when being a pastor's wife is hard: peseverance

>> May 31, 2011

Stephanie is The Candid Pastor's Wife. She can’t decide what she wants to be, so she does it all: blogging, neurotic, break-the-mold pastor’s wife, blessed mommy, math nerd, film and commercial actor, virtual assistant, and household deal hunter. Stephanie has been blogging since September 2010, with favorite writing topics including marriage, mission, and beauty outside of culture. Besides loving to work (apparently), she tries to spend all of her free time with her two favorite men: pastor hubby Brad and 15-month old Samuel. She thinks it’s also important to sneak in moments for food-love, laughing in the sunshine, and late-night reading.

Vocational ministry has the potential to be the most life-giving profession for your husband and family. But all too often, a family with a pastor at its head is worn out, beat down, abused, and just plain fed up!
And for me, when ministry gets tough, I'm ready to quit! Quitting is so easy (you know - in my head. I know that quitting can also be quite difficult.). Sticking it out is hard. Especially when there is some division or other trial that the entire body is facing.
Take Timothy, for example. Paul puts him in charge of the church at Ephesus, and after he's been there for a time, these pockets of people start teaching all kinds of things that are not the true gospel! But he pushes Timothy to stay. In fact, this was probably the most important time for Timothy to be there. Look at what was going on:
As I urged you when I was leaving for Macedonia, stay on in Ephesus to instruct certain people not to spread false teachings, nor to occupy themselves with myths and interminable genealogies. Such things promote useless speculations rather than God’s redemptive plan that operates by faith. But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. Some have strayed from these and turned away to empty discussion. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not understand what they are saying or the things they insist on so confidently. (1 Timothy 1:3-7, NETBible)

The main issue here is that these attendees were not teaching about faith in Jesus Christ; they were offering some other means to redemption. This is a huge issue, and one that needs leadership to guide the members back to the truth. In other words, Timothy was very much needed.
I'm curious if any lesser disagreements were also going around. Maybe about how loud the music was or wasn't, or what nuance of the Law the rabbi did not mention that day, or maybe an Elfa storage shelf was desired for the sandals at the front of the synagogue! OK...I'm making all of that up, but perhaps you have dealt with those sorts of problems in your church body? And perhaps it has caused deep divisions that are taxing to your family?
There are also times when we're ready to quit for our own convenience. Being able to be out of town for a weekend, not just Saturday, would be nice! Not counseling families and members in troubling times sure would take a load off. We can all come up with complaints about ministry life. But the grass is not always greener on the other side. God may want us to stick it out - for the benefit of the church, and likely for our own spiritual formation as well.
I don't want to argue that quitting is not appropriate sometimes. In fact, discerning whether or not your family should press in and press on is one of the most difficult parts of perseverance. I don't think I can give you a tidy, bullet-pointed list to lead you to this answer. There is a season for everything, and if you and your husband and church leadership are all seeking God above everything else, I think He will absolutely communicate His will for your family.
I would love to hear your wisdom on this subject. Leave a comment for us!

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Jeni May 31, 2011 at 3:50 PM  

This is a hard one, huh? Perseverance during trial--something my husband and I dealt with not too long ago. At our previous church it became obvious after 6 months of us being there that all was not well. However, we had NO IDEA just how unhealthy this church was. Our families begged us to leave, told us it was time, why were sticking it out, what were we trying to do? Though they were motivated by love and concern for us, WE knew we had to stay until God told us to move on. There were days when WE were begging God to give us to "go" but we knew he would when the time was right. We stuck it out for almost 3 years until God said, "go!" What a wonderful, relieving, SAD time that was. It was very hard for us to leave. As hard as it was to stay and knowing that staying meant more abuse and horrendous treatment from the congregation, it was so hard to leave. Especially for my husband. He felt like a failure, even though he wasn't. He had done everything he knew to do (through Scripture, prayer, meeting with church leadership) to get the church to turn from their sinful ways, but to no avail. It was terrible. We are still in touch with some of the folks there. It saddens our hearts how stubborn that congregation is and how seemingly OK they are to just stay as they are w/out dealing with the sin. Perseverance is so hard, but if it's what God wants, it's what needs to happen. Thank you for writing this post. Hopefully, there are wives out there who can take encouragement from it.

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