People often ask me if it’s hard being a pastor’s wife of a large church, and usually they are surprised if I don’t answer with a resounding, “yes!” After being asked this question a number of times, I sometimes am tempted to begin thinking that perhaps it IS hard. I start to focus on the many bumps in the road and the difficult circumstances that have come my way in a lifetime of serving God. Then somehow, God finds a way to get me to take a look at the people around me. He gets me to thinking about where they were and where they are now. He reminds me of His life-changing power. I am humbled when I recognize that He took me serious when I offered to serve Him with my life. I am amazed to see the many ways he has worked in me and through me to make a difference for His Kingdom.
For instance, consider Terry and Cindy. When we first met them, they had been divorced, but were now remarried – to each other. They were in a neighborhood Bible study that we attended. As time passed their faith grew. He became part of the worship team at church. Some years later he joined the leadership of the church as an elder. Recently he gave up his secular job to join the church staff full-time as a neighborhood pastor.
As I look down the list of people who have given their lives to the ministry of CCV – I’m just talking about the ones who get paid, there’s a whole lot more who serve as lay leaders – I am so inspired and so convinced that just having the privilege of watching God change lives, and then watching those lives change other lives, makes any possible hardship of ministry so worth it.
Dustin was just a kid when we first met him. He came to the youth group and gave his life to Christ. He went to a Christian college and met Megan, who became his life partner in his call to ministry. He came back to CCV as a pastor, and together he and his wife mentor our youth to be all-in for Jesus.
We got to know Bill and Annette when they hosted our neighborhood Bible study. They were seeking to provide a strong foundation of faith for their family. They didn’t know the books of the Bible, but they knew that the Bible held the answers to the questions they had about God and about strengthening their marriage. Bill is now serving on our church staff after leaving a successful career in the marketplace. He brings his unique skills to the feet of Jesus and uses them to serve the church.
Sonny and Denise made their way from frills to faith, and have an exciting story of how God met them right where they were and taught them that making money cannot compare to making a difference. Sonny has also become a neighborhood pastor for our church and finds the fulfillment that can only come through following the call of God, no matter what the cost.
Larry and Sheila and Richard and Leslie are two couples who were founding members with us from the inception of CCV. Their faithful service to the church and to God has touched thousands of lives, not just in our valley, but around the world. Larrie left his secular career to serve full time at CCV and is now the leader of our missions outreach. He travels around the world, often with Sheila by his side, to encourage and assist missionaries who are changing lives in the places where God has placed them. Richard and Leslie have ministered in nearly every conceivable way at CCV, all the way from administrative duties to teaching kids. It’s impossible to count the thousands of lives these two couples have touched with the message of God’s love.
I could keep going right down the roster of people who are now paid staff at CCV. They each have a unique story of how God took them from where they were to where He wanted them to be and taught them that there is no joy like the joy of seeing lives changed by a God who loves to work through and in people. Person to person – that’s how the love of God spreads. When I think of all the lives that have touched mine because of Jesus, I am overwhelmed, but of all the lives that have been touched by the love of Christ, those that move me most are the ones in my own family.
Thirty years is the difference between childhood and adulthood. Thirty years ago, when we started CCV, we had children. Today our children have children. In another thirty years, their children will have children. I have no doubt that many of our descendants will feel the call of God to minister full-time. I am convinced they will come to know that getting paid to watch the Savior change lives and know that in some small way, He used you to help make it happen, could never be a burden. No matter how hard the road is along the way, there is no greater joy than that of seeing someone find his or her true purpose in life – the purpose of knowing, loving and serving the one who created them.