*this is another re-post from a couple of years ago. I posted it again to remind myself of the good teaching I received at the retreat. I subtly slipped back into thinking I had multiple first and best efforts. Anyway, you may need to follow a few of the links to understand what I’m talking about…
I said I would share a few thoughts from the retreat I attended a couple of weeks ago, but my good intentions were swallowed up by all-things-ankle-surgery. In fact, where last month I had serious blogger’s block, it seems this month I have tons of things I want to write about or pass along.
Today’s pearl of wisdom comes from the teaching Dave Harvey gave entitled What Does Women’s Ministry Mean For Me? Though it was directed to pastor’s wives, the first point has universal application to Christian wives and mothers. That point was stated like this: “The primary role of the pastor’s wife is to serve and support her husband and family.” Dave continued to say “Husbands and kids are the first & most important responsibility. Therefore they deserve your first & best effort.” This means the first and best of my time, talent, creativity, and energy should be spent on my husband and children. This means that every other good pursuit (exercise, blogging, entertainment and leisure, even other aspects of ministry)* will have to get second best or lower.
Perhaps the most helpful insight was when Dave pointed out that the fatal flaw of feminism is that it assumes women have multiple best efforts. This simply isn’t true. We can buy into the Christian version of this lie and think that we can “have it all”. We can host play groups, make meals for others, go to the gym, decorate the house exquisitely, have a little home industry, etc.** But the truth is, if any of the good things in that list begin to infringe on my first & best effort, I am not effectively doing what is my primary calling: to serve my husband and children.
I love how Dave finished this section of the teaching. He said, “Your first and best effort in the home releases him [my husband] into the field in an undistracted way.” My commitment to giving Jason and kids my first & best directly impacts Jason’s work, which happens to be ministry. I truly want the best for my husband. At the same time I feel this constant pull to invest my creativity in such a way that others see it and say, “wow, she is really creative!” I want to exert energy on the things I enjoy: writing, cake decorating, hospitality, reading, etc.* In fact, many of these things begin as an attempt to give Jason and the kids my first and best, but they morph into complex and extravagant entities in and of themselves…before I know it, I forgot to feed the kids lunch because I was too busy making a fancy birthday cake for them; or I gave Jason only half of my attention in a conversation because I was really wanting to read this article on being a godly wife.
How can I who am constantly bent towards self-orientation – to the point of turning things that seem others oriented into something about me – really give my husband and my family my first and my best? I can only think of one way…because another gave His first and best. The Father gave the Son, a perfect sacrifice, to atone for my sins, and clothe me with Jesus’ righteousness. Because of Jesus’ death my sin which pulls me in to myself, is forgiven. Because Jesus rose from the dead, I can have victory by His grace and strength to serve out of genuine love for others, beginning with my husband and children.
**I want anybody reading this to know that these are my issues. They might not be yours. I would hate for anyone to feel unnecessary guilt if they are pursuing these things. In truth, your husband is the one who could best tell you if certain activities aren’t serving him and the family. I only give specifics to help make the abstract more concrete.