My next series of blogs is dedicated to my sisters in ministry: whether you're a pastor's wife, a missionary or a ministry leader. Ours is a rewarding, yet trying road, Ladies. We cannot walk it alone. I know I certainly cannot. I'll be listing a few challenges of the ministry life then share tidbits of God's wisdom concerning that challenge. May you be encouraged by the things I share, and at the very least know that someone out there "gets" you.
And if you find that you don't fit into any of these categories, still read on. I'm sure there's a pastor's wife, missionary or ministry head who is aching for some of your encouragement. These blogs just might clue you in on how to give her that encouragement.
This was perhaps the most difficult thing about becoming a pastor's wife for me. The Sunday before Anthony became a pastor, we enjoyed worship together as a couple. We sat side-by-side through the entire service, worshiping together, laughing at our pastor's jokes and being challenged by the same Word. In the afternoons, we'd enjoy a meal together, take an afternoon nap and during NFL season, watch the Ravens play.
The Sunday Ant became a pastor, he no longer sat serenely in church next to me. He would often answer ministry questions during the service or even leave his seat to go rectify the situation himself. He was always "on" and seemingly attentive to everyone else before me. And because he had to arrive to church early, his presence -- and help -- in the home with the children was non-existent. Years ago I coined this phenomenon the "Sunday-morning widow". A harsh phrase, but that's how I felt.
And no longer did I feel like I had the freedom to walk through the church doors with a long face. I too felt like I had to be "on", smile always intact. And now that he preaches more often, I even feel "watched" during the sermon. People want to see my reaction to my husband's jokes or when he shares a deep personal struggle. And it's not imagined. Very recently, a lady told me she checked my expression to see how I had reacted to something shocking Ant had said. I've been told very similar things throughout the years.
For you ladies running ministries, you feel me too. Gone are the days when you can sit in the pew soaking up the ministry poured out by others. Sunday is a work day, just like for your pastor. How do you rest on a day like that?
A friend recently shared her heart about becoming a pastor's wife. People were heaping their expectations on this young woman, discouraging instead of encouraging her. I encouraged her to remember that she should live her life to please an Audience of One. Let me give you the back story on this concept. One Sunday, before I performed a skit in church, I told my sweet friend Peggy Southard how nervous I was feeling. She told me to remember I was performing for an Audience of One. Jesus was the only One I really had to please.
Although Peggy has gone on to be with the Lord, I still remember her words like it was yesterday. So when I enter church, the smile on my face is authentic. I don't feel the need to pretend or perform for others. Remember I mentioned the time my husband made a shocking statement during his sermon? I know my mouth was wide open. Girlfriend, I didn't play it off at all!
And as far as the Sunday-morning Widow issue... Hey, it is what it is. After ten years in full-time ministry I can hardly remember Sundays being any different. Daddy works on Sunday mornings, but praise God, He's working for Jesus! The children don't resent this; it's the only life they know. And now I guard our times after church on Sundays. Ant's usually exhausted, so I do my best to make sure he gets some rest on the Sabbath too. His just starts after church! By Sunday evening, we're usually rested up and ready to enjoy a good meal and time with one another. We'll often watch Sunday night football together or a family movie.
It's funny I just recently told a friend that the ministry life isn't easy, but I cannot imagine living any other life. And it's true. This is the life God's called me to. Why would I want anyone else's life?
Be blessed, my Sisters! Feel free to send me comments or Face book messages about your ministry challenges. I welcome the dialogue. And until we tackle the next ministry challenge together, may we seek to delight our Audience of One!