Tag Archive | ministry

Spatzle Speaks: Susie (Book Review)

Now maybe it’s because the book has a derivative of my mom’s name that I wanted to review this book, or maybe because it’s different than the usual fiction reviews posted here, but mom spent time reading Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon by Ray Rhodes Jr., and found it fascinating.

Susie Spurgeon might seem like an imaginary model wife, always perfectly supporting her husband in ministry, and she was that, but so much more. Susie lived from 1832-1903 and was married to Charles for 36 years. She continued to minister as a widow and lived for 11 years before passing away at age 71.

In spite of weakness and chronic debilitating pain, she was devoted to her husband and helped him in ministry, reading with him, transcribing notes, and compiling books. She was a prolific author herself. She set up a ministry called the Book Fund designed to help poor pastors by providing them with valuable resources, sometimes beyond theological tomes. Toward the end of her life, she helped plant a church even though she was too ill to be there when it opened.

This book is a charming look at life in the Victorian age of Great Britain and it broadens the scope beyond our modern day. Back then the vocabulary was larger and the culture was different from ours in America–but the truths of the gospel transcend time. Who would be like Susannah Spurgeon in our day and age?

That’s a difficult question to answer because as a couple they supported and encouraged each other and I don’t think you can separate them which goes to the issue that a great man can be all the greater with the love and support of a wive, but to obtain such a prize, he needs to valuer her deeply. Such was the case of Charles and Susannah Spurgeon.

This is a book I highly recommend if you like biographies. The story is told at a good pace with the blessing of her great-grandchild. I give it five bones, because I’m a dog and I don’t have thumbs.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

I’m No Expert

Experts? 

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I hate the idea that you should find the one thing you are really good at–become an expert–and use that as a platform to make money. Or do ministry. Or both.

It’s as if we are to find that one thing and use it as a way to lord it over others that you have more years, experience, training, ect than others to do that job. And maybe if you’re lucky, they’ll pay you for that privilege.

I experienced this years ago in ministry with a woman who had great skills. But on a team with a younger leader who lacked some of those skills, she sabotaged the team (and that leader) instead of filling in what lacked on the team and providing training, support and encouragement that young woman needed. God worked and the team accomplished its goal but rationally, spiritually, emotionally, there was a heavy price paid because of this pride and arrogance.

Ouch, did I really write those words?

I see this in the writing field too. I’m off to a conference this week and I’m doing a workshop. But I want to make it clear. I don’t know it all. I’m not an expert. I might be further along the path than some in some areas but I still need to learn and grow and sometimes I find my capacity for that growth is stifled by the tasks I need to accomplish. At the end of my workshop I’ll be pointing people to someone else who is teaching further along the path of my topic, I’ll get their feet wet and he can douse them with info they will need! Maybe I should provide towels? 

Ministry or People? What’s More Important?

We lose focus on what’s important. As my pastor, Ken Nabi has said,

We don’t use people to get ministry done. We use ministry to get people done.

But from what I see often in the publishing world, we are failing at this in honor of a buck or our name on a book, or maybe as the teacher of a workshop at a conference.

I’m still growing as an author and editor and would never have come this far if it hadn’t been for those further along the path who have taken time to encourage and mentor me. A helping hand. A little push from behind. A word of encouragement on the way when times get tough. And maybe even a dose of humility as thoughts and beliefs are challenged. This is true of my younger years serving in church leadership as well as with my writing career.

The fact is, none of us have arrived. If I see someone further along the path, I ask questions, challenge too if I need to, and grow. If I see someone younger in the journey or maybe less developed in skills I might have, then I can encourage, train, show the way and if it is a leader I follow, push them to further growth as others have done for me.

The Missing Ingredient

Now this is the thing that has been weighing on my heart most about this process: accountability. This in the church to varying degrees and there needs to be more. I don’t ask the hard questions often enough myself. But community cannot grow without that kind of vulnerability. As an editor, I’m not sure I’ve stepped in to assist my authors as much with their spiritual walk as I have their publishing journey.

And that’s a shame because their walk with God is more important than their name on a book or good ratings on Amazon.

My weakness goes back generations. I want people to be happy. I write “happily ever after” endings because of this deep-seated need within me. Ultimately we get that in this life, when we are with Jesus.  In the meantime though, it is in the best interests to help others grow towards that “happy” but along the way sometimes truth hurts. Truth spoken with love and grace can be a powerful force towards growth though. I’m just praying that if God pushes me that way, I will have the courage to follow. I need to humble myself more and more before His throne if he can even use me in that way. It’s not a happy task, but done well, glorifies God.

After all, He’s the expert.

Rejection is Part of the Game

I’m in the midst of some changes in my involvement in church ministry. It’s been hard being in leadership because being in a position like that is like putting a target on your back and letting everyone practice shooting arrows at you.  The hard part is that it is rarely that people criticize you for things failing or not going well – the attacks get personal.

I have been slandered over the years more times than I can count. The attacks are more on my personality or character and often judging my motives.

This kind of thing is hard. If you need affirmation and encouragement – this is NOT the place to find it. Sad isn’t it? The church, where we are to be “building one another up and encouraging one another as the day is drawing closer” can often be the place of our greatest pain.  Yet God has given me a deep love for the body of Christ.

I do get affirmation from close friends and leadership.  I am blessed by so many people I have served with. Still, it hurts to maligned and misunderstood.

Maybe that’s why I’m such a champion of respecting and praying for our church leaders. I know firsthand the pain of attacks and the difficulty leaders face in leading a group of volunteers who are trying to be “family” in the body of Christ.

But, I’m a writer too. Writing is also ministry. There is something different about rejection in writing. For instance,  I just got a rejection of a manuscript that had been requested in full. Ouch. It hurts whenever someone doesn’t think your work is good enough. But that’s just it – it’s my work. I can improve.  I can grow.  This editor was a blessing in the way she delivered  her rejection. She took the time to give me specific areas where there were problems with my writing and how to change them.  She encouraged me to submit again in the future. This is highly unusual in the publishing industry. She didn’t blacklist my name or say I was a crappy person too full of myself to see how awful my writing was.

Rejection is part of the game with writing and seeking publication. It just is. The more I’m on line the more I see how many of us are out there pursuing our dream, writing our stories and trying to honor God with our gifts. Sometimes I admit, I feel jealous of the success of others when they finally get that contract, that book art, that first box of books with THEIR name on the cover.

I know I could have those things if I self-published and ignore the opportunity to grow. But I want to give God my best effort. That takes work and I’ll admit that sometimes I fear I’ll never be good enough. I’m so blessed by my readers cheer me on.  They remind me of how God has already used my writing for His glory.

In writing the rejections are usually not personal.  My writer friends know I’m zany and crazy and fun. They believe in me because they know I desire to grow and I’m not so full of myself to think I’m the next hot thing since Stephen King.

So I’m going to keep writing and serving God here until He says no more or calls me home. I’ll still serve in the church but the way that happens is shifting, and I embrace that. The Scripture God keeps bringing to my mind is this:

How do you handle rejection? What is God doing in your life that is new and fresh?