Pastor’s wives seem to be programmed with certain qualities-nurturing, hospitable, encouraging, soft spoken, and great cooking skills. Sadly I possess none of these traits. I tend to speak my mind when I should be listening; I’m a problem solver and critic rather than a sounding board and shoulder to cry on. And don’t get me started on my cooking.
My headstrong qualities become harmful when I treat people like a puzzle to solve rather than a person to love. Instead of words of encouragement and support I often speak critically. This struggle to live relationally affects not only the students and families I serve, but also my husband as I serve with him in ministry.
Maybe you are like me and feel like you lack important qualities necessary to minister. Perhaps you don’t share my same struggles but rather feel inadequate in planning, teaching, or leading. Maybe you feel inferior in other ways. All of us face difficulties as we lead others. However don’t let these struggles deter you from serving God and loving others. Rather let them draw you back daily to rely on God’s grace and truth.
In Philippians 3:13-14 Paul encourages us, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” This is the grace and truth we must cling to, the grace and truth found in the fact that God uses us as we are with the gifts and personalities we have. He thankfully can even use our flaws and our failings to bring Him glory. That doesn’t mean we don’t try to be more like Christ in every way, but knowing that His grace covers us should give us strength to continue to serve Him. We can stop striving to be perfect in our service because in Christ we have already been perfected.
Philippians 3:16 states, “Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” I used to experience pressure reading this verse, feeling like I had to work so hard to be perfect yet knowing it would never happen. But now I see the grace shown in this verse. I have already attained perfection because of the cross. God accepts me despite my blemishes.
I pray that as leaders we will rely on God’s grace and truth whenever we feel less than perfect. I pray we will allow His Spirit to show us how we need to become more like Him and then rest in the confidence that He loves us just as we are.
Natalie Elliott resides in Frisco, TX with her husband, Dave, who serves as student pastor of Legacy Church. They have two beautiful girls, Abby, 4, and Carli, 16 months. The whole family loves hanging with students!