Laying in my bed at night, I felt as though the pressure would crush me. Everyone is stuck inside. So many people need contact. So many people struggle with loneliness. So many young moms are feeling the stress of distance education. So many are working in the danger zones of hospitals or nursing homes. Then there were the counseling sessions we were in the middle of, some making progress and others needing more intense care. What would happen to those?
I slipped downstairs and desperately put the kettle on to make a cup of chamomile tea, hoping to calm my racing heart. Waiting in the silence of the night, I leaned against the counter in prayer. It was all too much. How could I possibly touch all of those things without letting go of my own family’s needs or the balance in ministry I knew was so very important? Yet, as I poured my heart out to the One who knows and sees it all, the Holy Spirit spoke truth to my heart.
The truth was that my perspective needed to change. I had been fretting over being the whole body of Christ instead of simply the one part of the body God had designed me to be. First Corinthians 12:14 says, “For the body does not consist of one member but of many.” Then Ephesisans 4:16 continues in the same vein saying that as each part works properly, the body grows and builds itself in love. One part of the body trying to take over the other parts of the body seems like a recipe for disaster. Yet, sadly, as a pastor’s wife, I often find myself tempted to do just that. Specifically in small-town ministry, I find myself very drawn to this temptation. I misalign my priorities and God-given gifts and, in doing so, rob others of the opportunity to use their own. It’s never done purposely; it is done ignorantly and often with a little bit of pride thrown in. Ouch! That’s not easy to admit. I’m not here to tell you this is an easy-to-fix, never-to-return temptation. However, it is one of which God has given clear direction in His Word. First Corintihans 12 and the entire book of Ephesians speak to us about the body and the beauty of each member working well. All relationships are God-given opportunities and should not be taken lightly. However, we know that we cannot reach everyone all the time. Nor does God expect us to. He created the body of Christ for a reason.
The following chart is simply to help focus time management and prioritizing those relationships as a pastor’s wife and as a member of the body. My prayer is that the chart will help you focus on how your life and your gifts touch those in the body and others with whom you come in contact free of guilt and full of purpose.
Ask these questions as you fill in your circle.
- Is my relationship with God here? Is it my priority?
- Who else has God commanded me to care for immediately: aging parents, spouse, children, etc.
- Who is placed in my life in a close way. With whom do I “rub” shoulders? (Sunday school, Bible studies, small groups)
- Where are the natural relationships?
- Do I need to add these people to one of my other circles?
- Are they being taken care of by the body? Can I delegate?
When trying to distill the differences in the circles, keep in mind first that the lines are fluid and may change from season to season. When heading into a new ministry almost everyone will be in the outer circle. It will be important to look for those natural relationships to begin investing in. Second, the outer circle are those with whom you don’t have a natural or very little connection with. This is not an invitation to give up on those relationships, yet we should not feel guilt when they aren’t pursued as heavily. The body has many members, each having connections and people they touch.
Allow the way you minister to those you do touch to have a ripple effect to the many. Think of a rose. Not all the petals touch the same petal. Yet they work together in unity being held together by one stem. So we as a member of the body of Christ might not touch every person in the body in the same way, but we take effort to intentionally encourage and uplift the ones we have contact with. Then they in turn are healthy enough to touch the next. And by God’s grace it forms a beautiful body of believers held together by our Savior.
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