Grandma’s Hope – Charity Goodwin
Ministers are some of the busiest during this holiday season. There will be extra services to lead, missions to support the community, the untimely passing of members, and the continual preaching of the gospel, to name a few. In some ways, the minister is always over-extended, and too often they sacrifice themselves and their most important relationships in service to God and others.
So what does hope look like for the tired and weary minister who’s experiencing compassion and decision fatigue throughout the pandemic, who’s done more funerals, and is discouraged by the slow return of folks to in-person church? What happens when those who preach hope feel hopeless?
My grandma’s definition of hope values each person’s ability to be hope for another and to receive hope.
Thelma Carter, my grandma, was the epitome of hope in our family. She was from Yazoo City, Mississippi. She and my grandpa both migrated to the north. But, as the saying goes, you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.
Her country showed up in the way she pronounced – or rather, mispronounced – some words different from city slickers. I remember one day she asked me about the new “celery” phones. Her attempt, of course, was to say cellular. I would never laugh in front of her about her misspoken words, but they still make me chuckle. Celery phone.
One of her main “mess ups” was replacing the word HOPE for the word help. She’d say, “I hoped Betty with the chil’ren” or “I hope out at the church. Do you need me to hope you?”
Grandma hoped her family by sending money for them to move from the south to the north. When they arrived, she hoped them by showing radical hospitality – opening her home for them until they could make it on their own. She hoped many a folk with her homemade baked warm mac and cheese and 7up pound cake.
Ask for Hope
Ministers this holiday season need help – or hope, as Grandma would say. If you’re a minister who overworks and feels burned out, there are two things I encourage you to do. First, ask for help (hope). Asking for help is a sign of courage. It’s knowing what you need. What if by asking for the help of your neighbors, family, members, and friends you are inviting them to be hope for you? It’s easier said than done, I know. Take a moment to list what you need. Then choose one thing for which to ask help by the end of the month.
The usual posture of ministers is one of giving. Just as important, however, is practicing and modeling acceptance of help from others. Researcher Dr. Brené Brown writes that “when you judge yourself for needing help, you judge those you are helping. When you attach value to giving help, you attach value to needing help. The danger of tying your self-worth to being a helper is feeling shame when you have to ask for help. Offering help is courageous and compassionate, but so is asking for help.” You might need to read that again. As a minister, this quote transformed the way I showed up to help others and, in turn, allowed me to accept help in more gracious ways.
What if by accepting help, you accept hope? Let somebody hope you this season.
A Present Hope
After the year and a half the world has endured, ministers in particular may need to reconnect and remember God’s call on their life. If ever there was a time for those in church and the greater kingdom of God to live out their unique calls in the world, now is the time.
I wrote GET UP: Unearthing Your Passion & Taking Brave Action in 50 Days to help people collaborate with God to resurrect their call and purposefully embrace the power of the Holy Spirit. The hope of GET UP is that resurrection isn’t only for Jesus; it’s also for you in the here and now, not just in the by and by. This is a very present hope for today’s ministers of hope.
May your holiday be filled with the hope of Jesus as you practice asking for help, accepting help, and actively remembering and living the call God placed on your life.
Rev. Charity Goodwin is the Clayton Site Pastor of The Gathering in St. Louis, MO. She helps ministers start new things based on Isaiah 43:19. She’s also committed to supporting the emotional health of those who serve in ministry
This Holiday Season, Charity Is Supporting: Sherwood Forest Camp
Sherwood Forest Camp equipped me as a leader. It serves children from low-income families and underserved communities with camp experiences, leadership development and evidence-based programs. I am who I am today because of camp. I hope for other children to have this same opportunity.