It Takes Grace

Sarcastic infighting. Negative putdowns. Stinging stares. Volatile explosions of anger. Doors slamming. Desperate feelings of loneliness. Awkward silence. Those descriptions portray the marriages in many homes and families.

And also, in many parsonages.

We are not immune, are we? It is possible that you have gotten to the place where you look for excuses not to be home. Or to be there as little as possible. It’s easy in the ministry to justify our absence, isn’t it? Even in our own minds.

For more years than I care to remember, I was so insecure and fearful it wasn’t uncommon for me to drill Cynthia with questions—petty, probing questions that were little more than veiled accusations. It is amazing she endured it. Finally, we had one of those famous showdown confrontations every married couple has had. (Yes, even pastors.) No need to repeat it, but she made it painfully clear that I was smothering her, I was imagining things she never even thought of doing . . . and it had to stop. Her words hurt, but she did the right thing. Thankfully, I took her seriously.

I went to work on this ugly side of my life. I confessed my jealousy to Cynthia. I assured her I would never again treat her with such a lack of trust. I asked God for grace to help, for relief from the destructive habit I had formed, and for the ability to love and give myself to this woman without all the choking conditions.

I distinctly recall how much an understanding of grace helped me. It was as if grace was finally awake in my life, and I could appropriate its power for the first time. It seemed to free me; first in small ways, and finally in major areas. I can honestly say today that I do not entertain a single jealous thought. Grace literally wiped that slate clean.

I’ve said for years now that my favorite place on earth is just inside the door of my home. I absolutely love being home. It is there I find maximum security and acceptance, fulfillment and accountability, responsibility and harmony, and honesty and love. Why? Because we are committed to the same common denominator: Grace.

  • Grace releases and affirms. It doesn’t smother.
  • Grace values the dignity of individuals. It doesn’t destroy.
  • Grace supports and encourages. It isn’t jealous or suspicious.

What does it take for us as pastors to be just as thoughtful and encouraging and creative with our wives as with those who sit in front of us on Sundays?

I have the answer: it takes grace.

—Chuck

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  • John David Crawford

    Wow….thanks Chuck, for your candor , openness and honesty. I’ve got a hunch that many parsonages will be “set-free” as a result of the vulnerability you have shared from the Swindoll residence. Bless your precious wife ,for being a Proverbs 31 lady!!! Onward…together, in all honesty.

  • Roy Layman

    Needed this! Thanks Pastor Chuck, for your commitment to GRACE, and for leading us to committ to it as well.

  • Alvin Tallant

    My wife and I have been mammied for 48 yrs. and the last year was the hardest, probably because I was diagnosed with “Epilepsy”. I had 5 nearly fatal seizures before the doctors found a series of medicines that would stop the seizures before they became fatal. It has been hard for my wife to accept.

  • Trena Puentes

    beautiful, beautifully shared! Thank you! Although, I am not a pastor, nor a pastor’s wife, it is a lesson for all.

  • Pierre Franco

    This is one I haven’t done away with completely Pastor Chuck. I’m probably 75% there. It’s been tough but I’m working on it.