Did you see the news story a couple weeks ago about the pastor’s wife who went missing? She apparently just got in her truck and left and no one, not even her husband, knew where she went. She left because the pressures of life in ministry were too much for her to handle. Have you ever felt like that? I know I have! There have been several times when we were going through a difficult or discouraging time in ministry that Jeff & I wanted to just get in the Jeep and drive away. And, honestly, if we had had somewhere to go we probably would have just gone and never came back. Life in ministry is often stressful and filled with discouragement…that’s why I’m so thankful for God providing for me to go to the recent retreat for pastor’s wives and women in ministry.
One of the first sessions at the retreat was titled: Four Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Get In The Truck. In other words…how can we avoid getting to the point in our lives where we’re ready to throw in the towel, call it quits, wave the white flag or abandon ship? When life in ministry gets stressful, overwhelming, frustrating, discouraging we need to stop and ask ourselves these 4 questions:
- Am I Commissioned by God? If I’m only in ministry because of my husband or because that is what is expected of me, then it’s gonna be a rough road. But God has commissioned each one of us for a specific role or ministry. I’ve known my whole life that God was calling me into full-time Christian service. Of course, I expected that service to come in the form of my being a Christian school teacher or a missionary over-seas. I never expected God to call me to marry a pastor! But God had a plan…and even though His plan looks different than my original one, I still fully believe that He has called me to this role. He called my husband to be a pastor, and He called me to marry my husband…therefore, He has called me to be a pastor’s wife! That role will look different for each person and for each season of life, but knowing that I am called to the life I’m living gives me confidence. God has promised that He will equip us for every good work that He calls us to do. So, when life in ministry gets overwhelming I must stop and remember that this is the life He has called me to, and He will give me everything I need to survive & even THRIVE in this calling.
- Will I trust God? God’s working in my life will always lead to a crisis of belief. This crisis of belief requires trust. Do I believe that God knows what He is doing, that He is wise enough to know the right way, that He is strong enough to protect me, that He loves me enough to do what is best for me? Sometimes life doesn’t make sense…even when you’re not in ministry! But when it doesn’t make sense we still need to be able to say: God, I don’t know what You’re doing…but I trust You!
- Do I have healthy community? When Jeff & I first got married and we went to our first church, I was told by several experienced pastor’s wives that I could not have friends in the church or in my community. The thinking behind that idea is that you don’t ever want the people in your church to think that you are playing favorites by hanging out with one particular person or group. Another reason that having friends within your church is difficult is fear of being hurt or betrayed. What if you complain to a friend about your husband leaving his dirty socks on the floor and that friend spreads rumors around town that your husband is lazy and never helps around the house? It’s scary to open yourself up to gossip and slander by being friends with people close to your ministry. “Relationships are risky, but loneliness is worse!” We need other women that we can share our thoughts and feelings with, those we can “do life” with, and who we can talk to when the stress or pressure begins to build up. Sometimes God allows that sort of friendship to happen within our churches, but sometimes He gives us that type of community outside our normal circles. That’s one of the reasons I am so thankful for the Leading & Loving It community. They are my safe place where I can connect, share & vent without fear of judgement or gossip or hurt. I think I’ll write more about friendships later, but for now, the point is that even pastor’s wives needs friends that can help us through the difficult times in ministry!
- What is my responsibility? When Lori asked this question I immediately began a mental list of all my responsibilities… I’m responsible for planning the songs for Sunday mornings, scheduling Secret Sister events, making sure someone is in the nursery for the worship service, sending the announcements to the lady who does the bulletin, copying the names down for the prayer list, passing on prayer chains, distributing food from the food pantry…the list goes on and on until I feel a sense of panic start to set in. But Lori answered her own question, interrupting my frantically growing list. “Our responsibility is not to have a spectacular ministry. Our responsibility is to have a faithful and sincere heart before God.” Wow. That made me stop, take a deep breath, and evaluate my own response. Am I being faithful? Am I faithfully doing the things God has called me to do, both big and small? Am I faithful whether I’m directing the Christmas program or making sure the bathroom has paper towels? Am I faithful before God? Do I have a sincere heart? Am I seeking God and sincerely desiring to please Him? It’s not about being busy or about being available to everyone who needs me… it’s about being faithful to do what God asks me to do. It’s not about being an up-front, look-at-me, spiritual leader…it’s about sincerely seeking God and drawing closer to Him each day. That is do-able. And when my to do list gets overwhelming and people are pulling me every-which-way, remembering that it’s about having a relationship with God puts everything in perspective.
What a great way to get your mind back to where it needs to be as a pastor’s wife! I know way too many PW’s who have given up and checked out mentally or emotionally because the strain of ministry was too much. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Let’s turn our eyes to these important truths before we get in the truck! And if that doesn’t work… I’ll make us a pan of brownies! 🙂
Have you ever felt like “getting in the truck”? How did you get yourself back to where you needed to be? What helps you stay focused on what really matters?