private vs. public school

>> September 30, 2009

As pastors' wives we often feel pressure from all sides, our husband's, church members, church boards, etc. about a variety of issues. Have any of you ever felt (or feel) pressure to send your children to a private Christian school vs. public school? Or even to send your kids to a particular private school or preschool (maybe one closely associated with your local church)?

Where do you have your children? How did you make decisions about your children's schooling and was the decision influenced at all by your husband's role as a pastor?


seminary classes for you

>> September 29, 2009

If your husband went to seminary, I don't have to tell you what an unlike-real-life experience seminary is. You are constantly around other couples who are in the same boat as you. Your husbands relate to each other; you can share your ministry life frustrations with other wives. Often times it's a safe place and a cocoon life where you have opportunities to grow spiritually and in gain skills for the real world of being a pastor's wife.

Some seminaries, like Western Seminary (campuses in Portland, San Jose and San Francisco)even have certificate programs for, what they call, Partners in Ministry. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary also has courses for pastor's wives, including Woman to Woman Ministry, The Art of Teaching, Ministry through the Home and even intro classes to Greek and other Biblical languages.

Did your PH's seminary offer classes and workshops for the wives? Was it helpful for you? Or have you had to learn in the school of hard knocks?


can't attend a conference?

>> September 27, 2009

Last week we highlighted upcoming conferences for pastor's wives, but if a 2010 event is not in your plans, in your budget or in your vicinity, check out these resources from previous events.


Global Pastors Wives Network - streaming videos

Pastors Conference 2009 (Sovereign Grace Ministries) - 2 sessions for pastors wives - MP3 downloads

Seminary Wives Discipleship speakers (The Masters Seminary) - MP3 downloads


Living Proof Live with Beth Moore for Ministers' Wives - (from 2009 Nashville event)

Just Between Us conferences - CDs

Pastor's Wives retreats
(The Word for Today) -DVDs and audio

First Lady conferences
- DVDs, CDs and some MP3 downloads (scroll down to just above the middle of the page)


Upcoming PW conferences

>> September 24, 2009

While 2009 winds down, it's a great time to start planning for 2010. Will a fun and revitalizing PW conference be on your schedule? Here are some I found. Let me know if you know of others.

Pastors' Wives and Women in Ministry Conference
Sandy Cove Ministries
February 15-17, 2010
North East, MD

Be Still Retreat for Ministry Wives
Heart & Soul Connection
March 11-13, 2010
Stone Mountain, GA

Between Us
July 8-9, 2010
Irvine, CA

First Lady Conference (for Senior Pastor's Wives)
September 28-30, 2010
Dallas, TX

Between Us
August 26-27, 2010
Richmond, VA


GUEST BLOG::open letter from a pastor's wife

>> September 22, 2009

So often people look at me and they THINK they know who I am. After all, I married a man called by God into His ministry ... I must be a super-holy, deeply spiritual person.

Some people think I must have a beautiful voice, be an excellent pianist, and love teaching toddlers in Sunday School.

Others imagine I am a gifted Bible teacher who bakes fresh bread every day and rises at 4 a.m. to pray for each church member by name.

Still there are some who believe my home is always immaculate and I never lose my temper or feel jealous, inadequate, or tired.

And, to be honest, there are days when any one or two of those things might be true about me ... but there are never days when they all are.

But here is what I wish you could see ...

I'm just a girl like you who wants someone to say they like my new haircut.

I'm just a person like you who is painfully aware of my shortcomings (and doesn't need them pointed out!).

I'm just a mom like you who wishes I knew how to handle every situation with my children but spends most of my life wondering if I'm scarring them forever.

I'm just a wife like you who loves her husband but wishes he'd pick up his socks and towel instead of leaving them in the floor.

Most days my life look much like yours ... I struggle to find adequate time for prayer and Bible study in the midst of helping with homework, doing laundry, and trying to fix a dinner that is nutritious, inexpensive and everyone will at least try. I wonder why the cleaning fairy never manages to end up at my house, who drank the last of the milk and put the empty carton back in the fridge, and where all my forks have disappeared to. I have a never-ending "To Do" list that always gets lost in the frantic pace of carpools, dance and soccer, church activities, and grocery shopping.

Most days I don't do many "spiritual" things ... I'm a wife, a mom, a church member, a community volunteer, an employee, and the list goes on ~ just like it does for you. And there are days when I feel very inadequate for every one of those roles.

Sometimes I wish you could just spend the day with me ... so we could talk about how hard it is to raise Godly children in today's world, so we could share how much we long for marriages that reflect Christ's love for the church, so we could cry over the failures in our past and find joy in the God who takes all our mistakes and molds them into something beautiful to His glory.

The truth is ... I need you. I need friends who will window shop with me and enjoy a venti latte as we stroll through shops we could never afford. I need prayer warriors who will hold my arms when I can no longer raise them on my own. I need fellowship and friendship. I need someone who doesn't need details but whose shoulder can bear my tears.

And you should know this ... every note you send to say that you appreciate me or my husband, every time you say how much you enjoy having my child in your Sunday School class, every time you give me a hug and say that you love me ... that all matters! I may not always be able to tell you why your timing is perfect but God has used you!

Next time you look at me and think, "She's too busy," or "What could we ever have in common?" or "I can't be myself with her, she's the pastor's wife!" PLEASE toss that thought away!!

Yes, my life is full and the seasons of our life may be very different but there is room in my heart for relationships. And I've got no illusions that anyone is perfect ... I look in the mirror every morning and am reminded of that very truth. But I would cherish time to get to know you.

So, go ahead ... invite me to coffee, suggest a new shop I might like, pick up the phone and give me a call.

Yeah, I'm married to the pastor. And yeah, my life is different because of that. But the bottom line ... I'm just a girl, just like you.


Teri Lynne is an avid lover of books, constant drinker of strong coffee (with lots of sugar and creamer), and passionate follower of Christ. Married to Scott since 1996 and mother of Casiday since 2000, Teri Lynne, in her words, is living her own happily ever after ... mostly.

Writing and teaching women to live empowered, confident lives in Christ and HIS strength is a dream come true for her. TL is working on her first book in between teaching Bible studies, volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center, helping with homework, and trying to conquer laundry mountain. Oh yeah, she's a pastor's wife too ... Whew!

Learning to blend the sacred with the secular in daily life is Teri Lynne's writing style ... from sharing how she studies and prays in her own life to helping others laugh as they learn to see the spiritual in moldy shower curtains, TL wants others to find the great joy and peace she has found in Jesus Christ. You can find her musings almost daily at Pleasing to You where she encourages, challenges and inspires others to pursue lives that are pleasing to God.


guest posting call...

>> September 20, 2009

Hi girls,

We'd like to open CLUTCH up to all our readers, in an invitation for you to contribute through guest blogs, video blogs, questions and so on.

Just being totally transparent here - Delina's got 10 week old twins and a toddler, and I (Sarah) am counting down the last 30 days before baby #1 arrives. So we're both suffering from variations of sleep deprivation and baby brain.

We think it's a good time for those of you who are interested, to chime in. CLUTCH can only benefit from a variety of perspectives and insights - so we'd love to hear from you. Got questions? Got giveaways to suggest or offer? Got life lessons to share? Read a great book lately?

Don't be shy!

(Pretty please? With a cherry on top?)


question from a reader: what about when other pastors are your members?

>> September 15, 2009

Here's a question that could use your input and advice:

Have you ever been in a situation where the previous pastor of your husband's new church is now attending the church as a member? Or when older/retired pastors are regular members of your new congregation?

I don't really know this pastor that well, so I don't know that any problems will come up, but I don't feel totally comfortable with the situation. Any thoughts?


PMS::setting telephone boundaries

>> September 11, 2009

Does your phone never stop ringing? Breakfast, supper, family devotions - all interrupted?

Church members have lots of needs. Meeting those needs is what the pastor does for a living. But that doesn't mean that members don't sometimes need to gently learn some boundaries. They still need to respect the pastor's family time.

We've talked about having family day and date nights, but what about the phone that won't quit ringing? Does your otherwise-sensible PH feel like he simply HAS to answer every call? Do you feel guilty telling people that you can't do something?

Here are a few ideas if you and your PH need help getting started:

  • Set specific pastoral office hours. Whenever possible, schedule all appointments within those hours. Let members know your planned office hours and then be consistently available during those times.
  • Utilize your voicemail. Especially after office hours. If it's an emergency, call them back. If it's not, wait until tomorrow's office hours.
  • Turn off your home phone ringer in the evenings and on family days and date nights. Let it all go to voicemail. Be sure to check the voicemail for emergencies, but don't feel obligated to respond to things that can wait until tomorrow.
  • If you have pushy members, consider making a cute but clear answering message that says something like: "You've reached Pastor So-and-So. If it's daytime and I'm not answering the phone it means I'm either in a meeting or helping someone. If it's Wednesday, this is the one day of the week that my kids have unlimited access to my time. If it's Thursday night, then I'm on a romantic date with my wife. Please do leave a message, and I'll be happy to respond when I'm available!"
  • When people ask you (the PW) for commitments to participate/attend/whatever, practice a standard answer of: "It sounds great, I'll just have to check with my PH first before I can give you an answer." Urge your PH to do the same, and you can eliminate the majority of your double-bookings and over-commitments.
  • Put your family and spouse in your appointment book. When you have a date or a family activity planned, don't be afraid to tell people: "I'm sorry, I have a meeting/appointment/obligation that afternoon, but I'd be happy to meet with you at such-and-such a time instead." If you don't, family and dates easily get pushed aside - because everything in ministry seems so urgently important. So just lock it on your calendar and don't budge.
Got more? How do you set boundaries while serving unselfishly? Have you and your PH developed a code phrase or signal to each other for when you need to communicate? Where do you draw the line to keep your family first?


PMS::when people ask you to take a church job

>> September 10, 2009

About a year into my life as a PW, an elderly PW gave me some sage advice:

"Any time you move to a new church district, never take any kind of job or role or responsibility for the first 6 months."
At the time I kind of thought she was being too dramatic. Why wait so long? What's the big deal? I like to be involved at church! Shouldn't I be active right away?

Time proved her right. Taking a few months off in a new place gives the PW time to adjust, get fully settled into a new house, learn her way around town and just get into her groove without any pressure.

Also it gives the PW a little time to just get to know the people. No fuss, no accidentally accepting the job that Mrs. So-and-So has been trying to get for the past eighteen months. Just the freedom to get acquainted, make friends, and observe.

It gives you a chance to find out where the real needs are - not just the imaginary ones. That way you can accept the roles where you are gifted and passionate, instead of getting stuck in something that you don't like or can't do and feeling trapped.

So what do you do when people ask you to take a church job? What are your criteria for accepting or saying "no, thanks"? What are your boundaries?


PMS::getting members used to your boundaries

>> September 9, 2009

Last week I had an unexpected early morning Facebook chat with a PW in California. It was around 4 AM her time, and she and her PH been awakened by a 3 AM phone call from a church member.

Seems this particular member has a nasty little habit of calling constantly, at all hours, and venting for 30 or 45 minutes at a time. Leaves them sleepless and frustrated before the sun even comes up.

"How do we get them to realize that we need personal space, family time, and a good night's sleep too?" Not that you wouldn't jump to help if there was actually an emergency, of course.

Sometimes you just need to say STOP.

There's always a period of adjustment in every church, with every pastor, concerning boundaries. When you first arrive to serve in a new church - that's the ideal time to set your boundaries and get people used to them. If the last pastor was single, and you have four kids, there's definitely going to be some differences in your needs for family time and privacy. Sometimes it takes church members a bit of time to adjust. But that's okay.

On the other hand, if you've been at a church for a while, and you're realizing that your family or your marriage is suffering - it can take a LOT of effort to put boundaries in place after people have gotten used to not having them. But it's worth the effort. This was the dilemma of my PW acquaintance in California. How do you help people learn to respect your family's space and needs when you didn't start out with those expectations?

If you're realizing you need more boundaries in order to keep your marriage or family healthy and whole as you serve in pastoral ministry, don't be afraid to take the leap. Explain to them how detrimental it is when you neglect your family, and that you just can't do it anymore. Enlist their help in keeping your spouse and kids protected.

Set some simple limits at first (we'll talk about things like phone boundaries later this week), to preserve family time and date nights. Communicate your intentions clearly, and then be sure to follow up consistently. If your PH has a weakness in this area, enthusiastically support his efforts to set boundaries, and work with him to achieve them.

A little communication goes a long way into the process of establishing healthy boundaries. And in the end, your family AND your church will both be better off.


PMS::boundaries in your marriage

>> September 8, 2009

Whether or not you see it, church members observe your marriage. They pick up on things like how you interact in public, whether you are affectionate or not, if you seem to be fighting (even good-naturedly), and so on.

Members get a sense of security from feeling that the pastor is happily married and that the PW is well-treated (and that she treats the pastor well in return!). There's nothing necessarily wrong with this, but it can make things delicate when you just need to fight something out!

Boundaries in the pastoral marriage are not optional. They are absolutely, 200% necessary. And they work both ways - we need boundaries about what we do and say and how we handle ourselves in public (to avoid giving people unnecessary reasons to worry about the pastor), and we also need boundaries that give us a sense of privacy and protection away from the demands of ministry.

Some boundaries that we've found essential include:

  • keep a sacred date night, preferably every week, but at least every other week - and let your church members know that barring emergencies, you are completely devoted to your spouse on that date night, no interruptions
  • don't be too free with details about your marriage, unless there's a spiritually mentoring reason to share
  • don't fight in public - no matter how tempting :)
  • don't put each other down or ridicule each other's faults or opinions in front of others
  • let church members know that you love each other in some visible, tangible way that suits your personalities and comfort zone (Sarah's PH always stops to have her join him and walk out of the church together after he preaches), find whatever works for you
  • take a full day off each week, and (just like date night) let your church members know that this is your personal day to spend with your spouse and you simply won't be taking phone calls or appointments
  • work to reconcile arguments as quickly as possible when you and your spouse disagree, instead of letting it hang over you like a cloud
  • remember, no matter how great your ministry calling is, your first ministry is your marriage. PERIOD. No mission calling is worth the deterioration or loss of your spouse and family!
That's just what we can think of... what have you discovered to keep your marriage intact and sacred while you minister to others?

Let the comments roll!


PMS::the problem of boundaries

>> September 7, 2009

If you're a regular CLUTCH reader, you know that the first week of the month is "that time". During PMS week, we tackle the tough Problems, Mistakes, and Sins that are particularly relevant in pastoral marriages and families.

This month, let's discuss the Problem of Boundaries.

Lately we've posted a lot about things like unselfish service and whole-hearted ministry. About helping kids realize that daddy's job is special, and that they can have a role in his ministry, too. But those ideas have to be balanced with healthy boundaries that keep our families safe and secure.

As you've read in the research we posted about why PKs leave the church, an absence of balance in pastoral families is one of the main causes. Pastoral families, like any other family, desperately need a sacred circle that keeps them close together and protects them from the world outside. Not in a rigid way, not in an overly-sheltered way, but in a way that keeps kids feeling safe and secure and that keeps marriages healthy and strong.

This week we want to hear your stories and experiences about setting boundaries. How sacred is your family time?

What strategies do you employ to keep your marriage safe?

How much ministry is too much?

Here goes, girls!

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