Pastors and Wives Share Your Burdens With Your Staff

share-your-burdens-withyour-staff

Today’s post is for those who are pastors and pastors’ wives… in my heart of hearts  I pray that this will be taken in the spirit of encouragement.

If you can name it and it has something to do with the church and its’ members then it can be a stress in the life of you and your family.  Any type of stressor can become a burden when you are unsure of how to deal with something…  or you are waiting in prayer for God to give you an answer so you can move on in faith. Church life definitely can come with baggage — that type of baggage that makes you want to stay in bed on church days  or hide in your office as service times begin. It is not uncommon for unwanted circumstances to come at you in waves and for you to feel inadequately prepared to deal with them in wisdom and a right spirit.

If I could have a heart-to-heart with pastors and their wives about church staff and faithful church workers I would say this: “Friends, don’t bear your burdens alone.” And then I would gently say, “Don’t discount your staff as being people who will not understand your burdens.”

Hey, I know I’ve never been a pastor’s wife (yet) and you can come up with an excuse on the reasons why you hoard burdens upon your shoulders, but please allow me to explain…

We have served beside others or communicated with peers and have seen people we loved keep us from comforting them. We could discern that the weight of the daily in’s and out’s of ministry were bogging them down and causing the spark in their eyes to dim to a depressive state of mind. Yet, for some reason when God brought us as comforters to their door with hands empty and ready to carry some of their load, they slammed the door on us. This left two families with burdened hearts (theirs and ours) instead of a common bond of brother/sisterhood and unity from sharing the weight in their hearts.

Allow God to send comforters to you,  who will be a blessing. 

Never assume that the only ministry family that is suffering and bearing the load of life and ministry is the pastor’s family. If you have church staff or you have laymen that are whole-heartedly invested in your ministry then they also carry the burdens of ministry and responsibility of meeting the needs of people on their shoulders. Sin in church members affects them and their hearts too, it can consume their thoughts and prayers also.

Others may never know the degree of weight you carry because the accountability of the pastor is greater, but remember responsibilities weigh on each person’s life. A burden is a burden. They may not know all the details of counseling sessions or the diligence required to do all things decently and in order while ministering as a shepherd (or shepherd’s wife). Do not minimize their heart’s burdens as insignificant in comparison especially when their burdens are linked to the same church family as yours.

The hands of ministry workers, staff, and volunteers are tied when you separate yourself in a class all of your own and elevate yourself to some level of never being understood because of a position. One person or couple should not be bearing all the burden alone. We are meant to bear one another’s burdens because it fulfills the law of Christ. Christ  took all sin of the world upon Himself as He died in our place, He understands the concept of bearing the burdens of others.

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Church staff in specific situations can often bear a harder burden because of the pressure that is applied from the expectations of the pastor believing they will never understand. They may want to understand, and see how it burdens the pastor. They can recognize how sin puts a blanket on each ministry that is effected by imperfect choices. Do not discount them from being a source of help and encouragement! Most people are capable of genuinely being able to be compassionate in heart toward you. They can understand the behind the scenes knowledge that comes along with being closely involved in the work of the church and respect the need for keeping them in confidence.

“But, what if!?”

Part of bearing one another’s burdens is being humble enough to share. One worry is whether we are sharing our heart’s contents with those who are trustworthy and that is a legitimate concern.  Time can only tell you if you can trust someone. Keeping burdens upon our shoulders because of fearing what other people may say or do (without giving them a chance) is just that, fear. “What if they tell other church members what we’ve talked about?” It is always wise to use discretion in specific matters and to keep information private if it is required.

I feel like I have to make disclaimers all the time because in this world we live in. This message will not fit with every pastor/pastor’s wife and church staff situation out there. There are pastors and their wives who will continue to bear their burdens. There are staff members who will still struggle to feel as if they cannot connect with their pastor/pastor’s wife. Above all, do as the hymn by Charles Tindley  states, “Leave it there, leave it there. Take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there. If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out. Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.”  God is our greatest burden-bearer. No amount of troubles overwhelm Him when we cast those cares upon His shoulders.

Some of you will try to share their burdens with their staff and might be misunderstood or your “fears” may come true when a staff member unwisely shares your information with other people. For those situations I am truly sorry. You might be robbed of a blessing and I would suggest this: Keep praying. Be sensitive enough to share those burdens with someone you are close to so they can help you bear them (ministry friend, family member, etc.). Then, when the time is right and the Holy Spirit gives you a nudge, take a risk again somewhere in the future and share a burden. Share your prayer request, visions for the future of your church/ministries with your staff, and allow them to see the human part of your spirituality that needs God’s guidance.

Taking a risk here and there is part of the growing process. You may just find that your church staff will do exactly what you need and help carry that load and strengthen you in the process. Remember: You found beneficial qualities in their lives or you would not have hired them! The possibility of sharing these matters may allow you to see God work in His mysterious ways to take care of these burdens… we never know what God will do when we join together in prayer for the problems going on in our church. We may actually see victories against sin, repair in relationships, and spiritual growth but the benefit is that they are shared victories and growth instead of just personal.

Eliminate some of your stress by casting your cares upon the Lord and having enough confidence in your staff to be able to share matters that are on your heart. You need it, they need it, and Lord willing, growth will happen in the process. Your work and ministry is valuable, don’t bog yourself down if you can let others walk and work with you.

 

 

A Roadblock to Your Own Comfort

“You’ll never understand unless you go through it.” I understand the heart where this phrase comes from but I wish it did not exist.

Lately, it seems like I run into people who are going through an extreme life-altering circumstances, whether it is the loss of a loved one, a divorce, or even something like overwhelming debt. Their popular phrase while trying to filter through their grief and difficulty is “You’ll never understand unless you go through it.” I do not disagree, but then again I do.

One of the common threads in all of life’s difficulty is loss and sorrow.

The reason why I hate the response, “You’ll never understand,” is because the hurting person who usually says this fails to fully acknowledge the person trying to help and comfort them. They discount that person and their personal losses and pain. The pain they have experienced in their lifetime…. and survived. They require exact suffering  before they allow someone to help them. God created individuals who have individual experiences, therefore no two people will ever have the same experience in their lives, everything about us and  is different.

Roadblock to Your Own Comfort

 The Roadblock to Your Own Comfort

Many of us have been trained to deal with people in tough circumstances wisely. I have been taught you are never supposed to say to a hurting person, “I know exactly how you feel,” because there is no way that we can know how any one person would feel because we are not them and we have not lived their life. This is true! But when it comes to  the “counselors” needing the counseling and comfort they forget the other side of the coin and create roadblocks of rejection to their own comfort.

Requiring others, when you are hurting, to have exact suffering hinders the power of comfort through the Holy Spirit’s leading.

The Bible instructs us in I Corinthians 12:26, to rejoice with those who rejoice and to suffer with those who sorrow. The church body should be able to feel when one of their members is hurting and help them without feeling shamed for their lack of experience in that specific area.

I just fear that we sometimes demand that the comforters be exactly like us before we allow them to have any credibility. The truth is, no one will ever be like us and no one will ever know our heart’s sorrows like Jesus (Isaiah 53:3,4).

What I wish I could say…

Often I have reached out to offer love and support and found closed hearts and rejection. It has made me want to cry because I hurt with them whether they realize it or not. In the quietness of my heart I want to say, “I know hurt and loss too, and I’m sorry that you’re hurting. I know life is not easy and God does not always explain the reasons why He does things, even to His servants. In the darkest hours, when you feel rejected and despised, God still loves you. Please do not be so harsh when people try to be kind. I do not always know what to say or say it correctly but God has put in me a heart of compassion to extend a merciful hand of comfort. Please accept my words of consolation as genuine extensions of acknowledgement that you are hurting. I am hurting because you are.”

I want to go on to tell them, “All sorrow is painful no matter what form it comes in. I know the sorrow of not having a father in my life. I know the loss of divorce and the struggle of being in a single-parent home. I know the loss of friendships and material things when we lost our home in a fire. I cannot change my losses or suffering because God did not plan my life to be exactly like yours. I do not know precisely what you are going through but I can relate.

Please do not reduce my past hurt and the experiences God has led me through and exalt your own.  God has taught me so much and perhaps a few of the gems He gave me along the way were supposed to be shared with you. Sadly, you won’t allow me to share them with you because I’ve never experienced what you’ve gone through before.”

“When you are hurting not everyone will say the right things. You may be hurt because others are ignorant or selfish. Look for those that are reaching out to you in a special way. Give them a chance to possibly be the channel in which God comforts you. Please accept my love and concern as a touch from God.”

The last thing I would say is this,

“Reach out to God and boldly approach the throne of grace to help you through this trial you are going through. Then, look for those who are reaching out and accept their love. I want to be an extension of God’s love and comfort to you, if you’ll let me. Trust me, it will do a soul and body good! Lord willing, down the road, your trial will be able to help someone else in your life and ministry. “

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

I know that I am not always understood when I try to comfort those with different circumstances than mine, and although I hate that phrase that I can still bring them and their needs boldly before the throne of grace in prayer. I will not be offended when people create these roadblocks to their own comfort but will do my best to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in what He wants me to do toward them.

Lord, please guide me and help me know how to help people who are hurting and allow this article to help them understand the other side of the coin.

Beauty From Ashes

 

Beauty from Ashes

This is the last article in our Burned series and I wanted to share with all of you a personal story that occurred almost 10 years ago. Beauty came from the ashes of our experience.

A couple of months after my husband and I were married this memorable day occurred. All week I had called in to work because of a kidney infection, except on Friday I finally felt the obligation to go in. I was dreading the day because of stressful conditions at work on top of trying to get past the lingering kidney pain.

The Unexpected Flames

In the mid morning my husband called to talk to me on the phone for a few minutes. He was set to go into work around lunch time and get off later in the evening. As we were talking, he walked into our bedroom, and I could hear a distinct change in his voice. He was stunned by something, but I could not see what it was. He finally got across to me that there was a fire. I quickly reminded him of the fire extinguisher down the hallway next to the washer and dryer. He hung up the phone and rushed to spray out the fire.

Our iron had fallen onto the shirt draped on the board waiting to be ironed. When he walked into the room flames were dripping down the shirt sleeves and onto the carpet. He sprayed the fire until he could no longer see flames. The fumes of the spray caused him to leave the room. Having asthma he could not stay to breathe in any more of the dense particles in the air because it was making him cough. He walked down to the office and tell the apartment manager about what happened. He returned and found he had locked himself out and had to return to the office again and retrieve a spare key. As he opened the front door and black smoke billowed out. He says he felt the Lord speak to him and say, “Don’t go in there or you won’t come out alive.”

My husband called me telling me what happened and as I drove home fire trucks passed me along the way. Come to find out, because our fire was in an apartment complex it was considered a 4 or 5 alarm fire.  Red and yellow fire engines filled with men lined the streets to make sure the entire complex did not go up into flames. We were a bit embarrassed that all of those men were out there because of our fire.

Broken-Hearted Beginnings

My husband sat out on the grass across the street from our apartment building crushed. We watched the last of the flames extinguished and saw the firemen shovel our belongings onto heaps on the ground with all types of debris. One other unit was destroyed by fire, the apartment below us was filled with water from putting out the fire.

We had only been married for two months and in some ways it was devastating and honestly interesting. It was devastating to have only the clothes on our backs… my husband not even having a shirt on at the time, was given a shirt from a person in the complex. Both of our immediate families were hundreds of miles away, we were alone in many ways but…

God was working in our lives before our fire to take care of us.

Seeing God’s Care Before Our Fire

I believe it was 2 weeks earlier, an insurance salesman in our church, talked my husband into getting renter’s insurance. Little did we know that our policy would be cashed in full and take care of the apartment complex’s damages too since we were at fault for leaving the iron unattended. The fire chief was astonished that in his long history he had never come across anyone living in an apartment complex with renter’s insurance. That was God’s doing.

We smelled the smell of the smoke and the heat of the fire in the concrete after we were allowed to enter the apartment again. Some things were salvageable like the bookshelf of our yearbooks from high school and college.  We received a little money to help us buy clothes for church on Sunday and my husband’s job donated coats, a suit, bedding and towels. My employer gave us half of their Thanksgiving can drive donations and filled our pantry to the brim. Our church took up an offering of around $2,000 to help us. My aunt took us in until there was another apartment ready for us. When our insurance check came in we were able to buy new things for our home, even a Rowenta iron that shuts off automatically and is still working great! God’s provision for our great needs was demonstrated day after day in the weeks after the fire.

“We had nothing but God in that vulnerable moment where we sat on the grass across from the burnt apartment.”

We had nothing but God in that vulnerable moment where we sat on the grass across from the burnt apartment. The song on my heart was, “This is the Day.” God did make the day and I tried hard to console my husband and convince Him not to feel guilty because God knew what would happen to us that day.  I did have a turn of emotions and shock a day later that took a while to get over. But in those first moments, I felt God’s presence and His comfort. He was there sitting beside us and comforting us.

Beauty From Ashes

There was beauty from the ashes in our life . If you  study about fires, ashes are a fertilizer. They fertilize the ground to make it more productive for seed. That is why when a forest fire occurs new growth will begin again in the seasons to follow.

My grandmother shared this verse with us shortly after the fire,

“…we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.” Psalm 66:12

We were not wealthy because we had a large insurance check handed to us and things given to us. We were wealthy because of God’s presence and comfort was with us. We were blessed with physical things after our losses, but that cannot compare to the spiritual gift of God’s promise to be with us always.

We also became wealthy, because almost to the day, a year later, our first son was born. God gave us the gift of that sweet boy at that specific time, I believe, as a symbol of His love. He was another beauty from our ashes.

For You

I don’t know the fires of your life, how vulnerable you may feel, how alone or destitute you are spiritually or physically, but I pray that you will have trust enough to believe that God is with you. Seek out the comforts of the Holy Spirit, draw nigh to God and watch Him draw nigh to you. Allow the spiritual songs that speak whispers in your heart to fill your mind and sing praises to the Lord. He is worthy of all praise on good days and bad. I do not know exactly how God will bless you after your trials and experiences, but there is certainly a rich reward to those that love Him.

Satan will come and make you doubt in times after harsh fires, but dismiss his lies, and accept that beauty can come from ashes and fertilize your life to make you bloom in your spiritual life. I pray this personal testimony will be a blessing to you. If you are going through any type of spiritual burns and need prayer, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Read the other articles in this series:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Burned By Deep Ministry Hurts

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHealing From Deep Ministry Hurts