Holy Pots, Holy Ministry


Shari Thomas|Contributor

“What is my role as his wife in this new ministry? I knew that we could decide if this is right for us. How are we supposed to determine if we as a couple are called to a certain ministry, if I don’t even know what is expected of me?”

Sound familiar? We know in the workplace that undefined job descriptions and unspoken expectations are a recipe for disaster. Yet, this is what women face on a daily basis when married to a church planter/pastor. We confront this when the church organizes, when staff and interns are added, and when we grow from an intimate core group to dozens of nameless faces. What is my role in all of this? Often we take on tasks only because we aren’t sure if we should or not or in hopes of alleviating the role ambiguity we feel. Am I describing you? Ask yourself, how often do you meet with women just because you think you should? Do you end up leading Bible studies, staffing the nursery, or having people into your home because you assume that is your role, that is what you signed up for? I sure have.

I rushed to church today. I had given no time to preparing my heart. All I knew was I needed to meet God. I didn’t expect to be given my role in ministry and from Joshua 5:15-6:5 no less.

One Purpose

When Joshua meets the Angel of the Lord and asks whose side he is on, little did Joshua expect to have an encounter with the Holy One. Little did he know he wasn’t even asking the right question. Yet, as soon as he realizes he is speaking to the Commander of the army of the LORD, he falls on his face, recognizing he is on holy ground. The question gets turned on its head. It’s really, whose side are you on, Joshua?

The word “holy” means to be exclusively set apart for one purpose. Remember the cleansing rituals for worshiping God, for celebrating the Sabbath, for preparing for Passover? A pot used in worship was set aside for a specific purpose as opposed to a common pot used for multiple purposes. One way of looking at it is to understand the opposite of holy is common. A common item is something with multiple purposes. A holy item is exclusively for one purpose.

I have a bright pink t-shirt from my daughter’s high school days with gangster phrases on it. It’s used for one purpose and one purpose only: for cleaning bathrooms. The bright pink is splattered with white bleach spots. We could say my t-shirt is holy. It only has one purpose.

What does this have to do with roles and job descriptions?

What Set Apart Looks Like

“…As commander of the army of the LORD I have now come,” said the man standing in front of Joshua. This same angel of the LORD appeared again, and when he did he came for us. He dedicated himself exclusively to one purpose: to die for us. He wholly set himself apart for us. Because he did, can we turn and say, “I am completely and wholly set apart for you.” We can say in the midst of all struggles, “I ditch all conditions, God. I won’t beg you to make this work. Like Joshua, I want to win this battle, but I’m not telling you what to do or how to do it. I’m on your side, God. I’m following you, whatever it means. Whether it means figuring out how to help our unhappy child adjust to a new location, or waiting with him in this uncertain phase. Whether meeting with disgruntled congregants or not meeting with them. Yes, being completely and wholly His affects every aspect of our lives. Being set apart for him, however, may not mean what we think it means. It involves living with the following characteristics:

* integrity– am I the same person in private as I am in public?

* sympathy– am I able to enter into another’s story to the point of not holding grudges?

* generosity–am I open with my husband’s time, our money, and our home?

* chastity– am I keeping sex within our marriage in my mind as well as my body?

What is your role in ministry? Is it making sure your church survives? Your kids thrive? Tithing members don’t leave? People aren’t upset or uncomfortable? You serving elegant meals to keep the reputation you want? If so, those will be your gods. However, isn’t it better to ask, “What am I exclusively set apart for?”

If you are exclusively set apart and wholly dedicated to the One who set himself apart for you, there will be nothing to fear!

Shari Thomas