Written By: Vicki Johnson
Relationship building is the heart of effective ministry. I’ve known this ever since I said, “I do” to my pastor husband. To put this into perspective, we managed to squeeze in a home visitation between our wedding reception and the honeymoon suite. You do that for people you love. Yep, ministry is relationships and relationships involve people.
Fast forward fifteen years or so to an average Sunday morning with five children in tow. 5 minutes to go before the end of the service and I could execute my plan of action to get from point A, the sea of church people, to point B, my sanctuary, our car. Calculate the route of least conversation without creating any ripples in the good-natured fellowship emerging in this Body of Christ.
Advancing toward my safe haven.
What was the matter with me? How had I come to this point where it was survival at all costs instead of wholehearted, grace-filled ministry?
I could reason away that my people avoidance was due to needy children, my husband’s schedule, or any number of church related involvements. But the terrible truth was my love for ministry was dying.
Each congregation has its joy-suckers and joy-givers. The delicate balance in being a pastor’s wife is keeping the right perspective of the two. I had lost my ability to do that. My heart just wasn’t in it any more. A subtle resentment had crept into my attitude, evidenced in how and what I related to my husband. Being the true shepherd that he is, he heard me out and cautioned me not to hold onto offences. I had stopped singing in church. I was doing the work of servant with the attitude of a slave.
Eventually David asked me to stop sharing all my negative notions with him, explaining that they were becoming a burden to his ability to minister. He continually pointed me to the only One who could replace my heart of stone with a heart of flesh.
I needed regenerative heart therapy from The Lord!
I can’t give you a specific date or event that was my turning point, but the steps I went through are found in Psalm 51:10-13:
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
The first step in healing and restoration is acknowledging that there is a need for it. I desperately needed God to do what I could not do: to form in me a new, unstained heart with a steadfast desire to keep it pure and pleasing to Him. My stony heart was cutting off my ability to be responsive to the Holy Spirit.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Do I really understand what sin does to my relationship to God? Continual, un-repented sin offends God to the point that He will forcefully put it out of His presence or face. Until I acknowledge and confess my sin I will be “behind the face” of God. Out of His Presence. At odds with His righteousness. Inhospitable to the Holy Spirit.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And sustain me with a willing spirit.
When I first came to Jesus an overwhelming joy filled my heart. As my heart hardened it had difficulty bubbling over with anything except stony words, causing stumbling blocks for others. I needed the Lord to bring me back to His joy-spring and do whatever was necessary to keep my mind focused on the noble qualities He wanted to create in me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners will be converted to You.
As one who had rebelled and returned to the Lord, I have come to understand how and why His ways are life-giving, noble and joy-filled. I am uniquely able to teach other rebels the benefits of following His life giving ways and direct them back to Him. Just as He mercifully did with me.
If you find that your heart no longer pulses with love for ministry as it once did, it may be time for a heart check. I encourage you to go to Jesus and allow Him to walk you through Psalm 51. I pray that you would be restored in the delight of His love.
Only the Lord could rescue me from my sin and restore me to be a joyful minister of His grace. And the lessons The Lord has taught me I gladly pass on so that someone else might be turned back to God and live a life filled with joy and praises to God.
(New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ps 51:10–13). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation)
Vicki Johnson :
Ministering with her hubby of 33 years, Vicki now joyfully lingers and engages in the fellowship times at church. She sees the blessing of Spirit-filled ministry that connects her life with the Body of Christ and hopes to encourage it in others.
Vicki and her husband, David, live in Boyertown, PA, with their daughter, Esther.