Pastoring is hard…duh, I know. I’m sure most of you kind of figured that. But I tell you what may be just a little bit harder-being the Pastor’s wife. It’s hard for several reasons, but mainly because it’s a job that doesn’t come with a manual, and I for one, wish that it did.
I’m full of questions on how to do this thing right. I’ll share some of them.
Early Questions (simple and a bit shallow)- what should I wear? Hats or no hats? Stockings or no stockings? Cleavage or no cleavage 😉
Answer: whatever I’m most comfortable in; no hats (it’s 2010 ladies); no stockings (Michelle Obama doesn’t wear them and she’s very classy); and no cleavage (if I can help it..I’m a busty girl, so that’s a bit tricky at times)
Then the questions became more like: should I be shy or outgoing (I can easily be both), sing with the praise team, work the kids ministry, or just sit on the front row and look interested?
Answer: Outgoing- otherwise I come off as aloof; wherever I’m needed at the time.
Is it ok for him to meet with women alone?
Do I really have to sit in on counseling sessions b/c people want to talk to both of us, even though I don’t like counseling?
Is it my responsibility to make sure the women of the church are social and get to know each other?
And here’s the biggie I’m REALLY struggling with right now:
How do I handle vicious, nasty murmuring and criticism of my husband?
Shaun is always telling me about some crazy person that a particular pastor he knows is having to deal with- some blogger with an ax to grind, some former member gone rogue, or some crazy website that has been devoted to the defaming and tearing down of local and national pastors. But I thought that stuff only happened to “big time” people. I figured it was par for the course when your ministry is large and your life is so public.
But our life is neither. Our church is small, and though we do our share of social networking, Shaun’s not a big, national name.
So it genuinely surprises me that anyone would have anything negative to say about him. But it doesn’t just surprise me, it angers me! Granted, I’m biased. I love Shaun more than my words can express. He has been my knight, my protector, my best friend for 12 years now. He’s such a great guy that genuinely loves God and God’s people (sometimes to a fault, I think- well, not the God part of course). And though he’s not perfect, he’s above reproach in my eyes.
I know no line of work is without it’s difficulties. But I find the church world particularly vexing. I honestly don’t know much of what anyone says good or bad about us, because I don’t run in gossipy circles. But every now and then we’ll catch wind of this or that, and it just blows my mind. The church world can be the most inflammatory, the most judgmental, and the most gossipy of all. And if there’s nothing for real to talk about, people are perfectly content to invent stuff!!
But here’s my answer to that:
1. Keep girlfriend (my name for my temper) in check 😉
2. Keep my eye on the prize and stay focused. We do the work that we do, in the way that we do it, to glorify God, not man. So what man says is of little to no consequence. Keep playing to an audience of ONE!!
3. Take inventory. There are many more who are for us than are against us. Too often those 10 people (or 1 person) whose goal it is to tear us down become more important than the 1000 that build us up.
4. Count it all Joy! The bible reminds us that every rumor, ever lie, every whisper, every criticism not spoken in love, every turned up nose…is all designed to work faith and patience in us. James 1:2 says it like this:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
And since I want to be both complete, and mature, I will continue to face every trial of every kind with joy. Knowing that any “suffering” we endure is indeed par for the course whether we’re “big time” or not. And that it ALL pales in comparison to what Jesus- who was truly blameless- endured for our sake.
Are you a Pastor’s wife? What are some of the questions you’ve grappled with and answered over the years?