Do you have any "if only's" in your thought life? Are they holding you back, keeping you from moving forward? Beth Holmes shares with us the follies of comparison and ways to overcome our tendencies to compare.
“If only our church had a full-time children’s minister …"
“If only our women’s ministry could find its footing …”
“If only our people would volunteer more …”
The expression “if only” is a great temptation in ministry. If only everything and everyone would line up, then we could do what another church is doing. If only we could convince our people to do the right steps, then we could be like another church...read more
.Beth Holmes is a minister's wife and mom living in Owensboro, Kentucky, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2014. After spending a year learning to be brave through cancer treatments, God is teaching her again how to celebrate in 2016. Join her journey at bethholmes.wordpress.com. This blog was posted on June 15, 2017 at Flourish.
The phrase, “Don’t let the disappointment in a few keep you from loving the many,” comes from a chapter in my book, 10 Things Every Minister’s Wife Needs to Know. In recent days, I’ve gone through a season of disappointment, and I’ve had to remind myself of my own words. And unfortunately, I am pretty sure I will find myself there again in the future. You may say, well, that’s just ministry life. But it’s not. It’s everyone’s life, regardless of the occupation of your husband.
As minister’s wives, we can be tempted to withdraw or retreat, become bitter, give up or be resentful of hurts. But when we do that, we end up lonely and isolated, and we miss the blessings of the “many” God has called us to serve and serve with. We sometimes determine in our hearts we will never allow ourselves to be put in that position again—we determine not to be vulnerable or transparent ever again. We tell ourselves it’s not worth the effort or the hurt. Unfortunately, that gets us nowhere in the eyes of others, or most importantly, with the Lord.
So how are we to respond when we feel that keen disappointment in others? In my recent season, I deliberately decided to respond exactly opposite of how I felt on the inside. Rather than choosing to withdraw (my natural inclination) and retreat, I chose to take advantage of an opportunity to honor and commend others.
Rather than focusing on my personal disappointment,..read more
Jeana Floyd is the author of An Uninvited Guest: One Woman’s Journey from Cancer to Hope and 10 Things Every Minister's Wife Needs to Know. She and her husband, Ronnie W. Floyd, have been married for 39 years. They have two sons and seven grandchildren. Jeana celebrated 26 years as a cancer survivor on January 15, 2016. She has ministered to countless cancer patients and their families these past 26 years. More from this author
When we first started out in pastoral ministry, it seemed most of our decisions were made in reaction to whatever situation we were in. For the most part, that decision-making style served us pretty well. As time went on and we dived deeper into ministry, we found that life ran smoother if we did some proactive thinking and planning, asking ourselves questions like, "What would we do if...? How will our actions affect our children and our home?"
Amy Rager, a church-planter, writes about how she and her husband came to the same conclusions as we did. She gives us some tips on WWWD - What We Will Do - before the situation arises.
A little before midnight, there was a knock at our door. An officer apologized for waking us and asked my husband if he was Justin Smith’s pastor.
‘Pastor’ was probably a bit of a stretch. We met Justin and his wife around a month before at our church plant’s block party. They had attended worship gatherings sporadically. Nevertheless, Barry confirmed he was Justin’s pastor. The officer said there had been a domestic dispute. Justin had been arrested for physically assaulting Karly. He nodded towards the cruiser as he said, "We’re releasing him, but he can’t go home to his wife. You’re the only contact he has in the city. Can we put him in your care for the night?"
Barry and I looked at each other.
How could we tell an officer, "No, he’ll have to go back to holding for the night?" What would it do to his budding faith to watch—from the back of a police car—Christians turn him away? But what about our four sleeping children upstairs? Would we endanger them or expose them to ugly scenes by accepting this ministry opportunity? And how in the world could we make this decision within a matter of seconds? Read more here
A ministry wife often hesitates to call herself a leader. We shy away from the “leader” label. Yet every single one of us is. Some may like it. Some may not. But it is unwise for us to resist, ignore or deny it. We're leaders, and so, embracing the leadership role will help us begin to steward it more effectively.
Michael Hyatt shared some powerful realities of leadership that fascinated me. While reading them, I looked in the rear view mirror at my 41 years of leadership primarily as a ministry wife. I could actually recall the landscape of the four types of these realities Hyatt said could play out in leadership life.
He nails it.
As leaders, we possess more power than we think. But we can only use it for good if we understand and embrace it. We need to remind ourselves of these four leadership realities:
Article borrowed from the NAMB website.
Sometimes we lose sight of the message God wants to give us when we hear a Bible story over and over as children and again as adults. Sometimes God asks us to do something without giving us all the details of the assignment up front. Our prideful hearts get a little puffed up as we “imagine” how God’s plans will turn out.
Then, as God reveals the details to us, we are aghast that He would “dare” go against what our hearts had imagined. We can’t see how His plan could possibly produce our expected outcome. We argue with God and try to convince Him that our way is best.
Pause with me as I reminisce a moment.
How many times have I been like Jonah? How many times have I thought God “messed up” in His planning? Now, in hindsight, posing the question, it looks ludicrous, but in the moment of hearing God speak to my heart, my cognitive thought that God made a “mistake” was very real. I may not have found myself literally on a ship headed in the opposite direction, or in the belly of a fish, but was there really a difference—considering the obstinacy in my heart?
If we choose to not heed His Spirit’s calling, we then find ourselves ensnared as a product of our own choices to not pursue God’s will as He intended. It is easy to sing, “Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders,” in a worship service. It is difficult to walk on “the great unknown where feet may fail.”¹ When we realize where those deep waters lead us, then—like Jonah—we may choose to run.
What He asks may not be for us to go to Nineveh, but what if His calling is to a place of ministry where it becomes apparent we can lose everything—finances, friendships, familiarity? What if that place of ministry strips us of everything we thought we knew about ministry? What if the lack of familiar ground and surroundings disrobe us of all the pretenses we clothed our identities in?
But . . . what if that place of ministry causes us to trust so much in the Savior that we begin to see life through His eyes, His heart, and His truth? God in His mercy, providence, and amazing grace is patient, provides a way of escape, and gives us another chance.
As a ministry wife, I have learned and am continually learning that trusting His calling, His timing, and His plan is sometimes much harder to accept in my heart than I expected.
We have had “calls” in our life that required sacrifice of comfort. We have had “calls” that have required even greater trust.
I have wept. I have mourned. I have had a pity party or two for what I thought I lost...read more
How many times, as a ministry wife, have you been asked a variation of this question: “What is the will of God for my life?”
We counsel people on this consistently, but if you are anything like me, you can still find yourself thinking, analyzing your situation, or questioning your next move—until you think yourself into a rut.
This past year, for me, has been filled with seasons where I needed to hear from God for big transitions happening in my life. In a moment when I felt completely defeated and unable to make a decision that I felt peace about, the Lord led me to a story in Acts 16.
Here we find Paul and Silas locked in a jail after casting a demon out of girl who could tell fortunes through demonic inspiration. After Paul and Silas prayed for her deliverance, her owners weren’t too happy because a well of income had run dry. They caused a scene and demanded that Paul and Silas be imprisoned.
In the middle of the night, as Paul and Silas were worshiping in their jail cell, an earthquake occurred and their shackles and prison doors opened. It would be easy, at least for me, in that moment to think, “Wow, I was just praying and worshiping, and God has just provided a way out of here!” It’s an open door to an apparent, desperate, and obvious need. They could have left in a split second without thinking twice. It’s hard to imagine that I wouldn’t have.
But they stayed right where they were. Now, that seems to us to be just plain irresponsible. If they die there, they can’t continue their call, right? What were they thinking? It’s like watching a movie and yelling at the character on the screen to do what you know they need to! Like, “Get out of there!”
However, Paul made no sudden moves. He and Silas saw the jailer was about to kill himself because he thought all the prisoners had escaped. The jailer knew that whether he took his own life or not, his fate would be death if he lost all the prisoners. Paul yelled out, “Don’t hurt yourself! We are all here.”
The jailer was amazed—and you know how the story goes. The jailer and his whole family come to know the Lord and are all baptized before the sun is up.
Then I noticed something in the text I have never paid attention to before. I guess I never really thought through how this story ends. The order from the officers came and then . . . Paul and Silas are released. But didn’t they already have an open door?...read more
The smell was more nauseating than anything else. Coupled with the constant motion of the water and the seaweed wrapped around him, the man expected nothing but death.
How did he end up in this place? Why didn’t God just let him die in the sea? Why did he have to end up here to die a slow, painful, agonizing death?
The gastric juices kept burning his flesh. Open sores were appearing all over his body. He found no way to be comfortable, no way to rest. Why couldn’t he just die?
He found a piece of wood and rested as much as possible. If he laid across it just right, then maybe he wouldn’t have to tread through so much water and dead fish.
He drifted to sleep.
He heard the voice. Plain, simple. No details yet, but that didn’t matter. He heard God speak!
Once again he felt the excitement! God needed him!
God in heaven had a job for me. I am to prepare to take a message!
Just like the prophets of old, Elijah and Elisha!
Maybe someone will write a scroll about the things God will do through me!...read more
Remedy Church Go-Live hit the ground running at MRH High School October 2012. I’ve been in a season of reflecting on our rich “Survivor-like” journey as we approach our 5th anniversary. Lives have been transformed, callings answered, and a deep relational church community built. There have also been devastating disappointments, moments of hard failure, and long stretches of exhaustion filled with tears, pain, and grief. As my ministry leader, and mission-partner, my husband’s steadfastness, raw grit, and transparent faith has kept me grounded through the biggest of these hail storms.
I’m privileged to say he’s always championed the calling of ministry on my life. Not everyone has joined his support of me. The boxes, binds, and expectations that are inadvertently placed on pastor’s wives and church leaders have been the source of most of the difficulties I’ve faced. Dr. Seuss’, “Do You Like My Hat” has nothing on all the different hats I’m expected to wear. Keeping perfect emotional balance, managing sports and homework, dinner on the table during a 40 hour work week, and always a prayer or encouraging word in my back pocket to offer…just to name a few. With binds like these, it’s easy to feel inadequate, lonely, and misunderstood.
After weathering several tough storms, I believe the best antidotes to these binds are to intentionally develop authentic relationships with those around you and be devoted to your identity that can only be rooted and grounded in Christ.
After weathering several tough storms, I believe the best antidotes to these binds are to intentionally develop authentic relationships with those around you and be devoted to your identity that can only be rooted and grounded in Christ. These are a great prescription for freedom to be WHO you are and enjoy WHERE you are on the way to where you want to be. After all, if true life-change happens in the context of relationships, that goes for ministry leaders too!
There are not enough words to express our gratitude for the support and true partnership demonstrated by the Southern Missouri District. We expect many more victories before us as we remember, “Let us not be weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9
This article originally appeared in the Southern Missouri District Messenger.
In our discussion this month about marriage in ministry, this week's blog post is one I'm suggesting that you share with your husband and have a discussion, just the two of you. The article says, "Ministry couples need to confront the tension between church and family by negotiating the specific challenges in the ministry environment." How do you as husband/wife and family respond to this strain of ministry? It's worth having a conversation about this subject now...better yet, make it an ongoing conversation, kind of like a health check up for your marriage in ministry.
A pastor once told us, "I was at a board meeting where we were examining potential elders. One candidate was asked, 'Are you willing to make sacrifices with your family for the sake of the church?' And it was a weird moment because I asked myself, What's the right answer to that question?"
Over the past seven years, we've gathered pastors and their spouses into peer cohorts, which met repeatedly in multiday retreats called Pastors Summits where we facilitated heartfelt discussions about the challenges of vocational ministry. During one of our summits, a participant shared the following story:
A few years ago, I asked my wife what it felt like to be married to me, after 20 years of marriage and 18 years of ministry together. I was optimistic of her positive response. She said, "I know that I would never divorce you. And I certainly would never kill you. However, I can't help but think the boys and I would be better off if you were not alive."
My response? I was ready to leave the ministry in order to save my marriage I went to my elders and told them what my wife had said. After some quiet moments, one of the elders finally said, "Now is not the time for you to leave the ministry. Now is the time for you to learn what the ministry is all about." With their support, my wife and I began extended counseling together. This has resulted in some pretty dramatic changes in the way I live life and do ministry.
The effects of ministry on marriage—and marriage on ministry—are rarely discussed, yet intimately connected. From the summit discussion with ministry couples, we identified two primary challenges facing marriage and family for those in the ministry. We will explore these two stressors and describe the most helpful responses and actions identified by the summit couples.
Stressor one: ministry as a lifestyle
Pastors can only dream of a nine-to-five job in which the whistle blows and the work stays behind as they head for home. One pastor stated emphatically, "Ministry is not a job; it's a lifestyle. Even when I'm home, I'm subject to the telephone and my inability to turn some of the church emotions off. I feel like I'm faking it with the kids much of the time."
Pastors rarely feel like they can step away from their ministry responsibilities...read more
"Is Ministry Killing Your Marriage? Pastors reflect on building a harmonious relationship between their ministries and families, " by Bob Burns, Tasha D. Chapman, and Donald C. Guthrie, Christianity Today: CT Pastors, April 2013.
In Genesis 2, God says “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.” Were truer words ever spoken? Man desperately needs a helper, a woman who has the innate skills to create and manage their home, family and life. This is especially true in ministry.
I have a friend whose husband was in music ministry, serving with a pastor who was single. She told me once, rather wistfully, that while the pastor was a gifted communicator and leader, with a great heart, there was something missing – a wife! She noted how much a “helper” brought to a church family, how influential and enriching that role can be. One of my interests is researching the stories of women in church history, especially pastors wives. While there isn’t a plethora of information on these women, there is enough to get a true sense of their marriages, ministry and personal journeys. Catherine Boothe was the wife of William Boothe, founders of the Salvation Army. The Boothes were contemporaries of Charles and Susannah Spurgeon, he being the famous pastor of the Metropolitan Tablernacle in London. Other colleagues during that time were Hudson Taylor, George Muller and David Livingstone – powerful voices reflecting the missions heart of English Christians in the 19th century. There is quite a contrast between how Susannah and Catherine lived out their “helper” roles.
Catherine and William were committed to social work and evangelism with the impoverished working class in London’s East End. Catherine’s powerful speaking and leadership skills energized hundreds of Christians to take the gospel to the poor, working to establish stable families and communities. The woman had unbelievable drive and stamina, and the Boothes left one of Christianity’s most enduring legacies. On the other side of town was Susannah Spurgeon. Susannah was a quiet woman, with literary interests and skills. She was bedridden most of her adult life from problems resulting from the birth of twins. She established the Book Fund to purchase Spurgeon’s commentaries for rural pastors who could barely afford food for their families, much less study materials. Her compassion for these pastors led to this quiet but vital ministry.
One ministry was very public, the other was “off the radar screen”, but both were of inestimable value. Their stories illustrate the synergy of a couple, fully committed to God’s call, whose ministries were empowered by each one finding their unique path. Their voices still impact all of Christendom! This leads me to the obvious question: as a “helper”, do I embrace my own strengths and even weaknesses, determined to see opportunities for service? Or, do I excuse myself due to less than perfect circumstances? As a “helper” to our husbands, we not only strengthen our ministry, marriage and families, but our own voice to the generations of believers that come after us. In part 2 of this post we will look at the mystery and power of” synergy”!
Susie Hawkins lives in Dallas, TX with her husband OS Hawkins. She is the author of From One Ministry Wife to Another: Honest Conversations on Connections in Ministry. She has 2 daughters and 6 grandchildren, keeping her life full of craziness and joy. This blog was posted on November 13, 2014 for NAMB Flourish.
Where do you go to learn about being a minister's wife?
It is our desire here at Refresh to see that each woman has a positive experience in partnership with their husband in ministry.
Bloom wants to provide guidance, support, connection, and encouragement to wives new to ministry through a connection with a seasoned and trained minister's wife using a Connect 5 group created specifically for you. We'll use books to guide us in our conversations about the challenges, issues, benefits, and rewards of being a minister's wife.
We believe when women are strengthen, our families and churches are strengthened, and the ministry of the gospel is strengthened.
New Bloom Connect groups are forming now to start September 3.