“God is Disappointed With Me” {A Life Overseas}

Elizabeth is over at A Life Overseas today, continuing her series on Timothy Sanford’s book “I Have to be Perfect” (And Other Parsonage Heresies). Whew! These last three lies are intense. Don’t miss the end of the post where she offers several resource ideas for combating these lies.

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I grew up hearing sermons about the “goodness and severity of God” and about God not hearing the prayer of the sinner. Girls Bible study times were filled with questions like, “If women are to remain silent in church, is it a sin to whisper in church to ask someone the song number if I didn’t hear it announced?” and “How long should my shorts be?” So by the time I entered ministry at the age of 19, no one had to tell me I needed to be perfect; I already knew I needed to be perfect. And not only did I know I needed to be perfect, I knew everyone else needed to be perfect as well.

At the same time, I knew everyone wasn’t perfect. As a teenager, I knew my church friends were being physically and sexually abused at home, but no one would ever dare talk about that at church, where their dads were leaders. This taught me that the families around me weren’t perfect; it also taught me that they needed to appear that way. Furthermore, it taught me that the rest of us needed to treat them as though they were perfect. The appearance of perfection mattered more than actual righteousness.

Those are my stories; your stories will be different. Yet our collective stories may have taught us something dark and devious: that ministry and missionary families are (or should be) holier than everyone else. Our stories may have taught us that in order to serve God, we need to be super human. At the very least, our stories may have taught us that we need to project an image of perfection. Sometimes we extend this expectation to others and become judgmental of their non-perfection; other times we require it only of ourselves.

Finish reading the post here.

“I Can’t Trust Anyone” {A Life Overseas}

Elizabeth is over at A Life Overseas today.

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The last two months we’ve been exploring the ideas in Timothy Sanford’s book “I Have to be Perfect” (and other Parsonage Heresies). I hope this series is as healing for you as it has been for me.

So far, we’ve given ourselves permission to say “and” in The Little Word That Frees Us. Then we began to exchange our “shoulds” for “coulds” in “I’m Not Supposed to Have Needs” | Lies We Believe. If you’re new to the conversation, you might want to go back and read those first two sections.

I’m different

Before we dive into this lie, I need to clarify something. Sanford, himself an MK, says this belief has nothing to do with the legitimate “differentness” of being an MK and having a blended-culture worldview. That’s the TCK part of being an MK, and is a different discussion.

Rather, the belief that “I’m different” comes from being treated differently. It comes from living under different expectations and being required to abide by different rules. Sanford says this is not imaginary: though church members try to deny it, they often do judge PKs and MKs differently. People apply standards to them that they don’t apply to “regular” people. Likewise, we ministers and missionaries often apply standards to ourselves that we wouldn’t think of applying to non-ministry people.

We need to pause here and acknowledge the truth inside the lie: adults and children in ministry contexts do have different experiences, and those experiences can be quite exotic. More travel, more exposure to other cultures, more opportunities to attend events and meet well-known Christian leaders.

Other times our experiences are darker. We (along with our children) see the underbelly of church and missionary culture. We know all about problem people and problem finances. We know who is “against us” and at times we even know who is responsible for eliminating our positions and reducing our influence, all in the name of Christ. These are the secrets we must keep and the burdens we must bear — and that too, makes us feel different.

If we think we’re different, however, we may keep ourselves from pursuing deep relationships. We may push people away and close our hearts to them. We may become lonely and even depressed. Alternatively, we may slide from believing we’re “different” into believing we’re “better.” We may like our positions of influence and authority: they boost our ego and pad our sense of pride. Although it’s uncomfortable to admit sometimes, we are a tribe who likes to set ourselves not merely apart, but also aboveNeither of these reactions is right or healthy.

Click here to finish reading and join the conversation.

“I’m Not Supposed to Have Needs” {A Life Overseas}

Elizabeth is over at A Life Overseas today, continuing her series on life in ministry families. Here’s a snippet:

The idea that “other people’s needs are more important than my own” sounds very spiritual. It sounds very sacrificial and giving. But we are all of us humans, created and finite beings with limited resources. Our lives are powered by the Holy Spirit, true, but none of us can survive if we think we are only here for others, or if other’s needs are always more important than our own.

There’s a deeper, more insidious lie at work here, too. When we believe the lie that the only purpose of our life is to serve other people, we buy into the falsehood that we earn our worth. That our performance justifies our existence. That what we do, the service we yield for others, is what makes us valuable in both God’s eyes and other people’s eyes.

 You can read the entire article here.

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The Little Word that Frees Us {A Life Overseas}

Elizabeth is over at A Life Overseas today, beginning a discussion on the pressures of ministry life for both adults and children.

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I believe, along with William Paul Young, that “since most of our hurts come through relationships, so will our healing.” Sometimes the Church gets stuck in damaging behavior patterns, and we, as a collective people, perpetuate beliefs in the lives of ministry families that simply aren’t true. Lies seep into our souls, and as a community we need to acknowledge them, wrestle with them, and ultimately, reject them – for there is a religious culture at work here that needs destroying.

I love the Church, and I believe one of the glorious reasons God places us in a local Body is so that we can “love each other deeply, from the heart,” and by so doing, participate in the healing of each other’s hearts. That is what these posts are about. Sharing our stories, and finding healing and wholeness together.

It is not about blaming parents or making anyone feel guilty. Rather, it is about mobilizing the Church to dismantle some of our harmful systems. It is about calling on Christians to change the way we do life together. Ministers, missionaries, and their families are the most notable casualties here, but the Body as a whole suffers when any member suffers. I believe we can be part of the healing.

But we need to do something first: we need to give ourselves permission to be honest.

You can read the rest of the post here.