This post is for the (in)Couraged Flock- a group of ministry wives that I have the privilege of encouraging and co-leading with my friend Amy. However, anyone is welcome to share their thoughts in the comments!
October is Pastor Appreciation Month. When your husband IS the pastor, this can feel a bit awkward.
Fortunately, my family is part of a church that does an amazing job at encouraging its pastor and his family. They surprised us with cake yesterday and cards and gifts of appreciation. But the really great thing about the people at Orchard Community Church is that encouraging their pastor is not saved for the month of October. They do this all year long and we are so grateful.
But growing up as a pastor's kid and now as a pastor's wife, I have been in many different churches and I know that it is not always like this. Many times, pastors are met with constant criticism. In some people's eyes, they are unable to do anything right. A pastor's family is sometimes deliberately excluded. And sometimes, people can just be mean.
Prior to turning his life over to Christ, my Daddy was an alcoholic. This put him in a unique position to minister to anyone struggling with addictions. I will never forget the day that someone left a 6 pack of beer on our front porch after my Daddy had challenged this person on the way that they were living their life. It is a vivid reminder of how pastors can be misunderstood.
What I have found is that there can be two dangerous extremes that can lead a pastor and his family into a tailspin if they are not careful. They both fall under the category of being treated unfairly.
The first is what I will call the dissatisfied/critical person syndrome. This is when the pastor or minister does not meet someone's specific expectations and as a result this person (or often group of people) feel that they can say anything that they like about the pastor.
Sometimes this person or group of people might be right. There might be something that the pastor needs to work on or change. But sometimes they are completely wrong.
It takes a great deal of humility on the part of the pastor to be able to admit that he has something to work on. And it takes a great deal of humility on the part of his wife to not grow angry and bitter when her husband is treated completely unfairly.
I have made so many mistakes in regards to this. My husband has often been misunderstood and no one sees that better than I do. And I have wanted to yell to the world and say "can't you see that you are wrong?!!" But God has slowly been peeling my fingers off of this desire to prove my husband's worth and instead trust God with this journey that He has us on.
Because this life is not about us and about proving that we are right. This life and our ministry is all about God and the way in which He receives the glory.
As I have truly begun to accept this, it has changed my need to be heard or to make things right.
The second extreme that a ministry family can fall into is the proud/arrogant minister syndrome. This might seem odd, but it is a crucial thing to address. Because the critical voices are not the only ones out there. Sometimes it is the overly supportive voices that are just as dangerous.
When my husband was a youth/associate pastor, he would often hear after preaching that people wished that he would preach more. And he would even hear that they wished he was the senior pastor. At first, it made me feel so proud of my husband and I was thankful that people were recognizing his gifts.
But over time, I realized how dangerous these words were. They undermined the work of our senior pastors who God had intentionally placed in those positions for a reason. And it also made us dissatisfied and critical of others for no reason.
We learned that our response to these praises needed to also be met with humility. If my husband is gifted in preaching, it is only because that is how God chooses to work through him to bring glory to Himself. As a result, my husband cannot boast in his own abilities. The line from "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" comes to mind~ "I will not boast in anything. No gifts, no power, no wisdom. But I will boast in Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection."
Because this life is not about us and making a name for ourselves. This life and our ministry is all about God and giving the glory to Him.
I love my husband dearly and I am so thankful for these 15 years of ministry together. It has not always been easy- in fact there have been times of great difficulty and heart wrenching tears. But we can clearly see how God has used all of the difficulties to continue to mold us and make us into the people that we are becoming.
We can't go back and fix the situations that we might have handled differently had we been more mature or had more wisdom. But we are thankful for God's goodness to us in still choosing to use us for His glory.
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."~ 1 Corinthians 10:31
"Therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity... And whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through him." ~ Colossians 3:12-14,17
Have you experienced your husband being treated unfairly- whether through unfair criticism or inflated praise? How do you trust God through this and continue to bring glory to Him?
Have you shown your pastor and his family how much you appreciate them? Now is a good time to do it!