I guess I still somewhat fall into this category, but although the “pastor’s wife” title is a new-ish one for me, being a woman in ministry is not.
Ladies, my heart simply wants to encourage you. The struggles you feel are very real, and you are not alone in any of them.
Are you feeling any of these:
- Lonely. Seemingly every friend you had before ministry now looks at you differently. They aren’t as open with you. You aren’t as open with them. The fear of judgmental thoughts is very real.
- Like you must walk on eggshells. Every decision you make is watched. Your clothes aren’t nice enough…or maybe too nice. Every word you say must be more than carefully thought out, because everyone, but you it seems, is allowed to wear their feelings on their sleeves.
- Like you must be the “perfect” housewife. Your children must fit a certain mold. Your home must look a certain way. The budget must always work out perfectly.
- Like your husband is on loan to you…definitely doesn’t belong to you but to the congregation.
- Like you have forgotten who you really are deep inside.
I will honestly say, at some point over the last 15 years in and out of ministry, I’ve felt these & many more. Living the ministry life is not for everyone. It’s lonely. It’s very public. And if you are in it, it’s part of God’s plan for you.
When I find my mind wandering into one of these negative places, it’s easy to dwell there. Honestly, it’s easy to set up camp and stay a while, and that’s just what the Enemy wants us to do. If he can bring us down, he can get to our family, our husbands, and destroy the work God is doing.
First and foremost let me encourage you (and remind myself) to suit up each day. Put on your armor ladies! Keep the Enemy out of your minds.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8
Second, let’s defeat these lies. Yes, lies.
- Lonely. You will feel lonely, but you are most definitely NOT alone. Your friends are still there. True, you may have to be more guarded around some people, but I promise you, there are friends out there for you. (And you are always free to message me.) :) Confide in your husband how you are feeling. Let him pray for you. Don’t worry about burdening him…because you aren’t! You are in this ministry TOGETHER!
- Those eggshells. I know from experience that sometimes you just want to let your feelings fly…ugly and out in the open. Over the years, I’ve excused myself from many meetings to “refill my cup of water” or “visit the restroom” in order to allow myself time to pray and regroup. There will always be those who passive-aggressively (or maybe downright aggressively) put down on your husband, your children, and you. But know that the worth of your family & yourself is NOT directly related to what they perceive. Only in God can we truly find our worth!
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Cor 10:13
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. – Psalm 139:13-15
- Perfect Housewife. I laugh at this one often. I am FAR from the perfect housewife. I am FAR from the perfect mom. Still, I find myself feeling expected to be these things. It never fails, there is always that one church member who will show up on the day you have a double sink full of dirty dishes. A mountain of unfolded laundry on the sofa. Kids who look as if they haven’t bathed in 2 weeks. And, you still in your pjs at 3 in the afternoon. Oh well, right! :) Don’t hold yourself or your family to the expectations of others. My children are introverted, like both of their parents. If they aren’t comfortable enough to speak to someone, I know not to force them to. I can pray with them about being brave, but others will not see this, and that is okay. I stress lots over budgeting…I’m a numbers person. If this falls into one of your household responsibilities, know that in most ministry cases…it’s going to be tight. It may not always be in the black. But as long as you are following God’s leading & being a good steward of His blessings, relax. He’s got you!
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. – Matthew 6:31-34
- Husband. Remember that your husband’s calling is a very important one. If you feel like he is “on loan” to you, please talk to him about it. If he’s a new pastor, he honestly may not see what you are seeing. He may simply be trying so hard to “do a good job” that he doesn’t realize this. Schedule…purposely schedule…off days with him. Make him put them on the calendar. :) When we were first called to pastoral ministry, one of the best pieces of advice my husband was given was to make family time sacred. It is scheduled & uninterruptible. His deacons know this. Our church knows this, and they respect this.
- Who You Are. This can be a tough one. We all have dreams of what we want life to be. It’s difficult sometimes to realize God may have other plans. But we also need to remember that verse in Psalms I posted earlier. God knows us better than we know ourselves. He gives us desires in our hearts. We may not know why or how they fit into His plan, but I assure you He has a plan. Continue to find yourself in Him. I’m still not 100% sure of His plan for me. I just follow. When we started seminary 5 years ago, I knew God was calling me to get a degree in Worship Leadership. Music is my passion! He speaks loudly to me through music. It fit! He called me to serve as a worship leader for a while, but never opened up worship classes for me to take. He did however open up women’s ministry training. Not having a clue as to how He would use me in this, I followed. I’m still following. Over the past 5 years, He has taught me so much about myself. Grown in me a HUGE love for women in ministry. And, I know He isn’t finished yet. But for now, I will love on and pray for each one of you ladies! Remember, you are a unique creation…perfect daughter… of the King. Put on your crown princesses and hold your heads high!
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:10
*Father, I pray for each special lady You have called to be the wife of one of Your leaders. It’s not an easy calling. I pray that You will help them learn to guard their minds from the attacks of the enemy. I pray You will send them friendships. I pray that You will protect their homes and marriages. And I sincerely pray that You will show each one how precious they are to You.*