Roles or Rolls?
Early in 2017, three of my four children decided that they were going to make a major life change and become vegan. Yes, that is right – no meat, no dairy, no taste. Needless to say, our first vegan Thanksgiving this past November was very different. We all had our own expectations of the meal, however, there was one thing that everyone still expected…fresh, baked rolls. Thank you, Rhodes frozen dough!
Wait, this is about roles we play, not rolls we eat.
As the spouse of a person in ministry, you may be aware of the various expectations that people have of you. Culture, family members, fellow church members, community, and maybe even your spouse – have ideas about who you are to them and to others. They have expectations of roles you may or may not want to play. How does this make you feel? Excited or overwhelmed?
When you hear of the expectations that others have of you, you are free to consider them in light of God’s truth. There is ultimately no threat to your dignity or worth, because the God who created all things has set your identity. Who you are in Christ never changes and is not threatened. God is the one whose name is “I am”, and He says, “Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10
The thing I love most about this verse is that it talks about the good things that HE (God) has planned for us to do.
But let’s be honest…
This doesn’t mean we never have to do something we don’t want to do or feel gifted to do. It just means that we don’t find our identity in whether we do them or not. If we do something, we do it unto the Lord and because of His love and call to us at salvation. And if we don’t, we make this choice knowing that our Father loves us because we are His children and not because of anything we can “do” to earn His acceptance.
Oh, that church people were that understanding!
Where are these expectations coming from? There aren’t any verses that outline in the scripture the role of a ministry spouse. Despite this, many spouses are viewed as a staff member, honorary elder, or even a co-pastor.
Why are we so prone to setting up false expectations for ourselves and for others? What is it about us that makes us eager to go after false expectations and try to satisfy them? Is it because we think we know better than the One who created us? The One who calls us?
If we truly knew all of the expectations that others have of us, it might paralyze us. But there is one expectation that we can have of ourselves that will free us. We must expect that we are always dependent on God’s grace (and so is everyone else). The more our failures and weaknesses can point us to this one great expectation, the better.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the eternal inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24
You may already have an idea of what your role in service to the church ought to be. Other people, including those outside the church may also be happy to categorize you as well. We need to remember that each ministry is unique and each marriage is unique and God has uniquely gifted us for the position and role we are in.
We are all called. We are all called to love and respect our spouses as they lead with Christ-like humility. If we have children, we are called to love them and help make a godly home (and rolls) for them. We are called to love the lost, make disciples, and serve the suffering. In this, we can live in restful assurance that we are doing what we ought to do!
I want to answer God’s call, be found in Him, and serve Him in whatever role He has for me.
This is my prayer for you today, my ministry spouse partner:
“…to this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11
Sherry Gorveatte grew up in a pastor’s home and said she would never marry a pastor and so she did! Alongside her husband, Mark (who is also a PK), she has served in ministry roles including youth pastor’s wife, pastor’s wife, district superintendent’s wife, and university president’s wife. Sherry and Mark currently serve in the Crossroads District of The Wesleyan Church where Mark is the District Superintendent. In addition to her various ministry roles, Sherry is a CPA and has her own business specializing in ministerial taxation and nonprofit accounting. She is also the mom to four awesome children.