Women and the Cycle of Defeat

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I’ve spent the last 3 weeks speaking to the women of our church in our series BeautifulTo prep for it, I read a bunch of magazine articles, blog posts and books on the struggles women have and what teenage girls struggle with.

Reading stats on body image and eating disorders, depression, feelings of loneliness that they have and how most women live with a sense of defeat and that they will never live up to a standard they have in their mind, a standard their parents or spouse have for them.

While photoshop make the struggle women have with their bodies unwinnable, it is almost like they look though the lens of photoshop for everything in their lives.

I preached on Proverbs 31 this past weekend and beforehand I got a number of emails from women saying, “I’ve read those verses, they are impossible so I simply give up.”

The reality is that most everything in the Bible is impossible on your own.

That’s what the Holy Spirit does.

While the standard for women in Scripture is high, it is for everyone. It is meant to stretch us and cause us to rely on God. That is why Proverbs 31:30 says that this woman fears the Lord. The fear of God takes away all fear, all defeat and refocuses on us on what matters and what will get us through what lies ahead.

Proverbs 31 is a story of a woman through the course of her life. Did she do all those things in the season her kids were small or right after she got married? Probably not.

One of the reasons I believe many women are defeated in their lives (besides the impossible standards they or others set for them) is that they often lack a vision of what their life could be like. I’m not sure if this comes from a personality trait, that men tend to be more logical and linear in their thinking but one of the common threads I heard from women after church this week was how easy it is for them to get stuck in the details of everyday life and not lift their heads above the fog to see what God has for them.

One of the challenges of Proverbs 31 is to have a larger vision for your life. To think bigger than what you do. Your life is meant to be more than what it is. Your life is meant to have a legacy. The problem is that most of the time, legacy is talked about strictly to men. We need that reminder. But women do as well. What you do with every minute of your life makes an impact down the road. This is true for everyone.

Yet, we often spend our moments on the wrong things.

Arianna Huntington said, “Eulogies celebrate our lives very differently than how our culture defines success.”

That is important to keep in mind.

I’d add that God celebrates our lives very differently than how our culture defines success.

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I Can’t Compete With Your Perfectly Coiffed Hair & other Perfections

Recently, I have been asked how I do all that I do. My response is that I probably do not do all that you think I do. At this writing I have clean laundry piled in the playroom and there is toothpaste spattered all over my kid’s bathroom mirror. (As a friend said, you really should wonder if your kid’s bathroom is not dirty, it means they are not using it.)

As a mom, wife – heck as a woman, I feel competition everyday. Are my kids as gifted, attractive, athletic and well-rounded as the kids in their class or down the street? Am I the best wife, with the best recipes, and the best hair that I can possibly be? Are my jeans fitting a little too tight today because of that extra brownie last night and was my mom right, does everyone one I meet actually like me?

I can drive myself crazy before my foot hits the floor in the morning, and this is all before coffee!

After reminding myself that my approval is already complete in Christ, and my identity is not derived from what others around me think about me, I drink my morning coffee.

And I am reminded about the beauty of the church and how diversity is good, but it usually feels like a competition.

How about we all agree to be good at what we are gifted at and leave the rest to someone else. Let’s celebrate the strengths in those around us and encourage each other in our weaknesses, instead of allowing it to be fodder for gossip.

You are not suppose to do all that I do. You are suppose to do all that YOU are wired to do.

Being a Pastors Wife Part 5

Many churches (and pastors for that matter) do not know what to do with pastor’s wives, how to treat them, what role they play or how important they are. While Revolution (and myself) has struggled just like every other church to figure this out, I believe Katie and I have figured some things out that we have put into place which will prove to be invaluable in the future. While this is not exclusive to pastors, any leader in a church and for that matter, any husband can do better in understanding their wives and how to engage them.

Originally, this was only going to be 4 posts but because of what I preached on tonight I Revolution, I decided to add this 5th post. If you want to see the previous posts, go here to see part 1part 2part 3 and part 4.

Judging from the response from tonight I struck a chord, and I hope to do the same here.

I talk to many wives and Katie and I have had this conversation as well. In our culture, it is seen as a step down to be a wife and a mom. I have watched people ask Katie what she does and for awhile she felt embarrassed to say she was a wife and a mom. As if someone who is a wife and a mom is in capable of doing anything else with their lives.

Or, as someone asked me, “Why would Katie give up her dreams to be a wife and a mom?” I think that question is the crux of it all. To be a wife and a mom requires a sacrifice, a sacrifice that I do not fully understand, but do my best to fully appreciate and hold up.

I was struck by this thought tonight as I preached. I looked around and saw the fact that we have more than doubled in size in the last 5 months. In the last 3 months we have baptized 10 people. I can point to people on our launch team, people who have moved to Tucson to make Revolution happen and tell you about the sacrifice they all have made and continue to make. They are heroes to me. But, they don’t have the choice or the opportunity to do that if 10 years ago Katie doesn’t make the decision to put her dreams on hold and support me and be a wife and a mom to the best of her ability.

How do I know that? If she stayed in school and finished her math/engineering degree (another misnomer is that if you stay home you must be stupid, think again), we either don’t get married or we get married and live in Missouri while she finishes school, which means I don’t get my master’s or go on staff at the church I worked at in Maryland. This changes the complete trajectory of our lives.

So, last night I looked at Katie and said the only words I could say, “thank you. Thank you for sacrificing your dreams to be part of a dream of raising our kids for them to make in impact. Thank you for supporting me and sticking by me to get Revolution off the ground.” I always joke with Katie that her house will be bigger in heaven but I am now convinced that she will also get to live in the gated community while I live in the slums. Still in heaven but she will have to invite me over for a visit. 🙂

So, the next time you see a woman who is “just” a wife and a mom know that she is holding onto a bigger, eternal dream. That is what is driving her. Husbands, do not let anyone say your wife is “just” a wife and a mom. If they do, do what Nehemiah did in verse 25 of chapter 13. It’s biblical.

And, always, always tell your wife thanks for the work she does. Without Katie, what I enjoy and love about life does not exist. That’s a perspective I don’t want to forget.

Being a Pastors Wife Part 3

Many churches (and pastors for that matter) do not know what to do with pastor’s wives, how to treat them, what role they play or how important they are. While Revolution (and myself) has struggled just like every other church to figure this out, I believe Katie and I have figured some things out that we have put into place which will prove to be invaluable in the future. While this is not exclusive to pastors, any leader in a church and for that matter, any husband can do better in understanding their wives and how to engage them.

Below is part 3 in a series of 5 posts (Go here to see part 1 and part 2)

The other thing that too many churches do with pastor’s wives is not being sure what to do with them or how they should serve or be involved. Many churches see them as free labor. He’s here, she came with him, why not put her to work, for free. She leads the music, plays the piano, leads the kids ministry and the women’s ministry. Why? Why not.

What makes being a pastor’s wife difficult is that nowhere in scripture is there a job description. The only job description people know of for a pastors’ wife is what they saw their last pastor’s wife do. If she did it, they assume every pastor’s wife does that. The problem is that every pastor’s wife is not musical, many of them do not have upfront personalities, or have a teaching gift or have a passion for children or a women’s ministry.

A pastor’s wife needs to be treated like the rest of the women in the church. She needs to be encouraged to find her spiritual gift and use them. Whatever that may be. And, like every other woman in the church, her first responsibility it to care for her husband and children. That is her first ministry according to Titus 2. This is something churches can get better at as well. We need to encourage and hold up the important role women play when it comes to their role as a wife and a mom. Yes, women are not just that, but we have lowered those roles so much in our culture that it is seen as a step down if that is your role. By fulfilling this role, a woman is making the biggest impact on the world because of the impact she is making on her family (particularly, her kids).

Sorry, that was a tangent.

Once, I had a conversation with a woman at Revolution and she told me all the things her pastor’s wife had done. She had recently moved to Tucson. Her problem was that Katie didn’t do these things. What she failed to recognize was that Katie was 28 and her previous pastor’s wife was 44, with only a high school senior still at home. Katie had 3 kids under 4 at home.

While, this does not give a pastor’s wife an excuse to be lazy and say, “I have 2 young kids at home so I can’t volunteer anywhere in the church.” If someone else said that in a church, we would give pushback because we are all called to serve somewhere in some capacity in the body of Christ. She does need to be selective with her time.

Every family finds themselves in different seasons. Some are busier than others. A pastor’s wife needs to be aware of the season she is in, the season her family is in and the church needs to be okay with that and respect that. As they do with the other women in the church.

Pastors, does your church see your wife as free labor, or do they treat her like other women in the church and encourage her to find a spot to serve? You need to not treat her as an employee, she is a member of your church, just like everybody else who is a member. Have you helped her discover her gifts and what she is passionate about? In case you haven’t figured it out, this might change as she grows older, which makes it fun. You get to discover something new with her, and then discover something else with her as her season in life changes.

Churches, do you treat your pastors wife with respect, but also like other women in the church? She is going through the same things all the women in the church are going through, she just gets to go through it in a more public way.