Growing edges

Posted Feb 10, 2017 | Academy of Preaching and Celebration

By Joyce Thomas

The new year has begun. As clergy spouses, many of you are already in a new season of serving others. However, you may not have yet taken the time to reflect on this past year in terms of your own personal growth. Yes, it is always good to help others; yet there are times to evaluate how the things you are participating in are advancing your growth as a person and the work you are called to do. Satisfaction from the work of your ministry should encourage you to grow in order to become more creative and effective.

Over time, you'll notice growing edges in different areas of your life that need improvement. These are often the areas that cause us the most challenge and lock us into patterns that may not be beneficial. Growing edges can be opportunities for new insights and methods for improving your own success. When was the last time you examined old habits that might block your personal growth?

When I wanted to evaluate how my ministry was enhancing my personal growth, I used several criteria. These helped me to see exactly what was missing and where changes were needed. I discovered that I best grow when I: 

1.) Learn something new. Learning something new enhances who you are, how you think, and gives you new resources for life. It creates avenues of growth that teach you how to work smarter, easier, and more productively. It is often easier than you might think to find opportunities for learning. A woman once suggested to me how much you could learn from simply reading the newspaper each day. When I was growing up, my mother would tell me never to go somewhere without learning something about the place. Clergy spouses who continue learning new things are able to gather more resources and be more successful. Their knowledge continues to take them to new places in life.     

2.) Spiritually renew. The call to deepen my spiritual life and build my relationship with God helped me to become patient in learning how to live according to spiritual principles in the Word. I learned to hear God’s voice for me and for my situations. I began to hear guidance for my life and ministry with clarity and focus. Ministry agendas and programming go well when God is a part of your planning. Knowing God’s love, joy, and peace cultivate good spirit. How much time do you dedicate to spiritual growth?

3.) Build solid relationships for ministry. This is usually a hard one for clergy spouses. Relationships in the church must be chosen wisely. Some of the relationships in your church might be with mature, encouraging, helpful, and loving people who care about what you care about. It often seems that such people have been sent by God. Being open to such people gave me the opportunity to delegate some of my responsibility without letting my standards fall. As a result of the help I received, I could spend time clarifying my ministry goals for the year. Plus, I could focus on other parts of my life that I was too busy to concentrate on otherwise. 

4.) Have fun. Ministry is stressful work, but those who are able to laugh are more likely to be less stressed, which is very important for good health. These people are often able resist being bogged down by meaningless issues and manage to keep moving forward by laughing. I have a clergy spouse friend who manages to have fun no matter where she is. She always wears a smile, takes her challenges seriously but lightly, and pulls people in to laugh with her. She and her team are able laugh at how silly some incidents are, which helps the work of ministry get done.

Remember, don’t let your ministry work cut off your growing edge, spoil your ability to keep learning, grow spiritually, build relationships, and have fun.  I encourage you with this scripture, Luke 2:52 – “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and people.” (The Inclusive Bible)

Tell me about yourselves. What techniques do you use to evaluate your personal growth and find your growing edge in the ministries you serve?

Dr. Joyce Scott Thomas is the Associate Director of the Academy of Preaching and Celebration.

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