Defying Expections
May 12, 2014 Vicki Ohlerking

Defying Expections

May 12 2014

Irene Rollins | Co-Lead | i5 CHURCH | Odenton, MD

Three years ago when my husband and I were in the infancy stages of launching i5 CHURCH, I wondered, “What in the world had I gotten myself into?” I struggled and toiled with the thought of what was ministry going to look like for me in my new role! There was no playbook, but I was determined to figure it out. I really struggled with what I had known and been exposed to as being the model of a “First Lady.” All I knew was that the fancy hats, coordinating suits, and the trophy wife thing was not going to work for me at all.

We decided that I would champion our clean water outreach initiatives by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. Being born in Zambia, I’ve always had a passion to make a difference there.  That coupled with my passion for fitness I began to see my call being defined. I was going to trade my heels in for boots, and be the pastor’s wife who climbs mountains! This was a life changing moment for me that truly awakened the call on my life, especially during a time when I was searching for direction and clarity.

Defying the expectations of what it meant to be a pastor’s wife in the culture of a pre-existing church was challenging.  The pressure I felt when I heard people call me “First Lady” was overwhelming. This had much to do with the expectations I assumed people had of me as well as the unending list of expectations I had of myself.

Successfully summiting Kilimanjaro was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. The guide assigned to me kept reminding me, “You have to respect the mountain” and take it “pole pole” which means slowly, slowly in Swahili. He said, “If you don’t, you will be overwhelmed by the altitude and become ill.” My mentor who was a seasoned climber also never stopped encouraging me. When my strength was failing and I could no longer hear her or the guide’s voices, the Lord reminded me that He is my total source.  God was preparing me for my Kilimanjaro back at home!

My mountain back home was not defying the altitude of Kilimanjaro, but rather defying the expectations of my new role! Here are 3 things that I’m learning to help me defy those expectations:

  1. Be the best version of yourself. We all must learn to get comfortable in our own skin!  As you begin to identify and embrace your giftings and talents, God will use them in great ways to serve His people!
  2. Free yourself from the expectations of others.  I learned that as I set expectations for myself and communicated them to those around me, I took control of my life.  Rather than allowing the opinion of others to dictate your life, free yourself to be a God-pleaser not a people-pleaser!
  3. You cannot do it alone!  From the beginning I knew I needed a solid support system.  We all need other women who can cheer us on, who have been there done that, and can offer guidance and support when ministry gets crazy. All of us need people in our lives that will say “pole, pole” and never stop encouraging us!