I have to tell you something I remember I said when I was a little girl. I can still picture where I was at the exact moment I said it. I was eight years old in a tree I had climbed across the street from my house (one of my favorite things to do at the time). I was facing my house and talking to God. I told God, “I never want to marry a pastor or minister because I don’t want to have to go to church all the time.”
Can you believe I said that! I feel embarrassed and kind of laugh at myself now…I’ve been married to a man that has been in the ministry for ALL fifteen years of our marriage this July! And you know what, I love it! And, I do go to church all the time and am really thankful I do so. I love supporting my husband in what God has called him to do. Our lives and marriage have been blessed. God has spoken to me countless times during church services throughout all these years. God has done so much in and through my life because of church.
With that being said, there have been many joys and challenges with being married to a man in the ministry. I have tried to glean wisdom from books on the topic and pastor's wives that I personally know. One book that particularly blessed me was Renewal on the Run (Embracing the Privileges and Expectations of a Ministry Wife) by Jill Briscoe. Jill's wise and simple words brought a lot of encouragement and insight into ministry life. It helped me accept that my life and marriage in the ministry are unique, as well as my position as a pastor’s wife.
Have you thought?
How do I keep going in ministry when I feel drained?
How do I support my husband? I feel like he's into it more than I am.
How do I handle people in the church criticizing my husband?
Do I have any real friends to hang out with and who I can be myself with?
Do people in the church expect me to act a certain way or do certain things?
Then, this book would be good for you!
Then, this book would be good for you!
Overview: Jill has been in the ministry for over forty years now and has compiled a book of advice and wisdom on her role as a pastor’s wife. She shares touching personal stories of the struggles and blessings of ministry life. Also, Jill encourages the pastor’s wife to be who God has created her to be with the unique gifts He’s blessed her with. "Be yourself," Jill would say. She also encourages the wife in ministry to put God first as her ultimate priority and to spend time with God for renewal. I love her lists at the end of the book on “Nine Practical Ways of Dealing with Criticism” and “Practical Ideas for Battling Busyness”.
A Few Quotes:
“According to one fact-finding group, too many pastors’ wives had no trusted friend, and many have no person they could go to for support or indeed have any support group at all. But guess how many of those women asked for help when they really needed it? One percent. Only one percent shouted, ‘Help!’ even though they were hanging on by their fingernails.”
“Therefore God must be at the center of our partnership. We must bank on His involvement. He is ‘for’ us. Then we need to operate under the assumption that we, too, are as committed to ministry as our husbands are. If not, we are going to have a miserable time in full-time service. It is from this source of commitment-His and ours-that we get the excitement and joy that accompany fruitful ministry.”
“You see, you may be a ministry wife, but God never forgets that you and your family need ministering to as well. We think that we spend our lives serving others, but the Lord has a twofold plan. He wants us to learn how to serve others and become more like Him. And then He turns around our serving and our situations to heal us, to care for us, and to grow us up, often through the very people we have helped.”
“Looking back over fourteen years of missionary work and thirty five years as a pastor’s wife, I find that the things that knocked me off my feet more than anything else have been (and continue to be) the criticisms of other Christians. Living with disapproval can drain you of all your good resolves to put the King first.”
“Encouragement cannot harm people-a loving word from you will always help somehow, if even a little, if only for a moment. As ministry wives, our skills and callings are varied, but we can be unceasing encouragers.”
I read Jill’s book a few months after I was struggling with what my purpose was in God. I was wrestling with a spirit of defeat, frustration and unrealistic expectations of myself and others-especially of being perfect. But, I realized I don’t have to be a perfect pastor’s wife. "So," I was asking God, "What do You want me to do?"
Some main points in Renewal on the Run that spoke to me and brought clarity to my role were:
1. I need to live and use the gifts that God has given me whether I’m married to a pastor or not. God still created me for a purpose.
2. I need to understand where my friendships lie in the diagram (below) Jill so accurately showed in her book. I love how she explains Jesus' friendships within this diagram. Jill stated that "Jesus Himself had friends: twelve good friends, three very good friends, and one best friend...[and] the seventy-Jesus' close acquaintances...Beyond that was the space representing the multitudes." Jill explained that Jesus had people that fit into each of these circles in His life. It helped me so much on my perspective on friendship. I asked myself, "Who are the people that fit into these circles in my life?" Also, I was encouraged that I can’t be dependent on my husband for my one and only friendship. That’s not realistic nor fair to him, too. I need people in my life that will nurture my walk with God, as well as friends that I can encourage.
3. My perception of the 9-5 hour work day for my husband is unrealistic. I am called to obey God at all times and that may mean letting my husband go to a meeting during the week or counsel a marriage in the evening when I would want him home. God spoke to Jill that she can’t have hours like a post office-she and her family must be available at all times. Reading that freed me to expect to be available at any time, not just when it’s convenient for me and my family. After reading this book, what I thought were negatives, I now see as positives.
4. My time with the Lord is KEY! I need times of refreshing-setting aside time to be in God’s presence, to hear His voice, and to listen to what He has to say. Jill says at the end of the book, “but remember that your resource for encouragement, courage, and strength is in the care and provision of God.” Everything I need can be found in JESUS!