20170914

Things I’ve Learned As A Pastor’s Wife That Will Help You

Being a pastor’s wife has a remarkable way of showing you the truth about how and why people behave the way they do. It’s like being an unpaid therapist. After enough repetition of the same problems, you begin to understand the frailties of human nature. 

You also start figuring out yourself.

It turns out, people aren’t unlucky. We’re just sinners, and we all swallow the same deceptions and do the same stupid stuff. The responsibility of knowing (and not talking about or being able to control) other people’s sins and consequences can be weighty and stressful. 

But catching a glimpse of reality can make you wiser and more intuitive...

If nothing else, my life as a pastor’s wife has shown me that people are people. It doesn’t matter how much money they have, or if they’re married, or if they love God. Every person makes the same kinds of mistakes and feels pretty much the same inner turmoil as every other person.

This is the wisdom I’ve gleaned from serving people with messy, fairly normal lives:

1. Living for approval imprisons you, but living for a purpose liberates you. 
It’s easy for everyone — introvert or extrovert — to live for approval and praise. We all naturally focus on what we wear, what we do, and/or what people think of us. Approval, however, is a bottomless pit of disappointment. Living for other people’s praise and respect will ruin your life, because complete love and approval can’t be attained outside of God’s forgiveness.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

2. Intimate friendships demand an investment of time, energy, forgiveness, and sacrifice. 
Church is a great place to build and nurture friendships, but it’s also an easy place for disappointment and superficiality. We all tend to hide our personal and spiritual problems from other people because we don’t want to be hurt or embarrassed. Please realize that you will never achieve intimate friendships without risk. Bearing each other’s burdens (which requires transparency) and praying for one another (which requires humility) is what forges deep bonds of friendship.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

3. Many of our life experiences seem unjust and unfair. 
While it’s easy to believe we’ve been cheated of the life God owes us, we must remember that God is infallible and holy. He is not unfair or unloving; God just operates with different purposes than us and on a different schedule. He will reconcile the world’s injustices according to His plan.

“Those who plant injustice will harvest disaster, and their reign of terror will come to an end.” (Proverbs 22:8)

4. Everyone is looking for love. 
All of us are wired for connection to God and each other. We want love, acceptance, respect, and relationship. When people are unloving, try to remember that every person in the world is on a quest for significance, but most people don’t realize that fulfillment and significance only happen only through Christ. And if you’re the one looking for love, start with the Person who will love unconditionally.

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'.” (Luke 10:27)

5. No one has a perfect life; as convincing as Facebook is, appearance is not reality. 
Our culture is wired for presentation. We are all accustomed to believing what we see and presenting what we want people to believe. Because we crave the ideal, we ignore reality and spend a lifetime in vain pursuits to have more and be more. We waste precious time becoming friends with popular people and trying to create a perfect life. Instead, realize that God designed you uniquely for the life He wanted you to have.

“Be perfect, therefore, as your Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:28)

6. Bitterness will poison your life. 
You might think that holding a grudge, hating someone, or refusing to forgive a wrong is a worthy punishment for someone who’s mistreated you. But that’s a lie. Bitterness eats away at the person who carries it. Your hating, refusing to forgive, and holding grudges might make the offending person feel bad, but these actions will wreak greater havoc in your life. Medical research also shows that bitterness negatively affects emotional and physical body function.

“Another man dies in bitterness of soul, having never enjoyed anything good.” (Job 21:25)

7. Grief is universal, and there are no shortcuts through it. 
Heartache must be handled with respect and support of others. Many people struggle with handling grief in an unhealthy manner, either hiding from community or busying themselves to forget. Before you judge someone for their behavior, consider whether they might be handling grief, however incorrectly, and give them grace. Your actions will give a mountain of comfort to their lives.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

8. Anyone is capable of committing any sin, given the circumstances and desperation. 
As Christians, we often find ourselves appalled by other people’s choices. Instead, we should feel love for them, while offering forgiveness and fellowship. If you live in a state of shock over other people’s sins, a spiritual superiority complex will grow in you. And very often, you will commit the same sin at a later date.

“If someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1)

9. Serving God is a heart decision, not a job. 
It doesn’t require a title, a paycheck, affirmation, or celebrity status. It’s a personal decision, rife with obstacles, temptations, and hard work, no matter who you are. You have to decide to follow Christ, and then you have to decide that many times a day for the rest of your life. You might assume that someone else is more qualified to serve at church, witness to your neighbor, or stand for a cause. But God commands and equips all believers — including you — to serve Him.

“Whoever wants to be my disciple should deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

10. You're someone's hero. 
Everyone loves to immortalize people with amazing talents and leadership abilities. That’s not the kind of influence God wants you to have. God has given you opportunities for influencing the people around you toward salvation and good works. You don’t have to be perfect. In fact, being authentic in your struggle to grow in faith is the best example you can give others. Let people see that God is transforming you daily. That will inspire others to seek Him!

“Don’t let anyone look down on you... but set an example… in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)

[written by Sue Schlesman