Recently, I met a pastor’s wife from another state. We sat together at a luncheon and hit it off – discovering we have mutual friends and mutual interests.
I told her that I am a blogger, and that I have written a few times for Flourish. She was very encouraging, but something she said has really stuck with me. “I don’t often read those blogs for ministry wives,” she said. “Everyone just seems to come across as too perfect, and I know they can’t really be like that.”
So fellow warriors in ministry, if you are reading this today, hear me out – I am not perfect. On my best days, I am a mess. But I want to go a step further, because I think we may have a bigger problem than that.
I’m afraid because of years of holding up unrealistic standards for ministry wives those of us in the trenches unconsciously attempt to project an unreal image. Those unrealistic images still shout in our hearts.
Ladies, not only is this an impossible image to maintain, when we try to live this way, we are lying to the people we serve.
Because we have been set free by the gospel, not only do we not have to BE perfect, we are free from trying to maintain the IMAGE of it.
It’s ok for people to see the real you. The hair-out-of-place real you. They need to know that your kid throws tantrums and you get angry in conflicts with your husband just like all humanity does. No, we don’t have to air dirty laundry we just have to be fully human and yet fully forgiven.
Because Jesus came to earth, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross for our sins, we are FREE from pretending and performing.
1) The gospel frees us from perfectionism. This is such a big one that I need to preach to myself more often. Jesus fulfilled the Law of God (Matthew 5:17). I don’t have to try to do it myself (because I can’t), and I don’t have to try to fulfill the “laws” that I make for myself (because I can’t).
2) The gospel frees us from the need to present a perfect image. God’s Word tells us that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). That means all of us, even spiritual leaders. We don’t need to pretend to be sinless, because God has already declared that to be untrue.
3) The gospel frees us to share our real lives with others. In order to build authentic relationships for the purpose of sharing the gospel, we have to be, well, authentic. Real. Genuine. People can smell a fake a mile away, and they want leaders they can trust.
4) The gospel frees us to be who God created us to be. God has designed each of us for the places of ministry where He has put us. None of us are exactly alike. We all have unique interests, talents, and personalities. Rather than spending time worrying about all the ways we don’t think we or our ministries measure up, our energy would be better used in serving in the places He has given to us.
When we are rooted in God’s acceptance through Jesus we will be set free from the trap of maintaining an image.
Honesty and truth is what the gospel allows.
I am writing this surrounded by building blocks and a train set, with dirty dishes in the sink, and hair that really needs a comb run through it. No image management just a woman freed by the power of the gospel.
Published October 31, 2014