Ministry has been part of my life nearly as early as I can remember:
I grew up in a pastor’s home, and my grandpa and great-grandpa were both preachers; seventeen years ago I married Jeremy, who had just graduated from Bible college and was heading into full-time ministry.
Having spent my entire life as a pastor’s kid and pastor’s wife, I can tell you that there are unique pressures and dynamics within a preacher’s home.
There’s one little word that I keep thinking about, and pondering how it affects the dynamics of family life in the preacher’s home:
I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you what resilience means, but I’m going to anyway! *wink*
When I really want to get a handle on a particular word or idea, I grab a dictionary.
Here’s what my online dictionary had to say about resilience:
the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens
In fact, ministry can break you if you let it.
How do we stay strong, healthy and successful as a family in the face of the pulling, stretching pressures of ministry life?
Let me share three simple ways the Lord has helped me cultivate resilience in my own life as a pastor’s wife.
These attributes are good for every woman, but I believe they are absolutely necessary for the preacher’s wife.
I can’t tell you how many times our family’s plans have been interrupted, or completely changed, because of ministry raining on our parade.
Whenever possible, my husband does his best to preserve our family time despite ministry obligations, but sometimes changes in plans are inevitable.
In those times, we flex.
Jeremy frequently quotes the phrase, “bend or break,” and this is certainly the case in preserving the integrity of your family equilibrium.
Go with the flow.
Give yourself a “rain check” and move on.
capable of bending or being bent
easily changed : able to change or to do different things
So much in life either rises and falls on our choice to choose gratitude over feeling sorry for ourselves.
I’m not sure if there is a more important virtue to cultivate as a preacher’s wife than gratitude.
My online dictionary defined “gratitude” as
a feeling of appreciation or thanks.”
I would personally tweak that definition just a bit:
a CHOICE of appreciation or thanks.”
I don’t always “feel” grateful, but I can allow Christ to work in my heart and change my perspective to one that values the eternal over the temporal.
I can always choose gratitude.
It’s very important to cultivate a thankful, resilient attitude in your children, those precious kiddos growing up in the middle of the pressures and demands of ministry life.
In the case with our son’s birthday being interrupted by a church funeral, Jeremy and I took the kids to celebrate the day before his birthday.
We didn’t complain about the interruption or make a big deal about it, and neither did he.
Our little man had so much fun riding the city trolley and going to the park the day before his birthday, and that was all he talked about for the rest of the week.
I seriously doubt that my son will grow up with memories of “having to go to funerals on my birthday” because he grew up in a preacher’s home.
My prayer is that his memory vault with be full of life-giving, joyful moments shared with people who love him.
I believe gratitude can give him that gift.
Gratitude will keep my heart, and the hearts of my children, resilient in the face of the disappointments and demands of life.
This has been a tough one for me as a pastor’s wife, because there are often so many unknowns in ministry.
And, as wives, we have to trust the leadership of not only our omnipotent Heavenly Father, but also our very finite husbands.
And that’s the really hard part!
Trust: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.”
The driving need to control is the opposite of trust.
Seeking to control wears me out: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Releasing control into God’s hands- and trusting His provision, timing, and will- restores me and sets me free to live an abundant and resilient life in the face of many unknowns.
Over eight years ago when our family moved locations and churches, I felt like my “trust” was pushed to the limits.
I had to trust that God was leading our family through my husband, despite our differing personalities and opinions.
I had to trust God’s provision for our family when finances were tight (and when my husband worked a night shift for a year).
I had to trust God’s timing when our family moved twice in a twelve-month period (not easy or fun!).
I had to trust that Someone much more capable and wise was truly in control of the situation, because I knew I certainly wasn’t in control. In fact, I felt very much at “loose ends” for quite a while.
Letting go of control and truly trusting God, and my husband’s leadership, allowed me to reach a point of emotional resilience in my life that I’d never previously known.
(I believe it played a huge role in my overcoming depression during that season of my life, as well.)
Ladies, if we’re going remain resilient emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally as preacher’s wives, then cultivating these attributes is non-optional.
Inflexibility, ingratitude, and seeking to control will undermine our emotional and physical health as women, and those attitudes will slowly decay the core of our husband’s ministries: our marriage and family life.
Scripture is clear-
Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish plucks it down with her hands.” Proverbs 14:1
If you find yourself on the same path as I’m walking today: wife of a preacher, mom to a houseful of young kids-
Remember this: our daily decisions are either building up or tearing down
- our joy and emotional equilibrium
- our physical and mental health
- our relationship with our husband and kids
- our marriage and family life
- the atmosphere of our home
- our children’s character and mindset about life
- our influence with other women
- our husband’s ministry, and ultimately
- the kingdom of God
I want to be a builder!
In order to do that, I’ve got to choose to cultivate a resilient and strong spirit. One that is characterized by flexibility, gratitude, and trust.
This post has been much longer than I originally planned, but I hope it encourages you, sweet friend!
If you’re a minister’s wife, I’d love to connect with you over at my private Facebook group for preacher’s wives.
Your choices today matter greatly.
In the face of your own unique disappointments, needs, and pressures, will you choose resilience?
How can flexibility, gratitude and trust in God help you “bounce back” and stay strong through the power of Christ?
Here’s to living and loving well-