trendy industry in 2016. If you’ve not heard of life coaching, it’s a wonderful blend of consulting, mentoring, and therapy that focuses on practical, everyday stuff.  The Harvard Business Review reports that Life Coaching is a $1 Billion/year industry. The three most popular reasons people hired a life coach:

  1. to develop higher potential in their personal life
  2. for a sounding board
  3. address their negative behavior/habits

In our isolated world where a blue screen frequently replaces face to face friendship and interaction, people are going back to what they know works: mentoring and discipleship in all areas of life.

This is exactly what Titus 2 prescribes! Women, helping women. The older, helping the younger. The more experienced and excellent helping those who want to learn. Walking life with others. Isn’t it great that God knows exactly what we need and tells us how we work best? Life Coaching is a Biblical concept that works!

I know you’ve probably had bad experiences with people who shared your struggles or who talked about you behind your back. Don’t let that stop you from getting help to better yourself, and don’t let a negative experience push you into a life of isolation and fear. We really need to let go of the fear of man, and instead live for an Audience of One who calls us to a holy lifestyle. Maybe your humble desire to grow and change will be the catayst for change and growth in your church? Maybe your life will encourage others to seek God more passionately.

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Prov. 11:14

“A wise man will hear and will increase learning. And a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.” Prov. 1:5

“Without counsel purposes are disappointed; but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” Prov. 15:22

“Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.” Ps. 119:24

If you are still struggling to find help, pray. I’d be happy to pray for you, too. Ask God to guide you. I know He’ll guide you to the people and resources you need.

Seeking Friendship {Ministry Wives Edition}

For the next few posts I’ll be answering a few ministry related questions I’ve received over the last few months. Hopefully, by reading someone else’s perspective, it’ll help you make sense of your situation. I know every ministry situation is different and has its own nuances. Please feel free to take what helps and leave what doesn’t. Okay, then?

friendship

I frequently get asked about friendships in ministry–specifically the lack of forming close friendships in your own congregation.

It’s no secret that friendships in ministry can be tricky.

No matter where you serve,

whether full-time, part-time, or layman, missionary, youth pastor’s wife, musician, or church planter’s wife, we all need someone to love us enough to speak truth into our lives. But we all know that sometimes transparency backfires in a leadership position. This is certainly the ministry wife’s catch-22.

“Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.” Although this saying from Rachel Lynde is laughable, there’s wisdom in realizing that we are all just people walking through various stages of life at different stages of sanctification. Since we are flawed people serving with other flawed people, wisdom is necessary when sharing our heart.

You don’t share your heart with someone who gossips about others.

You don’t share your heart to someone who is critical or outspoken about every little thing.

And repeat after me:”Transparency is not spilling your gut and sharing every thought. That’s venting.”

You simply don’t share with people who have proved themselves untrustworthy.

  • I know of one friend who was co-laboring with another couple and who shared some deep troubles they were having in their marriage, desperate for help, and they were basically disciplined out of the church after a slow death of the relationship, and told they would not be recommended for another ministry because of their marriage issues. (For the record, their marriage is thriving.)
  • In another instance, a ministry friend was punished by a bitter pastor’s wife after sharing concerns about ministry practice to her.
  • In yet another instance, a pastor’s wife and family were raked over the coals for asking, through a broken heart, for prayer for a struggling teen.

So what do you do about forming close friendships as a ministry wife?

Well, the Lord initiates friendship with us and the Bible warns about how vulnerable the “loner” is, and how there is strength in numbers, so we know avoiding friendship is not the answer.

The pat answer seems to be to have friends in other ministries because sometimes you do need to “talk shop.”

There’s a problem with this, though. Friends in other ministries don’t know our “blind spots” and we’re certainly not going to tell them because–wait for it–we are completely blind to them, so our version of the “truth” might be skewed and we might not get the help we need.

And God does PUT us with people to humble us and chisel away our ungodly characteristics, so total avoidance is really short changing yourself.

Here are a few things I’ve learned in my limited experience:

Be in your Bible.  God’s word is there to convict you and change you. Go into each reading assuming that God wants to humble you in some area. Then read to change. God also offers you friendship and only when you love God supremely will you actually have the ability to love others well, warts and all.

Know your church culture. If you’re in a church culture where truth is valued and transparency is safe, then by all means, feel free to share with your fellow leadership wives or trusted friends. If you’re not sure about the culture, listen, listen, listen to the way people talk about others when they fail. You can tell a lot about the humility of a leader by how well or ill they speak of others.

Accept what God gives you. You might really want a close friend and deep conversations but God keeps giving you younger moms who are really needy for advice and play dates. God always gives us what we need. He promises to. Perhaps our desire is stronger than it should be and God wants us to serve others at a play date at the park or beach.

Keep friendship in perspective. We sometimes imagine that there is that one person out there who will always be there for us, be completely loyal, never let us down, always know just what to say. There is only one person who can do all this and it’s God. That kind of pressure on any friend will kill it from the start. Friendships are good gifts, but not the ultimate thing: God is!

Pray for a wise woman. She doesn’t have to be in your congregation, but pray for an older woman to talk to. You don’t have to bear your soul. You might just really listen and learn as she talks about God’s faithfulness through years of marriage and child raising and widowhood.

Look for a woman who has these qualities:

  1. She doesn’t feel the need to gossip to gain acceptance or to seem like she’s in the know. This quality assures you she’ll keep your confidence.
  2. She speaks well of others.
  3. She’s self-controlled in her life and emotions.
  4. She’s Word-filled. Enough said.
  5. She’s faithful. Her yes means yes and her no means no.

Realize that God appoints your place and time and makes no mistakes. You don’t have to be best friends with someone in order to work with them. Your personalities don’t even have to mesh. Because in the end, love for God will smooth the way.

 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.

Notice that Paul doesn’t give relationship strategies or personality profiles to help fix whatever was troubling Euodia and Synthche, two New Testament women who seemed to clash. He tells them to recognize their place “in the Lord.” He emphasizes their mutual submission to the Lord. He was saying, “Hey, girls, it’s not all about you! It’s all about the Lord!”

Realizing that we are “in the Lord” does eliminate any temptation for one-upmanship or insisting on your own way. This brings humility. Serving in unity rises and falls on our willingness to see ourselves in Him.

Initiate friendships. If God brings someone to mind, you initiate. If you’re lonely, they might be, too. Make the first call. Invite them over. Ask to meet for coffee. Contact them online. Tell them you’d like to get to know them better. This is always a blessing.

Don’t demand that friendship look a certain way. Maybe for a season, your friendships will be with older women or with women walking through a sorrowful season. You be the friend that you’d want to have.

Don’t waste your loneliness. Read good books. Do an online Bible study. Encourage others. Visit a nursing home. Babysit for a younger mom. When one of my girls struggled with loneliness in her teens, I told her that maybe God was preparing her to depend heavily on Him for some mission work in her future or season of isolation.

“Be not weary in well doing. For in due season, you will reap if you faint not.”

I’ve learned that God uses every trial to direct and lead me. When I’ve lacked close friendship, He’s used unpleasant circumstances to lead me to the people and the opportunities where He wants me to minister. And in obedience and joy, there’s so much hopeful anticipation about what God is doing and how He’ll provide for each of our needs, just like He’s promised He will.

 

 

 

 

The Grace Table

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite topics, hospitality, and the concept of stewarding our homes as grace-giving spaces where others find favor and kindness under our roof (or in our presence) whether they deserve it or not. I want us to envision our kitchen tables as little hospitals, thus hospitality, dispensing grace like medicine to anyone God sends our way.

table

I know that concept of hospitality can trigger stress. I know that. We immediately begin comparing and think of Martha Stewart. Though hospitality does include meeting the needs of others through work in a physical way, I want to assure you that a hospitable spirit is not something that we conjure up on our own. Rather, it’s the result of and the out-flowing of the unmerited gift of God’s abundant grace towards us. The word grace comes from the Greek charis, hence your kitchen table can become the grace table— the chari-table place for many acts of worship and service.

Here’s how it works: 

God —->freely gives us His unmerited grace—->we receive grace—->we respond to that grace—-> by freely give grace to others.

Grace begets grace.

I found it interesting in my study that another word stems from the Greek word for grace (charis)–the word gratitude. Have you ever noticed that the more alive to grace you are, the more humble you become and the more gratitude becomes your norm?

How can you do anything but PRAISE when you deserve death and hell by choice and action and instead get joint-heir status with the perfect, beloved Son of God? Completely justified. Just as if I’d never sinned. Just as if I’d always obeyed. Mind blowing and praise producing (gratitude!!) all wrapped up in one.

And when we forget what God has done, when we forget that we were the debtor who needed forgiveness, we set out to make our debtors pay. We set out to punish. We are blind, forgetting what kind of person we were. Complaining follows because ingratitude is always the response of someone who thinks they deserve more than they were doled out.

As Christians, God’s grace transforms our hearts, which transforms our speech, which gives us something worthwhile to say–words of gratitude to God– thanksgiving, praise, and glory-words that point others straight to Christ.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Hebrews 13:15

The sacrifice of thanksgiving—gratitude—the fruit of our lips.

Obviously, we are not under the Old Testament law, but this is a reference back to the OT sacrificial system, to what were known as “thank offerings”–purely voluntary offerings that could be made to show your heart felt gratitude for all the Lord has done in our lives. And this is what our praise is–voluntary acknowledgement of our great God.

Are you looking for opportunities to serve? Have you considered that you can become a conduits by which God’s grace flows through you to others who:

  • desperately need to see His goodness in an unkind world
  • don’t necessarily deserve or want our favor
  • oppose us
  • despite-fully use us
  • are unlovely and overlooked

Do you see people as sinners made in the image of God? Or do you judge them and categorize them, putting yourself on a little pedestal as you look down your nose at this different breed of sinner than you?

Do you see that heroine addict as a person made in the image of God who doesn’t know His love yet? Someone you might reach?

How about that homeless person? Do you assume all the worst about why he is where he is, or do you try to love him into the Kingdom of God, leading him by the hand?

As women, we have the unique opportunity to speak truth into the lives of other women who need hope and help. This can’t be done if God’s grace is not pulsing through your own spirit.

Our homes can have an impact, and they are one of the most underutilized tools in evangelism today. Invite someone in today.

If you have a kitchen table, or a coffee table, or a dorm room for that matter, I want to encourage you to use these things for the sake of the gospel. Your home can be a little chari-table spot, a bright light in this dark world where you can make a difference for Christ.

Unfair Ministry: Ministry Wives Edition

Last week I wrote about hard times in ministry. I received more email about totally ridiculous stuff that goes on in ministry, much of it unfair, and it’s horrible and hurtful and my heart goes out to you. A also received several inboxes saying that this series is not just applicable to the ministry but to all women, and I do agree.

But I specifically wrote to my fellow ministry wives because ministry wives often suffer alone and there are certain types of temptations that, although not “uncommon to man”, are often very commonly found lurking in the hearts of good, ministry-minded folks.

photo-1444594975920-e69885b357d5

 

And in order to lead from a position of grace, we need to be aware of the pitfalls that are common in ministry.For instance, because you are a leader, the desire to be respected can morph into a campaign to dominate, demand to be consulted, or to get your own way. Or perhaps, since you end up making many of the decisions about church matters, humility takes a back seat and you no longer consider the needs, sensitivities, or quirks of other congregants, taking the my way or the highway approach, when care and consideration would have been the prudent, others-minded way. And there are too many other temptations associated with ministry to even list.

Ministry wives, life is “unfair” and ministry life is often messy and wisdom would dictate that we keep ourselves in check. We are 100% responsible for our own actions and nobody elses. I suggest that we really *believe* that sin is harmful and that we are blind to our own sin, and we want to avoid it, we need to step back, take heed, lest we fall and “go our own way” becoming a law unto ourselves. Especially in the context of trials. Our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked. Do we believe this or do we believe that we’re a in a higher class of sinners than the people we serve?

On top of blindness to our own sin, we are often given opportunities or preference that other congregants might not receive, simply because we married a ministry guy. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this. God does assign us our portion and lot.

The trouble comes when we accept opportunities that we are not in any spiritual condition to perform or when we expect preferential treatment and get bent out of shape when overlooked.(pride)

Example: I’ve been offered speaking opportunities or other ministry related opportunities over the years simply because I am married to Peter and because of the blog and there are times when I’ve had just plain said “NO.”

Why? Well, sometimes it’s due to seasons of life or schedules, but other times its because I know the condition of my own heart. I know that life has been busy and I should be learning not teaching. I know that I have been unholy and stubborn and I need to learn submission to God before I step out again. Sometimes I forgo writing here because I need to obey more so that my words have meaning when I speak. Anyone can get up and speak, right? But if your life is not matching up, ladies, what’s the point? Anyone can open their home to strangers and serve, but if you’ve been mistreating your own kids and husband, where’s the authenticity and uprightness in that?

This ministry life is not a show or our stage. If you want to impact your home/church/sphere, let the words you speak and claim to love match your actions. That’s the best contribution/legacy/testimony we can give to our families, children, and church.

During trials, the Lord is concerned about my heart and this should my highest concern as well.

“Search me, Oh God” and inspect my heart, and don’t let me dare run ahead of you in speech, ministry.

Let’s face it, if you’ve been in ministry you know that all people are sinful, like the pastor who views pornography and brushes it under the carpet then gets up and preaches, or the ministry wife who makes jabs about one member and then is quick to get up and praise the Lord out of the other side of her mouth. Sin abounds in all of us and the church is not exempt.

Because sin can so easily go undetected, it’s helpful to ask, “If I were not the pastors’/evangelists’/youth pastors’/missionarys’ wife, would I be asked to do this ministry based on my godly reputation, humble interactions, faithful service, consistent testimony? If not, say no.

If you were not a leadership wife…if you were a lay person in the church…would people–

  • ask you for wise counsel based on your knowledge and application of God’s Word in your own life?
  • confide their troubles and assume that you wouldn’t gossip?
  • say that you know how to control your tongue and are consistent to use it to bless bless and not curse? Am I gushing fresh water one day and brackish the next? (James 3:10-12)
  • say my life is described as “moderate”–my appetites under control. AKA… I can say no to myself. Or do I swing the pendulum with my words,moods, weight, hobbies, spending, time, etc…Is moderation a defining quality or do I swing from one extreme or the other?

These are questions we should ask ourselves because others may not ask or enforce them upon us. Most people assume that you’ve got it all together and that makes it even more dangerous.

We know from God’s Word that true wisdom is seen by living out the gospel humbly, without mean-spirited ambition, boasting, or lashing out with the tongue. Passions and desires under the Lordship of Christ.

That’s why TRIALS are so invaluable to our lives. In my experience, it’s during trials when my guard is down that I can see the true nature of my heart. I get a glimpse of what’s ruling underneath and what motives are moving me to action.

How do you respond when someone says no to you or tells you to wait? How do you respond when confronted with your own sin? Are you still able to answer to/submit to other people or do you believe yourself above that? These are the MINISTRY MOMENTS when God is trying to draw you closer to Himself. He’s asking you to throw off your pride, stop demanding your rights, and humbly follow Him.

God uses UNFAIR ministry, ladies, for our good and His glory.

He allows that woman to give you the cold shoulder to test your humility. He allows that callous remark to see whether you’ll love that unlovely one or no. He wants us to obey His Word through it all of the hurt and unfairness.

Or we can respond by running ahead doing what we think will give us momentary satisfaction and, ultimately, happiness, or by running our mouth, causing a “wildfire” of trouble.

Let’s remember Sarah, Abraham’s wife, when we are tempted to run ahead of God and take matters into our own hands. Although Sarah had faith in God, we see that she doubted God’s ability to keep His promise to give her a son in her old age. That one thing she wanted so badly…and she allowed discouragement to linger and unhappiness to blossom until she took matters into her own hands.

That’s why we CAN’T look at our circumstances. To focus on our trials is to look away from our Faithful God.

Looking to our circumstances too long breeds doubt, despair, discouragement, depression, cynicism, and a sour spirit. Have you ever blurted something and realized how SOUR it was!? I have!

When we look to the Lord, and remember that HE IS OUR PRIZE AND GOAL, we experience the joyful anticipation of His PROMISES.

Scripture is full of examples of people in serious trials who reacted in a godly manner and God’s answers are always the same:

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27 and

“Has the Lord’s arm been shortened?” (Numbers 11:23)

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14)

“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:31)

Sarai took matters into her own hands and ran ahead of God because she ultimately doubted God and despised His timing.

We all know the disastrous result of that decision and can all take a lesson from her disobedience:

  • Whenever we take control of our circumstance in a way that is outside of the bounds of scripture, we are headed for trouble.
  • When we attempt to get what we want using sinful means, we’re showing that we are no longer hoping in God.
  • When we try to escape our problems, we’re saying that God put us here mistakenly and that we must master our own fate.

God’s timing and ways are good. “His way is perfect.”

When God is ready to act, He will.

Your job is to watch your attitude and heart.

Are you living out the gospel in joyful anticipation of what the Savior will do?

Are you trusting and obeying God’s word, staying inside the bounds of Scripture?

Do you see your gifts in life as coming from God or do you demand them for yourself, living life as though God’s short changed you somehow.

Ministry friends, this is the life of faith. Let’s not copy the “take it into your own hands” method of Sara. Let’s leave it in God’s capable hands.

“Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.” Heb. 11:11

When life’s not fair and ministry is hard, let’s choose to trust and obey!

Hard Times: Ministry Wives Edition

I’m sitting by my Christmas tree and the baby is napping and I want to take a few quick minutes to jot down a few encouraging words of perseverance for my fellow sisters in ministry who are hurting right now.

church

This week has been rough, ministry wives. You’ve written and inboxed and honestly, my heart hurts for you. I was singing “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” this morning with the congregation and tears flooded my eyes for several sweet friends who have been hurt by the church and are floundering this week.

“And in despair I bowed my head, there is no peace on earth, I said…”

We assume that there will AT LEAST be peace in the church, don’t we? And that’s what makes it hurt that much more. Idealism. Expectations. “We’re serving God and now this.” We imagined it one way and the reality is that people are sinful and people disappoint.

I don’t know all the details.

I don’t know who is right or wrong.

I don’t even know WHY this is happening.

But I want to encourage you with a few absolutely grounding truths that we must remember during hard times.

Whatever you are going through, whatever has happened, THIS MOMENT is a peek into your heart and a test of your current spiritual condition.

Ouch. I know that hurts. I know because it’s convicted me many times. But that’s the truth of it.

See, we care about outcomes and setting things right, but God cares about having our heart closer to Him. During this hard time, what are you doing with His Word?

I don’t just mean reading His Word. Treasuring it. Obeying it. Walking in it whether you feel like knocking someone’s teeth out or not.

We want to be heard and understood, but God wants closer fellowship and communion with us. Sometimes He uses trials for this very purpose.

So, today, in your hurt and frustration, how you respond and what you do with God’s Word RIGHT NOW matters. We reap what we sow, and we all know that and have taught it.

Wrap your mind around the basics and fight to think Bible truth.

Is God in control? He is.

Is your life spinning out of control? It is not.

Does God have a plan in all of this and does He expect a certain response from His people? He does.

This may seem like pouring alcohol on a cut, but sometimes hurt and confusion can linger a little too long and morph into anger and bitterness.

When we believe that God is in control and that He is truly doing what is best for us, we can step forward confidently into an unknown (unplanned, unwanted!) future because our good God goes before us.

We can give our emotions to God to rule more easily when we realize that He’s the one in charge.

It always comes back to our heart responses, doesn’t it? And sometimes that can be frustrating.

We want God to change them and intervene for us. Some fire from heaven might be nice. JK!

God does work in His time, but, plot twist–He wants the heart of the evildoer as well as He wants good for you. God is long-suffering.

Don’t believe FOR A MOMENT that the people who hurt you will get away with it. We all reap what we sow.

The proud reap resistance from God. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Imagine what God must think of the proud in His church—a place of humility,unity,and peace– who use it as a place to pamper their pride and use others. Let that sink in. (Think in human terms about how you as a parent would respond to a caregiver who was supposed to nurture your child, and you find out later that they used and abused the child. Righteous indignation, I would say.)

The God who sent His Son to die for you

don’t think for a minute that God won’t deal with that person.

If you have a minute sometime, read Numbers 11:33-34. It’s about how God gave the complaining Israelites the “thing” they complained for. The “thing” in this instance was quail.

Whenever I see a ministry leader who is contentious, I think of this quail story.

Quail= whatever idol is lurking in a man’s heart.

The frustrated fruit of the unmet idol is complaining and discord.

And when a ministry leader is not content with what God has provided or the opportunities He’s given, they either withdraw in self-pity (HOW COME NOBODY RESPECTS ME OR REALIZES JUST HOW WONDERFUL I AM!!?)

or assert and take up arms in their own defense (I AM GOING TO DO THIS WITH ZERO CONSIDERATION FOR YOU OR YOUR WELL BEING BECAUSE I’M ALL ABOUT ME RIGHT NOW)

The ruling belief is that there is not greater cause than SELF and someone has to look out for #1.

This is where it gets ugly. We often hear of church splits over the color of carpet or the stupidest little things…and we wonder how people in “ministry” could act so shortsightedly and self-focused.

How could someone who claims to live for the glory of God pick up arms over decorations or committees or preeminence. The answer is pride and covetousness which is idolatry.

And here’s the thing, hurting ministry wife: GOD allows them to do this.

God doesn’t make people puppets and robots. He gives them free will. So while they look like they are prospering, remember the rest of the story: God often gives them what they want and withdraws, sending leanness to their souls.

God’s not a player. He demands your heart.

You want to step on others? Okay, but disobedience to my Word comes with consequences.

You want to be the big shot, ruling your own little mini-kingdom? Okay, but God’s not coming to your little party. He’ll wait until you are over yourself.

Leanness. God resists. Withdraws.

Pretty scary.

Enough of them. What about us?

We can quickly let ministry hurts overwhelm us and control us rather than allowing the Holy Spirit and the love of God to constrain us.

Bottom line: God is going to show you more of Himself through this trial if you look to Him in your pain. God is the prize and after the tears, I hope you’ll realize how dear this truly is. More of God should be our end goal. And God will use WHATEVER to achieve this. He cares more about your responses and your HUMILITY than He does about almost any other detail.

And know this:

God does move people and lead through the misdeeds of others. He may physically move you, yes, but He wants to lead you into a closer fellowships with Him that you might not have had before if that person had not sinned against you.

And if you’re not sure of the next step in your ministry–

I have seen time and time again how the sin of one person became a conduit of ministry for another.

Perhaps his busy schedule makes him seem unapproachable so people in need come to you, because you are available.

Her sharp, judgmental tongue is a turn off, and hence a conduit that sends younger women to you for safe advice and encouragement. Her moody demeanor is unpredictable, so tired moms look for someone who is joyful and welcoming and seek you out.

My fellow ministry friends, just keep your eyes on the Lord, even in trials. Your ministry might change. Your location might change. But God never changes and right now, and forever, He’s most concerned about your heart.

If your heart is right with God–all the ministry details will work themselves out and you’ll never “lack” the ministry opportunities He wants for you.

Praying for you, ladies!

When Perfectionism Stops You

So, I haven’t been blogging much lately and a friend asked why. Know what? I’ve got all the excuses:

“I’m just so busy. I’ve got so many plates spinning. I’ve got a toddler again.” She could see through the words.

Truth is, I don’t like doing anything I can’t do well. I struggle with perfectionism.

 

So, since I can’t formulate thoughts as clearly as I like, and since I compare myself to other bloggers who are really gifted with writing, and who can actually edit properly, I’ve pretty much stopped.

My friend said, “I don’t think you realize what a blessing your blog is to so many women.”

I argued, “I can’t even think anymore let alone write. And my grammar– Ugh.”

She said, “You write really well. I don’t think you know that.”

This conversation repeated with another friend last weekend at a conference, and I finally decided that maybe the Lord was using these sweet friends to tell me something. God wants faithfulness not perfection. God honors obedience not ability.

So, my friends, here I am. Mumbled, jumbled thoughts and all. Less than perfect, but willing to encourage.

I’m hard on myself. Are you? Know what? Perfectionism is a lie that will paralyze and rob you of the blessings of obedience.

How do you recognize perfectionism?

It’s usually in those of us who have high ideals. We’re hard on ourselves and strive for excellence.in.everything. You’re afraid of failure. You’re hurt by criticism. You worry too much about what others think. You believe if something can’t be done well it shouldn’t be done at all. Perfectionism is self defeating and unrealistic. It’s dreamland, honey, because nothing is perfect and we all just need to lighten up.

You know what? I don’t have to be perfect–and neither do you. Isn’t that just great and grace? The gospel comes in to save the day, yet again, in our daily walk–Jesus was perfect for me! I don’t have to be perfect, because I’m already loved, accepted, and it’s all okay because of Him. 

Don’t we all need to stop waiting until life is perfect before we step out and really do what God has put on our hearts? Don’t we just need to take courage and lift palms upward and offer our here and now rather than our “As soon as I get it all together, Lord!”

Don’t we need to affirm the truth that God ordains all of our days and our meetings and that the people we serve and the opportunities He brings are not by chance?

If we wait until we all have it all together before we serve, the truth is, the body of Christ suffers and your “light” on a hill disappears.

How are you wired to serve? What gifts has God given you? What is the desire of your heart? Do you love to write, paint, or cook? Do you have the gift of wisdom, discernment, or helps?

Did you know that you don’t need permission to use those good things for God’s glory and you don’t need to wait until you’ve perfected your game?

Did you know that your imperfect words of encouragement or your invitation into a toy-strewn house for a cold glass of lemonade might be the only encouragement offered to a weary soul today.

Just do it. I am. It won’t be perfect, but it will be something. It may not be remarkable, but that’s okay.

Faithfulness not perfection. Obedience, not ability.

What has the Lord been prompting you to step out and do?

I’d love to hear in the comments!