A Word to the Pastor’s Wife…From My Wife

Cheryl

A Word to the Pastor’s Wife…From My Wife:

I love being a pastor’s wife. It truly is whom God has called me to be in this season of life. Everyday is not easy, but when I’m serving as God intended for me to serve, I’m never more fulfilled in life.

That’s why I decided to share this advice to pastor’s wives. (I understand my husband has lots of pastors who read his blog. I hope they will share this with their spouse.)

Here is my advice:

Don’t try to be something you are not…and…Don’t be afraid to be yourself

So often we have a picture in our head of what a pastor’s wife is “suppose” to look like. I did before I was one. Of course, she plays the piano and/or sings in the choir…she bakes the most wonderful desserts…and she is active in every ministry the church and community have to offer…she can quote scripture in every sentence…her marriage is always perfect…and…oh yeah…she is the mother of 2.5 PERFECT children. And the sad thing is…often we (as pastor’s wives) beat ourselves up if we don’t meet all or at least several of these (self-imposed) expectations.

I’m not sure if it is because Ron and I surrendered to the full time vocational ministry later in life, but I soon realized if these were the expectations then I was in big trouble. People closest to me have never suggested I join the choir…I played a bassoon in high school which very few churches have a use for these days…I don’t cook (blessed to be married to a wonderful husband who does!)…I have typically worked full time outside the home…and I still have to use the table of contents in the Bible occasionally (That’s the result of coming to Christ as an adult. Praise God for children’s church.) Yet, God still called “me” to be a pastor’s wife! (And, I’m still wondering why some days.) BUT, I do have to say I do have 2 pretty amazing sons! Nearly perfect as they appear to me. (Can I count my amazing Yorkiepoo puppy as the .5??)

At first, when we were church planters, I wore many hats as a greeter, preschool teacher, baby rocker and clean up crew…just to name a few. Thankfully as the church grew, I was able to invest my time in the areas I was most passionate about…such as greeting and welcoming…and attending services to support my husband. (He says he preaches better when I’m in the room 🙂 ) No matter the church we serve in, my heart’s desire is to interact with as many people as possible to help all feel welcome. And I love hugs…both giving and receiving! Oh yeah…and I love to hear my man preach…even as many as 3 times on a Sunday!

God gives different gifts to different people and I needed to remind myself of God’s truth…that I need to be the person God called “me” to be! It is not always easy saying no to all the church expects me to be, but I have learned that by saying “yes” to what God is calling me to do and…not being afraid to say “no” to other things…allows me the freedom to follow my passions. It also allows God to use others to fill roles they should be doing…that they do better than me. Finally, it allows me to be the best supporter I can be for my husband. (Again, I don’t understand it, but he claims he’s a better pastor because of me. BTW, he asked me to put this line in here.)

Remember…don’t try to be someone you’re not…be the person God has called you to be!!

God’s Word says HIS yoke is easy…don’t let the world convince you otherwise!

Random thoughts on spanking or not spanking as a parent

family lifestyle portrait

To spank or not to spank…that’s probably one of the most frequent debates I have heard about parenting. Parents ask me frequently for my opinion on the issue. It is an important, but seldom talked about by those who teach on parenting. Many think the government should address the issue. Others think this is only a matter left for parents.

I suppose I should not be surprised when I am addressed with this question, since I frequently teach on issues such as parenting, marriage and the family, but I never know exactly how to address it. This post addresses some of those reasons.

Here are a few of my thoughts about the issue of corporal punishment:

  • This is a personal issue, a difficult one at that, and one I do not feel comfortable solving for parents. A parent can and will only enforce consistently those discipline strategies he or she agrees with personally.
  • This is an important question, but not at all the most important question about parenting.
  • The bigger issue is having an overall plan for parenting. I know too many parents trying to solve this question, but they have never fully thought through a strategy for where they are leading their children and how they are going to get them there. I would rather we spent more time talking about the adults we want our children to be someday and how we can better steer them in that direction. Discipline deals with the issue of discipleship. Building character in our children.
  • The goal of parenting is far more important than the methods used in parenting. In our parenting we tried many different methods; some worked and some didn’t. The key of our parenting experience was that we were intentionally thinking through the goal and working towards realizing that goal in each of our boy’s lives.
  • Each child is different. The strategy and methods for disciplining each child must be different.
  • You should never spank, or do any discipline, in anger. Cool off first
  • The child should never be able to question your love after the moment of discipline has passed. That’s with any discipline.
  • I did spank, but it was rare and always intentional. It seemed to work at the time. At a certain age it was the best method for one of our boys to discipline him through a strong-willed period. The clichĂ© “this hurts me more than you” was really true for me, but it worked with this child. It wouldn’t have as well with the other.
  • The Bible verse that is often questioned is Proverbs 13:24, which says, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” This verse is often interpreted as referring to spanking, thinking the Bible uses the imagery of the rod and staff of a shepherd. The shepherd’s methods to train the sheep were always for the sheep’s best interest, and always what worked for the sheep and its predators.The verse, however, as are all the Proverbs, is a principle, and, therefore, I think it refers more to the principle of effective parenting than it gives us a mandate to spank.
  • The mother and the father should agree on the form of discipline. If they do not, they should perhaps get help to come to a sense of agreement. Mothers and fathers should recognize that each plays a unique role in the process and one handles discipline differently than the other. I was much sterner on my boys than Cheryl was and she was much more of a nurturer than I was, but both were necessary.
  • For me the end goal of my discipline was spelled out in the Bible, in principles such as Proverbs 29:17 which says, “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.” I was less concerned about process and more concerned about progress. Discipline is to disciple the child…prepare them for life and adulthood.

Again, I don’t have all the answers here. Most parents are doing the best they know how. My best advice is to be intentional. Have a goal and have a plan. For each child. What parent would not want to see the principle of the verse above come true in their child’s life some day? Good parenting should do what works best to accomplish the goal of parenting.

Those are my random thoughts. Anything to add?

(Last thought. This is the kind of post, dealing with controversial issues with strong opinions on both sides, that seems to bring out the mean people. Let me be clear I’m not looking for a fight or argument. And, if you’re mean…be nice here. 🙂 )

10 Things I’d Do If I Were Raising a Son Today

boy and father

I previously posted 10 Things I’d Do If Raising a Daughter Today. In this post, I will focus on the boys.

I know a little more about this subject, having two incredible sons of my own. But, we always look at life differently from the other side of it. My boys are grown. I’m still parenting, but in a completely different way. Mine now is one of influence. Thankfully, both boys still come to me for that influence. There is no greater joy than seeing boys become God-honoring young men. I’m thankful to have a front row seat with my sons.

But, even with the incredible young men I know as sons, there are things I would do differently if I had that part of life to do over again. I know boys become men. And, every man I know, whether or not he admits it, struggles at some level with confidence. He struggles to know he is enough, that he can do what God calls him to do. Every man is desperate for someone to believe in him.

And, sadly, we are living in the age where the absentee father is the normal. It once was the exception. (That’s the subject of another post, but it’s plaguing our society. Check any statistics.)

I was mindful of these truths when my boys were young, but I’m older now. The seasons of my life have taught me so much more.

So, I would be even more intentional today…if I were raising sons.

Here are 10 things I’d do if raising sons today:

I would tell him daily that I love him and I’m proud of who he is and the individual God created him to be.

I would show him I believe in him, by learning to enjoy and value the activities important to him.

I would discipline myself to be available when he needs me. Not only when it’s convenient or doesn’t interfere with my work or my hobbies, and assure him that I will never leave him or reject him.

I would strive to live a life that’s respectable, God-honoring, so he could model after me, and likewise be respected, knowing this will be his greatest need.

I would show him how to love a woman, by valuing and treating my wife as a treasured gift from God.

I would help him build confidence by giving him ample opportunities to explore, to dream, to be adventuresome, allowing him to fail under my watch, so I could encourage him to start again, explaining to him that the only way he will be a failure is if he doesn’t get back up from a fall.

I would lead him on paths of discovery, trying lots of new things, helping him find his place in the world, with the awesome reality that the only limits on him will be the ones he sets for himself.

I would let him know the boundaries of the house, knowing he would test them, so he could learn that even in freedom there are consequences for misbehaving and sin.

I would teach and model for him that the real value of a man is not in the sum total or his possessions, but in the sum total of knowing God intimately and knowing that those who know him best are honoring him most.

I would at times let him see me afraid, even let him see my cry, to show him that man can be courageous and still vulnerable, but then let him see me following even closer after God as my source of strength.

IfI were raising a son today…

Are you raising a son? Tell me about him.

Final note on these two posts, one for raising daughters and this for raising sons. They are somewhat interchangeable. Some of each list could apply to raising boys or girls. They are aspirations. There are no perfect parents. I have observed, however, that there are parents more intentional than others. There are parents who parent with the sober reality that we have precious little time to mold children who will be adults longer than they are children. Parents who know it takes time, energy, consistency and intentionality to parent well. Mostly knowing it takes the grace of God to be a great parent. As I finish this post I’m praying for parents who will read this…and for those who won’t.

10 Things I’d Do If I Were Raising a Daughter Today

father-daughter

I never had a daughter. I have a great daughter-in-law, and she has a special relationship with her dad, but I never got to raise a girl. I missed out, didn’t I?

But, I know a few grown girls. I’ve witnessed scars. All women have a scar of some kind. And, I know a dad plays a role. An important role. And, one that, if the right foundation is set, can help a girl avoid, or at least recover, from many of the scars life naturally will bring. Even when a girl becomes a woman.

And, it’s made me question what I would do if I were raising a girl today. These are scary times. Our children need us more than ever. I would want to be wise and intentional.

Here are 10 things I’d do if I were raising a daughter today:

I would tell her daily how beautiful she is and that I love her unconditionally.

I would let her know, in word and actions, that she is more important than my job, my hobbies, and my iPhone.

I would dance with her, take her on regular dates, and hold her hand frequently.

I would hold the standard high for her, but instill in her the belief that I’m here for her, regardless of what she does wrong, and that nothing she does could ever cause me to turn my back on her.

I would let her hear me pray for her daily and strive to live a godly life, after which she could model…and trust to be consistent.

I would let her know my wife was the most important woman in the world to me and encourage her to wait for a man willing to say the same.

I would get her self-defense training. And, teach her where to kick.

I would encourage her talents and abilities and remind her that God is going to use her in incredible ways.

I would help her understand that every boy’s intentions are not honorable and that she is worthy of and should always demand respect.

I would consistently remind her she has what it takes to do anything she sets her mind to do and to settle for nothing less than her best.

If I was raising a daughter today…

Are you raising a daughter? Tell me about her.

Next read 10 things I’d do if I were raising a son today.

When I grow up…

Happy childhood

I was walking in the hall of our church building recently when I had to stop to let a classroom of children walk by me. We house a school in our building and an early childhood development center. It’s not unusual to encounter some of them on a daily basis. On this occasion, it was a class of what I would guess to be 4 or 5 years of age.

They were perfectly lined up by their teacher. They were behaving nicely. Their teacher was doing a great job with them. So cute.

All of a sudden. Out of nowhere. One little girl broke into meowing. Cat meows. She was good too. She didn’t know anyone else was around it seems. She simply started meowing.

I laughed. She didn’t seem to understand why. Her teacher told her to be quiet. She didn’t seem to understand why.

What is wrong with a little meowing anyway? Especially with such good pitch. I mean, it wasn’t a lion’s roar. That would be different, right? It’s a kitty cat. The cat’s meow.

But it made me think…

I want to be like that girl when I grow up.

Suddenly my mind reflected on another time in life…several years ago now…

When my youngest son was little he was often afraid at night. As long as he knew he could call and I’d be there…anytime at night…he was okay. He could sleep without fear. Without worry. And he tested that numerous times.

I want to be like that boy when I grow up.

I also want to skip and kick a can down the street and not worry about the effects on the environment. Just once. Random. I know.

I want to laugh more. Belly laugh. About things other people don’t even think are funny.

I want to enjoy my ice cream. All over my face, if needed. We can go to the bathroom later and wash it off. Or just go swing for a while. Whichever.

I want to climb a tree. A really big tree. Without a fear of heights or a fear of falling. I might even shout, “Look at me” from the top of that tree.

I want to take a run in the woods, jump in some puddles, and wear my play clothes all day.

Life is serious. Too serious. Very serious.

This world is a messed up scary place. Somedays it seems everyone is crazy. Doesn’t it? Even me. Who can I trust? Does anything make sense anymore? Anything?

But I know, I really do know, that my God is on His throne. He’s not moved. He’s in control. He has a plan. And, He loves me. He really does. He watches over me at night and counts the hairs on my head. All while making sure the stars are still aligned. And, I think He even laughs at my corny jokes. And at the cat’s meow of a little girl.

So when I grow up I want to trust more and worry less.

I want to enjoy life knowing someone else is in control. I want to laugh in the midst of sorrow knowing there is coming an answer. A resolution. Glory yet to be revealed. Knowing hope is here today. Not tomorrow. Today.

And, I want meow. Whenever I choose to meow. Life’s too short not to meow at will.

I can’t wait to grow up.

Without a dad…

boy and father

A boy struggles…

Knowing what it means to become a man…

What courage, honor, and strength really looks like…

When to take a risk…

A girl struggles…

Understanding her beauty and value…

Sensing self confidence and independence

To demand respect and equality…

I’ve been convicted lately, that many times the orphans of today…

Are the fatherless…

(And many times the widows are the single mothers…)

The statistics of the impact of this on society are staggering. Great efforts are being taken by non-profits such as The Fatherhood Initiative. Even the government is getting involved, recognizing the problems associated with this issue in our society.

What is the church doing about it?

Seriously, what initiatives do you know of where the church is addressing the fatherless issue?

Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress...” James 1:27

(This is not to say we don’t take care of widows and orphans. We certainly do, but, in my opinion, we must not forget the cultural issues of our day…if we want “pure and undefiled religion”.)

What do you think?

Public Speaking Tip: Know Your Audience

It’s important when you’re speaking to an audience to know who makes up the audience.

This is an elementary public speaking principle.

I’ve been speaking for years…in school, business and ministry.

I know the principle. Most of the time I obey the principle.

Recently, though, I missed this.

I spoke to a group of 4 year old children. I told them the story of David and Goliath. It is one of my favorite stories, one I enjoyed acting out with my boys when they were young.

The problem this time. I forgot my audience.

I told the “whole counsel of God”. I shared the whole story.

Remember the part at the end…what David does to Goliath? It’s my favorite part.

He cut his head off.

Yep, I shared it. To the 4 year old children. My audience.

Have you ever seen the bright eyes of surprise on a 4 year old?

Yep, I saw them.

Yep, I heard from the teachers too. No parents yet.

Here’s an elementary public speaking principle:

Know your audience.

A Summary of Parenting Encouragement

Recently I preached a message on parenting. A man in the church took notes. In fact, he too great notes. He asked my permission to send his summary to a Boy Scout troop. I asked his permission to share his summary here.

A Summary of Parenting Encouragement

Of primary importance is to realize that as parent you have power over the child’s heart. The son likes to be “just like Dad”, the daughter plays “mommy” doing whatever her mother does, and little girls say “I am going to marry Daddy”. Take this fact very seriously.

First of all formulate a plan. What characteristics do you want your child to have, what beliefs, what do you want your adult children to be? It doesn’t have to be written but time must be taken to intentionally set goals and strategize. Don’t “fly by the seat of your pants”. The Bible says “train a child in the way he should go”.

Secondly, invest in your child. What you teach your child is what they will teach your grandchildren and so on for generations. Of primary importance is to develop character skills. This is the greatest return on investment, more important than anything else, even education. This doesn’t mean leave everything else out but you get back most where you invest most.

Thirdly, direct your child. Direction is probably the most lost fact in today’s parenting. The child has become the director. The child doesn’t know what they want or need. They are trying to know the boundaries. The parent knows what is best and what is needed. The parent knows what foods are needed, what rest is needed, the best use of time, what education means, etc. Direct the child when they are very young as you will not be able to gain control in the teenage years (at least it will be extremely hard). Remember, a child’s actions when they are young are their actions when they are adults. It is OK to say NO to a child. The goal is to establish control over the young child and gradually release it as they grow older. Remember you have a child for just a few years to train for a lifetime.

Fourthly, as the child grows older, let your influence become more of a factor in your child’s life. It is difficult to transition from direction to influence. Be sensitive to when a child is trying to direct and when he needs help in decision making (influence). Remember, you have power over the child’s heart, don’t push too hard. Be careful not to make an unimportant situation a primary battle of the household.

Lastly, model for your child what goals you have determined. Children see what their parents do and do the same. If you want your child to be considerate, be considerate, not rude. If you mistreat the restaurant server, why should you not expect your child to mistreat their teacher. Show your child what you want. Reflect on your actions and words to be sure these are what you want for your children. By the way, this doesn’t end for the rest of your life. You will always be a model for your children. (Also, we are a model or representative for any group that we may be a part. For instance, church members model what the church believes, rightly or wrongly.)

These are principles, not promises. Be intentional with your parenting, your marriage, your relationships. Pray for parenting skills all your life. Stop now and think about your parenting.

Here is the sermon from which he pulled these notes.

How to Have a Healthy Children’s Ministry?

This is a guest post by Greg Baird. Greg is founder of KidMin360. help churches build great children’s & family ministry. His passion is to assist children’s & family leaders to serve kids, parents, volunteers, staff & other leaders to their full capacity. Greg’s experience is gained over 20 years as a children’s pastor.

Here is Greg’s post:

How To Have A Healthy Children’s Ministry

Effective Children’s Ministry is critical to a healthy church. It impacts the church in all directions. Virtually everyone in the church is linked to Children’s Ministry in some way or another. Parents often judge their commitment (and attendance!) to the church based on whether their kids like the Children’s Ministry. And, of course, we all know the spiritual impact that can be made in the lives of children.

So how do we create healthy Children’s Ministry? Every church is different, every ministry unique, and it takes far more than a blog post to answer that question. However, here’s the framework of a model that I’ve found applies to each environment I’ve ever associated with over the past 25 years:

1. Establish a strong foundation. Focus on:

  • Vision that is effectively aligned with the overall vision of the church.
  • A commitment to strong leadership, not just functional administration.

2. Evaluate as a matter of habit. Focus on:

  • Systems, structures & processes that empower leaders.
  • Creating avenues of communication between staff & within Children’s Ministry.

3. Embrace spiritual formation. Focus on: 

  • Creating a purposeful plan beginning at birth.
  • The centrality of the Gospel in all teaching.

4. Equip others to do the work of the ministry. Focus on:

  • Equipping parents to disciple their own children.
  • Developing leaders (not just followers) to assume responsibility for ministry.

5. Engage children for life change. Focus on:

  • Environments that capture their imagination.
  • Methods that capture their heart.

Is it simple? Yes. Is it easy? No. Children’s Ministry is the single most complex department in the church. No other ministry reaches or involves so many individuals or impacts so many other departments, targets such a broad audience developmentally, requires such intense oversight, or is liable for so many risks.

But no other ministry can spiritually impact at any deeper level than children’s ministry. The spiritual outlook of a person is formed in the early years, and studies show that 85% of those who accept Christ will do so between the ages of 4 & 14.

A healthy Children’s Ministry is critical to a healthy church.

What would you add for creating healthy Children’s Ministry?

For more help with children’s ministry, in the areas of staffing, coaching, training, development or resources, check out the KidMin360.