PREPARING FOR THE BAD TIMES

DSC_0530So Sunday was my wedding anniversary – a significant one.  I can remember back to when my dad and mom reached this milestone and our entire family went out to dinner at the Rusty Skupper. I remember it because we laughed so hard we were in tears and all the other people in the restaurant looked at us, wondering what was wrong with the goofy family. (I actually EVEN remember what was so funny, but I’m not going to share it!) I still have the wooden boat paddle menu from that night. (All their menus were on wooden paddles.) I think I had to pay $5.00 to get it and then we all signed our names and wrote the occasion and the date.

And now I reached that same anniversary. I would like to say I wasn’t all that affected by it, but considering I started crying at two semi-inappropriate times this past week – once during a meeting and once when talking to two Awana missionaries who happened to be visitiing HQ (and telling me how much they liked Ken) , I think I would have to say I was. The thought didn’t consume me, but it was subtly in the background.

(Oh, and thanks to those of you who remembered.  I truly appreciate it!)

So yesterday I went to church and the pastor’s message was from 1 Peter 3 on how important it is to prepare for suffering – because in this life we will suffer. I so resonated with what he said because he was coming from the same place I am – he lost a spouse to cancer at about the same time I did. (He has since remarried.) He used some of that experience to illustrate his points which made it easy for me to relate.

Peter talks alot about suffering in his third chapter, promising that we’ll face it.

The pastor gave several points, but he emphasized his third point – Live completely for Christ. (1 Peter 3:14-15) Peter reminds us that we don’t have to be afraid of the things for which others are afraid. The pastor compared it to a sandwich.  The top layer is an instruction not to be frightened about what is happening. The bottom layer is being ready to give an answer when people question you about your faith (and why you’re reacting the way you are).  The “filling” is the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to keep our eyes on Him.

One of the points of yesterday’s service was this: People prepare more for vacations than they do for the tough times of life.  And when you don’t prepare, things can easily fall apart.

Good message for me on this particular Sunday (and every other Sunday, too). Keep my eyes on Christ and be passionate about doing good (3:13).

TEAM FAMILY – GET OUT OF TOWN

DSC_0224One thing that’s very important for Team Family  is to get away from the problem for awhile.

This usually means  getting out of town.

You need to find places where you can go to just be together … I think that’s why Ken and I knew more about the areas where we lived than anyone else – even people who had lived in the area for years and years.

Here are some things we did:

Went birdwatching at a local park.

Went to the high school and played tennis.

Often went out for breakfast.

Or, we would each get $5.00 for a trip to  the mall (this included our kids) to see what cool thing we could each find to buy. (The cool things usually ended up being something from an office supply store or a bookstore – which might be why my two kids still like bookstores and office supply stores.)

I don’t know what works for you, but work with your husband to find those places “away from it all” where you can go for an hour or two.

That really helps.

So, look around find some places to go to be together – and leave the cellphone home.

FUN FRIDAY – A COOL GIFT FOR THE PASTOR

DSC_0377Here’s a cool pastor’s appreciation gift idea.

Take pictures of church activities throughout the year and then make them into a creative DVD for Pastor’s Appreciation Week.  You can show the DVD at church – but also give one to the pastor.

(This idea is not for a pastor’s wife, but for those readers who aren’t related to the pastor. And I know several of you who read this have a NEW pastor – so here’s a great idea for you. “First Year in Our New Church.”)

Anyhow, I thought it was a great idea.

TEAM FAMILY

DSC_0014Never ever is team family more important then when you face problems at church.

Call a huddle and cheer each other on! (Even though this is a picture of all my family – I’m talking about just you and your husband – although other family members can be encouraging, too.)

Listen to your husband. Let him go over the facts 534 times if that’s what it takes.

Go out for breakfast and listen to him again. Go out to dinner. Go out for breakfast and dinner!

Team family is SO important. You need to remember that the Lord is there (even more rock-solid than a Rocky Mountain) and He cares. And you are there for your husband, too.

That means listening ..

… and not sighing like you’ve heard this too many times already.

…and not giving advice.

…and not telling him that the other person is right.

…your job is to listen and to encourage.

Others  might be against him at this moment, but you’re not. You love him 200% and as far as you’re concerned, he’s the best pastor ever.

Together (with the Lord’s help), you can get through this.

That’s what you need to do for him and that’s what he needs to do for you.

PROBLEMS … PROBLEMS … PROBLEMS

Yes, lots of different problems can happen in a church – some you can’t even imagine UNTIL they happen.

1. You have done something that has truly offended someone. (For instance, you publically thank everyone who worked in VBS and forget the person who put in the most work.)  Sometimes these are the easiest to solve because you know what the problem is,  you can apologize and often fix it.

2. Two people in the church are upset with each other. (This can be a tough one. You can’t control other peoples’ feelings.)

3. Something has happened that’s no one’s fault. (A child slips and falls on the steps and the parents get upset).

4. Someone leaves the church because of what someone else has done to them but everyone thinks they’ve left because of the pastor. (This can be difficult because the person has asked that you don’t pass on what they’ve told you in confidence. And you don’t want to hurt the church family by blaming them for the now – non-church family because … Anyhow, this type of problem can get complicated.)

5. Someone unfairly criticizes or hurts someone else in the church.

6. Someone accuses you or blames you for something you didn’t say. The criticism is untrue and unfair. (This is probably the most difficult problem, because you can’t defend something you didn’t do in the first place.)

Tomorrow –  Team Family to the Rescue!

SOME STATISTICS

DSC_0928Here are some statistics about pastors and ministries.

The Alban Institute in Washington D.C. estimates that 17% of pastors have stress or burnout.

Fourteen hundred pastors a year call the Southern Baptist hotline for troubled pastors.  One of the men on the staff of the LeaderCare (the SBC program) estimates that 100 SBC pastors leave the ministry every month.

Another ministry for troubled pastors (out of Colorado) estimates that 1600 pastors leave the ministry (or are teminated) every month.

Websites such as the Church of Refuge or Woundedsheperds.com have been designed to help displaced pastors.

I remember when Ken and I were preparing to leave one of our churches (which, since we only “left” two churches, shouldn’t be too hard to figure out), some out-of-town friends came to stay with us a few days.  I was in the midst of painting, scrubbing and cleaning.

“Hmmm,” my friend said to me. “None of our pastor’s wives ever cared whether the parsonage was clean before she left.”

Knowing this friend well and also knowing her church situation, I responded, “That’s because none of your pastors ever left the church by their own volition. You kicked them out the door.”

She smiled sheepishly because I had (as the cliche goes) hit the nail on the head.

 I continued. “We like these people. They are and always will be our friends. I’m not going to leave the house a mess.”

_______

But let’s face it. Life is tough and being a pastor can be tough.

With these kinds of statistics, every pastor knows he isn’t immune to problems.

So tomorrow – some types of problems …

MONDAY MORNING MOTIVATOR – SAD TIMES AT THE PARSONAGE

DSC_09502 Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.

No matter how much you enjoy being in ministry. No matter how many results you’re seeing. No matter how many new people have started to attend.  You’ll have days you wish you had taken up farming and lived on a thousand acres in the middle of Nebraska.

Because there will be days when someone has hurt your ministry, your husband or you yourself to the extent where you struggle to get out of  bed and start a new day.

The ministry is different from most other vocations because you don’t have one boss, you have a couple hundred people telling  you what you should do and how you should do it. You don’t get one performance review, every time someone doesn’t show up for a service, it’s a performance review. “We like you pastor, but not enough to forgo our favorite TV program to come hear your message on Philippians.”

Or, as I’ve said before, people feel free to critique pastors in ways they would never think of critiquing their friends or neighbors.

I know that we didn’t face some of the trials that many pastors face, but like all pastors, we had our moments. (Tomorrow I’ll talk about some statistics, that will give credibility to what I’m saying here.)

But on this Monday morning, I want to concentrate on mountains.

As many of you know, Ken and I spent a lot of time in the mountains of Montana. We grew to love the area, to wake up on a June morning and see snow softly falling, to walk across the snow-covered rocks up above the timberline, to gaze across a flat field of brilliantly-colored wildflowers to a massive wall of mountain. I remember driving through those mountains one windy day. A storm was churning and the grasses, bushes and trees  were being whipped by the wind.  But the mountains were just THERE. Unmoving, a picture of stability in the midst of wildly- blowing wind.

No matter what happens in our lives, we can depend on the Lord. Even when everyone else has seemingly deserted us, He is there for us, in the same caring place He has always been.  Like that mountain, unshaken by the storm that is careening through out lives, our Savior provides a stability that is firmer than that of the highest mountain.

Don’t forget that.

Grasp on to that.

And hold on tight.

Remember God promises to never leave nor forsake us.

And He won’t.