N O F I L T E R H E A R T
I don't write a lot about church planting online, mostly because I've found it's hard to tell a story that so many other people are involved in while it's happening. I can't exactly post a heartfelt caption on Instagram that says, "Just left a hard church meeting. Clinging to God's Word. #leadershipishard #sheepbite". Can I? No, no, I know I can't.
But here is something I've learned in church planting that I'm absolutely willing to share and praying God will change in our current Christian culture: the folks that keep their cards hidden are often the most respected.
I should note, off the bat, that I've decided being well-respected isn't the aim of my life. God has done a little whiplash on my heart in the last few years, and I went from assuming that being the pastor's wife and ministry-minded co-planter would come with some sort of prestige to really understanding that I'm absolutely going to be the first to be judged and the one with the most expectations placed on me. I don't think it matters how many "Here's what your pastor's wife needs you to know/say/do" blog posts that are circulated on Facebook, there just IS a lot of expectation placed on me and honestly - it's ok. We signed up to do this, we put our necks out there, we said we'd go first. I can cry about it, or I can ask God to help me see which burdens He wants me to carry and move ahead in grace regarding the rest. Or I can cry about it while I ask God to help me, which is what I mostly do.
A year or two into heavy local ministry here in Charleston, and I've realized that where there is leadership, there is expectation, and where there is expectation - there is always disappointment. So the ship has sailed on me being respected for being such a great expectation meeter - but I still have another choice to make. Will I try to hold on to whatever respect was potentially left by keeping my cards close or will I let people see what I'm working with? Will I let people see me sweat? Cry? Worry? Sin? Will I work on perfecting my steely gaze and my plastered smile? Will I avoid community on hard days? Because if I can keep it together and NOT show my cards, there is at least the potential that I'd earn the smallest bit of respect out of sheer aloof-ness.
Thankfully God wired me the way He wired me, and this was a choice I really don't have to make. I physically can't hide emotion on my face, my tears can be stopped about as easily as global warming, and if I don't want people to see me sin - I basically can't ever leave my bed. Nope, scratch that - I sin there too. Instead, Nick and I have chosen to go all in - constantly having people in our home, in our life, in our family, and all up in our brokenness. We've chosen to forfeit respect for community, and I'm so glad we did. Well - I'm so glad God made us.
You can do it, you know. You can make it to the end of this life without anyone seeing your cards. They might never hear you yell at your kids, know your biggest doubts and fears. They might think you are INCREDIBLY put together, so stinking cute, with a life and a home and hobbies and outings that would put magazines to shame. You might gain their respect. But I'm worried you won't have people. I'm worried you won't really have community. I'm worried that if they don't see you sin, they won't sharpen you. I'm worried if they don't hear your brokenness, they wont know how to to rejoice in the healing. I'm worried they won't know how to pray for you, and I'm worried that they'll miss out on really feeling ministered to by you. I'm worried that in hiding our cards, we're giving a false impression of a pretend gospel that isn't all that fantastic.
How great can grace be if you don't really need it? I'm worried that even one woman hiding and keeping it all together can lead to an entire community of women missing the extravagant mercy of a God who meets us where we're at.
Let's be women who show our cards. Not because we delight in vulnerability or reality, but because we believe in the Lord and we believe that He can't fix what isn't broken. Let's show our cards because Jesus ALWAYS did: He always let people see Him feel. Let's show our cards to say to the enemy of our souls and our communities and our churches: we don't want to be respected, we want to know and be known and grow closer to the Lord together. Let's show our cards.
Let's chat on Facebook next week. I'm going to do a Facebook Live on my Jess Connolly account to discuss these three things:
- HOW do you show your cards?
- What happens when people don't receive it well?
- How can you encourage others to be real with you?