Thankfully I feel as if life has become more balanced. Perhaps I have learned better how to make time for the most important part of my life, my walk with the Lord. Perhaps this is a lull in the craziness. Whatever the case may be, after the prompting of my sweet husband I thought I would go ahead and at least begin to post a few things now and then concerning life in full-time ministry.
One difficult part of ministry at least from the standpoint of a pastor's wife is criticism. I see and hear people critiquing my husband often. Jon and I have talked much over the journey thus far and we always recognize that in the midst of any criticism we must always seek out the grain of truth in it. What could the Lord be using this person to show us? Despite the grain of truth there is still a lot of unmerited complaining that takes place. You can't make everyone happy and many people expect more out of a pastor than is humanly possible. I could talk about that for a while but I will save that for another post.
Jon and I have been working to memorize the book of Philippians and the passage we are currently working on spoke to my heart. Paul is writing from a prison cell and says this,
"Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice." (Philippians 1:15-18)
Here is Paul sitting in a prison cell speaking about those who are trying to make him feel even worse and he says that it doesn't matter as long as the gospel is being proclaimed. What humility. I can't help but think of the verse where John the Baptist says that Christ must increase and he must decrease. In the end it can't be about our ego or our rights. I as a believer have chosen to give up my rights in order that Christ may be glorified. So negativity, criticism, gossip, and the like should have no place in my life.
Let's take it one step further. Paul goes on to say that yes even in this hardship he will rejoice!! What perspective. In place of the tempting options of self-preservation such as gossip I need to desire the Lord to increase my joy, to increase it to the place that I am rejoicing in all situations. Talk about a tall order. The older I get (I turn 30 next month....yikes!) the more I realize I have to learn. May God continue to use life to make us more like him in order to point others to Christ. That is my prayer day in a day out. Even in criticism may God be glorified.