Sunday, June 24, 2012

Life in the fishbowl

By Dorena Williamson

The Williamson family jumping for joy

I have spent 30 years in the fishbowl. That amazes even me! Fellow Pastor's wives know all about being in that bowl: the one where people look at you, and decide what they think of you, all based on the job your husband does for a living. I've been a "PK" since age 11, and then the gifted guy I married just happened to be called to do what he never planned to do. He started a church. So there I went, out of the frying pan, and into the fire!

But looking back, I can honestly say that my "PK" experience had more good than bad. And I credit my parents for so much of that. Sure, they were imperfect like any other parents trying to do their best. But we kids always knew we were top priority.

Even to this day, I can call my dad at any random time, and after patiently listening to me rattle on about whatever I called for, he may carefully interject, "Sweetie, I'm in a board meeting now. Can I call you back in a bit?" (That really tickles me!) We parents know that more is caught than taught, and my parents' consistency at home went far toward me embracing God and the work we were called to.

Even still, there were - and still are - the battles of people pleasing and comparing myself or my family to others. I'm a "rule keeper" kind of gal, so knowing that people are watching my family, and knowing they are "proud" of our walks with God, easily leads to self righteousness. But the Holy Spirit continues to prune my heart to believe the gospel for myself - that I am nothing apart from the work Christ accomplished for me!

When Chris first started our church, I was 4 months pregnant and had a toddler. I thought about what I should "look like" as a Pastor's wife, and since I didn't know any others in their mid-twenties, I realized I had to pave my own way. Wearing comfortable clothing to keep up after my active toddler, or having to pause a choir rehearsal to step out and nurse my baby, didn't fit in any paradigm I had seen for Pastor's wives!

My gifts are more in leading worship than leading women's ministry, so again I had to let God shape me into how I best represented His work in me, instead of trying to fit people's stereotypes. I am sure that our church's multicultural setting has helped with that. But God is so kind and if we live focused on His pleasure, the eyes of people don't mean so much. They can't all be pleased anyway, and Scripture is true - "Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe." (Proverbs 29:25)

So I keep swimming in this "fishbowl life" we call ministry, knowing my life is not a performance for the church, but a daily offering to the Savior who created me for this purpose. By God's grace, I tell my four kids to focus on pleasing God - no more than, no less than any other Christ-follower should. God is faithful and His truth endures to all generations!

Dorena Williamson is a pastor's wife and a mom of four wonderful PK's: Dante, Christa, Chase and Charis. Her husband Chris founded Strong Tower Bible Church, a multicultural ministry in Franklin, Tennessee seventeen years ago. Today they are leading their community in growing "God's Diverse Kingdom." Dorena's passion for worship has led her to serve in Strong Tower's worship ministry since its inception. She also lovingly supports and encourages her husband through the ups and downs of  ministry.

1 comment:

  1. Dorena, Thank you so much for sharing with us here in The Garden! I loved hearing your story. How sweet are your parents for always making you guys the priority?! :) Also, it's so wonderful to see you operate in your role as a PW. You do it with such grace, and I love how you are yourself, not cookie cutter, but you embrace the gifts God has given you and that's such a great example to us younger PW's. :)


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