3 posts categorized "Serving"

And Finally... The Virtue of Being Considerate

My friends, Let's wash feet

It's been interesting talking about serving God when spiritually single, and I've found your comments wonderfully insightful. I have especially loved hearing your stories. Our lives certainly are different to other Christians, aren't they?

For the final post in this series, I want to finish with a story --

You might remember I'm going through the book The Love Dare, and one of the dares I had to do was ask Bryce a question, listen to his answer, and not argue back. The question was a hard one. It was this: "What three areas of my behavior do you wish I would change?"

"Do you really want me to answer this?" He said. "Are you sure you want to go there?"

"Hit me with it!" I said. Go on, just do it.

"Wellll..... I'm sorry but your driving is terrible," he said. "It really, really bothers me, your driving." That one made me laugh, even though he was being serious. 

But then he told me this, and this one didn't make me laugh. It sort of made me want to cry, but I listened: He said, he works hard bringing in the money. He works long hours and he's often tired. He comes home to see me at my computer 'blogging', and yet parts of the house-cleaning haven't been done, the laundry hasn't been folded, and sometimes important administrative things have been forgotten. He then has to spend time on those things at the weekend.

Ouch.

So the thing is, I've been serving God, but kind of neglecting other things. And that's hard because serving God sometimes takes up a chunky part of our lives.

"What do I do?" I asked God. "I can't not work on the SUM ministry, because You have called me to it and I know it's where I'm meant to be. But, I'm stumped, and I'm quite distressed now."

I reflected further and decided not to get excessively discouraged but instead work out a solution. Bryce did have a point. As the one who 'doesn't work' in his eyes, I should do my part for the family. That is, at least keep the house clean, make it a nice environment, stay on top of the dishes and do family jobs during the week so that we can both relax at the weekend.

My friends, that is the conundrum about service. And, I think the lesson is this: Even if God is calling us to serve outside our homes, we should still try to be considerate to our spouse.

Ok, here's what I did next --

I changed my daily routine. I realized my priorities are, in order: (1) My relationship with God, (2) My family, and (3) Service to others. With that in mind, I set up my daily routine to reflect that order.

I decided to:

(1) Spend the first chunk of the day with God, which I was doing anyway.

(2) Immediately after that, do a little bit of cleaning, and make sure the kitchen is tidy and laundry done.

(3) Only then, work on ministry and other service things.

(4) Each day, try to fit in some kind of task for our family, whether it's inviting some neighbors for dinner, or doing some school paperwork -- The aim being to keep our family life vibrant and running smoothly.

It's working so far. Already the home feels more orderly, and I kind of like it. I'm not a naturally neat person when it comes to my home but I'm finding this new discipline is good for me.

Ultimately, in the SUM ministry our goal is to thrive in our faith and our marriage. A big part of our marriage succeeding lies in us being considerate and kind to our spouse. In the area of service, that truth remains: It is our thoughtfulness and love that will win them over. And while God has many fabulous things for us to do, his heart is always brooding over our marriages.

Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives (1 Peter 3:1, NKJV)

So, that completes our series on Serving God when Spiritually Single. I hope you've enjoyed it like I have. My friends, I would love to hear any final thoughts you have in the comments!

Sending you all love,

Ann


How Our Spouses Feel About Us Serving

Hello everyone! Let's wash feet

Serving when spiritually single, part 1

Serving when spiritually single, part 2

We're continuing the above series, and it's time to turn our attention to this difficult aspect of serving: How our spouses feel.

Gulp!

Because we are one flesh in marriage, like conjoined twins, our choice to serve often costs our spouse something. 

It's mostly our time that we give; but sometimes it's part of our heart too. And from our spouse's point of view, our time and heart could be spent on other things.

It's very difficult, and for me this continues to be a tightrope balance. My husband does miss out on certain things because of time I spend on God. That said, marriage is about two people's needs, so there's give and take here.

Several years ago, my pastor took a few of us through some conversations as a leadership team. He wanted to encourage personal integrity and so he covered a different topic with us each week. One of those topics was 'balancing ministry with your marriage.'

He shared with us that while he felt an intense call to ministry, his wife did not have the same sense of calling. While she supported him 100%, because they had that slight difference he always made sure he asked her about every single evening he was to be away from her -- "Is it ok?" he would keep on asking.

He suggested we all do the same, and I liked that. However, I did reflect that if I had asked my husband "Is it ok?" in those early days I would not be a believer or attending church by now! As a SUMite, part of our lifestyle unfortunately involves standing up to our spouse in certain areas and not always being in agreement. So, how do we strike the balance?

When we want to serve in a particular area, we can first ask this:

Lord, do you definitely want me to serve in this area? I've got a desire to do it, but is this from you? Please confirm it.

We can wait a little while to mull this one over, but if we are pretty sure it's God's will for us to serve in a particular way, we will then find one of two things happens:

EITHER:

(a) Our spouse says 'yes', and sometimes it's a miraculous 'yes' that leaves us floored at God's goodness (woohoo!)

OR:

(b) Our spouse resists us. If that happens we then have to test whether we've heard God correctly. God doesn't mind testing us either: "Are you going to follow Me, or follow man?" It's not easy, but occasionally serving becomes a matter of obedience to God. 

I've been in both of the above scenarios and I know that others in this community have too. Discerning God's voice becomes critical. And, consideration for our spouse's feelings remains important.

Amazingly, all the spouses of the writers here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage have given their blessing for us to write. They said a miraculous yes. It's truly amazing. That said, their permission is necessary given the personal nature of the writing, so God had to help us with that.

The same was true when Dineen and Lynn wrote the book Winning Him Without Words. Their husbands never read the book; yet they cheered their wives on. God has hidden us all in a very unique way there. That there is scenario (a) in big, bold miraculous form!

However, when I stepped into speaking at church, I had the opposite happen. Bryce felt I was going too far with the whole Christian thing and he resisted me strongly. We had a particularly difficult conversation one night about it. Later that night God gave me a vision of a fly aiming at my voice-box. Flies in visions often represent Satan. Through this vision God said to me, "Ann, this is an attack from the enemy; he is trying to discourage you from speaking, and you need to push through and speak anyway." After that, I kept going.

It didn't take long for Bryce to have a change of heart and within a few weeks he was even supportive. I guess every scenario is different.

I suppose the moral is that sometimes our spouse will support us, sometimes they won't, but the most important thing is to listen as best we can to God's voice. Stay considerate to our spouse, and stay obedient.

Do you have any thoughts or experiences you'd like to share about the above?

Love to you all,

Ann


Serving: What If the Church Looks at us Differently?

Hi SUM family, Ann here and we're currently in our series on Serving God while Spiritually Single. Part One is here: Let's wash feet

Serving God when Spiritually Single: Part One

Today I want to talk about how we cope when the church looks at us differently. Does it affect our opportunity to serve?

I decided to look at this because one of our SUMites recently shared that's how she feels. She said something along the lines of: "Sometimes I feel the leaders might look at me and think there's something wrong with my life because my husband isn't believing. That might make them less likely to trust me or think of me as an obvious person to serve."

Have any of you have found that?

In my experience it's certainly been harder to build social connections and trust at church, at the very least. Because my husband isn't there it takes longer for people to know me. 

That said, there's a tremendous truth here that is rather exciting: God overrides these things if he really wants you to serve in a particular area.

I experienced that in a personal way recently. Many of you know my church closed last year, and then I followed the Holy Spirit's lead in moving to a new church. The old church was mostly made up of families. The new church is mostly in their twenties. Sometimes I feel very old in this new place!

One day while back in the old church, God stirred my heart that I was to start preaching there. "Yikes, that's bold of me I thought" ((laughing)). That's not the sort of thing you put yourself forward for easily, so I didn't mention it to anybody. But, one day the leader of the preaching team came running after me as I was leaving church. "Ann, would you like to give the sermon next week?" My mouth dropped open. 

God opened that guy's heart to my desire to serve; and that's how it goes: God gives us a stirring, and then it kind of happens.

Well, I really enjoyed that season of preaching in that church. But, you know, Bryce never attended once, and I stood up there alone each time. It was tough almost as much as it was rewarding. That seems to be the nature of service, at times.

I then moved to the new church, and God said to me "Ann, now I want you to be a passenger, not a driver."  In other words, he was asking me to step back and be a behind-the-scenes support. Meanwhile, my son Miles (age 16) signed himself up for the 7:30am set-up team on a Sunday, and that's what he and I now do once a month. That too feels 'meant to be', as God also said to me "I just want you to talk to people." While setting up, that's what I do.

Now, back to our SUMite sister's comment: Yes, in my new church I'm experiencing a little of what she said. It's been difficult to get to know people. I'm looked at a little differently too, as I don't fit the mold. It's ok -- God's breath on my life has shown me where he wants me.

Overall, though, I think the following quote captures how we must walk this. It's from Dineen, our past leader, and I just happened across it yesterday. She said:

"Don’t confuse your calling or ministry or service as who you are. Those are things you do. They come from your identity in Christ. All that we do to serve must be held loosely because we really don’t know the full picture of where God plans to take us next."

A hearty amen to that. So, let's seize the adventure of where God wants to take us next. Who knows, huh! All we know is that we must do this:

Through love, serve one another (Galatians 5:13, NKJV), and --

.. in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord (Romans 12:10-11, NKJV) 

Now your turn: What's your favorite area to serve in at the moment? And have you found it looks different in different seasons?