(In our experience, most of the Lord’s people are wonderful and most of His churches are filled with sincere and godly workers. But once in a while, pastors come upon sick churches led by difficult people who seem to delight in controlling their ministers. When they find themselves unable to do this, they attack. Pity the poor unsuspecting preacher and his family. What follows is written just for them.)
“But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to the courts, and scourge you in their synagogues….” (Matthew 10:17)
You and your wife–please adjust gender references herein as your situation demands–went into the ministry with heads high, hearts aglow, and eyes wide open, idealism firmly tucked under your arm, vision clear and focus solid.
As newly minted ambassadors for Christ, the two of you were ready to do battle with the world, eager to serve the saints, and glad to impart the joyful news of the gospel.
Ministry was going to be great and noble and even blessed.
That’s what you thought.
“Not that we are adequate to think anything of ourselves; but our adequacy is of God” (II Corinthians 3:5).
You’re married–or about to be married–to a guy who says God has called him. It’s exciting and it’s scary.
You’re wondering whether you can do this, whether you are cut out to be a preacher’s wife.
Sometimes you wonder why in the world the Lord in Heaven thought you of all people had what it takes to be the (ahem) “first-lady” of any church, large or small. You are so overwhelmed by all the inadequacies you bring to this assignment, you find yourself wishing most days that your man would walk in and announce he was mistaken, that God wants him to run the State Farm office with his father back home. Eight to five, home at night and on weekends.
You’re normal, young sister.
I suspect that every minister’s wife on the planet has felt this way, and yes, including the best ones, those beautiful put-together women you admire from a distance who seem to have developed “pastors-wife” into a career and a calling.
The little boy was 7 years old and loved the church where his dad served as pastor. So, he was not prepared for the bully who took out his frustrations with the preacher-daddy on him.
Each week during the Sunday School assembly, this man, the director of the children’s department, would ask, “Has anyone had a birthday this week?” Now, he already knew the answer since the church bulletin carried this information. But, they would identify the children with birthdays and sing to them.
The week little David was celebrating his 7th birthday he was eagerly anticipating that tiny bit of recognition from his friends in Sunday School. This day, however, the director chose not to ask if anyone had had a birthday that week. David came home in tears.
For when one says ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not carnal? — I Corinthians 3:4
I treasured that young couple in my church. They were attractive, friendly, and faithful. That’s why their letter was so stunning.
We hated you for most of this year. You took the place of the pastor we loved so much. But now, we are gradually coming to love you too.
I was not prepared for that. And here we are, many years removed from that moment, and I am recalling everything about this letter that landed like a blow to the solar plexus. (Note: If you write a love note to your pastor, please do not tell him what you did not like about him at first or how long it took to warm to him. He does not need to know the obstacles you worked through to come to this point.)
The other evening a stranger approached my wife in our church fellowship hall just before a Christmas program.
“Be anxious for nothing…” (Philippians 4:6).
“Why did you fear? Where is your faith?” (Mark 4:40)
Worry, they say, is spending energy and resources on needless situations. Crossing bridges we may never come to. Paying bills that never come due.
Worry is a waste of the imagination, someone said. And almost everyone agrees that, for a believer, worry is sin.
But that doesn’t help, does it? Telling someone not to worry is the equivalent of instructing passengers not to be afraid when the plane is in a nosedive. A lot of good that would do.
Now, what one person calls “worry” another may call “being concerned” or “caring deeply.” When a husband tells his wife he does not worry about some upcoming crisis, almost always she interprets that as his not caring. When the church treasurer said he lies awake at night worrying about our finances, I replied, “Not me. The Lord is going to be up all night anyway; I let him worry about it. I sleep like a baby.” He was thereafter convinced I didn’t love the church as much as he did.
That said, my experience is that some issues do indeed occupy space front and center in the minds and hearts of God’s ministers.
When a church is pastorless, no one knows who the next pastor will be. While we pray for the Pastor Search Committee regularly, has it occurred to us to begin praying for the object of their search? Here is how I’m praying for our next pastor.…
Please send our church a pastor who will be Thy choice first and foremost. Let him know it, let our search committee know it, and let the church be just as confident about it. May the pastor’s family be supportive also, and even excited. And then…
–protect the pastor and our church from anyone who would rise up later and claim this was a mistake and try to oust him. Dear Lord, protect Thy church.
Send us a pastor who will be loved as dearly as any pastor has ever been loved. This congregation wants to love its pastor.
“Let the wife see that she reverence her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33)
“My husband is always confident–and sometimes right.” –What Mrs. Mark Devers says about her pastor-husband
My wife Margaret–a pastor’s wife for 52 years–was watching a panel discussion of some type or other in which four pastors’ wives were discussing their lives, their homes, and their husbands. One said, “My job is to keep him grounded. I tell him all those people at church see you as some kind of saint, but I saw you this morning in your underwear.”
The audience laughed; Margaret was offended.
She was embarrassed for that husband/pastor. “It was unbecoming to him,” she said. “She could say that sort of thing to him in private, as a tease, but should not say it in public. It was wrong.”
Wish we could take a poll at this point, and ask every spouse of a minister to register whether they agree or not.
“It’s not about you, honey. Some people will love you more than you deserve, and some will despise you without ever giving you a chance. You must not take it personally.” –My advice to my Granddaughter
Erin just turned 21 and earns a living waiting tables at a nice up-scale restaurant in the Mobile area. The other day, she came home in tears.
The restaurant had been crowded, with long lines of people waiting to get inside. The kitchen was running behind and diners had to wait an unusually long time for their order. Erin ran herself ragged all evening. She specifically thanked people for their patience and apologized for the slow service. She didn’t have a moment to catch her breath.
This particular table had two young men and a middle-aged guy. They seemed nice enough. Since the kitchen was running slow and they had ordered pizzas which had to be made from scratch, requiring at least a 30 minute time frame, several times Erin stopped by to thank them for their kindness and patience and to assure them the pizzas would be out soon.
Then, when they paid their tab, she found out a different side of them.
First, love the congregation, every single one of them, particularly the hard-to-love. And second, never underestimate the power of your presence.
Two stories of two great ladies.
Cissa Richardson went to Heaven this week. She was the beloved widow of Pastor James Richardson who served two great churches in our state for some forty years. James died over 10 years ago. We were neighboring pastors for years and great friends since the first day we met.
James and Cissa left quite a legacy. Their three sons–twins Gary and Jay, and younger brother Ian–are all in the Lord’s work. The twins have been pastors for decades and Ian was first a worship leader and musician and for years has headed the audio-visual department for our state Baptist convention.
This week at Cissa’s funeral. Son Gary told something about his mother I’d never heard.