Last week, I bit off more than I could chew.
No, I’m not talking about indulging in some donuts or eating sweets or devouring one more king cake before Mardi Gras. I’m talking about church.
Every night last week, I had something going on with church. I’m not even exaggerating when I say that. And this week wasn’t unusual – most weeks are weeks where I spend at least part of every night doing something church-related. That’s good, though, right? Though I’m not an employee of the church, I know that being super involved and meeting a lot of (unwritten) expectations is part of being the senior pastor’s wife. And when I look at what I’m doing – being part of a small group, Bible study with some CR friends, Wednesday night services, leading at the Landing at CR, being with Wes at every funeral, attending each baby shower/wedding shower, making hospital visits with Wes, going to people’s homes to visit those who are sick, women’s ministry events – I can affirm that it is ALL GOOD. All of it is good! I like doing all of it because my heart wants to serve and learn and be in community with other believers. Good, good, good!
Except on weeks like this particular one, where Friday rolled around and it occurred to me that I hadn’t spent one night at home with my children in over a week. How did the good ministry opportunities replace the very best one? How did ministering to others replace ministering to my own family? How did so much good end up being a bad thing?
I don’t know, friends, but I could see the difference in my preteen daughters, who clung to me a little tighter as I left for another event where I was expected to be in attendance, not because people have unrealistic expectations of me but because people don’t know that EVERYONE in the church has expectations of me. And that clinging on Ana and Emma’s parts could very quickly turn to bitterness towards the church for expecting so much and towards me for not putting first things first.
I left my kids at home on Friday and went on to the event I’d committed to attend, fighting back tears even as I did so, confessing to God that I’d bitten off more than I could chew, all from a misplaced sense of service, of loving Him, and of being important in the church’s eyes. (YES! That last one especially.) And God met me there, right in the midst of that sweet event, and reminded me that there’s grace, even for a people pleasing, overcommitted pastor’s wife who gets it wrong all the time.
And so the next day, I skipped the church event I was going to attend, choosing instead to spend the morning with Ana and Emma, being their mother first, pouring much needed encouragement and truth into them, and not worrying about what expectations I wasn’t meeting elsewhere.
Church friends, we love you so much. And as we walk this road of faith with you, we need you to keep us accountable and to minister to us in the struggles that we have as a ministry family that takes on too much. We long to meet every expectation that people have of us, and often it’s to our own detriment. Please help us to remain mindful and faithful to those things that God has called us to first by telling us to go home sometimes. We would (and do!) say yes to everything you ask, and we need you to remind us that sometimes we need to say no.
Ministry families, help us out – how do you prioritize and keep first things first?