Whose Call Is It Anyway – Part 3

 

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

 

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series for more great insights on this topic. 

 

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.

Whose Call Is It Anyway – Part 2

 

A Case of Mistaken Identity.

I remember well the 2006 news story of a horrific auto accident which claimed the lives of five Taylor University students. In the midst of the chaos, one of the deceased students was identified as Whitney Cerak. Whitney’s parents had her funeral and another family sat on the bedside vigil of a young woman they believed was their daughter – for five weeks. When this young girl started to regain consciousness, it was discovered that this was not who they thought it was. This was Whitney Cerak not their daughter, Laura. Laura was gone and Whitney was alive – an almost unbelievable case of mistaken identity.

I was privileged to hear Whitney speak in person as she recalled the facts of the story and the impact it had on her mentally and physically. Although I could not identify with the facts of her story, I could identify with the idea of being called by a name I did not recognize.

Who am I? Where am I? What am I? Am I supposed to be playing some sort of role? If so, where is the script? And who wrote the script? When we are not sure of these things, we can find ourselves improvising in ways that are less than satisfying and even self-destructive. It turns into a case of mistaken identity.

I remember these thoughts very well in one of the first ministry positions that my husband, Mark, had. I was trying to be all things to all people. It turned into disaster. Thanks to some loving friends, a forgiving spouse, and a perfect Heavenly Father, I was able to do a restart.

Things in my personal life and ministry life changed when I returned to this most fundamental thought. I am loved and redeemed by Christ and my identity at the most basic level is “in Christ.”

What thoughts enter your mind when someone asks, “Who are you?” It’s okay to say where you live or your nationality or something that identifies you in the context they are asking. If I am visiting the university where my daughter attends, I identify myself as “Jordan’s mom.”

But more than that – what is your identity? By what or by whom do you define yourself?

What does it really mean to call yourself a Christian? To call yourself a Christian is to embrace the cross and everything it says about who God is and who you are. You are in Christ. The cross says that God loves us in ways that we cannot comprehend (Eph. 3:19). The cross says that God has provided the righteous standing we need to dwell in His holy presence and not die (2 Cor. 5:21). Because of what Christ did for us, we are no longer slaves but children of God and if His children, then heirs with Christ (Gal. 4:7). We have these things by faith, which is a gift so none of us can boast (Eph. 2:8-9). There are so many scriptures in God’s Word which explain who we are in Christ.

Whenever we speak of our identity as being a woman or a man, a husband or a wife, a parent, a pastor’s spouse, those should all stem from the reference point of being “in Christ”. Every hat we wear or role we play must be viewed through this perspective. Our identify must always be found in Him.

I have to remember:

My successes do not define me.

My failures do not define me.

My gifts and talents do not define me.

Who I am in Christ defines me.

WHOSE I am defines me.

A child of God – that is who I truly am!

And that is no mistake!

 

If you missed Part 1 of this series, you can read more from Sherry here.

 

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.

 

Whose Call Is It Anyway? – Part 1

 

Does anyone remember the TV show hosted by Drew Carey called “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”  The premise of the show is that Drew takes suggestions from the audience or has predetermined ones. He assigns roles and scenarios to the comedian contestants who must improvise a skit on the spot.

This show reminds me of my life sometimes as the spouse of a pastor.

I’ve been the spouse of a church planter, youth pastor, music pastor, assistant pastor, lead pastor, solo pastor, district superintendent, Wesleyan university president. What’s left?

I’ve almost got enough gray to qualify to be the spouse of the senior citizen’s pastor!

I promise you in each of these roles there were times that I felt like someone came up and put a label on me, and I started to improvise.  Like in the TV show, I was expected to perform without a script.

These times have led me to have thoughts like, “Hey, my spouse is the pastor, not me!” “I didn’t sign up for this.”  “My wedding vows did not include church custodian and/or nursery director!”  Many times I have asked this question, “Hey, whose call is it anyway?”

These expectations really burdened me until I began to think about a call to ministry in a different way.

In the book The Call, Os Guinness has some enlightening ideas concerning the idea of “call”.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word translated “call” usually has the same meaning as our English word. Humans call to each other, to God. To call means to name, and to name means to call into being or to make. “God called the light day.”

However, in the New Testament, “call” is almost always synonymous with salvation – God’s calling people to himself as followers of Christ.  Could this mean that when we are saved, we are called??

“The core of our existence is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are and do and have is invested with a special devotion and direction lived out as a response to his summons and service.” – Os Guinness

Os goes on to talk about a general calling. Each person is formed by the Creator to know him and to be known deeply by him. God calling me to Himself is an intimate holy knowing. He knows me like no one else. The more I come to know him, the more I come to know my purpose for existing.

We have a general calling and a specific calling.  The more we come to know the One who has called us, the more courage we have to look at our own stories and explore our individual purpose and naming.

So, we are all called.  In HIS call, there is no sacred or secular.

So, hey, it’s your call!!!!

When you answer God’s call, you can become who He has called you to be.

 

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.

Expectations

 

I expect a lot out of life.

Have you ever gone to a church event that went perfectly well but at the end you left feeling a little flat? Or after a dinner out with your spouse where the conversation flowed freely, but once you were home you felt disappointment? Or after a holiday or birthday passes you just feel unfulfilled?

I have this penchant to build people, special events, or simple everyday happenings into perfect Hallmark movie quality caliber sequences in my mind.

Every meal out with my husband will involve hand holding and soul sharing.

My children will rise up and call me blessed and praise my cooking at the dinner table.

My hair will cooperate and look just like it did at the salon on Sunday mornings for church.

You see these expectations make nice daydreams, but they are rather unrealistic. I set myself up for disappointment when I expect more out of myself, others, or events than they are able or prepared to give.

Please don’t hear me say that we should not expect things.

We should.

Healthy expectations help us live intentionally toward holiness. But unrealistic expectations set us up for feelings of failure instead of victorious living. We need to run our expectations through a couple of filters.

First, is the expectation taking into account what is actually possible? I might expect my hair to look salon fabulous on Sundays, but I don’t have the same tools, products or skill level that my stylist does. Or I might expect my friend to drop everything and rush over due to my bad day, but she can’t because she has small children she has to care for.

Second, maybe my expectation is possible, but if the other party involved in the expectation is not willing to meet the expectation, it is still unrealistic. My children at this point of their lives at ages 2, 4, 6 and 8 are unwilling to eat casseroles without complaint or a stern face. I shouldn’t expect them to sing my praises about dinner when I mix things together they want separated by dividers.

I might expect certain people in my church to acknowledge how hard I worked to pull off an event, but these people have never done so before and are unable to see.

My expectations at times are not attainable.

Once we have arrived at a healthy expectation, we then have to state it out loud to the others that expectation involves.

If I want to have a soul-sharing kind of conversation on my dinner out with my spouse, and I know that he is emotionally able and willing to have such a conversation, then before we go out I should say, “Hey Tom, I’d really like if we could talk about x, y, and z at dinner tonight.”  Then he knows what I expect. Knowing my husband, he will want to help me meet this expectation. If I state my expectation out loud, later I won’t get frustrated with him because he didn’t read my mind.

Healthy expectations take some work on our part. We must be willing to be honest with ourselves and with others. But this work, this honesty helps us live victoriously instead of in a constant state of frustration. I am praying that we can develop healthy expectations, my friends.

 

Cassie Fuerst is a quiet soul, who needs a lot of time and space to process life around her. She stays at home, acting as administrator of chaos for her four children. Her husband, Tom, has been in ministry for 10 years. She loves creating community by going to coffee with friends, having people in her home, and talking to people on the edges. She lives in Memphis, Tennessee.