Archive for Ministry Wives Mini Manifesto

Seeking Friendship {Ministry Wives Edition}

For the next few posts I’ll be answering a few ministry related questions I’ve received over the last few months. Hopefully, by reading someone else’s perspective, it’ll help you make sense of your situation. I know every ministry situation is different and has its own nuances. Please feel free to take what helps and leave what doesn’t. Okay, then?

friendship

I frequently get asked about friendships in ministry–specifically the lack of forming close friendships in your own congregation.

It’s no secret that friendships in ministry can be tricky.

No matter where you serve,

whether full-time, part-time, or layman, missionary, youth pastor’s wife, musician, or church planter’s wife, we all need someone to love us enough to speak truth into our lives. But we all know that sometimes transparency backfires in a leadership position. This is certainly the ministry wife’s catch-22.

“Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.” Although this saying from Rachel Lynde is laughable, there’s wisdom in realizing that we are all just people walking through various stages of life at different stages of sanctification. Since we are flawed people serving with other flawed people, wisdom is necessary when sharing our heart.

You don’t share your heart with someone who gossips about others.

You don’t share your heart to someone who is critical or outspoken about every little thing.

And repeat after me:”Transparency is not spilling your gut and sharing every thought. That’s venting.”

You simply don’t share with people who have proved themselves untrustworthy.

  • I know of one friend who was co-laboring with another couple and who shared some deep troubles they were having in their marriage, desperate for help, and they were basically disciplined out of the church after a slow death of the relationship, and told they would not be recommended for another ministry because of their marriage issues. (For the record, their marriage is thriving.)
  • In another instance, a ministry friend was punished by a bitter pastor’s wife after sharing concerns about ministry practice to her.
  • In yet another instance, a pastor’s wife and family were raked over the coals for asking, through a broken heart, for prayer for a struggling teen.

So what do you do about forming close friendships as a ministry wife?

Well, the Lord initiates friendship with us and the Bible warns about how vulnerable the “loner” is, and how there is strength in numbers, so we know avoiding friendship is not the answer.

The pat answer seems to be to have friends in other ministries because sometimes you do need to “talk shop.”

There’s a problem with this, though. Friends in other ministries don’t know our “blind spots” and we’re certainly not going to tell them because–wait for it–we are completely blind to them, so our version of the “truth” might be skewed and we might not get the help we need.

And God does PUT us with people to humble us and chisel away our ungodly characteristics, so total avoidance is really short changing yourself.

Here are a few things I’ve learned in my limited experience:

Be in your Bible.  God’s word is there to convict you and change you. Go into each reading assuming that God wants to humble you in some area. Then read to change. God also offers you friendship and only when you love God supremely will you actually have the ability to love others well, warts and all.

Know your church culture. If you’re in a church culture where truth is valued and transparency is safe, then by all means, feel free to share with your fellow leadership wives or trusted friends. If you’re not sure about the culture, listen, listen, listen to the way people talk about others when they fail. You can tell a lot about the humility of a leader by how well or ill they speak of others.

Accept what God gives you. You might really want a close friend and deep conversations but God keeps giving you younger moms who are really needy for advice and play dates. God always gives us what we need. He promises to. Perhaps our desire is stronger than it should be and God wants us to serve others at a play date at the park or beach.

Keep friendship in perspective. We sometimes imagine that there is that one person out there who will always be there for us, be completely loyal, never let us down, always know just what to say. There is only one person who can do all this and it’s God. That kind of pressure on any friend will kill it from the start. Friendships are good gifts, but not the ultimate thing: God is!

Pray for a wise woman. She doesn’t have to be in your congregation, but pray for an older woman to talk to. You don’t have to bear your soul. You might just really listen and learn as she talks about God’s faithfulness through years of marriage and child raising and widowhood.

Look for a woman who has these qualities:

  1. She doesn’t feel the need to gossip to gain acceptance or to seem like she’s in the know. This quality assures you she’ll keep your confidence.
  2. She speaks well of others.
  3. She’s self-controlled in her life and emotions.
  4. She’s Word-filled. Enough said.
  5. She’s faithful. Her yes means yes and her no means no.

Realize that God appoints your place and time and makes no mistakes. You don’t have to be best friends with someone in order to work with them. Your personalities don’t even have to mesh. Because in the end, love for God will smooth the way.

 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.

Notice that Paul doesn’t give relationship strategies or personality profiles to help fix whatever was troubling Euodia and Synthche, two New Testament women who seemed to clash. He tells them to recognize their place “in the Lord.” He emphasizes their mutual submission to the Lord. He was saying, “Hey, girls, it’s not all about you! It’s all about the Lord!”

Realizing that we are “in the Lord” does eliminate any temptation for one-upmanship or insisting on your own way. This brings humility. Serving in unity rises and falls on our willingness to see ourselves in Him.

Initiate friendships. If God brings someone to mind, you initiate. If you’re lonely, they might be, too. Make the first call. Invite them over. Ask to meet for coffee. Contact them online. Tell them you’d like to get to know them better. This is always a blessing.

Don’t demand that friendship look a certain way. Maybe for a season, your friendships will be with older women or with women walking through a sorrowful season. You be the friend that you’d want to have.

Don’t waste your loneliness. Read good books. Do an online Bible study. Encourage others. Visit a nursing home. Babysit for a younger mom. When one of my girls struggled with loneliness in her teens, I told her that maybe God was preparing her to depend heavily on Him for some mission work in her future or season of isolation.

“Be not weary in well doing. For in due season, you will reap if you faint not.”

I’ve learned that God uses every trial to direct and lead me. When I’ve lacked close friendship, He’s used unpleasant circumstances to lead me to the people and the opportunities where He wants me to minister. And in obedience and joy, there’s so much hopeful anticipation about what God is doing and how He’ll provide for each of our needs, just like He’s promised He will.

 

 

 

 

Unfair Ministry: Ministry Wives Edition

Last week I wrote about hard times in ministry. I received more email about totally ridiculous stuff that goes on in ministry, much of it unfair, and it’s horrible and hurtful and my heart goes out to you. A also received several inboxes saying that this series is not just applicable to the ministry but to all women, and I do agree.

But I specifically wrote to my fellow ministry wives because ministry wives often suffer alone and there are certain types of temptations that, although not “uncommon to man”, are often very commonly found lurking in the hearts of good, ministry-minded folks.

photo-1444594975920-e69885b357d5

 

And in order to lead from a position of grace, we need to be aware of the pitfalls that are common in ministry.For instance, because you are a leader, the desire to be respected can morph into a campaign to dominate, demand to be consulted, or to get your own way. Or perhaps, since you end up making many of the decisions about church matters, humility takes a back seat and you no longer consider the needs, sensitivities, or quirks of other congregants, taking the my way or the highway approach, when care and consideration would have been the prudent, others-minded way. And there are too many other temptations associated with ministry to even list.

Ministry wives, life is “unfair” and ministry life is often messy and wisdom would dictate that we keep ourselves in check. We are 100% responsible for our own actions and nobody elses. I suggest that we really *believe* that sin is harmful and that we are blind to our own sin, and we want to avoid it, we need to step back, take heed, lest we fall and “go our own way” becoming a law unto ourselves. Especially in the context of trials. Our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked. Do we believe this or do we believe that we’re a in a higher class of sinners than the people we serve?

On top of blindness to our own sin, we are often given opportunities or preference that other congregants might not receive, simply because we married a ministry guy. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this. God does assign us our portion and lot.

The trouble comes when we accept opportunities that we are not in any spiritual condition to perform or when we expect preferential treatment and get bent out of shape when overlooked.(pride)

Example: I’ve been offered speaking opportunities or other ministry related opportunities over the years simply because I am married to Peter and because of the blog and there are times when I’ve had just plain said “NO.”

Why? Well, sometimes it’s due to seasons of life or schedules, but other times its because I know the condition of my own heart. I know that life has been busy and I should be learning not teaching. I know that I have been unholy and stubborn and I need to learn submission to God before I step out again. Sometimes I forgo writing here because I need to obey more so that my words have meaning when I speak. Anyone can get up and speak, right? But if your life is not matching up, ladies, what’s the point? Anyone can open their home to strangers and serve, but if you’ve been mistreating your own kids and husband, where’s the authenticity and uprightness in that?

This ministry life is not a show or our stage. If you want to impact your home/church/sphere, let the words you speak and claim to love match your actions. That’s the best contribution/legacy/testimony we can give to our families, children, and church.

During trials, the Lord is concerned about my heart and this should my highest concern as well.

“Search me, Oh God” and inspect my heart, and don’t let me dare run ahead of you in speech, ministry.

Let’s face it, if you’ve been in ministry you know that all people are sinful, like the pastor who views pornography and brushes it under the carpet then gets up and preaches, or the ministry wife who makes jabs about one member and then is quick to get up and praise the Lord out of the other side of her mouth. Sin abounds in all of us and the church is not exempt.

Because sin can so easily go undetected, it’s helpful to ask, “If I were not the pastors’/evangelists’/youth pastors’/missionarys’ wife, would I be asked to do this ministry based on my godly reputation, humble interactions, faithful service, consistent testimony? If not, say no.

If you were not a leadership wife…if you were a lay person in the church…would people–

  • ask you for wise counsel based on your knowledge and application of God’s Word in your own life?
  • confide their troubles and assume that you wouldn’t gossip?
  • say that you know how to control your tongue and are consistent to use it to bless bless and not curse? Am I gushing fresh water one day and brackish the next? (James 3:10-12)
  • say my life is described as “moderate”–my appetites under control. AKA… I can say no to myself. Or do I swing the pendulum with my words,moods, weight, hobbies, spending, time, etc…Is moderation a defining quality or do I swing from one extreme or the other?

These are questions we should ask ourselves because others may not ask or enforce them upon us. Most people assume that you’ve got it all together and that makes it even more dangerous.

We know from God’s Word that true wisdom is seen by living out the gospel humbly, without mean-spirited ambition, boasting, or lashing out with the tongue. Passions and desires under the Lordship of Christ.

That’s why TRIALS are so invaluable to our lives. In my experience, it’s during trials when my guard is down that I can see the true nature of my heart. I get a glimpse of what’s ruling underneath and what motives are moving me to action.

How do you respond when someone says no to you or tells you to wait? How do you respond when confronted with your own sin? Are you still able to answer to/submit to other people or do you believe yourself above that? These are the MINISTRY MOMENTS when God is trying to draw you closer to Himself. He’s asking you to throw off your pride, stop demanding your rights, and humbly follow Him.

God uses UNFAIR ministry, ladies, for our good and His glory.

He allows that woman to give you the cold shoulder to test your humility. He allows that callous remark to see whether you’ll love that unlovely one or no. He wants us to obey His Word through it all of the hurt and unfairness.

Or we can respond by running ahead doing what we think will give us momentary satisfaction and, ultimately, happiness, or by running our mouth, causing a “wildfire” of trouble.

Let’s remember Sarah, Abraham’s wife, when we are tempted to run ahead of God and take matters into our own hands. Although Sarah had faith in God, we see that she doubted God’s ability to keep His promise to give her a son in her old age. That one thing she wanted so badly…and she allowed discouragement to linger and unhappiness to blossom until she took matters into her own hands.

That’s why we CAN’T look at our circumstances. To focus on our trials is to look away from our Faithful God.

Looking to our circumstances too long breeds doubt, despair, discouragement, depression, cynicism, and a sour spirit. Have you ever blurted something and realized how SOUR it was!? I have!

When we look to the Lord, and remember that HE IS OUR PRIZE AND GOAL, we experience the joyful anticipation of His PROMISES.

Scripture is full of examples of people in serious trials who reacted in a godly manner and God’s answers are always the same:

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27 and

“Has the Lord’s arm been shortened?” (Numbers 11:23)

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14)

“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:31)

Sarai took matters into her own hands and ran ahead of God because she ultimately doubted God and despised His timing.

We all know the disastrous result of that decision and can all take a lesson from her disobedience:

  • Whenever we take control of our circumstance in a way that is outside of the bounds of scripture, we are headed for trouble.
  • When we attempt to get what we want using sinful means, we’re showing that we are no longer hoping in God.
  • When we try to escape our problems, we’re saying that God put us here mistakenly and that we must master our own fate.

God’s timing and ways are good. “His way is perfect.”

When God is ready to act, He will.

Your job is to watch your attitude and heart.

Are you living out the gospel in joyful anticipation of what the Savior will do?

Are you trusting and obeying God’s word, staying inside the bounds of Scripture?

Do you see your gifts in life as coming from God or do you demand them for yourself, living life as though God’s short changed you somehow.

Ministry friends, this is the life of faith. Let’s not copy the “take it into your own hands” method of Sara. Let’s leave it in God’s capable hands.

“Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.” Heb. 11:11

When life’s not fair and ministry is hard, let’s choose to trust and obey!

Hard Times: Ministry Wives Edition

I’m sitting by my Christmas tree and the baby is napping and I want to take a few quick minutes to jot down a few encouraging words of perseverance for my fellow sisters in ministry who are hurting right now.

church

This week has been rough, ministry wives. You’ve written and inboxed and honestly, my heart hurts for you. I was singing “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” this morning with the congregation and tears flooded my eyes for several sweet friends who have been hurt by the church and are floundering this week.

“And in despair I bowed my head, there is no peace on earth, I said…”

We assume that there will AT LEAST be peace in the church, don’t we? And that’s what makes it hurt that much more. Idealism. Expectations. “We’re serving God and now this.” We imagined it one way and the reality is that people are sinful and people disappoint.

I don’t know all the details.

I don’t know who is right or wrong.

I don’t even know WHY this is happening.

But I want to encourage you with a few absolutely grounding truths that we must remember during hard times.

Whatever you are going through, whatever has happened, THIS MOMENT is a peek into your heart and a test of your current spiritual condition.

Ouch. I know that hurts. I know because it’s convicted me many times. But that’s the truth of it.

See, we care about outcomes and setting things right, but God cares about having our heart closer to Him. During this hard time, what are you doing with His Word?

I don’t just mean reading His Word. Treasuring it. Obeying it. Walking in it whether you feel like knocking someone’s teeth out or not.

We want to be heard and understood, but God wants closer fellowship and communion with us. Sometimes He uses trials for this very purpose.

So, today, in your hurt and frustration, how you respond and what you do with God’s Word RIGHT NOW matters. We reap what we sow, and we all know that and have taught it.

Wrap your mind around the basics and fight to think Bible truth.

Is God in control? He is.

Is your life spinning out of control? It is not.

Does God have a plan in all of this and does He expect a certain response from His people? He does.

This may seem like pouring alcohol on a cut, but sometimes hurt and confusion can linger a little too long and morph into anger and bitterness.

When we believe that God is in control and that He is truly doing what is best for us, we can step forward confidently into an unknown (unplanned, unwanted!) future because our good God goes before us.

We can give our emotions to God to rule more easily when we realize that He’s the one in charge.

It always comes back to our heart responses, doesn’t it? And sometimes that can be frustrating.

We want God to change them and intervene for us. Some fire from heaven might be nice. JK!

God does work in His time, but, plot twist–He wants the heart of the evildoer as well as He wants good for you. God is long-suffering.

Don’t believe FOR A MOMENT that the people who hurt you will get away with it. We all reap what we sow.

The proud reap resistance from God. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Imagine what God must think of the proud in His church—a place of humility,unity,and peace– who use it as a place to pamper their pride and use others. Let that sink in. (Think in human terms about how you as a parent would respond to a caregiver who was supposed to nurture your child, and you find out later that they used and abused the child. Righteous indignation, I would say.)

The God who sent His Son to die for you

don’t think for a minute that God won’t deal with that person.

If you have a minute sometime, read Numbers 11:33-34. It’s about how God gave the complaining Israelites the “thing” they complained for. The “thing” in this instance was quail.

Whenever I see a ministry leader who is contentious, I think of this quail story.

Quail= whatever idol is lurking in a man’s heart.

The frustrated fruit of the unmet idol is complaining and discord.

And when a ministry leader is not content with what God has provided or the opportunities He’s given, they either withdraw in self-pity (HOW COME NOBODY RESPECTS ME OR REALIZES JUST HOW WONDERFUL I AM!!?)

or assert and take up arms in their own defense (I AM GOING TO DO THIS WITH ZERO CONSIDERATION FOR YOU OR YOUR WELL BEING BECAUSE I’M ALL ABOUT ME RIGHT NOW)

The ruling belief is that there is not greater cause than SELF and someone has to look out for #1.

This is where it gets ugly. We often hear of church splits over the color of carpet or the stupidest little things…and we wonder how people in “ministry” could act so shortsightedly and self-focused.

How could someone who claims to live for the glory of God pick up arms over decorations or committees or preeminence. The answer is pride and covetousness which is idolatry.

And here’s the thing, hurting ministry wife: GOD allows them to do this.

God doesn’t make people puppets and robots. He gives them free will. So while they look like they are prospering, remember the rest of the story: God often gives them what they want and withdraws, sending leanness to their souls.

God’s not a player. He demands your heart.

You want to step on others? Okay, but disobedience to my Word comes with consequences.

You want to be the big shot, ruling your own little mini-kingdom? Okay, but God’s not coming to your little party. He’ll wait until you are over yourself.

Leanness. God resists. Withdraws.

Pretty scary.

Enough of them. What about us?

We can quickly let ministry hurts overwhelm us and control us rather than allowing the Holy Spirit and the love of God to constrain us.

Bottom line: God is going to show you more of Himself through this trial if you look to Him in your pain. God is the prize and after the tears, I hope you’ll realize how dear this truly is. More of God should be our end goal. And God will use WHATEVER to achieve this. He cares more about your responses and your HUMILITY than He does about almost any other detail.

And know this:

God does move people and lead through the misdeeds of others. He may physically move you, yes, but He wants to lead you into a closer fellowships with Him that you might not have had before if that person had not sinned against you.

And if you’re not sure of the next step in your ministry–

I have seen time and time again how the sin of one person became a conduit of ministry for another.

Perhaps his busy schedule makes him seem unapproachable so people in need come to you, because you are available.

Her sharp, judgmental tongue is a turn off, and hence a conduit that sends younger women to you for safe advice and encouragement. Her moody demeanor is unpredictable, so tired moms look for someone who is joyful and welcoming and seek you out.

My fellow ministry friends, just keep your eyes on the Lord, even in trials. Your ministry might change. Your location might change. But God never changes and right now, and forever, He’s most concerned about your heart.

If your heart is right with God–all the ministry details will work themselves out and you’ll never “lack” the ministry opportunities He wants for you.

Praying for you, ladies!

Words of Wisdom from a Young MW

Yesterday I enjoyed a visit with a sweet friend, Emily. Her husband is an evangelist for a National Hoops ministry team and is the grandson of Del and Kay Washer, who wrote this autobiography, One Candle to Burn about their life as missionaries in Africa (fascinating read and mind boggling what this woman did with little more than God, love for the downtrodden and a willingness to work!)

So, they were in our area, and she texted to see if we could meet up for a chat. We met at a Starbucks and I enjoyed tea and a baby fix. :)

emily washer

 

I love her ministry-minded heart, but what I love most is her desire to please and know God.

From my perspective, her life is not easy. She travels on the road most of the year with her three very young children in tow. She lives in a fifth wheel trailer– did I mention with three small boys? :)  Each week, they are in a different location. “Church” on Sunday is different each time, so although you are worshipping corporately, I can imagine it’s just not the same with different strangers every week.

The truth is, ministry is not glamorous, especially when you’re the wife. As a mom of young kids at home all day, I’ve felt lonely, side-lined, overlooked, underused or like all I am good for is taking care of things at home so Peter can go do the “big things.” Satan tries to tempt you to believe that you are on the sidelines wasting your life. He wants you to believe that what God has ordained for your life right now (children) is not the best for you and that He is withholding goodness from you, and trying to destroy your chances at happiness in life. (These are my thoughts, not Emily’s. She never complains.)

Emily said this: “I have to remember that even if I don’t leave this trailer all day, and I see no one else but these three little guys, I am still serving the Lord.”

She is so right. She is serving the Lord right where she is, regardless of how unseen she is. And that one statement is just an example of why this girl is such a blessing to me every time we visit. :)

Where are you today? Behind the scenes, nursing babies, caring for screaming toddlers? Yup. If you are caring for them “as unto the Lord” your work is not in vain and the Lord sees your labor for Him and will reward you. (And your kids will thank you someday!)

Disclosure: Post contains my affiliate links. Thanks for supporting this blog!

 

Fear, Faith and Following {Ministry Wives Monday Guest Post}

I’m so excited to have a guest post submitted by a missionary wife and friend, Michelle.

Michelle has served as an assistant pastor’s wife and is currently serving overseas with her husband on the mission field.  They have three children, ages 8, 7, and 3, with a fourth one coming in one month!  She enjoys reading, quilting, hiking, and watching baseball with her husband.  I hope her words of faith and fear-less-ness encourage you as much as they did me!

michelle

Fear, Faith, and Following

“I’m afraid, Mommy!”  is a common phrase spoken by my children.  Whether it is a wild animal, a bug, a scary movie, or just doing a new activity, my children voice their fear to me almost every day.  Each time my children express this feeling, I try to address their fear right away, and to use that moment to teach them to trust or depend on God even in little situations. Most of us as adults still struggle with responding in fear rather than in faith.  We further complicate matters by getting married to another sinful human being.   If our husband is in ministry, we face even more fearful challenges due to the uncertainty of ministry. As ministry wives, if we do not respond in faith to God while following our husbands, the end result can be devastating.  A fearful ministry wife can become discouraged and depressed, and if she does not turn to the Lord, she will ultimately destroy (or at the very least cripple) her husband’s ministry. So, how do we as ministry wives deal with fear as we follow our husbands to what God wants him to do?  1 Timothy 1:7 gives us three ways to fight fear with faith in our lives. It says “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

First, notice that the verse says that GOD has not given us the spirit of fear, but rather GOD has given us three things instead.  Responding the right way to your husband’s leadership starts with your relationship with God.  Do you rely more on a human relationship for direction or guidance than you do on God and His Word?  If you have been married any length of time you know that your husband, no matter how godly he is, will not always be perfect, but God is omniscient, omnipresent, and all powerful!  He never makes a mistake or fails.  A great way to deal with fear is to start making a list of all the attributes of God, and to stop making a list of all the ways your husband can fail!

Secondly, God has given us the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us as believers. His Holy Spirit gives us power to defeat the fear.  Fear is a debilitating emotion that either wants us to freeze or run away from the problem.  Neither of these responses is based on faith in God.  This is our flesh’s response when something happens that we cannot deal with in our own strength. In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.”  He then goes on to tell us how to defeat the fiery darts of the devil. As a ministry wife don’t give into the fiery dart of fear.  Remember, that the Holy Spirit has given us the power to fight fear with faith in the promises of God.

Thirdly, notice, that God has also given us the Holy Spirit so we can respond in love! A spirit of fear will respond in anger, revenge, discontentment, gossip, and pride, but it will never respond in love.  As ministry wives, we need to let our husbands know that we love them.  Are you unsure of how a loving response looks?  I Corinthians 13:4-7 lists the characteristics of love. They include: kindness, humility, prudence, sacrifice, truthfulness, and patience.  A ministry wife that has these characteristics is walking in the Spirit and will have no room for fear in her life.

The last thing mentioned that the Holy Spirit gives us is a sound mind.  I think that this is the most practical when dealing with ministry and following the leadership of our husbands. As women, fear is usually a reactionary, emotional response to a person or situation.  This is the opposite of a sound mind.  A sound mind is one that is under control and is putting to practice Philippians 4:8.     I, personally, have found it very helpful to tell my husband (or others) “Let me think about it,” whenever I feel the overwhelming emotion of fear taking over my thoughts.  Then I will spend time trying to think about his ideas when I am rested, fed, and spiritually recharged. (Sometimes a difficult combination to achieve as a mother of small children!)

God desires that we be women of faith not of fear.  He has given us the Holy Spirit so we have the power, love, and sound mind to defeat fear in our lives.  Following our husbands as they follow God is not easy, but with a deeper faith in God, we can be ministry wives who support and encourage our husbands to become all that God has for them!

What Do You Do When It’s the “Worst of Times”? {Ministry Wives Monday}

Today, my friend Charity is guest posting for us. Charity and I met years ago at a youth workers conference we attended with our husbands. I recall sitting in a circle during a youth pastors’ wives open forum, and listening to some of the other wives bemoaning the fact that the ministry was hard and that their husbands were always gone, etc…Charity spoke up and mentioned that many of the lay-men men in the church work full time jobs AND volunteer at the church, so we can’t really allow ourselves to complain about our husband’s time away at the church…after all, this is what he’s getting paid to do! I liked her from that moment on and decided to get to know her better!

I know Charity will bless you!

Charty

What do you do when it’s the “worst of times”?


Have you ever wondered what it would be like if your husband was not a pastor? This question often comes into my mind when hard situations come up at church. If you are married to a computer programmer you might talk about the people he works with, but unless he has a really good friend at work, you probably do not know much about anybody’s personal lives there. Not so being married to a pastor. Here are a couple of reasons why: People come to the pastor and his wife for sensitive issues they need help with. You know more than you ever wanted to know about people and you still have to worship with them on Sunday without prejudice, unkindness, or whatever feeling is evoked by their situation.

Another area that can produce hard times is that you often know every mean thing that is said to your husband or another staff member. How do you weather these storms that so often come? How do you guard yourself so you do not grow bitter at people or weary of them?


Pray

The Bible says to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16b). God wants us to talk to Him. Prayer is powerful to change any hard and bad situation. However, remember that God’s purpose in every situation is that people would become more like Him (Romans 8:28-29), and therefore the situation may not go as you would like (Isaiah 55:8-9). Claim the promise that God will do “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)!


Protect

Protect your mind and emotions in two ways. First have your husband not tell you about situations that you cannot handle. You have to have humility to ask this if this is not already his policy. This would be in accordance with 1 Peter 3:7 to show honor to you:


“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”


Second, take control of your own thoughts:


“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” – 2 Corinthians 10:5 (KJV)


We are very good at blowing situations out of proportion in our minds. Throw those thoughts away! Make sure every thought is in obedience to Christ! (Read Philippians 4:8 for further study.)


Prudence

The word prudence sounds like a stuffy puritan word. However, if more Christians were prudent, we would have better testimonies! The definition of prudence or to be prudent is “wise or judicious in practical affairs; … discreet or circumspect; sober” (dictionary.com) How can we be wise in hard situations?


1. Control your tongue.

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent … The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked, what is perverse.” – Proverbs 10:19, 32


This applies to the spoken and written word. Stay out of texting, Facebook, and tweeting wars when it comes to sensitive church information. All serious conversations should happen in person. When people are cruel to you or your husband with their words, be careful what you say! You will save yourself from sinning if you do!


2. Control your actions.

“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” – Proverbs 25:28


We are defenseless when we refuse to control our actions. We are like a city with no protection. Self-control protects us.


3. Speak in private.

Protect your children and other church members from knowing about these things. Speak only to your husband about these matters in private.


Prepare

Anticipate the times that will be hard. For example business meetings can be a source of contention. But meetings are planned ahead and as a staff member’s wife, you probably already know what is about to be discussed. You know your people and how they will probably act, so prepare yourself accordingly.

When we moved to our current church, we were following a young youth pastor who had died from a brain tumor. He was very close to a few of the older teens in the youth group and their families. We knew that there would be people who would not accept us and refuse to like us because we had replaced the former youth pastor. Their anger and bitterness at God was transferred to us. We were able to anticipate this and therefore prepare ourselves.

What do you do when people are mean and bitter? I go by two passages of scripture to not take this behavior personally and to help myself have love and compassion towards them.


“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” – 2 Timothy 2:24-26


This passage clearly states how we must act towards people who are mean to us. It’s hard to do but not quite as hard when you look at the end of the passage. Why are we not quarrelsome, but we are to be kind, patient, and gentle? So that God may lead these people to the truth and repentance, because Satan is currently using them to accomplish his purposes. We actually have a part in helping mean people come to the truth and find repentance with God. The scariest part is that these people are usually without knowledge that they are helping Satan accomplish his plan.


“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled” – Hebrews 12:15


My husband and I often say, “Bitter people do stupid things”. It’s no wonder because they have “failed to obtain the grace of God”! God’s grace is the strength He gives us every day to live the Christian life. We forfeit this grace when we allow pride to creep in. (Study James 4 for more on this.) Bitter people have no help from God to live their lives.


Not all situations can be anticipated but I suspect the majority of hard times that you and your husband will face in ministry will be fueled by bitter and mean people. Use the truths in scripture to react biblically.


Remember to not get discouraged during these times! Find joy in the people who are doing right, your family, and God’s creation. Continually feed yourself with His Word and strive with God’s help to do all to His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31)!

 

Charity is married to a youth pastor and they live in North Carolina. They have two boys, ages 2 and 8 weeks old. She loves spending time with her family, being outdoors, cooking, gardening, and playing the piano.

3 Common Struggles Ministry Wives face.

Today I want to share three common struggles for ministry women (MW).

Surviving rather than thriving:

Our devotional life is not optional but essential for abundant life. "Abide in me" is the instruction of Christ.

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 mean there must be 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 him. Most guys just want their girl to be happy. They want us to thrive in our sphere. And we have such profound influence on our husband that an unhappy, sour, spiritually stale wife is not helping him. A wife’s struggles left unaddressed can distract or derail the ministry man.

I’ve talked with a lot of women, and these are the most common ministry wives struggles I’ve seen/heard:

  • discontentment with place or circumstances
  • lack of self control with emotions
  • “all in” or checked out.
  • careless with speech, starting small fires and problems with words
  • interrogating him and complaining about ministry life
  • 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.
  • independent spirit. If you can’t agree, you’ll agree to disagree and go your own way.
  • argumentative spirit.
  • bitterness

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.

oxygen mask

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.