I’ve referred to Jennifer Rothschild in previous posts. She is a well-known Christian speaker/musician, who, blind since her teens, has written some very poignant material on faith. I receive a women’s ministry newsletter from her and was struck by the following article. Certainly, it pertains to those that are “up front”, those in ministry in front of a small group, a church congregation, or an arena of thousands. But the truth of the matter is that we are ALL being watched. If we claim to be Christians and live by the standards that God has set for our lives, we have an audience. So, read on and swim freely…the water’s fine!
Recently, I was asked if I had any advice for those women in ministry who feel like they live in a fish bowl – constantly on display, every move noticed, every choice open for analysis! Well, at the risk of sounding like a Dear Abbey wannabe, I do have a few thoughts.
First, transparent walls are good for us! Now, be brave… keep on reading!
If we live our lives with a constant awareness that others are watching us, it can bring us an unexpected gift. What?, you might say. It seems more like a burden than a gift! The gift of which I am speaking is a deeper desire for personal holiness. A life of holiness is not a burden, it’s a blessing.
Holiness had always been an intimidating concept for me. It sounded so unattainable. It reminded me of constant striving, and certain failure. But life in a fish bowl has taught me that holiness is not intimidating, but inviting. Why? Personal holiness has nothing to do with my own effort. Personal holiness is the gift God gave me. It’s the gift I give back to God, and it’s the gift others are blessed by when they observe me swimming by.
Holiness is…all of God being fully active in all of me.
If I recognize that other’s eyes are on me, then I want to make sure they see God when they look at me. For others to see God, I must breathe in the Living Water through my gills daily, and exhale evidence of His Spirit living within me.
Second, the transparent walls within which we swim (I know, sometimes it feels like we are drowning) are really life giving boundaries. Often God makes our ministries a place where we recognize we are completely dependent on God to be fed. Our ministries are not anything we have achieved. A fish doesn’t flip and flop its way into the bowl of its choosing. No, it is intentionally placed there by one who fully intends to support, nurture, and sustain it. You see, my water logged friend, true ministry is received, not achieved.
Sometimes our fish bowls become cloudy. Sometimes the ph (pride-humility) balance isn’t quite right. Sometimes we get distracted by the curious onlookers. We feel intimated by the apparent audience and we begin to perform. Sometimes unexpected waves begin to churn when the bowl gets jostled. But ride the waves my friends! Look up to be fed! Enjoy the boundaries. It is where Living Water is contained. Swim on.
Your purpose in the fish bowl is not to perform, but to reflect the one who placed you there in the first place. He is the one who feeds you. He is the one who chose you. He is the one who empowers you to thrive in His living water. When others take a look into your fish bowl, may they see Him. May your holiness be the gift you give to all of those who observe your life. May your personal holiness ultimately be the gift you give back to God.
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.” Ephesians 5:1
Excellent post Melinda. Of course I am biased. I am Jennifer’s husband, Dr. Phil. Seriously thank you for being a friend to our ministry. Dr. Phil
Thanks Phil! I’m honored that you would drop by…your wife has touched me in so many ways, especially with her book, “Lessons I Learned in the Dark”. May God continue to richly bless you and Jennifer, your family and the ministry that He has given you.
Melinda~ thank you for introducing me to Jennifer’s writings. Her vision is so crisp. I have ‘goose bumps’ just remembering sitting outside and reading her words. I love this perspective of the blessings of living life in a fish bowl:)
I think Jennifer would be pleased with your comment “her vision is so crisp.” Her faith gives her a vision that is a gift offered to all of us – and it has nothing whatsoever to do with eyesight. A very, very wise woman indeed!