Friday, April 10, 2009

What I Wish I Would Have Known....

I have a friend who is getting ready to sell her house so that her husband can go to seminary. They are uprooting their lives, successful contracting business and their beautiful new home as they pursue it. She asked me for some ideas or advice on being a Pastor's wife. Here is an abbreviated version of what I sent her.

What I Wish I Would Have Known 11 Years Ago . . .

I probably have 25-30 books on being a Pastor’s wives all of which I would be happy to send to you. I’m sure they are all written by wonderful women and have good things to say but somehow I have never gotten past the first few chapters of any of them. It might be pride. Yeah it’s definitely that. And over the years God has taught me a lot including a lot of lessons on humility. Those lessons haven’t come easily!

But since you asked, here is what I wish I would have known 11 years ago.

Stand By Your Man
I always thought this was old fashioned and demeaning but it’s a big part of what God wants me to do and I’ve found a lot of joy in being obedient to it. I’ve got to be Mike’s biggest supporter. Ministry is so hard. The things Mike deals with are emotionally and spiritually exhausting. He sits with people and their dead child at the hospital. He listens to people who are ready to give up and walk out on their marriage. He meets with people facing jail time and are forbidden to see their children. He holds the hand of a dying man. When I went with him and watched him hold our friend Jack’s hand in hospice I realized what a heavy load ministry is. And I’m the one God has asked to be there for him.

So, I support him by sitting in the front row at church to be close to his teaching and as you can imagine it causes quite a ruckus with 5 kids! (Plus he can easily hop down and sit with us when he has a chance!) I support him by respecting him as a man of God - it is a huge responsibility.

Defend him! I made a mistake on this when I have allowed others to complain about him in my presence, sometimes at my very own house! I felt awkward saying anything, but I have decided no more! I am going to say I’m sorry but that’s not cool. He’s our pastor and my husband. Most people have no idea the things he is having to deal with but you do.

One time several years ago when we were going through a difficult time with our church and people were attacking him, I stood up for him. Not only did I directly encourage him and show him what he was doing right. But I told others. I didn’t realize how much this meant to him until I heard him tell his mom about it on the phone.

There will be sacrifices, whether it is living away from family, not owning a home, not making a big income, moving. I used to feel bitter about it but now I realize that we are not called to live the way others do. We are called to a different life. We are not pursuing the same things anymore. And that’s a good thing. I’ve realized that there are a lot of people with empty lives and hearts. They look like they have it all but they have no purpose and peace. We definitely have a purpose and seeing the work of Christ in peoples lives makes it all worth it.

We have been with families during happy times of births, weddings and graduations. We have been with those same families through sickness, miscarriage, death, marital unfaithfulness. It’s absolutely worth it to be part of God’s work.

Shared Passion
Ministry can’t just be his job or something he’s doing. You both have to be willing to jump in and sell out. I just don’t think it works any other way. It’s not just a JOB. Although my role has changed a lot as we had more kids and the church grew in numbers and maturity and took on more responsibility. I still consider myself part of his team.

I had to take down the sound equipment last month. I didn’t know how and I was kind of irritated - ok I was super ticked off! But during that time, God was working in an amazing way at a men’s retreat - which is where all the men were and why there was no one there to take care of the sound equipment and chairs. I came home and just unloaded on Mike. Not my best moment! Was it too much for me to take care of a few chairs and speaker in order for God's work at the Men's Rally to go on? Of course not - silly question!

I’m a pretty likeable person I think. But much to my shock I realized that not everyone is going to like me and that’s ok. As long as I stand on the truth of God’s word and am kind and merciful to others everything else can be left in God’s hands. Be prepared not everyone will like you.

Spiritual Growth
You and your husband will not be responsible for growth in your church or ministry. NO matter how much you do (banquets, kids clubs, bible studies, outreaches) you will not be able to change hearts - only God can do that. The “successes” in our ministry are the result of God’s grace and nothing that I’ve done. And that’s not to say we should be lazy. We work hard but I’ve learned that he works despite my best efforts and through my failures.

Mike would not be happy or fulfilled doing anything else! Once they are called to ministry, there’s nothing else in the world for them. Why would we want them to run away from that? I don’t want to be the reason he leaves his calling. Sometimes it gets tough and I think our problems would be solved by ditching the ministry. If he ever leaves it is going to be because God worked in his heart - not because I was sick of it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think YOU should write a book-you have the touch. Very good insights--nothing like experience to give you insights!