Some time back I read Rosaria Butterfield’s book The Gospel Comes with a House Key. It is one I would recommend as food for thought. However, from my own observations and from conversations I’ve had with others, it can come across as very guilt-inducing. Besides pastoring a church, she and her husband are foster parents, she homeschools, and their door is open basically 24-7 for anyone to drop by for a meal or conversation. If I were to do even a fraction of what she does, I would soon be hiding under my bed or moving to the most remote location I could find. Her gifts and methods are commendable—but they aren’t mine. That’s why I was encouraged when I read the following in Christine Hoover’s book From Good to Grace:
“I mentioned that I’m a pastor’s wife, and not just a pastor’s wife but a church-planting pastor’s wife. Who let her husband start a church in her living room. Who has people over for dinner. Who plans a menu ahead of time. Who karate-chops pillows. Perhaps you got stuck on that part because you’re not a person who has people in your home and you started imagining a meal far greater than anything I actually make, and you started feeling pretty unspiritual in comparison, which led to you beating yourself up or immediately making a list of people whom you should invite over.
“Or you’re on the other extreme, and you’ve already figured you’re going to stop reading because you don’t want to hear a list of things you should be doing from another goody-two-shoes pastor’s wife. But this is my point exactly. We are way too concerned with what other people are doing and trying to match or judge what they are doing. We are jumping ahead to a great question (What does God want from me?) but asking it of the wrong audience (other people) and skipping the gospel question entirely.
“The most important and life-giving thing we can do as followers of Christ is to consider what God wants for us as presented in the gospel and to ask the right questions of the right Person…”
God didn’t call me to be another Rosaria Butterfield or Christine Hoover. He called me to be His child, with the gifts and abilities and personality that He gave me. There are a lot of things people think I should do that I have no trouble declining. But the enemy can creep in with a vague sense of guilt about not doing enough or not doing the “right things,” whatever those may be. When I prayerfully seek God’s will, I don’t believe that He’s telling me to do more or different things, but rather to rest in His goodness and grace. Hoover comments,
“The gospel quiets the clamor and comparisons, the swirling online world, and the self-accusations. The gospel tells us to rest because Christ is enough, but it also leads us to respond in obedience when God asks things of us that are counter to what others and our own hearts tell us are important. The gospel shows us how to receive from God what we need in order to truly live and what we need to serve others with joy, sacrificial love, and power.”
Peer pressure never dies, it just takes new forms. We in the church can be very good at guilting people into doing things they aren’t gifted for. We could all try to exercise the gifts we admire in others, but we’d end up neglecting the very things God has called us to do. I don’t have to teach Sunday school or help with nursery or open my home to strangers, and I would not be happy trying to do those things. But I do have to write, and that is the most enjoyable and fulfilling thing I can imagine. Let’s stop feeling guilty for not being Super-Christians who can do everything that everyone wants. God made us different for His own perfect purposes.
“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…” (Romans 12:4-6 ESV).
© 2019 Dawn Rutan. Image copyright free from pixabay.com. The opinions stated do not necessarily reflect the views of my church or employer.