In all the times of aggravation, consternation and head shaking of being a servant of God, a loving wife, a joyful mother, a spiritual leader to other women, young and old, there are times when I have just laid on my bed and cried feeling helpless and discouraged that I just couldn’t measure up to the expectations of all these people! I have felt so small and inconsequential as I reached out to people with encouragement, assistance and a smile knowing that my little bit of help was not really going to make a big difference in their lives.
When I was in my twenties I really thought my words had weight but as I grew older I found that most people went ahead and did what they were planning to do despite my opinion even when they had asked for it. People often resisted asking my opinion as I grew into my thirties because I was the pastor’s wife and I would give them the answer they already knew was in the Bible, the answer they did not want to hear. It would break my heart when I would see the consequence of their actions which could have been avoided if they had only listened to the wisdom of the Bible.
As my husband experienced burn-out and the slow recovery from it, I, too, have had to recover. I think a lot of it is simply a new level of wisdom which God has graciously imparted. My expectations of myself and of other people have dropped considerably. I maintain my high moral standard but now feel a blessing when others seek to keep their word, or do a kind deed, or offer to pray rather than being let down when they don’t do these things. As I feel the patience of God toward me and my shortcomings I can now extend that same patience toward others. They are only human after all. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the only One who understands all the details of any situation. I certainly don’t pretend to any more.
I try not to judge others (a difficult thing) but seek to give all people the benefit of the doubt. As Paul said, “There, but for the grace of God, go I”. The words of scripture help me straighten the path of my children and myself and I let God be the guide for the others. I try to speak the truth in love and let the Holy Spirit be the conscience pricker. My job is now to keep watch over my tongue, my household, and my own responsibilities. I cannot solve all the world’s problems but I can make a difference in a few lives that will make a difference in another generation to come. Some of our work will never be seen until another generation or two goes by and of course, our name may not even be associated with that work. But the Lord is faithful to remember our labor of love for His name’s sake.
If you are a woman feeling the pressure of trying to please too many people, the congregation, the pastor, the Board, your own family, try backing off for a while and taking a deep breath of Jesus’ grace. When the woman caught in adultery was brought before Him He diverted everyone’s attention from her trembling body to what He was doing, writing on the ground. He knew she couldn’t stand the pressure, the stares, the accusations, the finger-pointing. He gently reoriented the crowd of accusers to look at their own lives, not hers and seek forgiveness for their own sins leaving the woman to deal with hers directly with God. Jesus didn’t abandon her, though. He gently told her that He didn’t condemn her, (she was forgiven) and to go and sin no more. Wow! She got another chance! I hope she didn’t blow it and we can all talk to her in heaven to find out how her life turned around. She probably had to move to another town to get away from the wagging tongues but at least she could start over again. That is the grace of God.
When the pressure is on, stop, breathe deeply, and consider who you really are trying to please. The major person you need to please is Jesus Christ and next to Him is your own husband (or future husband if you are not married). After those two come your own children who may need more of your attention. If you are a paid employee, your boss needs some of your consideration. Now, if you can juggle the desires of all those people you are doing great! Be wise and careful about all your other commitments. Do the will of God by setting a good example to the rest of the congregation, showing love and kindness, but keep your eyes on Jesus. He’s the one who will be your real judge, not the congregation. Set your priorities and don’t get side-tracked by inconsiderate comments some ill-informed person may make.
I would love to talk to you about these lessons I have learned and am still learning. How do you decide what is the most important thing to concentrate on? If you want to talk, you can call me at 918-919-1490 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. God bless you all as you work on trimming the wick.