Really, this should be entry #99 as there’s so much I could have been writing about my journey as a pastor’s wife from day one.
Two inner vows I made when I was still single were: “I DO NOT want to marry a Salvadoran” and “I DO NOT want to marry a preacher.” Heck. No. Well, God had other plans for me because that’s exactly what I got.
As with any career path, there are two sides to the coin of ministry. There’s the good side (heads), and there’s the not-so-good side (tails) that is often experienced in the solitude and quietude of one’s heart.
I wanted a happy marriage, a stable family, and absolute security.
Being a pastor’s daughter all of my life, I had a lot of not-so-good experiences that tainted the sanctity of God’s calling in a person’s life. I saw my father toil, give priority to the Church, and work hard helping people. In the end, not many appreciated his efforts. There were those who criticized him, raised hell against him, and even tried to remove him from office. Knowing and experiencing this, is it any wonder that I did NOT want anything to do with ministry?
My father, Pastor Felix Larios, remained faithful in his calling to this day. After serving for over 30 years as president of the Hispanic denomination of which he remains a part, my father planted a new Hispanic congregation in Grand Prairie, Texas in 1999, which continues to be a vibrant church to this day. My mother, Pastor Dina Larios, continues to be a strong prayer warrior. The devil does NOT mess with her. Both my parents have served God faithfully and my sisters and I have seen God’s power, protection and provision in their lives. At ages 74 and 70, my parents are healthy and full of vigor.
God has a way of manifesting His power, presence and provision in miraculous ways. In scarcity, He shows His faithfulness. In sadness, He infuses your life with hope. In discouragement, He sends you love notes through the least expected people in the least expected ways at the least expected moments. I’ve experienced it already in our only 3-month journey since planting Shalom Church.
My husband, Nestor, has had a calling on his life from the moment he was saved. Even during his gangster days he can see his life sprinkled with clues about his life purpose. Each time he brought up the idea of pastoring, I did NOT welcome it.
So how the heck did I agree?
Well, it was the fall of 2019. We were still members of Gateway Church. Pastor Morris began to encourage the whole congregation to read the Bible. He had done it many times before, but this time there was something different about it. A seed was planted in me. Ps. Morris said something like this, “Just read the Bible. I promise it will change you!” And, oh my, did it change me.
My spirit received the encouragement. Of course I have read the Bible many times, and in recent years got stuck in Psalms and Proverbs because that’s where I found the most comfort and peace. But this time, Pastor Robert encouraged everyone to follow the Fresh Start Bible reading plan for 2020.
I was elated to read the Bible cover to cover for the first time in my life. January 2020 flew by so fast that I did not realize I had NOT started my reading plan on January 1st as I had planned. I became so discouraged. But something (of course, the Holy Spirit) encouraged me to start even if I was late. By the time I started I was 35 days late. I got caught up. And I became hooked!
I fell in love with God’s Word.
I began to see the scenes of the Old Testament accounts in my mind. I could hear the oceans roar when Moses parted the Red Sea. I could see the anger in Moses’ face when he broke the tablets. I could see Jesus teaching people with compassion and love in His eyes.
The Bible began to take on full color. It was no longer a boring book with black and white pages. I looked forward to reading the Bible daily. If I fell behind a day or two, I was committed to getting caught up. I read the NLT version in 2020 and I’m reading the TLV version this year.
The Bible changed me. It transformed my thinking. It gave me confidence. It showed me God. It showed me the heart of the Father.
That’s what did it. Reading God’s Word changed my heart to support my husband in his calling.
When things began to unfold to plant Shalom Church in late summer of 2020, I was excited! I never, ever thought I would be so happy serving God in a pastoral capacity. I used to dread it.
Answering God’s call requires faith and willingness to do the work. To do the activities that nobody wants to do. To be uncomfortable. To give a little extra than what you’ve got. To put in the elbow grease, roll up your sleeves and serve — from greeter, to usher, to host, to janitor and so many other positions behind the scenes. From being the first one to arrive at church to being the last one to leave. From preparing classes for training to staying late after service cleaning toilets.
Are YOU willing?
Are you willing to accept both sides of the coin in ministry? Will you accept both “heads” and “tails” of ministry?
Many want the glory… but not the background story that goes behind the glory.
Many want the love and acceptance of others… but not the criticism and misunderstanding that goes with making the choice of obeying God’s voice.
Many want the affirmation and encouragement of others… but not their doubts and unbelief about your calling.
Jesus himself went through all these things in His human experience, and even worse.
So what keeps ministers and pastors going?
Only God’s love can help you see past the natural, visible circumstances, trials, misunderstandings, and see God’s Kingdom for what it really is. God’s Kingdom is all about people. It’s about seeing people the way the Father sees them. It’s about treating people the way Jesus treated them. Our Savior touched the lepers, ate with tax collectors, and loved the poor and outcast of society. He saw them all the same — souls in need of God.
If as pastors and ministers we don’t deeply love people, we might as well go home.
In the stillness of the night, I find myself praying often, “Lord help me to see and love people the way you see and love them because I really don’t know how to do it.”
Matthew 9:36-38 says that:
When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Now that I am serving at a pastoral level, I can see that there is sooooo much work to do, and surely the laborers are so few.
Truly, I am seeing a clearer picture of what it really means to serve God and His Kingdom.
God has a calling on your life.
Are. You. Willing?