I’m Not Supposed To Be Your Savior
One of my greatest struggles in ministry is having an intense desire to see lives changed and wanting to protect others from atrocities to the point of burning myself out in order to help everyone.
But God has graciously and lovingly been teaching me some important lessons through the years. He has used many situations (and people!) to remind me that I am not supposed to be anyone’s savior. God has already accomplished salvation for all who believe through His Son, Jesus Christ. This salvation is complete and perfect. It is available for all who will receive it.
Truly believing this means that my role in life as a pastor’s wife, as a mom, as a friend and as a blogger is not to point anyone to ME. It is solely to point everyone to the only one who CAN save.
This has been so freeing. It means that when I am despised and rejected for being faithful to my calling, I can rest in knowing that this is not about me. It takes the pressure off, because if someone chooses to walk in the opposite direction, I can grieve, but I can also trust that they are held firmly in God’s hands.
Difficulties in ministry and in life have taught me to rely completely on my great God. It’s when things are going well that I am tempted to rely on myself. And this is when things get ugly!
Here are a few of the things that have pushed me into a deeper trust in God.
1. Being criticized for not being there for someone when the situation in question occurred before we even met. Sometimes people will have assumptions, perceptions and expectations that are completely unfair. This has always been a struggle for me. It causes me to want to fight back, to make myself heard, to explain situations, to defend myself or the ones I love. But understanding that sometimes criticism is as much a part of another person’s journey as it is about mine, helps me to realize that rather than fighting back, situations like this allow me to point to Jesus- to the one who “like a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7). It is always astounding to me to contemplate Jesus’ attitude as he walked to the cross. The One who had done nothing wrong, the One who had every right to fight back, chose to not open his mouth, because He understood that God had a purpose beyond the situation. This is the perspective I need to have as well. When I fight back, I am not trusting God’s plan and His purpose.
2. Discovering that you will always be compared to someone else and that no matter what you do, it will not be good enough. The problem with trying to live up to the expectations of others is that sometimes those expectations are not right. And sometimes you will constantly be compared to others. Trying to manage the expectations of others is exhausting and quite frankly it is not God-honoring. When I sense that I am expected to jump through hoops to be good enough, it has become a sign post for me to stop. Stop the striving. Stop trying. Start praying. Start pointing to Jesus. The perfect son of God was not good enough for the spiritual leaders of the day. He was despised and rejected. Why should I be surprised when others reject me? I should seek to learn what I can (always!), but at the same time remember that if someone is being overly critical, they are not submitting to God’s authority in their own lives. My role is not to get bent out of shape in order to please them, but instead to pray that God would work in their heart at the same time praying that he would work in mine.
3. Pride in my own success is just as dangerous as trying to please everyone and keep the peace. God has given gifts to all of His children for the purpose of His glory. When I am using my gifts for His glory, I feel His pleasure. But it is very easy for me to slip into pride in my own success. In both cases, whether I am taking pride in my own abilities or striving to please everyone, I am making my service about me and not the very one I am supposed to be serving. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Phil. 2:3). This goes against my nature and so I have discovered that I need to make this a constant prayer in my life, asking God to humble me and to truly consider others as better than myself. This doesn’t mean that I am less than or that God can’t use me. Rather, it is the opposite. When I am living this way, I discover that God uses me the most and at the same time I am fully aware that it is not about me, it IS all about Him! Since the purpose of every believer is to bring glory to God, there is not greater joy than living this way.
4. God’s greatest tool for humbling me has been giving me strong willed children who disobey and are non-compliant at times. I was a pastor’s kid (PK) and I was “good” at it. I knew what to say and do to make people be happy with me. I was good at hiding my little rebellions from my parents. But this meant that I took a lot of pride in being the good little pastor’s daughter. My children do not struggle with this malady. They live loud and even obnoxious at times. They sin in glaring ways and this is extremely difficult and humbling. Sometimes I don’t find out until after the fact that my child has been labelled aggressive or disrespectful. I have sobbed at a birthday party when I discovered that my child had been deliberately excluded, because other parents didn’t understand the behavior being exhibited. I can’t tell you how many times I have put on the shame and guilt for my children’s sins, rather than being grateful for the work in progress that they are. I don’t get to hide behind the good girl facade when it comes to my kids. This has been excruciating at times, but I am discovering the opportunities that I have been given. My kids understand their desperate need for Christ- a lesson that has only been made clear to me in the past few years. We are able to cry together and ask for forgiveness from our gracious God. My children have taught me to bow before the throne of grace and also to approach it boldly. I need Christ and even though it is hard, it is one of the best lessons to learn.
5. There will be times when you will go above and beyond to show love to someone only to discover that it is not enough. When you genuinely care about others, you can wear yourself out caring for them. You will get up in the middle of the night to search for them. You will make meals and watch kids and rake yards and sit and talk for hours, because you love people with all your heart and you receive the greatest joy from pouring that love out on others. But sometimes you will discover that people could care less about how you have shown love and will zero in on the ways that you haven’t. They will expect you to do more and more and more, and never acknowledge what you have already done. In those times, it is hard not to feel bitter. But when this bitterness creeps into my heart, I know that it is another sign post reminding me that I don’t serve to be recognized or appreciated. I serve because it is what I am called to do. It breaks my heart when I see loved ones not respond to the love they have been given and instead hold on to their own grievances, but if I truly believe that only God changes hearts, then I have to trust Him to do this work that only He can do. I do not have to keep trying harder to please someone who refuses to submit to truth and to God’s authority in their lives.
The old adage rings true~
When I serve out of my own strength, I am simply giving fish to people. I might feed them for a moment, I might make them happy with me, but this only lasts for a short time. But when I point people to Christ, they have the opportunity to receive exactly what they need. What they need is Jesus, not ME!
Jesus is the only One who can truly save, the only One who can make a difference in people’s lives. The best gift I can give to others is to encourage them to depend on God.
I’m not supposed to be your savior. That job is already taken and He does it with perfection, fully and completely!