2006/07/26

My First & Best

I said I would share a few thoughts from the retreat I attended a couple of weeks ago, but my good intentions were swallowed up by all-things-ankle-surgery. In fact, where last month I had serious blogger’s block, it seems this month I have tons of things I want to write about or pass along. Today’s pearl of wisdom comes from the teaching Dave Harvey gave entitled What Does Women’s Ministry Mean For Me? Though it was directed to pastor’s wives, the first point has universal application to Christian wives and mothers. That point was stated like this: “The primary role of the pastor’s wife is to serve and support her husband and family.” Dave continued to say “Husbands and kids are the first & most important responsibility. Therefore they deserve your first & best effort.” This means the first and best of my time, talent, creativity, and energy should be spent on my husband and children. This means that every other good pursuit (exercise, blogging, entertainment and leisure, even other aspects of ministry)* will have to get second best or lower. Perhaps the most helpful insight was when Dave pointed out that the fatal flaw of feminism is that it assumes women have multiple best efforts. This simply isn’t true. We can buy into the Christian version of this lie and think that we can “have it all”. We can host play groups, make meals for others, go to the gym, decorate the house exquisitely, have a little home industry, etc.* But the truth is, if any of the good things in that list begin to infringe on my first & best effort, I am not effectively doing what is my primary calling: to serve my husband and children. I love how Dave finished this section of the teaching. He said, “Your first and best effort in the home releases him [my husband] into the field in an undistracted way.” My commitment to giving Jason and kids my first & best directly impacts Jason's work, which happens to be ministry. I truly want the best for my husband. At the same time I feel this constant pull to invest my creativity in such a way that others see it and say, “wow, she is really creative!” I want to exert energy on the things I enjoy: writing, cake decorating, hospitality, reading, etc.* In fact, many of these things begin as an attempt to give Jason and the kids my first and best, but they morph into complex and extravagant entities in and of themselves…before I know it, I forgot to feed the kids lunch because I was too busy making a fancy birthday cake for them; or I gave Jason only half of my attention in a conversation because I was really wanting to read this article on being a godly wife. How can I who am constantly bent towards self-orientation – to the point of turning things that seem others oriented into something about me – really give my husband and my family my first and my best? I can only think of one way…because another gave His first and best. The Father gave the Son, a perfect sacrifice, to atone for my sins, and clothe me with Jesus’ righteousness. Because of Jesus’ death my sin which pulls me in to myself, is forgiven. Because Jesus rose from the dead, I can have victory by His grace and strength to serve out of genuine love for others, beginning with my husband and children. *I want to be sure that my readers know that these are my issues. They might not be yours. I would hate for anyone to feel unnecessary guilt if they are pursuing these things. In truth, your husband is the one who could best tell you if certain activities aren't serving him and the family. I only give specifics to help make the abstract more concrete.

17 comments:

Bethany said...

I have peeked at your blog a couple times I think I saw it on Danielle's. Can I just say thank you for posting this. Thank you for being so honest. I work part time and it has been a struggle for me balancing everything ( I have actually been taking on too many favors and freebies). I have been stuggling with saying no but you just gave the most perfect explaination of why I should be saying no my kids and my family should be first. I have taken on too much outside and while they are good things not bad it is bad because it has taken away so much time from my boys. Normally with work I can schedule a couple hours to catch up at night or nap time but the last week and a half has been almost all day. You have explained perfectly what I have been feeling. My family needs me first then this other stuff can fall into place behind that.

Also the part about the cake decorating made me crack up. I do the same thing. They want these special cakes for birthdays and my brain gets going and I come up with these great ideas...only problem is it takes ALL DAY LONG to make and can feel exactly like you said. So believe me all the areas you struggle with I SOOOOO struggle with too. You are not alone. It is a daily battle for me. And unfortunatly the majority of the time I am not facing the battle as I should I am super selfish. So thanks for being to open and for writing this.

Danielle said...

One thing I really appreciate about Sovereign Grace leadership is that they don't put extra ministry demands on pastors' wives (is my apostrophe right, Zoanna, seriously?).

I know that wasn't the point of this post, but I just wanted to say that I appreciate this! The fact that Dave actually says, “Husbands and kids are the first & most important responsibility" is wonderful to me, and I'm happy our church promotes this as well. I'm sure it's freeing to you to not feel pressured to be be involved or head up every woman-related ministry! Thanks for serving your family so well; that's the best example a pastor's wife could be!

FishMama said...

Thanks for the inspiration and directing me to the One who gave His first and best.

I also appreciate the asterisk, otherwise I'd be stressing all day that you were talking right at me: birthday cakes, playdates, and all!

Thank you for your humility and your encouragement, Laurie!

FishMama said...

Ok, in my comment about the asterisk, I meant: Thank you for clarifying that these are your issues and not ones you're pointing out in other people.

I share some of the very SAME issues...and then, some more. I didn't mean to communicate that I was "above" having those issues. Does that make sense?

Laurie said...

Jessica, I knew what you meant. This most definitely wasn't a veiled correction for you or any of the mommies who do these things without infringing on other priorities. The lists I mentioned truly are the real life examples of Laurie Reyes.

Bethany, I visit your blog as well (throug Danielle) and absolutely love your photos. I especially like the ones of crazy everyday things like a book case, shoes, washer and dryer. They look so strangely poignant photographed that way. Thanks for sharing and I'm glad Dave's insights were helpful.

Danielle, you are so right about Sovereign Grace. I am thankful to not feel undue pressure to be super involved given my season of life.
Eventually I will share a little more on the idea that though our husband and children receive first and best, there are other things I am called to as a pastor's wife...and this too has broader application to all ladies.

Jenn said...

Amen Laurie. I caught myself doing something similar the other day. I was reading an article about being a godly Mom when my 2 oldest started fighting. My thought was, 'can't you stop fighting so I can finish this article about being godly?' I realized that I need to start practicing what I know and focusing on my family first. (While it's still good to learn from others, maybe just at a different time in the day!) Thanks for sharing your insight and wisdom!

Suzanne said...

Danielle - I'm not Zoanna, but your apostrophe was perfect!

Zoanna said...

Oh, boy, now I am really self-conscious. You guys know how to dish it back, don't ya? Danielle, if you said, "seriously," then seriously your apostrophe was used perfectly, just as Suzanne said. Pastors' wives means many pastors with wives (and we hope each has just one). Mormans have "pastor's wives" which is one reason I'm not a Morman.

Laurie, I'm gonna stop reading your blog a while, okay? It's too stinkin' convicting. I prefer to stay in La-la land. Maybe I shouldn't bring you a meal after all? (Just kidding.)

Danielle said...

Thanks Suzanne and Zoanna, I just have gotten that one wrong before, then I confuse myself, and it's an embarrassing one to get wrong! ;)

Zoanna said...

Danielle, just ask yourself, "Who owns the ________?" For example: dog's leash. The (one) dog owns the leash. Not multiple dogs. We assume each dog would have his own . Just like a pastor.NOt a leash, but a wife!) One pastor. One pastor's wife. Two pastors. Two pastors' wives. The apostrophe goes after the owner. Just have to ask "how many owners?" ?Voila!

Karen Hevesy said...

You know this is a good reminder that when I'm doing something to bless my husband and my children and I end up yelling "I'M DOING THIS BECAUSE I LOVE YOU..NOW SIT DOWN AND LIIIIIKE IT!!!!" I may have missed the boat on serving with love. I am getting ready to enter my busy season (the school year) and this was a good post for me..thanks!
***don't bother correcting my grammar, it's just about the last item on my long list of things I need to improve.

Christina said...

Thank you for your encouragement. I read your post this morning and God used what you said to help me have a joyful attitude and energy while doing a ton of laundry and packing (something I usually don't like doing).

Christina

Laurie said...

Thanks everyone for taking time to comment and share how God might have used this for your own attempts at first and best effort.

Thank you, Zoanna for the helpful grammar lesson. I am the unnecessary comma queen. funny thing is I used to be pretty strict on my students about comma usage (when in doubt, leave it out). I blame the kids for my messy grammar...certain brain cells died as a result of sleep deprivation or something.

My one and only rule now is: as long as people understand what you're trying to say, it's all good!

Zoanna said...

I'am gonna lai off all gramr an spellin lessins fer a whall. I no whan ther not preeshated.

Laurie said...

Zoanna, we love your grammarian ways! please don't stop...it's your thang.

Beth said...

I can't even begin to tell you how perfect this was for me at this time of my life when I just moved into this new house and life is crazy. I just want to concentrate on me, me, me and the things that matter according to me (which would be creating a pretty home that smells good and is pleasing to the eye..seriously) and not to God and certainly not my husband or children. Thank you :-)

Leslie said...

Amen! Great post. I am dealing with some of the same issues. Soli Deo Gloria!