Pastors’ families and the pastors’ wives can wreak havoc on a family – and both are likely responsible.
When I married my husband, I knew I was taking on quite a chunky role. At the time, he had been a pastor maybe ten years and there was lots of buzz about his Baptist church. By “buzz” I mean the community was talking about this “castle-looking” church in midtown Kansas City that was growing by leaps and bounds. On one of our earlier dates, he took me to a large plot of dirt and said “if God allows me, I’m going to build a church right there – great church that will hold all of us and offer services to the community.”
Fast-forward several years later, he did it. Or should I say He (the Lord) did it.
At this very moment, on that plot of dirt sits a multi-million dollar facility that has changed that neighborhood’s culture in many positive ways.
My husband has done some great things. He has sat before great men (none greater than him, in my opinion:) and has defied many odds. Like your husband, mine is a man of vision and Godly ambition. He stays remarkably busy and has an energy that I’m convinced must be supernatural.
Once, I tried to keep up with his crazy schedule. I decided I wanted to be part of everything he did, so I tagged along with him for a few days.
Oh my goodness!
After about the second hospital visit my feet hurt and I was incredibly exhausted. Since that experience, I’m convinced God gives a special grace to pastors. Don’t you think? They have a grace to do much more than most could tolerate.
That’s fine for me because pastoring is his calling – not mine.
Still, with all this grace often comes the responsibilities of a wife and a family. This is where lots of these “men of vision” fall short.
A rocky start in marriage for this pastor and wife
My husband was no different.
He fell short.
Our early years of marriage were full of tension for this very reason. He worked long, long days, his phone rang endlessly and it drove me absolutely batty.
I was angered because the attentive man I had dated seemed long lost in the realities of ministry. What had happened to that exuberant guy who would talk on the phone with me for hours? Where was that dude whose phone rang, but he rarely answered it because he was with me?
In ministry,I felt duped and tricked.
There were two reasons I felt this way.
The first reason was his fault.
My husband had been a single pastor for some time. He enjoyed the carefree freedom of having total control of his time and life. When he ate his family ate (i.e. he had no one else to think about or feed).
No one else needed his time or his energy. He was completely in control – free as a bird. When he married me, it all changed. Suddenly there was this wife and son (I was divorced with a child) who needed his love, affirmation, support and most of all, HIS PRESENCE.
At the same time, he had a booming congregation also pulling him. In my opinion, since he was more familiar with and skilled at working with the congregation, he leaned that way. He spent the lion share of his time there.
This “weird” new home dynamic was hard for him because there was so much to figure out about his new family. So, he stayed at the church consumed with the new building. I don’t really blame him. Human nature often prompts us to “lean” in the directions of least resistance, doesn’t it?
Anyway, the end result was not pretty. Home life was tense and I was wondering if I had made a good decision marrying him. I’m sure he wondered the same. To add to the struggle, I became pregnant.
A new marriage. A new church. A new neighborhood and a new baby. That’s a lot and it took a toll for sure.
At the heart of the issue was my husband’s MIA status. Because of it, I felt so alone and so abandoned.
The Ministers’ Wives and the new pastor’s wife had a problem.
Plus, I had experienced a verbal attack from some of the ministers wives in my congregation. Instead of waiting out my leadership, they chose to confront me about my methods and it hurt me deeply. I wasn’t moving fast enough for them.
The confrontation itself didn’t hurt me, I welcome feedback, it was how they did it.
On the positive, it forced me to prioritize my life burdens. As a result, I left their leadership. I was struggling with so many things that meeting their needs was not even in the top five of my order of importance. I had a new marriage to navigate and their petty complaints served to only increase my load.
It’s important to say, I don’t think they really meant any harm. It was all so new for them. The group was just “norming” and the shift in leadership was a challenge for them. Although I loved them I chose not to nurture their grumbling. Also, we have all made amends and the rest is under the blood of Jesus. Forgiveness on all ends was needed and it happened all those years ago.
Back to one of the two reasons for my despair: my husband was living an imbalanced life and that is common among pastors.
He neglected home for ministry and it almost ended our marriage. Thank God it did not.
Being the man of integrity and wisdom that he is, it did not take him long to see the issue and turn the “boat” around. He began by intentionally being home and present with the family.
During the process, he methodically wooed my heart back to him. With Godly wisdom, he courted me all over again. It worked because I fell for him entirely. 🙂
Balance fixed the situation
He incorporated balance. As the head, that balance trickled down to our home life and brought peace.
As he sowed into the family, we all became closer. The biggest irony is that as he gave us (and me) what I needed, I naturally grew to want to support him in ministry. I didn’t mind the hours anymore. I grew to feel confident in my role in it and was no longer threatened by ministry.
It all started with him.
When he gave me more, I gave more to him and more to the church. His absences didn’t bother me anymore.
I began to feel hopeful again. Now, many years later, I see our marriage strong and solid – not perfect – but wonderful. It all started with him.
If your husband is not balanced and is neglecting home, pray God gives him wisdom.
Pray God changes his heart and your heart, Pastor’s Wife
Pray God changes his heart. I’m proof He can change both hearts and restore love and peace where chaos once resided.
In fact, I didn’t have the wisdom to pray that way back then. When I did pray, it was more about emotional survival. Yet, God saw what I needed and gave it to me anyway in the form of a loving, wise husband.
Pray for your man. It will make all the difference in the world. Know that you can’t change his heart. You can only gently share your concerns and allow God to do the “heavy lifting”. But, be warned too much “sharing” with your hubby quickly turns to nagging and that never works. Prayer and offering gentle OCCASIONAL suggestions will. Agree?
The second thing that turned our ministry marriage around…
Early in the marriage, I had no clue where I fit. My role was hazy and my own personal purpose had been long forgotten. For years, I knew my purpose in life. I am convinced I live and breathe to encourage and motivate women. It has always been my life purpose.
But, in the hard times of early marriage, I forgot that. I was lost and confused in the new season. My husband’s absence only exasperated that feeling.
However, it wasn’t so much about him as it was about me.
It’s so easy to blame others for our misery. Sure, sometimes they are responsible, but most of the onus almost always falls on us and our internal processes. My unhappiness was my fault – mostly. I was the one guilty for about 89% of my discontent.
If a plane in flight has lost it’s course, what does it do? It gets in touch with the command center. I had lost touch with mine. My prayer life had grown weak and infrequent. I wasn’t spending designated time with the Lord and it showed in my responses and lack of peace.
Without solid, consistent daily fellowship with the Lord, I grew more and more anxious. No, I grew depressed. Let’s call it what it was – depression.
It wasn’t until I fixed that state-of-being that my life began to change. See, my husband may have been reaching out, but I wasn’t able to receive it because I was just as out of balance as he was – only mine was spiritual.
Once I began praying daily, the Holy Spirit began to work on my heart. It grew softer and more open to my husband. From there I could forgive and start over.
Secondly, living out of touch with my own purpose (and sense of self) contributed greatly to the chaos of those early years too.
Lost and Found – Me
I had lost myself in his call. A major life event can do that. It can give us a spiritual and emotional sort of amnesia. We forget who we are. We also can forget whose we and how strong we are in the Lord.
It didn’t help that being a pastor’s wife is so broad and undefined as a role. Who knew what I was supposed to do? It’s not in the Bible. There’s no road map, right?
Personally, I think a women’s personal, individual purpose is her roadmap in the role.
If you know what you were born to do, you know what you’re supposed to do in this (or any) role.
As I reconnected to my own purpose, my confidence increased. I found (i.e. located) myself in his calling. I knew my role and loved it.
I was lost, but now I’m found.
Two keys to marital breakdown for ministry couples often is:
– Husbands out of balance in regard to ministry and family
– Women who are not close to the Lord and have lost sight of their own purpose.
Sure outside people can also wreak havoc on a ministry marriage – but only if you let it.
If the foundations are sure, it’s awfully difficult for them to do it.
If your husband has his priorities right and you are walking in your life purpose being led by the Holy Spirit, your marriage is as strong as the brick house the little piggies built in the childhood story. The wolf can huff and puff, but he won’t blow that house down!
Make sense? Do you agree?
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Married to a Pastor.com is a blog for pastors wives focused on offering encouragement for a pastor’s wife as well as insight on being a pastor’s wife…from one pastor’s wife to another.