August 22, 2013

30 Things I Learned This Summer About God, Myself, and Ministry

I promise I'm almost done talking about our sabbatical. Honestly, it's hard for me not to talk about it because of the myriad of things I learned about God, about rest, and about myself while away from our normal life. But I know that not everyone had a restful summer and not everyone wants to hear about someone who did. So here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to lay out a summary of what God taught me this summer and allow you, my dear readers, to tell me the three things you most want to hear more about. I'll tell you how you can do that at the end this post, but for now, let's get to the list. Hopefully, no matter what kind of summer you've had, God will encourage you or speak to you through what He's taught me.
  1. I am not my performance. My identity is not as a pastor's wife; I am a daughter of God.
  2. Joy in life comes when I am attentive to what God is wanting me to receive from Him.
  3. I can't change anyone--not myself, not my husband, not my children, not people in our church. This truth elevates the role of prayer in my life: I can ask God to bring change and be a part of change through prayer.
  4. I am much happier in life when I put relationships as a priority over technology.
  5. God's wrath is revealed not only against those who reject Him outright but against the self-righteous. (Romans 1-3)
  6. Themes that emerged from reading the New Testament: live by faith, live by grace, live by the power of the Spirit, hope in God, and endure.
  7. Living by faith means I am assured of my standing before God, I trust the Spirit to move and work through me and in me, I listen to and respond to the Spirit, I trust God to lead me to the good works He intends for me to pursue, and I don't worry or attempt to control or be self-sufficient.
  8. I must practice a weekly Sabbath. This should include a variety of things: physical rest, time with my husband, purposeful and creative fun with the kids, and no technology. Perhaps the main thing, though, is to ask God, "What do you want me to receive today?"
  9. I had become emotionally unhealthy and this is why: ongoing performance and production issues, my desire for the success for the church at the expense of my husband's emotional health because I felt the success reflected on us, my lack of trust that God will care for His Church, and identifying too much as a pastor's wife and not enough as a child of God. I grieved over the state of my heart.
  10. I need to make more decisions according to this criteria: "Would I do this as a believer, no matter if I'm the pastor's wife?"
  11. I should be able to live at a pace where I enjoy God, enjoy family, and enjoy others.
  12. Physical health is important because it affects emotional and spiritual health.
  13. My focus needs to change from helping in the church to helping Kyle.
  14. My greatest fear about returning from sabbatical has been that I will not be a safe person for myself. I'm afraid of not knowing my limits, pushing through limits in an unhealthy way, or not listening to the Spirit's leading. I wanted to "get it" in one summer, but the Lord reminded me over and over that this is a daily thing, that I won't just "get it" and be done getting it. I don't have to have it all figured out and planned out--that's walking in the flesh of self-sufficiency.
  15. In God, grace reigns.
  16. I discovered that I expect others to be/respond like me, especially other leaders. If I am to love them with grace, I will champion and respect who they are and what gifts they have. I must consider how I can best bless them.
  17. Living alive to God has little do with external behaviors. Righteousness and good works are an outflow of what is happening in the heart.
  18. Everything I say to people about living as a Christian should be followed by, "By the way, you can't do this. Only the Spirit can do this."
  19. God is rich toward those who believe in Him.
  20. I must use the gifts (and only the gifts) God has given me. I have a portion of the gifts, not all the gifts. I don't need to try to be everything to everyone, because I can't.
  21. We always have something to rejoice in--the hope that we have!
  22. Kyle and I need to do whatever necessary to keep our marriage healthy so that if others follow our example, they will be healthy too. 
  23. My eyes must not look to human wisdom but rely on the power of God for ministry.
  24. A true goal and sign of godly leadership is this: standing in contrast to the world (displaying the Spirit's power rather than worldly wisdom), weakness (yet depending on Christ's sufficiency), and sacrificial service (not selfish service or drawing attention to self).
  25. I must not plan according to the flesh. Plan according to God so that, just as He is faithful, I can be faithful to my word.
  26. When I believe that I am responsible for God's church, I stand as an obstacle to the Spirit's movement.
  27. My prayers need to be bigger.
  28. Christ is my city. I often feel homesick for other places, but that homesickness is really a longing for Christ and Heaven.
  29. Following Jesus is not a race to see who can be the most radical, sacrificial, or quickest to burn out. It's not a contest to see who's willing to take the hardest road. That's asceticism, not discipleship. (from Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne)
  30. A question to come back to: "What do you, God, want me to be faithful to do according to my gifts, my personality, and my roles?"
Which of these points would you like to hear more about? In the comment section (which you'll need to click over for if you're reading by email or a blog reader), put the number of 1-3 points you want me to elaborate on and any questions you specifically want answered about those points. Please let me know your thoughts by August 30. I'll figure out the top three and write about those in three posts over the next month. I look forward to hearing from you!