I have been in the ministry now for close to 17 years. I started out teaching youth around the age of 20-21. The Lord saved me around that time after a devastating car accident left me in bed and out of work for over a month. I was stuck at home reading the Scripture when I was born again. The Lord had sovereignly ordained that wreck. I had the testimony of many of you who had walked the aisle, prayed a prayer, got baptized, and then went on to live a godless life without bearing any fruit. Thankfully, God began to draw me at age 20, revealing to me that I was not truly born again. Something miraculous happened after that. He gave me a new heart with new desires. (Ezekiel 36:26) I immediately had the desire to read, understand, teach, and follow the Scripture. The Lord began teaching me truth and I began to speak out whenever I could. I began seminary to get a degree in Christian education. It was there I met my husband, Kevin, who was also pursuing a degree and was called to ministry. We were quickly married and began our lives together in the ministry. Here is a pic from our early years- (As of today, he is still in seminary getting his DMIN)
I want to share with you my struggles as the Lord has sanctified me in the hopes of encouraging you who may be suffering or experiencing the same difficulties.
“who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4
I am an introvert by nature, but I have no problem carrying on a conversation with strangers, especially if it is related to theology. But I prefer just to be in my room alone with a good book in hand. Socializing is very draining to me. But I have been given a love for the brethren and sometimes that requires dying to myself and fellowshipping in public events on a regular basis. Being a pastor’s wife, you don’t exactly have the option of being a loner. I have been a part of 4 different baptist churches with my husband over a period of 15 years. The path along the way has been filled with difficulties, betrayal, heartache and hatred from those around you. To be perfectly honest, the friendships along the way have been rare and at most points, nonexistent. Many church members who started off acting like my friend have come against me, betrayed my trust, slandered me, spread lies about me, publicly attacked me on social media, and spread horrible rumors about me to other church members. I have shed many tears over the hurt caused by those who betrayed me and over the fact that the narrow road is often filled with heartache and sadness. This verse often brings me comfort-
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Isaiah 53:3
Jesus had a hard life when he walked on this earth. Despised and rejected by men, kicked out of towns, betrayed by his intimate followers, laughed at by the religious, many attempts to stone or kill him, and ultimately being crucified on the cross in an agonizing death. The apostle Paul describes his life in much the same way.
“because a great door for effective work has opened to me, even though many oppose me.” 1 Corinthians 16:9
“At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me.” 2 Timothy 4:16
We see Paul often beaten, deserted, and alone. The life of a follower of Christ is often described in this way. You are very often lonely and misunderstood. True friends who are like the Scripture says “iron sharpening iron” will be rare. We must continue to fix our eyes upon Christ and know He will give us the strength to persevere even when all those around us have turned away. He uses these times to draw us to Himself and show us His grace is sufficient.
I am thankful the Lord has provided me with a great support system in my husband. He is a source of strength and encouragement in these times, giving me Scripture and pep talk to spur me on. But even he is not able to supply me with the strength to persevere. This can only come from the Spirit. I consider it an honor to suffer for Christ on a regular basis. Most of the time, it’s those within the church and those you consider friends that are the one’s who will attack. King David experienced this kind of betrayal-
12For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me;Then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng.” Psalm 55:12-14
I’ve been attacked for my theology, my firm stance on Scripture, speaking on the doctrine of election, my views on women in the home, and as of recent, my manner of dress. Apparently there is a certain code of dress for pastor’s wives that I failed to meet. Back in October of 2021, at least 4 women, 2 of whom I had become close with and were also pastor’s wives decided to publicly shame me over my manner of dress. Multiple women had found issue with my very modest, fully covering swimsuit or the length of my shorts. None took the care to go to me privately and rebuke me, but instead, attempted to discredit me and assault my character online. These who attack will attempt to find anything to try to shame, mock, or discredit you. My facebook posts have been used against me more times than I can name. Let me point out, that never have these attacks been due to any type of open sin in my life. And if there was sin that needed to be confronted, it should be done privately, out of love, by a brother or sister in Christ. These times where I have had public reproach brought to my name have been a clear contradiction to how Scripture says we should treat our brethren.
A Psalm of David.
“Lord, who may reside in Your tent?
Who may settle on Your holy hill?
2 One who walks with integrity, practices righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart.
3 He does not slander [a]with his tongue,
Nor do evil to his neighbor,
Nor bring shame on his friend;
4 A despicable person is despised in his eyes,
But he honors those who fear the Lord;
He takes an oath to his own detriment, and does not change;
5 He does not [b]lend his money [c]at interest,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
One who does these things will never be shaken.”
As you can see, according to Psalm 15, bringing reproach or shame to a friend or another Christian, has no place in the life of a believer. As I mentioned earlier, if a believer is caught in sin, we have clear instructions given to us in Matthew 18.
15 m“If your brother sins against you, ngo and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established pby the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, qtell it to the church . And if he refuses to listen even to the church, rlet him be to you as sa Gentile and sa tax collector.”
Notice none of this involves public shaming on social media. We are to honor those who fear the Lord, taking very seriously the role of protecting their character and reputation. I am very careful about condemning God’s elect and respecting their position in ministry. We would do well to protect those in Christ, not attempt to discredit them. I will briefly tell you of a time at our last church. I began noticing a few women acting differently towards me. Finally after a few months, I was able to have a conversation with one of the women. She confessed that the youth minister and his wife, whom we gad been close friends with, had been ”poisoning her mind” with lies about me for months. When confronted at the church, they both denied it though we had witnesses and neither have repented to this day. The scars from that one went deep and it was so hard to transition to another church after that kind of hurt and betrayal. I tell you these stories because Scripture says ”the godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Though its hard, its an honor to suffer as our Lord did.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14
I pray that in seeing these passages about our Lord and how his apostles and those who belong to Him struggled will give you great comfort. Renew your mind in the Scripture daily. You may be experiencing these types of attacks at this very moment. I also pray this will convict you about being a loyal friend to your brethren. Pray for them, love them, protect them. We must continue to fix our eyes on Christ and recognize that the road of His followers is lonely and filled with hurt. But the joy of knowing Christ surpasses any worldly troubles you may have! We have one sure comfort, Christ who is always faithful, never changing, will never fail us or abandon us. Glory to God for that!
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by pvarious trials, 7 so that qthe tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes rthough it is tested by sfire—may be found to result in tpraise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7
Much love in Christ, Lauran