With freedom comes responsibility. With responsibility comes trust. Trust is earned.
These were parenting thoughts we instilled in our children as they walked through their teen years. Looking back on those child raising years I see areas where I might do things differently now. Sometimes I cringe when I think of the times I spent screaming at my kids, dumping guilt trips, or placing expectations on them simply because, as pastors, we had expectations placed on us.
In parsonage life this is known as The Fish Bowl Effect.
You know those times when you see people drive by your front room window? Perhaps in the evening when the lights are on, curtains open? They see what you are watching on your HD flat screen TV, where you are sitting in your living room, and heaven forbid…what you are or are not wearing in the summer heated evenings…
Yeah. The fish bowl. People staring into your “space” and knowing…or think they know who you are.
I inwardly screamed to be free of the fish bowl known to us as parsonage life, so I can only imagine how my kids must have felt as they spread their wings and left our nest. Or is that wiggled their fins and swam to new and less conspicuous waters? Whatever analogy pops into your mind works here, just keep swimming with my thought line. Eventually I found freedom; freedom to be myself without the fish bowl or legalistic expectations and without judgmental eyes on me as a parent, wife, or ministry leader.
But with freedom comes responsibility. While the looking glass in the hands of congregational or community members’ seems to be lifted from over my head, I realize that my responsibility is still to live a life pleasing to God.
I’m not saying I’ve had epic failures in the freedom/responsibility area of my life, but I see where I have allowed myself to become selfish in my freedom. I’ve worried too much about me, me, me, and wanting all that is due to ME in MY freedoms and lost focus on being responsible for the things God has placed before me. My attitude has become one of selfish service. Simply put, like my kids in their teen years at times, I find myself obedient because I have to not because I want to.
With responsibility comes trust and trust is earned. Our kids learned that if they messed up when we trusted them, it took awhile to earn our trust back. Restraints were put on what few freedoms they did have and there seemed to be an invisible barrier below the surface of daily living. A barrier that stole the joy between parent and child.
Today I am examining the invisible barrier with my Heavenly Father. One that my selfish desire for freedom has made me shirk the responsibility to be who He called me to be. I want the joy between Him and this freedom seeking child to be restored. I want Him to trust me again. I want to be the wife, mother, grandmother…and yes…ministry leader he desires me to be.
As a reader, may I encourage you to allow ministry leaders in your life to close the curtains on their fish bowl and allow them the freedom to swim? God has called them and He trusts them to keep their hearts in tune to be responsible to that calling. They are on a journey in their faith just like anyone else.
"I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments." ~Psalm 119:45 (NLT)
In freedom, responsibility, and trust...