From: Julie –
I have been wanting to write about being in ministry for a while but slightly afraid it won’t be read the right way. So here is my disclaimer: read this not as a complaint but simply as an explaination of what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to being a pastor’s wife.
I was born on the church pew (not literally) and have seen the ins and outs of being in ministry my whole life. I have viewed crazy awesome movements of God and also seen disfunction disguised as ministry.
One of the things people don’t realize about their pastor and his wife is that they are human. They may have had an argument on the way to church too. They may be struggling as parents, with their marriage or even with finding alone time with God.
There are lots of bible stories but very few of them contain completely “have-it-all-together” people in them and this is the same case when it comes to pastors. Most of the time we struggle with the same things as everyone else on the planet such as pride, selfishness, finances, family issues and more. The beauty of it is that I personally wouldn’t want to be led by someone who has it all together. Personally I want someone to lead me who has gone through similar journeys and made it out alive due to God’s grace. That’s the person who I want to follow. A person who is real and authentic and doesn’t just show us a great time for 2 hours on a Sunday morning and it’s all smoke and mirrors. When I have seen truly lasting people who make it in ministry, that is usually when I see transparency in their ministry.
Another thing I wish people knew is I don’t always know your name or what’s happening in the church. No, my husband doesn’t clue me in on everything that is happening in the church people’s lives (and thank God he doesn’t as that would be overwhelming!). No, we don’t talk about the church or people in it over our dinner table and certainly most times when we are at home. So when someone comes up to me in the store or on Sunday morning thinking I know the situation, most times I have no clue and just nod and smile and I am ok with that! So please don’t get frustrated with me when I don’t necessarily know the situation at first because my husband doesn’t tell me everything.
I started using this statement on Sunday’s years ago because I can’t tell you how many times on a Sunday morning I am asked where my husband is or if I can give him a message. “I cannot confirm or deny that he will receive this information.” People usually laugh but I’m actually not joking. Lol
I also wish people knew that ministry can get lonely. I asked a few of my pastor wife friends what they would like to tell people about being in ministry. The biggest response I got was that they wished people knew they get lonely. When you are in ministry you pour yourself out to others. Your life is acts of service, speaking, prayer meetings, crazy schedules and time is usually not your own. You carry others burdens and there are few that will carry yours. It gets lonely at the top. Very few people come along side the minister and just pray for them, their family, sanity and future. I relate to the story about Moses in Exodus 17:8-13
“Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.”
So many times in ministry, pastors and their wives need people to come along side and hold up their hands. They need your encouragement. They need someone to tell them they love them, telling them when they do a good job, laugh with them, cry with them and don’t point out all the flaws.
They don’t announce it or make it known (which I think we all should ask for prayer openly more often). They just deal with issues in solitude because they are afraid to show weakness. Somewhere along the way someone has told ministers that they should have it all together at least on the outside. I would like to slap that someone!
We are human and need people to hold us up from time to time in prayer, through kindness and going on behalf of us to God. I can only remember a very small number of times in ministry where someone came up to my husband and I encouraged us and told us they where praying for us, our kids, marriage or situation. Those words or prayers I hold as treasures to get us through hard times. If you see your pastor’s wife this week tell her you are praying just for her, with no agenda, just lifting her up in prayer. Encourage her just as she is. I guarantee she will be very touched and it may even be the first time someone has told her that without asking something in return.
Since this is a blog and not a book, I will end with this. The other thing people don’t realize about being in ministry is our time is not our own. Sunday’s are not usually a day of rest due to preaching, worship leading, making sure people actually showed up to hold all the crying babies in the nursery etc. Weekends are things other families get to enjoy. My family is usually doing church projects, setting up chairs for events, long worship practices, double services on Sunday’s and so forth. We wouldn’t have it any other way, but we can’t always relate to people who get to enjoy their weekends off. I don’t know if I remember the word vacation. I also work full time outside the home to help support us so time is precious with my family. When we do get that time (where no one is doing or talking about church) we tend to unplug. So if you see your pastor or his wife on vacation (or even at Walmart at 11 pm in their Christmas pjs) or out on a date, ignore them and let them have those precious moments to themselves to just be.
Pray for us, be kind to us, realize we are human too and know as ministers we love what we do!