It was while I was watching Paul preach this morning that I was able to take a step back for a second and let it all sink in… Paul is a preacher, living out the calling we’ve been pursuing for as long as we’ve known eachother. And he’s a really, really good preacher. A powerful preacher with a confident, easy delivery spiked with moments of resonating passion and humbling admission and surprising emotion. Listen, I wouldn’t say he was good if he wasn’t. He can attest to the fact that I have been his greatest cheerleader and his toughest critic during his formative years at seminary. And yet, I have trouble finding much of anything to suggest to him anymore… I am too rapt listening to his message, wondering where he will take us all next. (And, you can blame this on pregnancy if you want, but I teared up TWICE during his sermon today!)
Paul recently talked to our former pastor (and former boss) author and preacher Alex Strauch. (You can check out his incredibly practical and helpful books here.) Let me take this moment to say that we love Alex. He has been an encouragement to both of us, and an excellent resource to Paul over the past few years. We love Littleton Bible Chapel, Alex’s home church for the past 40 years and the place that best resembles Alex’s ideas about how a church should be led. In joining LBC, we stumbled upon lessons infinitely more valuable than the seminary education we are starting to pay off month by month!
Anyhow, in Paul’s conversation with Alex, he came away with encouragement and ideas that will help Paul continue to build up and encourage the elders at our new church. Alex also reminded Paul to listen to his wife’s advice about his preaching… to which Paul replied that his wife had been strangely complimentary of late. Alex told Paul to tell me to knock it off and be more critical!
It is not that I am trying to be nice by biting my tongue, I just actually don’t have an opinion to share or an idea to suggest (can you believe that??) I have great joy watching him preach, so much so that I no longer listen to his sermons as if they were works in progress, as I have been for the past few years; Instead, I just listen and appreciate them for what they are. And I appreciate Paul for what he is.
I have been worrying in advance about how I would handle being a pastor’s wife. I’m naturally a very critical person, and as a teacher, I make my living critiquing other peoples’ communication skills. As a result, I’ve been fairly critical of Paul’s sermons in the past. I have prayed earnest prayers that I would know how to find that balance between being encouraging and being bluntly honest. It occured to me today that those prayers have been answered, at least temporarily, by this new-found ability to simply enjoy my husband’s teaching. But it isn’t just that… have I mentioned that he’s really good?
And, despite Alex’s advice, Paul doesn’t mind my encouragement at all!