We are talking about the hard parts of ministry [part 1] that you may not have been prepared for when this season of life became real. Ministry is hard, but it is worth it. Here are a few more tips from someone who is still learning this role, too.
Single parenting is part of the gig.
Ministry changes when your family grows. Our daughter is 16 months, so we are new to combining parenting with ministry. I had to learn that my ability to participate in everything had to shift. My husband needs me to parent sometimes more than he needs me to volunteer. That, initially, was hard for me because I love ministry and hate to miss anything.
I have set the goal to try and be a part of everything possible and get help with child care when possible. Also, I have learned that when I take my daughter to a ministry related activity, I am single parenting for that time. This is hard but necessary so my husband’s focus can be on the people we are ministering to. Sometimes, I choose the hard task of single parenting through an event versus staying at home because that cost is worth it. That decision, however, looks different in the stages of my daughter’s life and will look different for every family.
Sometimes you will not like people.
An emotion I was not prepared for as a pastor’s wife was a feeling of animosity and jealousy towards some of the people we serve. When my husband comes home at the end of a long day and tells me of the long meeting he had with someone, sometimes my initial response is jealousy because I want to have that time with my husband. Or, when I hear the most recent criticism, feelings of animosity rise towards that person because they attack the very things I love and spend my life for. Those feelings come quickly and with fury. I have to step away and evaluate my own heart before I let my emotions rule. I think by default, because our lives are so wrapped up in community, it is inevitable that a side effect would be the battle of hostile feelings at times.
Sometimes you will feel lonely.
Again, this is an emotion I was not fully prepared for. When you are so surrounded by people and invested in the lives of others, it may be hard to imagine that loneliness could be part of what you are signing up for.
It will be, though.
There will be times when you are not invited, or the conversation suddenly halts when you walk in a room, all because of the influence and position you hold. This is something that will look so different depending on the environment in which you serve and the strength of your resolve. For me, I am so tender-hearted there were times this was hard. What served me best in seasons of loneliness was the linkage I had with other ministry wives who I could reach out to. Those friends from seminary, who were in the same life stage but different places, geographically, I could text and call when the days got lonely. They were lifesavers.
I will encourage you with this truth—don’t isolate yourself. There may be church environments where it is hard for you to participate because of their perception of you as the pastor’s wife, but don’t fan that flame. Though we cannot control others perceived view of us, we can control our instinct to withdraw from an awkward situation. Push in and let your love for the body be known—even amongst those it may make squirm.
Hospitality will heal more than it will hurt.
There is nothing more life giving to me than to gather people around our table and share a meal. For some, hosting people is intimidating. You would rather do anything else in the world. But, trust me, there is no better way to love and serve people. When there is discord in your midst, breaking of bread can heal a thousand wounds. The community built as you share a table is powerful. Do it often and do it well. Don’t believe the lie that it hurts family time or hurts reputation if everything isn’t just so. Believe the truth that extending the hand of hospitality, and welcoming people into your home, will always be a healing thing.
It is a big thing you have been called to as a pastor’s wife. It is weighty and important and possible only by the power of the Spirit. Don’t forget in your pursuit to fill that space well, first and foremost, with your identity as a daughter to the Most High. Let the love you have for the Father, and the remembrance of His grace towards you, be the fountain that fills and overflows to those you love and serve.
Published September 8, 2016