February 27, 2013

When Strengths are a Weakness

I awoke this past Sunday morning with a sense of dread. I knew the day would be full of conversations, details to remember and ask about, a meeting or two, and, of course, parenting my boys and preparing a menu for the week and other assorted household duties, and I just didn’t feel I had the stamina for it all. Life has been busy lately and I find myself searching desperately for solitude.

As much as I wish I weren’t, I’m an introvert. Too many people in a day or too many evenings in a week given to events or activities and I’m spent. Waking on Sunday, this is what I attributed my dread to, knowing that to get through the day I’d need to push myself outward and do some things I just didn’t want to do.
But in the early morning hours, wrapping my hands around the warm coffee cup, God asked me to consider a different source of my dread, something beyond just my need for introspection and quietness. Perhaps, He said, you dread being with people today because you fear being a disappointment to them. And you also fear being a disappointment to yourself. Of course He was right, so right that it almost shocked me to see it so clearly. Why yes, that’s it exactly.

I had to ask myself a few questions, one being primary: What did I mean when I told myself that I’m not a good pastor’s wife? I feel this way because I’m not an extrovert or because I’m tired and needy, because I’m not good at small talk or because I can’t handle one more thing. My capacity is only so much, but for some reason, I always think it should be more. In my mind I should always be what I’m not and what I actually am is not good enough.

These days come when I’m tired and need time to reflect and recharge, which is quite ironic.  Instead of embracing who I am and embracing what I need, I fight against it by pushing myself more. It's a deadly cycle.

I doubt I’m the only one who does this. It seems it’s an innate fleshly drive in women to always try to be something we aren’t.

Isn’t this applicable to other areas of life? Like parenting, for instance. When we tell ourselves we are bad moms (or am I the only one?), yet it is just a general feeling and not an actual conviction from God, what are we saying? We’re measuring ourselves next to some sort of unattainable standard or we’re comparing ourselves to the strengths and gifts in other mothers. We’re saying that our strengths are weaknesses and our weaknesses should be our actual strengths.
The trouble is we assign different values to various personality traits and abilities so, instead of simply being faithful with the strengths we’ve been given, we think we have to have every strength and no weaknesses or God can’t use us. And when we fall or a weakness comes through, we immediately say to ourselves, “I am a bad (fill-in-your-blank).”

What would happen, I wonder, if we embraced our strengths and our weaknesses? What if we didn’t try to push ourselves through our weaknesses but focused instead on being good stewards of our strengths?

I went to church that day with a full awareness that I’m weak in a lot of ways, but that, yes, God is using my strengths. I don’t have to be what someone else is or do what someone else does to be considered a good pastor’s wife. In the eyes of others, this may make me a bad pastor’s wife, and I just might end up being a disappointment to them. But in God’s eyes, I am a “good” pastor’s wife when I acknowledge my weaknesses and focus on faithfully using the strengths He’s given me.

There's freedom in that. And there's freedom that because of the cross, because God sees Christ when He looks at us (if we are in Him), we are never a disappointment to the One who matters most.

What are your strengths as a minister and leader, a wife, and a mom? How are you faithfully stewarding those strengths today?


Christine said...

Thank you for sharing this Christine. A lot of the way you desribed yourself is similiar to my strengths (and weaknesses). I appreciate your perspective on it. :)

Christine said...

You are so right. Someone I was talking with recently started labeling some people "better moms". I responded by saying that I have been thinking so much lately about how being a good mom is knowing that on your own you are incapable of being just that. You hit on that idea head on with this post. We can only be a good anything when we recognize how without Him it is not possible. Humility and vulnerability before God is the only way we can open ourselves up to be used by him, otherwise we have it "so together" we don't recognize our need for Him until everything crashes around us. Being this way also makes us more approachable to others who are also playing the comparison game. If we, like you said, are open with our weaknesses as well as our strengths we can come together, see how the different pieces fit and the church can only benefit. It works that way with friendships too :)

Christine said...

Glad it was helpful to you.

Christine said...

You're right...it works like this in so many areas.

Christine said...

This "pastor's wife" role is new to me. My church doesn't place expectations on me, I do. I am a recovering "people-pleaser." And if I am not abiding in Christ, I will fall into thinking that I have to make everyone happy which actually causes me to withdraw and shut down since I have a busy household. I recognize I can't do it all. I am embracing this new season in my life, because I know God is going to stretch me and make me more like Christ and O, how I want that!
I won your book in a giveaway and I just blogged about it.(http://wimberlys.blogspot.com/2013/02/on-becoming-pastors-wife.html)
I am anxious to read it and learn from you and the other women who are in the trenches. Blessings to you!

Christine said...

Being a "pastor's wife" is new to me and I am learning that I am the one that places expectations on myself, not my church. I have realized that when I am not abiding in Him, I will try to make everyone else happy, which in turn cause me to withdraw and shut down because I have a busy household and they come first. But I want to serve and be stretched and allow God to use me. I am thankful to be on this journey and so thankful for your blog!

I actually just blogged about winning your book in a giveaway and how anxious I am to start reading it! http://wimberlys.blogspot.com/2013/02/on-becoming-pastors-wife.html

Blessings to you, Christine!

Christine said...

Oh, yay! So glad you won a copy. I hope it's an encouragement to you as you get going with this replant!

Christine said...

Thank you for this message Christine. I was a new Christian when I met my husband, a pastor. I had no idea of church edicate or what was expected of me. What a ride I was in for! Blessings on you for encouraging others in the same situations.

Hannah said...

I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog and what an encouragement it is to read! I grew up a pastors kid and then felt called into youth ministry. I met my husband at Bible college and after we were married 4 months we took our first student ministry position. We worked with teenagers for 6 years before God called my husband to pastoral ministry. Our first pastor position turned into a nightmare. The people were overly critical and hurtful to our family and basically forced us out after a year and a half. Not easy for your first pastorate. Not to say we did everything perfectly but there was a lot of evil working against us at that church. Needless to say, we ran from the pastorate back into student ministry. Within a few months, God started working on our hearts and ultimately led us back into pastoral ministry. I feel like God has taught me so much through our trials, mistakes, bitterness, and transitions. Its so refreshing to read your blog and realize that I am not alone in my struggles and weaknesses. I feel like only other ministry wives truly understand what its like to carry the burdens of others in this unique calling. Thanks for posting and being so transparent!! Oh, and i don't "sing or play the piano" (lol), but God has gifted me to teach other women, be an encourager through notes and to reach out to other moms. :)

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