you have the power::to make your husband leave the ministry

>> October 24, 2011

It’s not as hard as you might think.

A little complaining and whining here. A little lack of confidence in his abilities there. Occasional comments about how you wish he’d picked a career that made more money...

Maybe there are a few exceptions, but most pastors come to a point sometime where they wonder if they should’ve made a different career choice. It’s hard to wonder if you’re providing for your family the best you can, especially if your wife isn’t content. And when you have rough patches in your congregation, it’s a rare man who doesn’t at least ask himself how things might have been easier if he’d traveled a different path.

Back when my husband was a seminary student, we spent an afternoon at the tennis courts with another young pastoral couple. After a few doubles games, the other pastor’s wife and I took a breather on the sidelines. She started telling me how much she hated being a pastor’swife.

"All these people expect me to talk to them at church, when I don't even want to be there! What makes them think I want to listen to their problems?"

I was speechless. And if you knew me, that’d make you chuckle. But I honestly didn't know what to say.

Later that night, I shared the conversation with my husband. He wasn’t surprised. He knew that her husband felt torn between his wife and his ministry. Church members kept asking what they’d done to offend her? Why didn’t she like them? What was wrong?

Her husband isn't a pastor any more. Eventually, her distaste for his calling was a big factor in his decision to switch careers.These days he carries a gun and a badge. I don’t know if she’s any happier than she was before...

That doesn’t mean that I think it’s necessarily wrong to stop being a pastor. Sometimes God calls us to a certain type of ministry for a season rather than a lifetime. Or maybe God has a different avenue of service and he never meant for your husband to be a pastor in the first place. I’m not sitting in judgment of those situations.

But that’s not the same as when your husband is a fabulous pastor, and clearly called into a life of ministry, and you just can’t seem to stop longing for a different life. When the pastor loves both his job and his wife but his wife hates his job - then something has to change. Unless ofcourse, he’s willing to live in misery or lose his marriage (see the first two articles in this series).

Let’s assume that your husband loves you. (At least I certainly hope he does!) So he decides to go ahead and do whatever it takes to make you happy, at the cost of his own dreams and passion. In this case, that means finding a new career.

You’re thrilled. Now it’s going to be all better. Now he is home every night. He sits right beside you in church, if you still go to church. He doesn’t get random phone calls in the middle of the night. No one knocks at your door unexpectedly asking for help or handouts. Life is great, right?

Somewhere, at least one or two of you are wishing this would happen with your husband right now. But are you sure you’ve thought it through? Once he quits pastoring, what will he do?Where will he go? Who will he become?

How long do you think he can hide the threads of resentment weaving in his heart because you wanted him leave the calling that shaped his identity?

Now you won’t be just his lovely wife. You will be the reason why he is no longer fulfilling his divine calling as a shepherd. He loses his spark, that fire in his bones that made him feel like aman.

If he truly loved his role as a pastor, then after a while, he will no longer be the man he was before.

No longer a leader of people. Now he’s just another guy, going through the motions,surviving each day.

Would that make life better? Is that the husband you want? Is it worth it?

Or is God maybe calling you to join your husband in a ministry adventure that you can’t comprehend? Nope - it isn’t going to be easy. But then most valuable experiences come with a measure of sweat and tears.

If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

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Recovering Church Lady October 24, 2011 at 5:27 PM  

This is a powerful post! And I'm not even sure how I feel about it! :)
After many years of pastoring along side my husband we are now "between assignments" and he had to take a retail job while I am bringing in some $ through my writing.

It's a weird place to be. We can feel lost or we can see our new surroundings as continued ministry, as everyone should, not just the couple up front.

When your identity is all wrapped up in your ministry, it's tough to make the switch. This has forced me to examine why I did all I was doing and I am now feeling more stripped and pure before God. Does that make sense? I enjoy Clutch very much, keep it up!

Anonymous,  October 24, 2011 at 11:17 PM  

Ladies, this is so true. I am the second wife of a pastor whose first wife did everything that she could to drive him out of the ministry. He became a different man - bitter and felt alone and deserted. Divorce followed soon .

Thankfully the Lord found him again after some time and brought him back to ministry.

Don't think that it won't happen to you. Resentment breeds contempt, denial of who you are made to be can turn you onto someone you are not.

Veronica Brown October 25, 2011 at 11:07 AM  

Thank you ladies for your comments!

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