When we first started in ministry, I heard a lot about the pastor’s wife as the “first lady” of her church. The idea was that she would be gracious in all things, a scholar of the Bible, with a door that was always open – and that her “flock” of church women would gather easily around her.
I don’t know about your experiences, but that has just not been my reality. Wherever we have served, I have had to earn the respect of the women (and men) in our church, and that takes a lot of time, hard work, and some mistakes along the way.
Earning the right to be seen as a leader has taken prayer and seeking God’s direction, determination and perseverance, a thick skin, and learning to be generous.
A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25).
Generosity has been one key for me to earn respect in our church. I am by no means perfect, and too often, I find myself being stingy with my time, my money, and my personal space. But I also find that when I seek ways to be generous, growth happens.
Generous with my time.
The number one thing that church members want from us is our time. Yes, they can often take advantage of our husbands and our families. Yes, we need to establish boundaries. But when those boundaries are so tight that we can no longer respond to real opportunities for ministry, we need to reevaluate what we are doing. Long-term ministry takes an investment of our time.
Generous with my attitude.
I consider myself a realist, but my husband would probably tell you that I lean heavily toward pessimism. My natural inclination is to see the glass as half empty. But I have learned that people tend to rise to whatever bar you set before them. If I can relay an expectation that we will succeed in a ministry endeavor, then others will respond in the same way.
Generous with my gifts and talents.
God may have given your husband a pulpit ministry, but if your husband has been called, so have you and your children. God has not sent you into ministry empty-handed. He has given you specific gifts and talents to use where He has planted you. We are all unique women, we have unique callings, and we have unique giftings. But regardless of how we are made, God expects us to use those gifts and talents to serve Him in our local churches.
Generous with my money.
Let’s face it – none of us are in ministry to get rich. Some of us struggle with our monthly bills. And yet the command to give of what we have to serve others is for us just as much as for our church members. Giving the tithe is just the start (and if you don’t tithe, I would encourage you to prayerfully consider starting there). We may not be able to meet every need that knocks on our door, but we must be open to give as the Spirit leads us.
When I have stretched myself to be generous, I find the second half of Proverbs 11:25 to be true – I find myself refreshed. When I reach outside my comfort zone, when I actively seek to meet the needs around me, then God, often through other Christians, has refreshed me and my family.
How is God calling you to be generous today? What one step can you make today to being more generous in your life and ministry?
Published November 16, 2015