My Most Embarrassing Moment and a Lesson About Priorities

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Have you ever been asked about your most embarrassing moment?  Mine is ingrained in my mind like a freeze-framed DVD on the computer screen.  It happened like this –

Our four year-old daughter, Whitney, was attending pre-school at the Christian school in our area.  Ministry was busy and finances were tough.  Then out of the clear blue I got a phone call from the principal where our daughter was attending pre-school.  It seems they were in dire need of a second grade school teacher because the current teacher had quit.  He asked if I would pray about teaching the class for the year.  The whole year?  How could I swing that with all my other responsibilities as a wife, mom and pastor’s wife?   As my husband and I talked and prayed about it, we felt that perhaps this was the Lord providing for our needs.

As we prayed, I also consulted with my parents for their advice.  I clearly remember having a phone conversation with my dad where he discouraged me from taking the position because of the age of my little girl and her needs.  She would be home in the afternoon when I would still be at school.  I regretted later not heeding his warning!  But we reasoned that she would have time with her daddy while I was gone.  We failed to consider the many ministry responsibilities that would call for his time.

So, yes, I took the teaching job.  From the very first afternoon when I saw my husband pull out of the school parking lot with our daughter in tow, I regretted signing my name on the dotted line of that teaching contract!  But now it was too late.  We got into a routine – Whitney rode to school with me in the morning where she went to pre-school and I headed to the second grade classroom.  Her daddy picked her up at noon when her class was finished and they would visit church members together in the afternoon or she would play while he studied.  Some days, due to the need to visit the hospital or attend a funeral, she would spend the afternoon with a friend and fellow-pastor’s wife.  When I would hear that they had made cookies, played house or beauty shop, it would tear my heart in two!

Along with school, of course, were my ministry responsibilities.  I tried to keep up with activities and the people of our congregation.  One evening, desiring to show my concern, I approached a woman whose mother had been very ill.

“Mae, how is your mother doing?” I asked.  Her expression turned to disbelief, and she said in a somber tone, “Denise, my mother died two weeks ago.”

At that moment I wished could die!  How embarrassing!  I apologized for my blunder and somehow found my way to my seat where my face slowly returned to its natural color.

That’s what happened as a result of having too many plates spinning in the air and trying to keep them all going.  Now one had crashed to the floor – and in church of all places – the place where I should have been demonstrating care and concern!  I realized at that moment that I was doing too much, and that I wasn’t giving ample time or attention to the things that were most important.

Though that year was difficult, I learned the greatest lesson from that experience.   I learned what my priorities were, and working outside my home while I had children to raise was not one of them!   Hence, that was my first and last job, not because I was too lazy to work; I had just learned the hard way that the best (and most fulfilling) job for me was raising my girls and being a help-meet to my husband.  Nothing else in the world really mattered.  There were still times when I’ve felt I was spinning plates, but I had learned through my embarrassing moment not to allow those plates to be the ones that were closest to my heart.

How do you balance all the busy things going on in your world?  Is there something you feel the Lord would have you to give up? 

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