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Some of you may have already heard, but my family and I are embarking on a new chapter in our lives. We’ve spent the last four-and-a-half years ministering to college students with Chi Alpha, but last Sunday my husband was elected to be the new lead pastor of Crosspoint Church in Waverly, Iowa.
In some ways it doesn’t feel real yet. I mean, our house is on the market, and we’re in the process of looking for a new one in Waverly, but we can’t move there until June when the kids get out of school and fulfill the commitments that we made to my son’s sports team and my daughter’s dance recital that she’s worked towards all school year. So it feels a little far away, literally and figuratively.
If I’m honest I know that the role of a lead pastor’s wife comes with a certain level of expectation (really, nearly everything in life does). Some of those expectations will be clearly stated and others I’ll figure out as I go. 🙂 I’m sure there will be times when I fail to meet someone’s expectations and we’ll have to navigate that as best we can. But I don’t like to fail (who does, right?), so the very idea causes me more than a little stress.
I think that’s why I’ve been so comforted this week by what I read in John 1. The scene unfolds with the Pharisees trying to define John the Baptist. They wanted to determine his identity.
“When Jews from Jerusalem sent a group of priests and officials to ask John who he was, he was completely honest. He didn’t evade the question. He told the plain truth: ‘I am not the Messiah.’
They pressed him, ‘Who, then? Elijah?’
‘I am not.’
Exasperated, they said, ‘Who, then? We need an answer for those who sent us. Tell us something–anything!–about yourself.’
‘I’m thunder in the desert: “Make the road straight for God!” I’m doing what the prophet Isaiah preached.‘“ (vv. 19-23 The Message)
John knew exactly who he was (and who he wasn’t–sometimes that’s just as important!) and what he was there for. The Pharisees undoubtedly had their own expectations and desires for John to fulfill, but he was focused on what God had asked of him.
Later in John 1, Jesus comes on the scene. The group of disciples is beginning to take shape, and when Jesus and Peter meet this is what Jesus says:
“‘You’re John’s son, Simon? From now on your name is Cephas‘ (or Peter, which means ‘Rock’).” (v. 42 The Message)
Jesus immediately gave Peter identity. He defined Peter and, in that simple statement, gave him purpose. Being in the presence of Jesus allows us, as leaders, to let him define us and give us our identity. It’s in that place where we learn Jesus‘ expectations of us and realize that those are the only ones that really matter.