My wife recently invented a new Coupon for herself.
Every few months, she declared, she is entitled to a coupon that allows her to skip church for no reason whatsoever, whenever she feels like it.
I was instantaneously impressed. I admired her boldness and the irrefutable logic that, though unspoken, obviously undergirded her declaration.
She is not just the pastor’s wife; she is the church planter’s wife. She’s in a till-death-do-us-part with the man with whom the buck stops. She’s in a for-richer-or-poorer with the man who may not have a buck to show for his work if it doesn’t take root. She’s in an in-sickness-or-in-health with the man whose health may suffer from the work he’s called to, and who isn’t allowed to just get sick of it and not show up.
I don’t get any of those Coupons.
I have to plan for my absences, delegate responsibilities in order to take a vacation, and have a fallback plan in the event that I get food poisoning. I’ve shared leadership and worked to cultivate communal ownership from the very beginning. I’ve intentionally worked to create a culture in which I’m not the center of attention. I’ve challenged our people to increasingly high levels of responsibility.
But still. Everyone else can present their Coupon. Now, even my amazing wife can. But I cannot.
You can’t be upset about the unique responsibility that comes with the unique privilege of being a church planter. In fact, when others present their Coupon, you shouldn’t even be disappointed. There’s other roles in each of their lives in which they have no Coupon. This is yours.
If you’re going to be fretful every time a loyal, committed, down-in-the-trenches-with-you friend and co-laborer presents their Coupon, you need to not become a church planter. If you’re already a church planter and you’re fretting about the Coupon, you need to seriously assess whether you are in the wrong line of work.
Make it a practice: every time someone presents their Coupon, pause and thank Jesus that he has blessed you with the unique privilege of being a church planter. Thank him for the fierce loyalty and camaraderie of the Coupon Presenter. Thank him for your wife’s boldness in remembering that she is a Coupon Holder. Thank him for the other areas of your calling in which you get to be a Coupon Holder.
And then smile and breathe easy. You have a great job. A great calling. And great people.
Thank Jesus for all that.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lordyour labor is not in vain.” – Paul, Couponless Church Planter.