What spoon do I use? 2 Thoughts on Dealing with Marital Measurements

From the youngest of ages, I’ve enjoyed cooking. For me, it’s quite therapeutic to chop, dice, slice, filet, etc. But I confess, even though I’ve cooked hundreds of meals…

I don’t know the difference between a tablespoon and teaspoon.

Stupid huh? I literally watch Food Network on my iPad while I cook and I still have to google which one is “table” and which one is “tea” (just googled it again). When I do, I shake my head and tell myself, “I should have known that; it’s obvious.”

It may not be a huge deal to you, but measurements in cooking are meant to be accurate, especially in baking. And by using a wrong measurement, you can wind-up making something you didn’t intend on producing.  Using a “tablespoon” of one element, when it was supposed to be a “teaspoon,” can change the flavor, adjust the consistency,  or take what you’re trying to create in the wrong direction. I’ve either ruined many of recipes or didn’t get the fullness of dining experience because of inaccurate measurements.

Marriage is no different. I find that problems don’t come by a lack of measurement but the instrument for which we use to estimate and/or evaluate what we are facing. When you use inaccurate measurements, you can severely change the flavor (attitude, tone, and atmosphere) of your marriage, the consistency (integrity, connectedness, and unity) of it, and take what you are building (growing, learning, and maturing) into a wrong direction. Often I find husbands and wives fall prey to what has become the primary (and extremely inaccurate) human measurement device: comparison.

I’ve discovered that this internal measuring tape is used in two extremes. First, comparison takes our deficiencies and measures them against somebody’s highlight real. Perhaps you see another couple, possibly a best friend or even your parents, and used them to measure the quality and/or substance of your marriage. I’m not against having mentors. In fact, I encourage it. But there’s a difference between being looking upon to a marriage for the purpose of encouragement and challenge and looking up to a marriage to idolize someone’s life and inflicting your marriage with an ideal.

Secondly, comparison takes our perceived “strengths” and put them up against somebody else’s perceived “weaknesses” for the purpose to make ourselves feel better. This inaccurate measurement is steeped in pride. It’s meant to make you feel better in the moment but convinces you into thinking growth or change isn’t necessary because you are not “as bad as (enter someone’s name).”  

Comparison is the seduction of our enough-ness. You either lose your feeling of being enough by what you lack in correlation to another couple or will you gain a sensation of being enough by contrasting what’s “right” with you to someone else’s perceived wrongness. Regardless, no matter how you play the comparison game, you lose. When you don’t find that you (and your spouse) are enough in Christ, you will place that demand upon someone or something that was not equipped to fulfill that.

The remedy is in the understanding of the uniqueness of your marriage. You’re less apt to compare when you cannot find a similar example. I find it’s easy to forget that both you and your spouse are, individually, made “wonderfully complex.” So if you as individual humans are complex, then the make up of each marriage is just as complex as man and woman come together. Again, this doesn’t mean you cannot have people to as mentors. It also doesn’t mean there are not principles to guide husbands and wives. But it does make you contextualize. Simply said: Look at your marriage, the season you are in, and how you and your spouse were created and gifted. When you can truly see what you are working with, you can build on Christ-centered principles to feed your marriage. Comparison does the opposite. You look at the “context” who other people are and what they have and try to enforce that upon the “context” for which the two of you live.

The fact is this: by human measurements, we’ll never be enough. When we think we’ve measured up, somebody will have moved the bar. Then we find ourselves constantly chasing things we were never meant to find our meaning in.  Stop working for the validation that comes from an inaccurate assessment and hold onto the measurement that matters: You can have an identity found Jesus. It’s not only a place to live from but it’s an identity to work with. For if you can see how Jesus see’s you, you’ll be more apt to see your spouse how Christ sees him/her. Your life will display the image of the identity you live in.

Christ, then, becomes the place for which we can “measure” our lives. And the beauty of that challenge is not to necessarily show what we lack but to help us know what we possess AND how we can grow day by day. You’ll discover that type of “measurement” keeps you personally humble YET encourages you to pursue Jesus. I find the more I receive from Him, the more I’m able to give and serve my spouse. So in essence, my place of “measurement” is also the place of my “empowerment.”

Set down the comparison that has robbed you of joy. Trust that Jesus is enough. And when you find that “enough-ness” in Him, let your marriage draw from and grow into that.

Love you all. Praying for husbands and wives today as you two pursue Jesus and each other.

Encourage effort.
Celebrate progress.
Feed hope.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

BTW: Check out my book. Click on the link below.


Pastor to Pastor: 4 Thoughts About Wearing Your Own Shoes

Pastoring is pressure.

In other news, water is wet and the Detroit Lions are disappointing.

There are a number of “pressure” statements that we as pastors hear. There are very few bigger pressure statements than this one:

“You have big shoes to fill.”

In almost 20 years of ministry, I’ve held 3 positions and I heard it in all of them (as I have followed some legendary youth pastors and lead pastors). In any interviews we’ve had, we were told that we could be ourselves. But through each ministry journey, we discovered the pressure of expectations that were connected to very loved pastors that preceded us. Even after 7 years of Lead Pastoring at Kfirst, people still refer to any one of the previous 3 Lead Pastors and say to me, “You have big shoes to fill.” Part of me doesn’t mind. I’m glad people appreciate my them. But early in ministry (and I’ll admit, early in this position) the added burden was stifling.

It was a previous associate pastor from our church who gave me a word that, to this day, am convinced was a direct word from the Lord. It took me a few years to comprehend it, but it was Brooks McElhenny, the brother of the pastor I followed, said to me,

“Be yourself.”

Two words that I’ve been hanging onto now for 7 years. They are two words I’ve wept over in my prayer closet after getting a nasty email or a cowardly unsigned note in my mailbox (side note: don’t EVER read unsigned notes…if someone don’t have the respect to sign the letter, the letter doesn’t get the respect of being read). They are two words that I have clung to when I am told that I’m not what people expected. Those two words have been the liberation I needed when I want to resort to imitating someone who seems to have more ministry “success” than I am having.

People connect so much success and moments to the monumental ministers in their lives. I believe we should honor them. We shouldn’t disregard their memories or their contribution to the Kingdom. But far too many present pastors are wearing the shoes of the previous pastor. Trying to live up to people’s legacies will cause you to live and die by people’s memories.

You feel you have to continue their story instead of the narrative God want’s to write.
You’ll live out their identity instead of allowing the Holy Spirit shape yours.
You’ll lose out on vision because you can’t get your eyes forward. You and the congregation keep looking back.
You can’t anticipate what God is doing next because you are trying to regain what He already did.

My word to you today: Wear your own shoes. When the previous pastor left, he wore his shoes.

Be yourself.

Being yourself doesn’t throw away what God has done. Put previous pastors in a place of honor not worship. Honor doesn’t mean shrines are built or displays are made. It doesn’t mean you must have them back at the church (though it’s not a bad idea, I’ve had Pastor Dalaba come back).  It’s how you speak of them. It is in the way you refer to them. We honor those we follow; We don’t worship them. All the glory and honor belongs to Christ and Him alone.

Being yourself  is a statement of stewardship not an excuse to never change. Be teachable and don’t stop growing. I love learning from both older and younger pastors. I want my life and ministry to continue to take shape.

Being yourself is a protection from trying to imitate others. Use other’s examples to sharpen you not so that you reflect them. God breathed into His Spirit into you to be an ambassador for Him not the preacher you idolize.

Being yourself is a guard against competition. Why? It makes you value the work of the Kingdom. And when you value the work of the Kingdom, it releases you to celebrate the work of the Kingdom in other churches. You’ll celebrate with other pastors instead of competing with them. 

I am not Pastor Pace. I am not Pastor Dalaba. I am not Pastor McElhenny. They left and so did their shoes. The shoes I wear, the role I play, and the pastor I am is who God made me and who God continuing to shape. 

Wear your own shoes. Be bold in being the minister God sent to your specific place. And when you are gone, take your shoes with you so that the next person can be themselves. 

I believe in you. I’m praying for you.


Thanks for letting me ramble…