In this message we are considering living in a busy world.
If not careful, it can have 3 results:
- Our soul is cluttered.
- Relationships suffer
- Ultimately – God is crowded out.
Check out Part 2, HERE.
One of the toughest jobs in the church is that of being a pastor’s wife.
It has been called the loneliest job in the church.
No doubt I have one of the best. Cheryl has a professional job as an accountant, is an excellent mom and wife, but the demands on her as my wife are some of the most overwhelming.
Still she handles it with grace and a smile.
In this post, I want to help you know how to honor and protect your pastor’s wife.
Truthfully, I am not talking on behalf of Cheryl. She would never ask for this and frankly we are mostly in a good church environment as far as the way our staff and spouses are treated. Plus, we came out of the business world into ministry. We were older and more seasoned by life, so we’ve always approached things differently — protected our personal time more. Sunday is Cheryl’s favorite day of the week.
I know, however, because of my work with pastors that many pastor’s wives are facing burnout, a sense of loneliness, and some even struggle to come to church. That should not be.
Do not put too many expectations on her.
Regardless of the church size, she cannot be everywhere, at everything and know everyone’s name and family situation and still carry out her role in the home. She simply can’t. Don’t expect her to be super-human.
Do not expect her to oppose her husband.
She will be protective of her spouse. Hopefully you would equally protect your spouse. If you bad mouth her husband she’s likely to respond in a way you don’t want her to — but should expect her to. Don’t complain if she does.
Protect her from gossip.
She does not need to know the “prayer concerns” that are really just a way of spreading rumors. And, you know when that’s the case. Check your motives in what you share. Don’t share what you don’t have permission to share.
Let her have a family.
The pastor is pulled in many directions. The family understands the nature of the job. Life doesn’t happen on a schedule. But, in reality, there are often unreasonable demands on the pastor. That always impacts the family. If you can — limit your demands to normal working hours for the church and the pastor. Send an email rather than calling at home if it’s not an immediate concern. It will help the pastor have a family life.
Include her without placing demands or expectations on her.
That’s the delicate balance. The pastor’s wife is often one of the loneliest women in the church. She rarely knows whom to trust and often is excluded from times that are just for fun. Don’t be afraid to treat her as a normal human being. She is. But, if she says no — don’t hold it against her either.
Never repeat what she says.
Ever. If the pastor’s wife happens to share information with you about the church or her personal life, keep it to yourself. Always. There will be temptation to share her words as “juicy news”, but you will honor her by remaining silent. And, over time, you will build her trust and her friendship.
Pray for your pastor’s family.
Daily would be awesome. And much needed.
Finally, if your church really wants to honor the pastor’s wife, find ways to give her time away with her husband and/or family. That is probably what she needs the most.
Feel free to give a shout-out to your pastor’s wife here and share practical ways you can honor your pastor’s wife. If you are a pastor or pastor’s wife, I would love to hear your thoughts.
(Two closing notes. First, these may work equally well for the husband of a pastor or minister, but I can only speak from my perspective. Second, I’ve been told numerous times that a pastor’s wife IS the problem in the church. That’s the subject of another post, but I do understand and recognize that there are times this is the problem. It is very difficult for a pastor to be effective without a supportive spouse.)
Talking to younger parents often reminds me of a parenting phenomenon that we experienced firsthand. Perhaps, if you’re children are older, you did also. It’s called the “terrible threes”.
Ever have a three year old try your patience?
As with so many others (most it seems), it’s not the “terrible twos” that is a problem — it’s the “terrible threes”.
It goes something like this: One day your precious angel — the one everyone thinks is so cute — who was hardly ever a problem before — suddenly becomes a living terror at times. You don’t know what to do — how to respond — and how to stop it.. You have never dealt with such temper tantrums, back-talking, and outbursts of anger.
If that’s your story — you may have entered the “terrible threes”.
Children cycle through many phases and it shouldn’t be too surprising if they go through a rebellious stage early in life. The terrible threes, or twos, as the case may be, most likely is the time when the child most openly expresses his or her independence.
And, the more independent the child — the more difficult this time can be. And, the longer it might last.
He or she is exploring a new world, testing boundaries, discovering their own personality, and filtering through reactions of others. As with other phases the child will experience, this one is difficult for the child as well as the parent, but in this phase the child is the least mature in the relationship and their reaction, by the way, should be likewise.
Suffer through it!
I know. That’s not what you wanted to hear, but most likely, it will not last long. Perhaps not even a whole year. And, there is hope on the other side — if you act wisely at this stage.
This is not the time to give in to the child’s outbursts. That almost never works. This is the time to consistently follow through with prescribed discipline. The child is learning. They need to learn that outbursts don’t work in your home.
And, why is this important? Well, you’re raising them to be an adult. Are similar outbursts usually okay in high school — or in the workplace?
As much as your child tries your patience, continue to always exhibit love to your child, even during discipline. Most likely they know when they are having a temper-tantrum. They are possibly even doing it for the attention it brings — wondering how you will react. Make sure they know and understand that even when you aren’t happy with their behavior — you will always love them.
Use different discipline methods until you find one that works for this stage of the child’s life. Every child is unique. Some things work. Some things don’t. Again, you’re wiser at this point than them. Wisely experiment to find the right action to correct their action — or encourage better actions.
Remember you are the adult
Sometimes when the child is showing his or her worse side it is tempting to show yours. Don’t do it. Keep your cool. Be mature. Handle these days firmly, but calmly. Remember you are modeling behavior for your child. They are watching you — closely.
Teach your child
This phase can be a great opportunity to teach your child how to respond to disappointment and frustration — what an appropriate emotional response looks like. They’ll need that the rest of their life.
Don’t be afraid to share your situation with others
Often parents are embarrassed because of their children’s behavior during this stage of life. Grocery store visits can be embarrassing. Restaurant visits may be avoided. So, the parents hide the struggle. They falsely assume other parents don’t experience the same with their children. That’s a myth. The biggest surprise at this stage of your child’s life may be when you discover you are not unique in this struggle. Ask for help. Find a mentoring couple. That’s helpful at every stage of your child’s life — but especially at this one.
By the way, most of these are good suggestions in other phases of a child’s life also.
But, here’s a bonus one.
Seriously, enjoy every season of your child’s life. They pass so quickly and each one has its own set of challenges. (And, it’s true, the challenges do get bigger — even into your child’s adulthood.)
The fact is that even the “terrible threes” can be filled with laughter and wonder as your child is becoming their own person. Zig Ziglar actually said to call them the “terrific two’s” (or threes). You sometimes get what you’re looking for in life. Marvel at what God has done and is doing in your child’s life. Even in the most difficult of seasons — children are a gift. A precious gift!
Praying for you parents! You’re probably doing better than it feels at times.
Guys, can I be honest with you? Marriage can be hard.
Did you know that already?
Sometimes you do the wrong thing before you even knew you did the wrong thing. You try to figure out the one you love the most but the more you try the more confused you get. I get it. I understand.
Men and women are different. (You can tweet that.)
We don’t always think and respond to life the same way.
And, likely there are some things about your wife you just didn’t know.
Over the years, through counseling training and actual counseling — and learning from my wife — I’ve observed some things. And, I’ve realized some men simply don’t know them — or don’t realize how important they are to their wife.
You step on her feelings more than you know.
You just do. And, you don’t even mean to — or know that you are most of the time. She may think you do, but you don’t. You’re just not as aware of how she’s wired emotionally. And, most of the time she overlooks it. She knows it wasn’t intentional. But, it hurts. And, the more you do it the more it hurts. So be careful with your words.
And, that leads to the next one.
Your words are heavier than you think they are.
You need to know that. When she asks you how she looks, for example — yes it is a quandary on how to respond and there are plenty of jokes around about that dilemma — but your response matters. Probably more than any other response of her day. It’s a small question to you but big question for her. And, you communicate things to her continually through how you say what you say and the body language you combine with your words. And, they weigh a ton to her. A ton.
She wants you to take the lead.
At least occasionally. I know all the women’s rights issues cloud this for you. It can be confusing, but there’s likely something in your wife just waiting for you to make a decision. She values your input and she wants you to lead in the home as well as she sees that you can lead elsewhere. And, speaking on behalf of men, I know you don’t always want to be the leader. She’s better at making many of the decisions than you are. Still, she’s waiting — hoping, that you’ll step up where you need to lead.
She doesn’t want to be like her mother.
Or to be compared to her mother. And, these type jokes aren’t funny. Ever. Trust me. And, in fact, she doesn’t want to be like any other woman either. She wants to be seen for the unique wonder she is — which by the way was God-designed.
She is likely with you even when she’s not.
At least in her mind. Our wives are very relational. So if she asks about your calendar– now you know. She’s not trying to be difficult or suspicious. She’s trying to be with the one she loves.
It’s okay just to hold her hand.
And, also, to occasionally be romantic. You may have established a long time ago that you’re not the romantic type. She may realize she married funny — or serious — or dedicated — more than romantic. But, every woman needs a little romance occasionally. It makes her feel special — especially when it comes from you.
The way her world looks is often how her heart feels.
All her world. The house, for example, you think it doesn’t matter, but to her it reflects her — not you. She’s also conscious of what others think of her appearance. She carries this burden heavier than she wants to sometimes. Don’t diminish this to her. Understand it.
In a future post, I’ll share the companion post for wives to understand.
Have you ever tried to lead someone who didn’t want to be led?
The same children that were labeled “strong-willed” by their parents often grow up to be strong-willed adults. Perhaps you know one. Perhaps you are one.
(I know one personally — me!)
But, have you ever tried to lead one?
It’s not easy.
In fact, I’m convinced many strong-willed people end up leading just because they couldn’t be led — and yet they probably didn’t need to lead. But, no one ever learned to lead them.
And, I’m not sure I am an expert. But, I have some ideas — since I’m speaking to my own kind.
Give clear expectations
Everyone responds best when they know what is expected of them. That is especially true of those with strong opinions of their own — shall I say — those of us more stubborn people. If you have a definite idea of how something needs to be done and you leave it as an undefined gray area — we will redefine things our way. Keep this in mind with strong-willed people: Rules should be few and make sense or they’ll likely be resisted or broken more often.
Give freedom within the boundaries
Once the guidelines and expectations are established, allow people to express themselves freely within them. That’s important for all of us, but especially for strong-willed people. Strong-willed people need to know they can make some decisions — that they have freedom to explore on their own.
Strong willed people need boundaries, but they will test them. They want to know the limits of their freedom. Keep in mind they are head-strong. We’ve even labeled them — strong-willed. They aren’t the rule followers on the team. Make sure the rules you have — and again there shouldn’t be too many — are consistent in application. If it’s worth making a rule — make sure it’s worth implementing.
Pick your battles.
This is huge. Strong-willed people can be the backbone of a team. They can loyal, dogmatic, and tenacious — all for the benefit of the vision. What leader doesn’t want that? But, those same qualities can be where the problems start also. Don’t cross a strong-willed person over issues of little importance to the overall vision of the organization. If you back them in a corner they will usually fight back.
Respect their opinions and individualities
Strong-willed people ultimately want to be heard (as all people do). They aren’t weird because they sometimes seem immovable. But, they do resist leadership most when their voice is silenced. Learn what matters to them and give credence to their opinions — you’ll find a loyal teammate.
Be honest: Are you strong-willed? How do you like to be led?
People ask me all the time for advice on raising girls, and honestly, I’ve got some, but they all involve a shotgun and long ankle-length dresses, so you probably don’t want that. Just kidding. I always wanted a daughter, but God gave me boys.
And, I think He knew what He was doing. Imagine that!
I’ve learned a few things about ministering to men — and understanding myself more — by raising boys. One thing I’ve learned is that boys are desperate for wisdom. They crave it. They want someone to speak into their life — save them from making the wrong decision.
But, equally true, they are often either too timid to ask for it or they just never know to do so.
(Someone told me guys seldom ask for directions either, but I’m having a hard time believing that one. )
I’m close to my two adult boys. We’ve walked through a lot of life together — mine and theirs. They are on their own, have good careers, and live healthy, productive lives. They love other people with grace. Best of all, they both love and pursue Jesus actively. I couldn’t be more proud as a dad.
Gratefully, and the subject of this post, they still call me for the major decisions they make in life.
I didn’t have a great relationship with my dad when I was their age. I wanted the type relationship with my sons where they would always feel welcome and ready to learn from my experience. I’m blessed to say both my boys call me often, sometimes daily in certain seasons of their life. They want my help making life decisions. I can only credit God’s grace with that blessing.
Even still, I’ve observed there is something in them that wants to appear not to need the help at times. Something in a guy resists the need for help — even when we desperately need the help.
How do you get your sons to want to come to you for wisdom, long after they leave home?
I get asked that a lot. I have a few thoughts.
Do activities they want to do – I spent lots of time with my boys, but I did that by assuming their interests. If it was baseball or wrestling, I loved and lived what they loved. I know dads who try to get their boys to love fishing or golf because they love fishing or golf. I simply chose my interests around theirs.
Stay close – Boys grow to become men. That sounds simple, but it’s huge to remember. They want to be independent. Some days they don’t want you around as much as others. (That may sound appealing for a moment when they are colicky as infants, but believe me you will miss them.) I tried to stay close enough that I was there when they were ready for me. Ephesians 6 says not to exasperate the children. I simply tried not to get in the way of their growth pattern, but to always be available when needed. I found I was “needed” more often that way. And, the funny thing, it almost seemed like they tested whether I was going to be there when they called.
Be fully present – Like all men I always had plenty I could be doing. I tried to let the boy’s time be the boy’s time. Children know when you’re not really being attentive. There were times my boys told me I needed to put my phone down. I listened. I wanted them to feel I was listening to what mattered to them. If my boys wanted to kick a soccer ball or throw a baseball, I did it, no matter how tired I was from a long day. And, it’s amazing how much more a boy will engage in conversation when a ball is involved.
Offer wisdom more than solutions – This is huge. I explained this more in THIS POST, but I tried to help my boys form a paradigm for finding an answer, rather than always giving them the answer. Honestly, this is harder. It’s easier just to do something sometimes. Give the answer and move on. Solve the problem. But they don’t grow that way. And, they learn to use you as a crutch, rather than develop into independent young men. Boys want to find their own way. They like solving the mystery, creating a new path, and discovering the answers on their own. I wanted them to always have access to me for the wisdom of experience, but to develop the ability to make wise decisions apart from me.
Love their friends – My boys knew their friends were always welcome in our house. They knew I’d fix them lots of pancakes on Saturday morning. They knew we stocked our fridge with every drink their friends might like, just in case our house was the hangout house for the night. They knew the doors was always wide open for anyone they brought through them. Honestly, we didn’t always approve of their choices in friends, but we talked them through it and tried to steer them towards better friends. But, we never turned away their friends. This did two things. It protected their hearts towards us. And, it helped them learn principles of grace. Over time we discovered that if we were building wisdom into their lives in other areas they would discern for themselves the wisest choice in friends.
Give solid boundaries – We were a house of grace, but boys need structure. Let me repeat that — before someone gets hurt — boys NEED structure. They need someone to tell them when they’ve gone too far in how they talk to their mom. They need someone who will counsel them when they are falling behind in school — and hold them accountable to do better. They need to know there is someone who will pull them aside and discipline them when they do wrong — and be consistent in that discipline.
Let them explore – Boys are risk-takers. Most likely we have steered it out of them if it’s not there. It’s innate. They use potty language and wrestle and bounce balls that break lamps and pee places you never thought someone would pee. They’ll jump off something and you’ll likely end up in the emergency room a time or two. But, that’s part of being a boy. And, discovering. And, growing courage and faith and the ability to be a man. Of course, there’s a line. And, I wasn’t great at finding that line. You can’t let them be too stupid (Although one of my favorite Proverbs says, “Surely I’m too stupid to be a man.”) But, you should let them be boys. That includes exploring. And, that’s a word to moms and dads.
There are probably other suggestions I could share, but if you are raising boys, you probably need to go break up a fight or stop them from jumping off something. We can talk more later.
What suggestions do you have for raising boys?
Every relationship could use more grace.
In this message, I share some practical ways to share grace in building oneness in the relationships of our life.
Here’s a summary:
1. Realize the grace you’ve received.
2. Practice daily forgiveness.
3. Filter everything through love.
As I write this, we are approaching spring on the calendar, but today is a cold day that follows two warm, very nice days. A couple weeks ago we had 17 inches of snow on the ground. A couple days ago I was able to run outside in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. Warmer days are predicted later this week.
Like the saying goes in my part of the world, “If you don’t like the weather now — stick around — it will change.”
Seasons. They come and they go. Sometimes quickly.
Life is like that.
Ecclesiastes says there’s a time for everything. Everything has a season.
Good seasons. Bad seasons.
Productive seasons. Growth seasons. And, seasons of decline.
Seasons of mourning. Grief. Seasons of laughter. Jubilee.
Seasons where there are more obstacles than opportunities. Often followed by seasons where we can’t seem to find time for all the opportunities.
There are seasons of stretching, where God seems to shape something new in our hearts. And, we often don’t know what that new is until we enter another season.
Seasons of passionate, growing love. And, tough seasons, where love is tested.
Seasons you’re more the leader and seasons where you’re more being led.
Seasons of blessings. And, seasons of wondering where are all those blessings others seem to be experiencing.
There are seasons of discovery and seasons where we get to invest what we have discovered in others — while we keep discovering something new.
As parents we have lots of seasons. The seasons where we never seem to have a break and you can’t get everything done and the kids are driving you crazy some days and you just need one good night’s rest. And, then seasons where the house seems empty and you long for a cluttered floor of toys again.
Seasons. Life happens in seasons.
It’s important to understand that seasons occur and to know what season in which you are currently living.
When we don’t understand this concept of seasons — especially in the bad seasons — we can begin to believe that seasons never change. We may stop trusting. Stop dreaming. Stop taking risks.
But, life comes in seasons. Seasons do change. Sometimes quickly. And, sometimes seasons overlap each other.
When we find ourselves in a good season — especially an extended good season — we can start to take the season for granted. We may even forget that seasons change. Sometimes quickly. And, so we aren’t prepared.
Take a minute and reflect: What season of life you are currently experiencing?
Review your life by how the seasons have molded you. God never wastes a season. Ask God to place in your heart what He wants you to learn during this specific season of your life. Invite God to speak into your seasons.
Life happens in seasons.
In the series Love Helps, I shared a message about the importance of actions building oneness.
How does a once good marriage slip away?
I get asked that question when it becomes public that a marriage everyone thought was rock solid falls apart.
As the song goes — It’s a slow fade. A good marriage doesn’t deteriorate overnight. It diminishes gradually.
There are probably lots of reasons. There are usually a few common causes in my experience.
Other interests come between them. It could be a relationship — even other good relationships — or a hobby, or work, but something gets a higher priority than the marriage. Distractions will destroy a good marriage.
Unresolved conflict. Conflict left unattended sometimes sits like it never existed. But, oh it did. And, it does. Someone is holding on to it. Trust me. And, the longer it sits the deeper the wedge it causes.
The couple stops dreaming together. When a couple is dating they have lots of dreams together. They discuss their future. They dream about where they will live and travel. They dream about family and adventure. It’s an energy that fuels the relationship. When it stops. The fuel it brought stops.
Boredom. I’ve long said this is one of the leading causes of marriages unraveling. Couples quit dating — quit laughing — quit having fun together. They get caught in the routines and busyness of life. Boredom sets in and the closeness they once shared begins to drift. The enemy love this and suddenly one or both spouses seek excitement elsewhere. Dangerous.
Living separate agendas. It’s okay to have separate identities. Even encouraged. It’s okay to have separate interests. It keeps things interesting. But, it’s not okay to have separate agendas. The agenda should be two very different people blending those differences into one. When that’s not happening — the strength of the marriage will slowly — or quickly — fade.
I’m praying for your marriage — as I continue to pray for mine. Stand firm.