By Rhonda Rhea
You know how I usually know I’ve been too busy? I open the refrigerator door and find fur. And then I stand there for several seconds wondering what it used to be. Then I stand there another several seconds wondering if I should have it spayed or neutered.
It happened again the other day. I was standing with the fridge door open and my son told me he heard something groaning. I assured him it was only me.
They heard my groaning, yet there is no one to comfort me…for I must clean the refrigerator myself.
That’s from Lamentations 1:21. Except I added the entire last sentence.
At the point I start rewriting Lamentations, I usually figure out that I’m too busy and it’s time to formulate another plan. Here’s the part where I have to confess that my Plan B is almost always exactly like my Plan A—only with more coffee.
The better Plan B? It rests in the words of Jesus in Matt. 11:28-30. And actually it’s much more appropriate as a Plan A. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” (ESV).
As pastors’ wives, there’s an entirely different yoke we sometimes take on. The expectation yoke. When we make meeting the expectations of others our goal, we essentially yoke ourselves and our own success level to those people. We become enslaved by their idea of a pastor’s wife. We’re setting ourselves up for defeat and burnout anytime we do that—because there’s no one who can meet every expectation of every church member. And let’s just get real here. Some of their expectations are just plain weird. We weren’t even built to measure up to those.
We need to remember that expectations are actually built into our makeup. Everyone has them. I have expectations of my church even, so it’s not exactly fair if I ask my church to have none of me. The problem isn’t in the fact that people have expectations of us. The problem comes when we yoke ourselves to them. When we take on every expectation and try to fulfill each of them, we’re yoked to busyness—and we’re setting ourselves up for feelings of failure, inadequacy, and frustration.
There are probably times as well when a pastor’s wife’s problem is not so much with the expectations of others as it is a need to please people. When we find ourselves yoked to the approval of people, our self-worth is also yoked to what they think of us. And that’s an uncomfortable and pretty dangerous yoke.
Paul called it. “We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts,” (1 Thess. 2:4). Then he solidly nailed it again in Gal. 1:10: “For am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ,” (HCSB).
It’s also true that we can be aware of those expectations without getting all bent out of shape by them. People will expect you to be a certain kind of ministry wife. You don’t have to be angry about that. Sometimes the yoke is not so much the expectations of others as it is a pastor’s wife’s bitterness over people having them. Let them have their expectations. And decide to even be okay when you don’t meet them. No need to let them become a yoke. And no need to let them become a burden of resentment either. That can be a whole new yoke in itself.
Whose expectations do we need to meet? His. Christ’s is a yoke that just fits. Anytime we find ourselves struggling under the weight of expectations, Jesus reminds us, “Come to Me.”
Are you burdened? Your Savior waits for you to come. It’s His desire to be your relief—your comfort and encouragement. And all you have to do is…come.
Every day I need to remember to please only Him, to rest in Him. To give my soul a break, and to “come.”
As far as the fridge is concerned, I would love a break there, too, but I don’t see it happening. Looks like I’m going to have to knuckle down and clean it. Or maybe shave it.
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