Recently, a church planter’s wife asked me for advice on her situation. I didn’t really premeditate my answer; it just came barreling out.
“Be flexible or die … those are your options.”
Her eyes got big, and so did mine. The advice was a strong blow to me, too.
But, if anyone is looking for a more thought-out word from a pastor’s wife today, this might be it.
If we are going to survive the tumultuous waters of ministry, we will have to be flexible.
According to Google, the definition of flexibility is, “the quality of bending easily without breaking.” To be honest, this word hurts my stomach right now. Growing up, I took pride in the range of motion in my joints. I stretched constantly and could bend in any direction. But recently, I tore the cartilage in my hip joint which has robbed me of all flexibility. I’m in pain just watching my daughters during their gymnastics classes.
Each group of joints in our body have different levels of extensibility. We may be flexible in our hamstrings allowing us to touch our toes but not in our quadriceps which affects our posture. See, you might think of yourself as flexible, but this isn’t really an all-or-nothing issue.
Let’s think about the different areas where we, as ministry wives, need to stretch in order to develop flexibility:
1. We must be flexible about scheduling. When something comes up that is unplanned (and it will), are we willing to let our preferences go? Or will we hold on with white knuckles or learn to trust God with every moment?
2. We must be flexible about family time. Yes, we schedule Thursday night as “family night.” But if “X-Y-Z” comes up, couldn’t we as easily protect a Sunday night?
3. We must be flexible in our expectations of others. We have both legitimate and illegitimate expectations of the people around us. While we may argue about which category it falls into, we can all agree that people will sometimes fail us. So, how will we respond? We’ve got to stretch far enough to reach grace.
4. We must be flexible in our expectations of ourselves. Even as I’m typing this, I’m frustrated because I was supposed to finish this blog post before picking up my daughter from class. I guess I need to adjust what I think I can accomplish in an hour. Anyone else with me?
5. We must be flexible in our patience. Not every season is equal. When my husband first started at Pillar church, he needed more space to figure things out. If we want our churches to flourish, we’ve got to stretch ourselves to develop patience ... especially when our husbands are stressed and fatigued under heavy loads.
6. We must be flexible in our ability to take criticism (real or perceived). Maybe criticism is coming from someone in the church or from someone in your home. We’ve got to stretch in our ability to not be so easily offended. After all, “It is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (Prov. 19:11).
7. We must be flexible in our desires. We want too many things. Some of our desires are good, but some are bad. Many times these desires conflict (I really want to finish writing this blog post, but I also really want to exercise this morning). Everything becomes hard when we don’t bridle our desires, and we allow them to sneak in and compare our lives with those around us. We can’t have it all, so we’ve got to learn to "be content with what is in our hand" (I Tim. 6:6).
8. We must be flexible in our moral commitments. (Just kidding … just checking to see if anyone is still reading this.) We know there are things we can’t be flexible about. Knowing the difference is key!
Our husband’s job (and therefore our lives as pastors' wives) can be so unpredictable. This is not something we can control. The only thing we can control is how we respond to it. There is great freedom in this. But, we have to get our workout clothes on and do the hard work of training in righteousness.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Prov. 19:21).
Let’s trust our God, and put all our confidence in Him instead of our perfectly constructed plans.