Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Encouraging your husband in ministry

The church planter/pastor is the one who is supposed to encourage others, but what do you do when your pastor is discouraged and you just happen to be married to him?

I wanted to share a few thoughts on encouraging our pastor/husbands.

1. Pray for him. I start with this because I think it is most important. I wanted to pray for my pastor/husband, Richard, but didn't know exactly what to pray. I read Stormie Omartian's book, The Power of a Praying Wife, and found all kinds of things to pray about - many things I would have not thought about (prayers for him to be kept from temptation, prayers for his friendship, his finances, his health, and on and on). I pray the Bible prayer at the end of the chapter, put a bookmark there and move to the next prayer the following morning. What a powerful force we can unleash in our lives when we pray!

Once when we were going through a rough situation at our church, I prayed that morning for God to encourage and help Richard that day. That evening he told me that he opened a magazine that morning and the first article talked about discouragement. Then a friend came by and prayed with him. I was amazed at how God had encouraged him.

2. Listen to him. We all need someone to listen -without judging us. It took me awhile to learn this, but my hubby usually didn't need my advice - he just needed me to sit and listen and sympathize. I like to call what he does venting. Have you ever noticed that men need to vent? In the beginning, I told him how he should feel (Honey, you shouldn't feel that way; she was only trying to be helpful...), but I learned that he opened up a lot more if I kept MY mouth shut and just listened. Enough said...

3. Don't criticize him. Some may disagree with me, but I decided early in our ministry that I was going to be his cheerleader. I didn't want him to dread getting in the car every Sunday only to hear a litany of his mistakes. I figured there would be enough people who would correct him if he did it wrong. Again, I didn't realize how much self-doubt men have. Am I a good pastor? Am I a good husband? Am I a good father? Am I.... Hearing those magic words "I believe in you" can give men the confidence to keep going even when they fail.

Having said that, I do occasionally slip into my "Holy Spirit Junior" mode and feel like I need to correct him. There are times to honestly talk about things, but it should never be done in haste and without clear leading from God. I've found praying does a lot more good than I could ever do with my nagging/whining/complaining.

And did I mention, never speaking against him or correcting him in front of others? I heard a pastor telling a story and his wife kept interrupting him to make sure he was telling it just right (No, honey, it was Tuesday night instead of Thursday night! No, remember we were driving the Buick, not the Mustang). Ephesians 4:29 says that our words should build up (edify). It's refreshing to hear one spouse compliment and not tear down the other!

4. Meet his physical needs. When hubby/pastor comes home from a stressful board meeting, what could help "de-stress" him better than a good meal, a massage and sex? God gave us the gift of physical intimacy which can make our marriages stronger, happier, and more fun!

I realize this blog is getting too long... must close before you start drifting off.

Peter Drucker said that being a pastor and a church planter are the two hardest jobs in America. So I'm guessing that being married to someone in those jobs is not going to be easy. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves and our pastor husbands to do what we can, but this is God's work - the battle is the Lord's!

Share with us ways that you think ministry wives can encourage their husbands.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I love spring!

For the past week, I can't stay indoors. It looks like someone woke up the earth as the trees and flowers are blooming. This is my azalea bush in the front yard. It all looks beautiful! (Someone with allergies might disagree with this picture being beautiful HA)

It is easy to take these things for granted – but have you ever thought about how great God is to think all this up and then keep it going on and on? The leaves fall off in the autumn and fertilize the ground while the trees remain dormant. They rest during the winter (doing something important, I’m sure). Then in the spring, the trees come to life again. They bloom and then make leaves and provide shade for the hot summer months. Then as it cools off, the leaves fall off again and the cycle continues. Who tells them to do this? WOW! I can see God’s hand in this – (especially after learning more about what is really happening inside a leaf).

All of this beauty shouts- GOD IS AMAZING! GOD IS CREATIVE! GOD IS POWERFUL! Look up and praise Him for the works of His hands!

God, You are amazing, powerful, and creative. I stand in awe of all that You have created in this world. I stand in awe because Someone so great still knows me and loves me. Thank you.

The heavens declare the glory of God and the earth shows His handiwork. Psalm 19:1

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Living Life on Purpose

First I want to say thank you to the many calls and cards and expressions of sympathy we received after the death of Richard's youngest brother, Brian. We were totally shocked to get the phone call that he had died of a massive heart attack. We left Nashville immediately to be with the family in Huntsville - about two hours away. It's unbelievable how quickly life can change!

I had just finished reading the book, One Month to Live by Kerry and Chris Shook, just the week before we heard about Brian. It was a challenge to live your life - doing the things that you would do if you knew that you only had one month to live. Things like genuinely loving others and building into their lives, forgiving others and not holding on to petty disagreements, saying things that you would want those closest to you to know, and basically loving God with all your heart.

Of course, the truth is that none of us know how long we have to live, so I vowed to do some things.

Keep my house cleaner. I know this seems trivial (and it is) but we left immediately and later I thought, "I'd hate someone to have to come in and clean it." Maybe I got this from my mom who would never leave on a vacation without the house being spotless, but sometimes I leave stuff laying around when it would only take a minute or two more to put it away.

Tell people you love them every time you talk to or see them. Mostly, I do this, but it's important to say the words that build others up rather than thinking that they know how you feel already. You never know when it might be the last time.

Slow down and enjoy each day. Sometimes I feel as if I rush through life to the next "have to" event. My schedule is not always determined by what I would like to be doing but by what's on the schedule. I know that is how life is, but I want to live more intentionally and in the present.

Write down your wishes. I have planned my own funeral. (I told Richard and the kids to buy the cheapest casket in the place as know they will hate to do that. A cheap pine box would be good for me as I'm not really there and don't want to waste good money! But I digress!) I want to write a letter to each person in my family so they will know my thoughts and last words to them.

We had just been at Brian's church the weekend before and he preached with such passion. He was a generous, caring person who loved God. I hope I leave a similar legacy. Please pray for his wife, Debbi and their three adult children - Brooke, Brandon, and Bethany.