How many times in ministry do we struggle with healthy relationships? We all need people and relationships, but many times in ministry it is hard to have those. Sometimes there are even hard and unhealthy relationships within our families. My devotion, recently, was on this subject in Paul David Tripp’s devotional New Morning Mercies. I would like to share part of that devotional with you today.
You should be thankful for the people whom God places in your life. You should love them dearly. You should treat them with honor and respect. You should do all you can to maintain the unity and peace in your relationships with them. You should be willing to give to and serve them. You should be open to them as they speak into your life. You should recognize that you were designed to live in a loving community with others like them. But you cannot look to them to provide for you what only God can provide.
There are many Christian relationships that are hurtful, painful, and marked by conflict and disappointment because the people in those relationships are placing a burden on those relationships that no human relationship can bear.
- No person can be the source of your identity.
- No one can be the basis of your happiness.
- No individual can give you a reason to get up in the morning and continue.
- No loved one can be the carrier of your hope.
- No one is able to change you from the inside out.
- No human being can alter your past.
- No person is able to atone for your wrongs.
- No one can give your heart peace and rest.
Asking another human being to do those things is like requiring him to be the fourth member of the Trinity and then judging him when he falls short. It simply cannot and will not work.
Could it be that the disappointment you experience in your relationships is the product of unrealistic and unattainable expectations? Could it be that you have unwittingly put people in God’s place? Could it be that you ask the person next to you to do what only God can do?
If we aren’t careful, we will fall into that trap of placing unrealistic expectations on our relationships and then wonder why we are experiencing the pain once again.
I would like to encourage you as a pastor’s wife to remember it is hard to have deep relationships with church members. I believe our deep relationships and friendships need to be outside of our church. Of course, we don’t look for people to take God’s place, but sometimes I say we need “Jesus with skin on.” Meaning we need a Christian friend who will laugh with us when we need to laugh and cry with us when we need to cry. A shoulder to lean on. Yes, the Lord is our strength and will get us through those hard times, but a true Christian friend is priceless. God created us for human relationship, it just needs to be a healthy relationship.
I pray you find that friend(s) who will walk with you through the happy and tough times of life. Remember, we are here to walk with you on this journey as well.