Let’s Do It Again Next Sunday!

Easter is always a special day! Certainly, the fact that we celebrate the preeminent truth of Christianity, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, is enough to make much of the day!!!

There are many other elements leading up to and a part of this day of rejoicing:

  • Good Friday Services
  • Choir rehearsals
  • Preparation for guests / many invitations made
  • Easter programs
  • Music ministry
  • Joy-filled congregational singing
  • Resurrection themed sermons
  • The gospel is proclaimed
  • Lives changed
  • Partaking of communion
  • Reading of Scripture and prayer
  • Entering the Sunday morning gathering with a spirit of expectancy and joy
  • Family gatherings and hundreds of pictures
  • Buffet meals and desserts
  • Wearing new spring clothes

Why not? After all, This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).

Craig Keener gives us some good insight on this “day.” Psalm 118:22-23 was fulfilled in Jesus’ ministry as He claimed (Mark 12:10-11), so also was Psalm 118:24: the great and momentous day the Lord had made, the day the Psalmist calls his hearers to celebrate, is the prophetic day when God exalted Jesus, rejected by the chief priests, as the cornerstone of His new temple (cf. Eph. 2:20). The verse points to a truth far more significant than merely the common biblical truth that God is with us daily; it points to the greatest act of God on our behalf, when Jesus our Lord died and rose again for us.

Next Sunday, we will corporately gather again and . . . our hearts, minds, bodies, and ministries should be as engaged and intentional as we were yesterday! We will not have all the “pageantry” of Easter, but we’ll still be celebrating the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ because He was raised on the first day of the week! We will proclaim the name of our living Savior in song, conversation, testimony, preaching, and prayer that in all things He will have the preeminence (Colossians 1:18).

So, let’s do it again next Sunday . . . and the next . . . and the next until He calls us Home!!

Blessed Redeemer

1 Up Calv’ry’s mountain one dreadful morn
Walked Christ, my Savior, weary and worn;
Facing for sinners death on the cross,
That He might save them from endless loss. [Chorus]

2 “Father, forgive them!” thus did He pray,
E’en while His lifeblood flowed fast away;
Praying for sinners while in such woe–
No one but Jesus ever loved so. [Chorus]


3 O how I love Him, Savior and Friend,
How can my praises ever find end?
Thro’ years unnumbered on heaven’s shore,
My tongue shall praise Him forevermore. [Chorus]

Chorus:
Blessed Redeemer! Precious Redeemer!
Seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree;
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading—
Blind and unheeding— dying for me!

In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:7-8)

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)

Good Friday – The Crucifixion (Mark 14:53-15:41; 1 Peter 1:18-21; Luke 22:47-53; 23:39-43; John 19:1-37)

[“Blessed Redeemer” written by Avis B. Christiansen]

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry (#8)

Twin Falls (Eastatoe), Sunset, SC

“Men, how’s your prayer life?”

WRONG QUESTION.

“Men, how’s your life of prayer?”

Ah, yes! That’s the correct question and the correct setting.

A prayer life is compartmentalizing your walk with God. A life of prayer aptly describes what the Christian life should look like–a man solely dependent upon God for spiritual life and vitality, an eternal, biblical viewpoint, wisdom from the Throne of God, and a relationship with his Heavenly Father that is real and personal.

Jesus speaking to His disciples said, Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing (John 15:4-5). These same words are greatly needed for all of us in ministry.

How interesting, too, that the Lord Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, our Savior and Great High Priest and Intercessor is a man of prayer (Luke 3:21-22; 5:15-16; 6:12-13; 9:18, 28; 18:1; 22:31-32; 23:46).

So, what’s another remedy for discouragement in ministry? A life of prayer!

Prayer is the first thing, the second thing, the third thing necessary to a minister. Pray, then, my dear brother; pray, pray, pray.” — Edward Payson

You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed. Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to Satan.” — John Bunyan

So, may I encourage you who are prone to discouragement in ministry, see prayer as your life.

  • Pray on Monday! Make it a day of just praising the Lord for Who He is and what He did on Sunday. Redirect your focus upward not manward. Use Psalms 34:1-9; 92:1-8; 100; 103; 111:1-5; 117; 145 to pray in praise and thanksgiving. I would greatly encourage you to only pray this way on Mondays—praise and thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6-8).
  • Pray such that your sermon becomes a message from God. While studying the words of the text, talk to God about it. When you take a coffee break, talk to God about it . . . and listen to what He says. When you are driving down the road to visit a dear soul, talk to God about it. When Sunday comes, the message to preach is a burden from God that He responsible for, and not you. You will be so consumed with what God has taught you and how He has changed you that when you preach, the congregation will see Jesus, and not you. “Strange it is that any discussion of preaching should take place outside the context of believing prayer. We have not prepared until we have prayed… We cannot represent God if we have not stood before God” (David Larsen).
  • Pray with your wife. (Meals only do not count but can be included.)
  • Pray with your children.
  • Pray with your parents and in-laws.
  • Pray with ministry leaders in your church. Call and ask them to pray with you and for you. Maybe meet somewhere in the country, the mountains, or a coffee shop and have a three-way conversation with the Head of the Church!
  • Pray with pastors and other ministry leaders outside your church. As above, call a friend in ministry and say, “Just wanted to ask you spend some time in prayer with me and for me. Let’s talk to the Lord together!”
  • Pray with the one who just unloaded their burdens on you. Just you implore them to obey 1 Peter 5:6-7, you do the same with that burden. You are not to carry it either!
  • Pray with and/or for your server at the restaurant.
  • Pray right then and there when you are asked to pray about a situation or individual.
  • Pray Scripture with your Bible and your eyes wide-open!!
  • Pray in your “prayer closet” or that quiet place near your home or in the woods.
  • Pray on Sunday morning with a group of prayer people before Sunday School and the morning gathering.
  • Pray that you have a life of prayer, not a prayer life.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Remember, it was Jesus Who said, “Without Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5) and “Men ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry (#7)

Hiking is so much like life! Constant ups and downs, wear and tear on your body, hidden and exposed roots that cause you to stumble, stony trails that cause your feet to burn and twist, steep climbs that seem to last forever, stinkin’ socks and fellow hikers, the burden of 25-40 pounds on your back, sloshing through a rain-soaked trail, and wishing you could carry your bed from home in your backpack in exchange for the ground or a shelter floor!

As I stood on one of the many awe-inspiring, give-God-praise views on the Appalachian Trail this week, I proclaimed to my hiking buddy, Rick, “And you ask me why we love to hike????” (Besides the fact that we just love being outdoors in the mountains!)

Men, one of the reasons we are prone to become discouraged in ministry is the view. Ministry can be like what I described in the first paragraph. While carrying the weight of “your church” on your shoulders, all you see are ministry deadlines, the constant burdens of others, unmet expectations, another sermon to ream out, your body wearing down, the battle of your flesh, and a mind full of stinkin’ thinkin’!!! Just like the old adage, “you can’t see the forest for the trees.” You need to change the view.

How?

Learn to rest! Most folks in ministry do not know how to rest! We are on the go 24/7 with our foot on the accelerator pushed to the floor. Even on vacation, we are still thinking ministry, taking calls, answering texts, and thinking about next Sunday’s sermon.

Rest breaks are crucial while hiking. As we climbed up the mountain to McAfee Knob and trekked the distance over to Tinker Cliffs, periodic rest breaks for water and a protein snack gave energy and heart to press forward. Even along the way, we enjoyed other views as we dropped our packs and briefly rested. We knew the extraordinary views were coming!

Your rest breaks could be . . .

  • a drive in the country with your wife (no ministry discussion allowed)
  • a walk or bike ride in a nearby park
  • 15 minutes on the back porch singing and swinging
  • reading the Psalms or Philippians for your heart’s sake and not for a sermon
  • no phone at supper while remaining at the table with your wife to chat for 15-30 minutes at the end of your meal
  • your prayer closet
  • a power nap
  • watching something humorous to get you laughing
  • a cup of coffee or tea and a healthy snack
  • calling your wife and talking to her like you did when you were dating (seriously)
  • Facetimeing one of your grandkids . . . that’ll lighten up your heart

Ministry friend, learn to rest. Remember, Jesus went to the mountains and the wilderness to get away (Matthew 14:23; Luke 6:12). You need those rest breaks more than Jesus did. You are not the Messiah!

The “hike” in ministry calls for periods of rest. The “views” will be much better when you do!

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry (#5)

The call to shepherd the flock of God and preach His eternal Word is an extremely weighty matter. Just as being a Christian is a contrast to the world, so is the role of a pastor.

The world tells you to climb the ladder of success; be somebody; be true to yourself; use people to reach the top; get a good education so you can make money and go places; make a name for yourself (leave your mark), etc.

Jesus lived the opposite. Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8).

Jesus said, For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

Paul followed Jesus’s example. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2) and whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:7-8).

To overcome discouragement in ministry, we must find our identity first and foremost in Christ. We must surrender to Christ Who lives in us and the indwelling Spirit who will only enable us when Christ is the celebrity and not us. Only then will God be glorified.

You see, the ministry that God has called us to is not ours. We have no power to make it succeed. We do not have the foresight to control it. We are not the “main man” of the ministry. Christ is the vine, and we are the branches and apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).

No wonder we get discouraged. We think that everything rises and falls on us. Friend, with all due respect, it rises and falls on God. Jesus said, I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH (Matthew 16:18). Paul said it so well as recorded in 1 Corinthians 11:1 (AMPC), Pattern yourselves after me [follow my example], as I imitate and follow Christ (the Messiah).

How often I have become discouraged because a program I started failed, a church member did not do what I thought they should, numbers of people weren’t getting saved like I thought, revival had not come (yet it did come to the church in the next town), etc. These were my expectations. These words in Psalm 62:5 are a fulfilling guide for the Lord’s ministry, My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation (hope) is from Him.

I lost sight of Christ in my busyness. I had failed to be still and listen to Him in the prayer closet. The world and others had set my standards to be successful because they had “achieved success.”

Men, the person of ministry, the builder of ministry, the preeminent One of ministry and our identity in ministry is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. And He {Christ] is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence (Colossians 1:17-18).

So, when ministry doesn’t meet up to your expectations, find your identity in Christ, surrender to the Christ in you, and soak your soul in the following:

For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:5-11)

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry (#4)

My dad weighed a 119 pounds when he entered the Army and 125 pounds when he was married. Me, I think I weighed 125 in the third grade! 🙂 I wore huskie size jeans in the first grade! I always said that my dad ate to live, and I lived to eat!

I am a “foodie,” and, since college days, I have had a battle with my weight, up and down, up and down. Several years ago, that all changed. Please take what I share below as truly coming from a caring heart for you, my brother.

So men, one of the ways to overcome discouragement is to exercise and eat right.

There are several ingredients to helping you accomplish this need:

  1. You have to honestly and humbly admit that you need to change and then choose to make this a life decision. No one can guilt you into it nor change you. It is by the grace of God, prayer, and the will to say “yes” and “no.” Let me say that several years ago, an evangelist friend had a loving, stern talk with me that was extremely helpful, but you must make the choice.
  2. Be ready for the long haul that takes a day-at-a-time; a meal-at-a-time.
  3. Choose a diet plan that will enable you to go for the long haul. Personally, I have seen too many spend mega bucks on a strict plan just to see the weight return in a short period of time. My wife and I used Weight Watchers and ate our own food. Over a period of a few months, I lost a total of 80 pounds.
  4. Exercise. For me, my favorites are running and hiking. My wife loves to briskly walk the farm road near our country home. Do what is best for you.
  5. Speaking of my wife, a diet/exercise program is so much better with a companion on this journey or even a group of other ministry friends for encouragement and accountability!
  6. When eating out, share a meal. For a very long time, my wife and I order one entrée and split it. That also means no appetizer or dessert. Of course, we enjoy desserts and other special foods but we do not gorge! Remember, the very best bite of every food item is the first one. After that, you are headed toward . . . “Oh, I can’t eat anymore'” and the taste has diminished!!
  7. As you lose your weight, get rid of your clothes that are now too big. You are not going back!!
  8. The most convicting and challenging thing that moved me to change was my testimony before the Lord as a man and a pastor and my love for my wife. You see, food became an idol and an unholy habit before my God. Also, as a pastor, how could I challenge the folks I shepherd to live disciplined lives when I was not disciplined in my eating habits. Men, the belt around our waist should not be “a leather fence around a chicken graveyard” as so many preachers have joked about over the years! Our bodies were created by God, belong to God, and are sustained by God. Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
  9. As for my wife, I am so grateful that she has set a high standard for herself in this regard. She is so disciplined that she eats one bite from a candy bar, puts it in the drawer, and she might go back to it next week or next month! 🙂 Seriously, my love for eating was greater than my love for her. One of the best ways I could demonstrate my love for her was to lose weight and start being fit, if for no one else, just for her!!
  10. For any of you who need to loose weight and exercise, do not let the following statement discourage you. Hopefully it will motivate you. Remember, the older you get, the harder it becomes to lose the pounds. So, get started; begin somewhere (small or big) and stay at it! Your wife, your body, your heart, your cholesterol, your health, your congregation, and you will be glad you did. Most of all, it is pleasing to God!

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

I realize that this step could be very difficult for some. This post was not written to shame or further discourage you. Men, I’m cheering you on!!!! No matter your situation, begin with the Lord in prayer. He’s able.

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry (#3)

So you have completed a full day of ministry. You have proclaimed and taught the Word of God, perhaps as many as three to four times. You have praised the Lord with all your heart! You have listened to many burdens, heard maybe a complaint or two, and sought to encourage and edify many. You have worked through a power point failure during your third point, a crying baby, and on the way home, a flat tire. As you ease into your chair in the family room and take a deep breath, you can still hear all the “noise” of the day in your mind, even if you are catching up on Sunday night football and Facebook.

Be careful! Your mind and body are worn out! You are reliving the day. Thoughts of “what if” and “if only” and “I should have” start to permeate your mind. You are a prime target for the flesh and the devil to lie to you. It’s a set up, friend!

May I encourage you . . . and remind myself?

First of all, instead of listening to yourself, preach the Truth to yourself . . . instead of just to those who gathered to hear the message. You proclaimed the Truth with passion and conviction all day. Now, believe and live out what you preached! Rest in it. Lean hard into it. His Word never returns void (Isaiah 55:11). Your failures of the day are a good reminder that you are frail and totally dependent on God’s grace and mercy all the time. Your successes, and only God determines that, are what they because Christ worked through you to build His Church, to do His work, not yours. So rejoice in Him! Praise Him! Thank Him!

Second, start counting your blessings from the day and record them in a journal or on your phone . . . even if it might have been a difficult Sunday! Satan doesn’t want you to remember the goodness of God that you experienced through the day. Most of all, remember your position and identification in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14). You are accepted in the Beloved (1:6).

Third, track your thinking and what you usually do on Sunday nights. Make sure it does not feed your discouragements. Perhaps a good idea would be to put the kids to bed, and you and your wife enjoy some time alone! Act like you’re newlyweds! Hold hands, kiss, cuddle, and enjoy the wife your youth (Proverbs 5:18). Encourage each other. And, just like Saturday night, hold hands and pray before drifting off to sleep. You need her, she needs you and you both need the Lord!!

Sleep well, friend, and . . . let’s pray for one another to choose what’s right by God’s grace.

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
(Isaiah 26:3)

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, . . . and be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry (#2)

In this quest to overcome discouragement, let’s begin on the first day of the week, the “biggest day” of the minister’s calling.

How do you begin your Sunday morning? Do you make sure you get a good night’s rest? Friend, sleep is good; it’s needful. Sunday requires much from you mentally, spiritually and physically. Don’t underestimate the rhythm that God has given your body. Also, make it a habit to pray with your wife before you drift off to sleep.

Do you get up early and have a designated time with the Lord in prayer and surrender to the Christ in you as you prepare to join Him in His work? S.D. Gordon said, “The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is pray. It is not the only thing; but it is the chief thing. The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; not those who can explain about prayer; but I mean those people who take time and pray.” Also, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” Jesus said, “Without Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Let me add that if you have a family, it’s a blessing to hear them prayer in the car on the way to church. Now that my wife and I are enjoying the empty nest, she always leads in prayer on our way down the road to church. It’s so sweet to hold her hand and share together in preparation for the day through intercession before the Throne of God! When our girls were young, we would have prayer in the van in the church parking lot before entering the building. These were some very precious times, especially hearing a toddler pray!

Next, how about a time of prayer with others before the day of ministry begins. This could be an announced time set aside every Sunday morning to gather with the men, elders and deacons, church members, etc. Hearing others pray for you, calling out your name, can be a rich source of encouragement to you and your heart can be blessed as you pray for others, getting the focus off of yourself.

Have you noticed an emphasis here? How easy it is to “get in gear” and run 70 mph through a Sunday or any day because you have ministry to be done, people to see, etc. May I encourage you to soak your soul in Psalm 23 and let the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:1-4) shepherd your soul throughout your Sunday? You need Christ to be all you need, to quiet you in His green pastures and still waters, to restore your soul and to lead you in His righteous paths (Psalm 23) throughout the day.

Perhaps one of the reasons we get discouraged is that we are so prone to think of ourselves as THE shepherd, THE pastor, THE man of God, and forget to surrender throughout the day to the CHIEF SHEPHERD Who dwells in us. He is the only One Who has the right to say, “I will build My Church” (Matthew 16:18).

Ministry friend, prayer is “the declaration of our dependence upon God” (Ken Collier). Read the Psalms, and you will see that when David was discouraged, he prayed and praised God. Please do not underestimate the need, the power, the fellowship, and the dependency of prayer!!

I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.
6 This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him,
And delivers them.
8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
(Psalm 34)

“A sermon steeped in prayer on the study floor, like Gideon’s fleece saturated with dew, will not lose its moisture between that and the pulpit. The first step towards doing anything in the pulpit as a thorough workman must be to kiss the feet of the Crucified, as a worshipper, in the study.” (Thomas Armitage)

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry (#1)

“I’m tired of letting mean people (in church) determine when we move.” These words were spoken to me by a pastor quoting his wife as they and their family are preparing to relocate once again due conflict, hurt, sorrow and discouragement in ministry.

Soul Shepherding Ministry posted “over half of ministry leaders are discouraged.”

When you consider the events of the last two years brought on by Covid such as shut-downs, divided congregations over politics and masks, and now the economy and the fear of war, no wonder this can be said of pastors (as well as thousands of others).

These are discouraging days. Pastors have battled discouragement for many years. Our day is not unique nor is the trial of discouragement (1 Corinthians 10:12-14). Ask King David (1 Samuel 21:15-22:2). I fight discouragement and have done so off-and-on for years.

What does it mean to be discouraged? What does it look like? What causes it?

Discouragement is defined by the Britannica Dictionary as “a feeling of having lost hope or confidence; something (such as a failure or difficulty) that discourages someone.” The FreeDictionary says it is “the feeling of despair in the face of obstacles.” Webster’s Dictionary gives it as “depression or weakening of confidence; dejection.”

If you want to know what it looks like, go home with your pastor on Sunday night or spend time with him on Monday . . . or Tuesday or . . . Wednesday . . . . The look and frame of discouragement is one of down-heartedness, lack of motivation, loss of joy and zeal, slumped shoulders, slower pace, procrastination, apathy, critical spirit, a spirit of Eeyore, mood swings, and more. Now, I’m not saying that every pastor is this way, but as noted above and from history, discouragement is a force that must be dealt with.

Discouragement comes from a fear of failure, “mean people,” lack of success, fatigue, not knowing how to rest or “turn off” the ministry demands, lack of exercise, unhealthy eating habits and subsequent weight issues, health events, financial woes, focusing on people rather than Christ, acting like you are the “Messiah” of your ministry, a sense of not meeting up to other’s expectations, competition and comparison in ministry, reading other “successful” pastor’s Twitter feeds, frustration with people, feeling like you are never doing enough, not getting everything done, believing you have to be on your “A game” every Sunday, the attacks of Satan, wrong thinking, feeling forsaken by God and others, being misunderstood, always on the front lines, personal marriage and/or family issues, etc.

In the next few blogs, I want to be a genuine source of encouragement like a cold drink on a hot, humid day after reaching a mountain summit on the AT (Appalachian Trail) or a refreshing dip at the base of a 125 foot western North Carolina waterfall or the expectation of a multi-colored beach sunrise. I want to help you, my friend in ministry, with handling discouragement and rising up out of the despair!

I’ll end this post with Psalm 42:5 (NLT), a passage I have quoted so often over the years when my heart has been disquieted within me.

Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!

“The Pastor’s Wife”

Last evening I was sitting in our family room chatting with my wife. She shared some thoughts from her heart about an upcoming speaking opportunity to be addressed to pastors’ wives.

Almost every Sunday in the morning gathering in my introductory remarks, I introduce my wife as well as our assistant pastor and his wife. “I’m Pastor C and this is my wife, Denise.” More often than not, she is characterized as “the pastor’s wife” or perhaps in the minds of those who have known us here for almost 21 years, “our pastor’s wife.”

I love the sound of those descriptions. You see, I have had the privilege of being a lead pastor for 39 years, and my sweet wife has been by my side through it all . . . as my wife.

For every pastor, his most important ministry is his wife, then his children, and then his “neighbors” (next door, down the street, church, town, the world). For the wife, her first ministry is always to her husband and then her children and beyond.

A long and varied job description for “the pastor’s wife” has been created by thousands over the years, but the truth is, the pastor’s wife is his wife first and foremost. Her “job description”(as a woman, a wife, a follower of Jesus Christ) is found in Proverbs 31:10-31, Ephesians 5:1-33, Colossians 3:1-25; Titus 2:3-5, 1 Peter 3:1-12, as well as other passages. As to how she serves in ministry, that is between her, the Lord and the loving leadership and protection of her husband.

The pastor’s wife is a born-again believer, saved through the cross-work of Jesus Christ, and living out the Christ-life (John 15:1-11; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27) through the power of the Holy Spirit within her (John 14:16-23). She is no different than the other ladies in the church who are under the same guidelines as the passages listed above.

She is not the “first lady the church.” or Mrs. Preacher or “the pastor’s wife.” She is a servant of the Lord as is every other born again lady in the local church. She does not have a position. Her identity is first of all in Christ, and then, as in the case of my wife, just that, my wife, my best friend, my sweetheart, as well as mom to our daughters, Gigi to our grandsons, and Denise to everyone else.

She needs prayer, friends, love, her family, compassion, prayer, grace, kindness, space to grow, not placed on a man-made pedestal, prayer, laughter, fellowship, encouragement, and prayer.

Ladies, if the pastor’s wife listens and prays with you after you have shared your burden with her, or confronts you about some habitual sin in your life because she cares, or wants to have lunch with you so she can disciple you and lead you further in your walk with Christ, it’s not because she’s “the pastor’s wife.” It has everything to do with her love for you, her obedience to the one another’s in Scripture, her love for God and her neighbor and her passion to disciple (Matthew 22:37-39; 28:18-20).

So, the next time you see your pastor’s wife, embrace her as your sister in Christ, your friend, and one who is growing and walking with Christ on your journey Home to Glory, not just “the pastor’s wife.”

From a pastor’s heart,

Dale