just for pastor's wives (5)

>> April 11, 2011

Dear Pastor's Wife,

There are such wonderful joys and privileges of being able to serve people!

I wouldn't trade my life with anyone else. I love my church family. I love that I get to encourage and minister to others. I love that people entrust to us the momentous occasions of their life, whether they be the highest highs or the lowest lows.

The role of pastor's wife is unique. It is one of the few positions of life acquired by the status of your husband's job. It is a position where his job also happens to be your church, ministry, and friendships. It is a position where you get to see (and hear about) each facet of what he does for a living, which is both a blessing and a curse. There are confidences to be kept. There are unpopular leadership decisions to be made. There are hurts of others to be absorbed.

If left to run it's own course, leadership in this unique role can be lonely if you let it. It just feels like there aren't enough people who can identify. However, there are people who can support you as you embrace this incredible journey, simply because of their love for Jesus and their love for you.

I have found it important to purposely pursue and create my own support system. It won't happen by chance (well, maybe it could, although I wouldn't sit back and wonder), but the joys of ministry are so much sweeter if you have people in place around you that you trust for encouragement, for accountability, for friendship, and for sharpening. The difficulties don't go away, but they are certainly lessened by the presence of such people. I suppose it is true for anyone. God made us to need each other.

Here is a peek at my support system:

1. A Prayer Team
This is a group of about ten prayer warriors who have agreed to pray for me when a special need arises. They include family members and friends from outside the church (so that I can be candid), and one person from within the church (whom I trust). They often ask me how they can pray, and when something comes up, I send out a quick email for their prayers. I am so thankful for their willingness to go before the Lord on my behalf. It truly means so much to me and gives me confidence as they pray.

2. A "Board of Directors"
This is a group of 9 people that don't even know that they are on my board! :) Instead of having just one mentor, I have 10.

Each year, I sit down with a piece of paper and draw a rectangular "table" with 10 open chairs. I write down a name in each place, starting with Jesus as being the chairman of the board. Then I have someone that I go to for parenting advice. Someone I go to for counsel on being a loving wife. Several people that encourage me in ministry. Someone I would go to for financial or business decisions. Someone that keeps me accountable for exercise. Someone that I just go to as a godly peer friend. Someone that will keep me accountable in my spiritual growth.

The list of needs may change from year to year, but I try to be intentional about who I allow to influence me and my life path.

3. Community within the church
There is old advice out there that says you can't have any close friends within the church for fear that others will get jealous or accuse you of having a clique. To that I say, "Good grief!"

We as pastor's wives need to model what a church community is about and it should be in part about friendship. We hope that people in our congregations would develop close relationships and so the same should be true for us.

Of course, they shouldn't be exclusive in nature, but it is sure nice to see a friend at a women's event, or a prayer meeting, or at services. I try to participate in small groups at various times and in various ways in order to build community for myself. Within that, I have a few women that I just feel comfortable with. I don't spend tons of time with them, but I know that they love me for me and they know that I love them.

If you don't have a good friend at church, pray for one. It is a blessing from God.

4. Community outside of the church

I think that this should be an important priority. Having a life outside of church helps to create a sense of normalcy and perspective.

Perhaps you can find community through your children's school or sports. Or maybe you can take up a hobby. Or maybe work allows you to have this type of community. Meet regularly with another pastor's wife from a different church. Join the virtual community of pastor's wives. Read good books about ministry. I do all of these things, filling myself up with things outside of my own church so that I can be enriched and ready to pour out to others.

Supportive people in our lives are necessary for our joy and emotional well being. They give us longevity in ministry and they are a vital part of the work to which God has called us. Let's be intentional about pursuing these relationships and being an encouragement to one another!

Grateful for those who come alongside me,
~ Joy

Growing up in a pastor’s home, Joy Dombrow was molded and shaped by a life of ministry and service.  While studying Human Development/Education at a Christian college and then teaching, she partnered with her husband in youth ministry at four different churches, a calling that would continue for 15 years.
Currently, Joy’s husband Joel serves as lead pastor of Willamette Christian Church, where she serves in a wide variety of teaching, serving, counseling and advisory roles. She is passionate about helping women understand and apply the truths in God’s Word and enjoys using speaking opportunities to do so.
In her free time, Joy writes, cheers her kids at sporting events, plays board games, chats with friends, reads five books at any given time, and makes references to her beloved television show Little House on the Prairie... all while sipping on a cup of peppermint tea.

Joy and her husband make their home in the Portland, Oregon area, along with their two school-aged children, Nathan and Elisabeth.

She has graciously shared this series as a guest writer for CLUTCH. You can read more about her life, ministry and family on her personal blog here.

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