For the next few months, Mondays on the blog are going to be dedicated to encouraging Ministry Wives. I’ve asked several friends to contribute to the series and hope that it will be a blessing to many of you.
Who is this series for? Anyone in the any capacity of ministry, but especially those who are married to men in leadership positions in the church: Missionary wives, evangelist wives, pastors wives, youth pastors wives, deacons and elders wives, etc. Also, those in full time ministry in Christian organizations. If you don’t find yourself in one of these categories, you can still benefit, because the truths are universal for all Christian women in all walks of life.
I know that my own search for MWs helps has been frustrating. Many are dated and written for women of older generations. And women today are not the same as women of 50 years ago, for good or for bad.
The lack of material may also be due to the fact that each ministry situation has it’s own dynamics and specifics are hard to address. In the mix you have a husband’s strengths and weaknesses, a wife’s strengths and weaknesses, a variety of different ministries, people with differing needs and personalities at varioius stages of Christian maturity or lack thereof, struggles personally and corporately in the body, etc…
Today I want to share three common struggles for ministry women (hereafter referred to as MWs) that I have either experienced or have seen firsthand:
Surviving rather than thriving:
Our devotional life is not optional but essential for abundant life. Abide in order to thrive.
MWs are normal people and just like everyone else, we have our ups and downs. People expect us to be “up” and therefore, when we have our “downs” people take note. Because we know this, and because we know that people assume that our bad days/months/seasons must mean that there is something seriously wrong with our husband’s ability to lead his own family (which can bring into question his qualifications to lead a church or ministry) it can put undo pressure on MWs to mask her own needs. In fact, many sources say that nearly 80% of MW have experienced serious seasons of depression. I believe that Satan uses this deception of “keeping up appearances”, pretending all is well when all is not well to discourage the wife, paralyze her with fear and attack the husband via the wife.
Let’s face it, the way we treat our husband at home affects them. Most guys just want their girl to be happy. And a wife who is not helping her man is hindering him. When a woman struggles with her own spiritual life, she most likely harms those closest to her. Think about it this way: Do you think you are harming or helping your husband’s ministry when you are:
- spiritually unstable or simple
- starting small fires and problems with your careless words
- over-reaching your boundaries
- answering for/taking over for/speaking for/ overstepping his leadership (By the way, don’t do this. Totally emasculating. You are not his mother. He can do his job just fine.)
- indifferent about what he’s trying to accomplish
- hindering his progress
If you are spiritually discouraged, the best thing you can do is be honest, be humble and get help. Make sure you are spiritually thriving. That’s it. Big secret revealed.
I recently flew to South Carolina to visit my oldest daughter. The airline stewardess dutifully went over the emergency procedures and reminded us that if the cabin pressure drops, we are to put our oxygen masks on first, and then help our children and neighbors. Taking care to put our oxygen mask on first makes us able to help others and makes us part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.
The same is true with our devotional life. If we are not thriving and are trying to help others, we become part of the problem instead of part of the solution.
Read through Psalm 1. Notice the adjectives used for the “blessed man”: He is like a tree planted, well rooted, leaves not wilted or withered but vibrantly green bringing forth fruit, prospering in their Christian walk, thriving and well watered. Whatever it takes to get you to this point, do it. Even if it means stepping out for a season to regroup and get your own spiritual life in order.
Committed but not Surrendered
When we follow Christ initially, we acknowledge our need for him to remove and cleanse us from our sins. We acknowledge his Lordship over all things. But as time goes by, we sometimes forget that we are really his servants. We forget that Romans 12:1 tells us to present our bodies as living sacrifices. We forget that the norm for all Christians is to live a fully surrendered life. The norm.
This means that we need to bow our entire life,
- all our plans
- all our desires,wishes and dreams
- all our words and thoughts
- all of our being
- all of our time and money
to the one who bought us with the precious blood of His Son.
We like to fancy ourselves “committed Christians.” But in fact, God wants us to be surrendered Christians. There is a very subtle difference between these two words:
A “committed” Christian retains the right to control what he/she commits to. Yes, I’ll commit to this ministry. No, I’ll not commit to that. The obvious point being that commitment means that we are in control.
A “surrendered” Christian has no will but her master’s. She does the will of her master whatever, whenever, wherever. She has this servant mindset 24/7. She realizes that being a servant/slave of Christ’s means placing her life in the hands of a good God. This is the place of peace and victory. Anytime we are harboring or hanging on to something sinful that we know God forbids, we are not a surrendered Christian. We are a rebellious Christian, playing games. When we claim our “rights” or tell God that “we’re only human” and justify sinful behavior, God will make life hard for us.
Since Eve tried to “run her own life” in the garden, we have struggled with dueling kingdoms. We want our own way; God wants us to surrender to His way.
Ask yourself: Does this action, thought, word, deed reflect my desire for the advancement of God’s kingdom or my own sinful little kingdom?
Renegade Thought Life
This could come under “surrendering” your thought life to Christ, but this is such a serious struggle for MWs that it is worthy of its own section.
What is your thought life like?
- Are you a Colossians 3:1 heavenly minded Christian? Where are your affections? What do you long for inside?
- Are you thinking the best about other people? Or do you always assume the worst?
- Do you complain inside about your situation in life?
- Do you dwell on the sins of others against you, nursing years of hurts, slight and wrongs, real or perceived?
If you are, you are reaping to yourself a harvest.
Sowing sinful thoughts reaps a sinful harvest. The thing is, you are only hurting yourself. You are entangling yourself in a self-righteous sin that does not die easily. After years of talking to yourself like this, you begin to believe your own sinful judgements and declarations about others. It hinders your love for people, and makes your testimony suspect. You can’t serve or love others that you think the worst about. End of story.
Satan is the ultimate slanderer and we are never in a good spot when we are joining in with his sin.
Thing is, even when you agree with God that this sin needs to go and you begin in obedience to run your thoughts through the sieve of scripture, your own mind and thoughts keep accusing you. Old habits die hard.
So don’t allow yourself to be entangled with this sin. Lasso your renegade thoughts. Take each thought captive:
- every vain imagination,
- every cynical, careless, callous, critical thought,
- every ungrateful complaint.
Replace it with scripture. Fight this one. Even if you feel like a crazy woman. Post scripture. Ask for God to cleanse your heart.
And by the way, Satan will accuse you in your own mind for years and try to make you believe that this is all that you are capable of. It’s not true. It takes work, but by God’s grace weed out sinful thoughts. You become what you think about!
Thanks for joining us today for our first MW’s Mini-Manifesto.
***Please share your words of wisdom with other MW’s in the comments section. I’m counting on you lovely women to help encourage others to keep fighting the good fight.