By Donna Tan
In Part I, I made mention of three things to check in order to keep our marriages intact amidst the pile of ministry commitments.
Here are three other areas you’d want to also keep in check. They are going to help you in your ministry.
Other than your family, you also have a support base. If you don’t have one yet, then strongly consider! Your support base is composed of people who recognize and respect your relationship with God, and your relationship with your wife/spouse. These are your truest friends. You may have someone in your support base that is like a cheerleader: he/she will cheer you on, relentlessly if needed, so that you can achieve your goal in marriage and ministry. Whether you are up or down, they will encourage you to keep on. You may also have a “stretcher bearer” (Pam Farrell, 1999), the one who will be there no matter what. This is the person you can count on anytime for anything. You know that they will always be there for you. I remember when my husband and I were in the midst of a painful ministry situation, we immediately knew whom to call. They came, sat down with us, and listened to our hurting hearts. That was all we needed. We felt better after that. But then, one day, they surprised us by taking both of us on an out of the country vacation! Of course, we felt more than better! You want to also have a mentor, because no matter how old and experienced you are, there is always someone older and more experienced than you and God intends that you walk with that person of wisdom. You want to connect with people who have traveled the road you are now on, and have “developed the character and depth you hope to grow into.” (Pam Farrel, 1999)
List down the people in your support base:
5. Check Your Environment.
What kind of environment are you in? Are you in one that nurtures and spurs growth, or are you in one that stagnates growth?
Who are the people that surround you? Are you surrounded by negative people or by positive people? Optimistic folks or the pessimistic ones. The joyful bunch or the joy-stealers.
The environment you are in can have a profound effect on you and your ministry. If you surround yourself with the same people year after year, your growth will only be as good as theirs. What they know, you know. What they don’t know, you don’t know. What they do, you tend to do. What stirs (or doesn’t stir) their hearts, will (or won’t) stir yours as well. I have seen many people grow out from Bible School, to Seminary, to ministry and even to leadership. But sadly, they didn’t grow up. Who they are now as leaders are merely older versions of who they were in college. Nothing has changed except for their physical appearance; not their character. One factor is that they have not interacted and refuse to learn from people outside of their comfort zone. They confine themselves within the walls of their church and denomination. The problem is that they miss out on the rich lessons they can learn from other people, for life, marriage and ministry. Their knowledge and experience then becomes very narrow, and sadly this is what they pass on to the next generation: a narrow-minded way of doing ministry.
As a Pastor, you want to pass on a legacy that is worth passing on. A life well-lived; rich in wisdom, experience, and knowledge.
What kind of environment are you in? How can you change your environment for the better – for you, your family and ministry?
We probably do not slack in checking our strengths. In fact, we are most diligent in making sure we are up-to-date and equipped as far as our area of strength is concerned. We attend seminars and trainings to level up in and reach mastery of them. But we have to be balanced. If we want to be truly balanced in our marriage and ministry, it is imperative that we also check our weakness. Like what I already mentioned in the previous blog, “You are only as strong as your weakest link.” Sharpen your strength but do not ignore your weak points. Acknowledge your weaknesses and work at rising above them, letting God use them for His glory. Because if there is anything that we can boast of, it should be that which pertains to our weakness (2 Cor. 11:30).
There are as many times when God used men and women in the Bible for their weaknesses, as much as their strengths. He did not disregard their weaknesses, and this must tell us an important message – we shouldn’t either.
Take a moment to list your areas of strength. Now on the next page, list down your areas of weakness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donna Tan, from the Philippines, is a pastor’s wife, a pastor’s kid, a counselor, professional editor (for both academic and popular writing), resource speaker, writer, and blogger. Her passion is to minister to women (pastor’s wives in particular), couples and families. Donna’s ministry experiences span ages and cultures; having led youth and women ministries in the Philippines, as well as women ministries in the US (as a leader with Trinity Wives Fellowship from 2010-2012, in Deerfield, IL).
Donna is married to Dr. Jason Richard Tan (Ph.D.), and they have two children – Joshua (16) and Elisha (11). They have been married for 18 years. Jason and Donna are missionaries under GlobalGrace Fellowship (based in Pasadena, CA) serving the Philippines and Asia. She is the Admin Director of Great Commission Missionary Training Center. You can connect with Donna through her blog TonesOfHope.blogspot.com