It’s very possible that a pastor’s wife struggles with inflexibility just as much as the next person.

And just when it seems like she might be making progress… 

This morning, Jeremy and I were discussing our anniversary getaway plans for next week when he reminded me about a particular ministry situation that could very well change our schedule.

Go ahead and make the reservations,

but we might have to cancel

or reschedule

them.

For a split second, I felt the spirit of Big Old Spoiled Rotten Cry Baby well up inside.

Why?

Why does this ALWAYS happen?

We can never plan to go anywhere without the possibility of our plans having to change at a moment’s notice! Why, why, why?  Waaaaaaaaah! 

When Ministry Rains on Your Parade | Kristy's Cottage


I quickly reigned in my runaway thoughts and thanked Jeremy for the reminder.

It’s true: we’ve missed weddings, postponed trips, gone home early from vacations, and molded a lot of our family life around ministry needs.

Needs.  

Always so many needs. 

But isn’t that why we’re here in the first place?

Yes, that’s why we’re here.  But sometimes, in the midst of real life, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.

It reminds me of the physician who drops everything at a moment’s notice to rush to the hospital and perform an emergency surgery.

He may have had other plans for the day, but he is trained to save lives.  He lives ready to fulfill his commitment to serve the immediate needs of others.

Jesus Christ is the great physician, but a pastor is His hands and feet.  

His mouth piece.  His heart

He must stand ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice to rush to the side of a needy member of His body.

He may have had other plans for the day, but he is trained to save souls.  He lives ready to fulfill his commitment to serve the immediate needs of others.

Since I am a pastor’s wife, that means I signed up for the job too.

Often what we view as an interruption  is nothing less than God’s will unfolding in our other-wise planned day.  Sometimes, to let us reach out to someone in need; other times, to teach us a thing or two about letting God be God.

Even in the small things, like anniversary dates and family vacations. 

 

When Ministry Rains on Your Parade | Kristy's Cottage

Emily Judson, wife of America’s first foreign missionary, Adoniram Judson, wrote home from Burma in January 1847:

“This taking care of teething babies, and teaching natives, and talking English back end foremost is really a very odd sort of business… But I begin to get reconciled to my minute cares.

“I am ambitious for higher and better things, but the person who would do great things well must practice daily on little ones…

Many years ago, when James O. Fraser was working as a solitary missionary in Tengyueh, southwest China, his situation was, “In every sense, against the grain.”

He did not enjoy housekeeping and looking after the grounds.

He found the houseboy irritable and touchy, constantly quarreling with the cook.

Endless small items of business cluttered up the time he wanted for language study, and he was having to learn to be “perpetually inconvenienced” for the sake of the gospel.

He wrote:

“Just as you are nearly finishing- somebody comes along to sit with you and have a chat!

“You might hardly think it possible to be impatient and put out where there is such an opportunity for presenting the Gospel- but it is…”

taken from Keep A Quiet Heart, Elisabeth Elliot, page 139-140

 

When Ministry Rains on Your Parade | Kristy's Cottage


 

Right now, I’m not sure about our anniversary getaway next week. 

Who knows?

I could sit here and worry about it and pout.

I could whine and discourage my husband while he is busy trying to minister to his flock.

Or I can remind myself that, whatever happens, it’s all going to work out.  Maybe not exactly like I hoped, but it’s going to be just fine. 

I’m not in control of my life anyway.  

He is.  God is. 

I don’t believe that He allows interruptions and delays by accident.

Each needy soul is my sister or brother in Christ.

Every grief or disappointment or loss touches His heart, and it should touch mine, too.

The interruptions and inconveniences in my life force me once again to climb onto the Potter’s wheel; yet another opportunity to yield to the gentle touch of His sanctifying hand.

And, amazingly, to be His hands extended to the hurting.

How can I say no to that?

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
Matthew 10:37-39
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5 thoughts on “When Ministry Rains on Your Parade

  1. Oh, yes, I’ve been the whiner at times! It’s a really tricky balance to achieve because there are times when my husband is not good at keeping the boundaries we’ve agreed upon. However, I know that the reality is I’m often not good at letting God change my plans for the day (or week, or month). I just like to have my way. I am generous in so many other ways, but not always with time. So, He’s working on me – and I trust that work-in-progress. Thanks for this encouragement!
    Jen 🙂

    Posted on February 25, 2015 at 8:29 pm
  2. Good thoughts. I also struggle with this. My husband always says yes when we are asked to work extra, come in on our days off, etc. because he views these students as our ministry, not our career. I can definitely see your point, but I also can’t help but wonder if we do sometimes need to insist on time away with our spouse and children, even if it means telling people no. We need those short little getaways to recharge, refocus, and show each other that our marriage sometimes deserves to be what we are saying yes to, and not only when there is absolutely nothing else that is vying for our time. Because there always will be something. A husband’s first and foremost ministry is to his family. If family plans are consistently changed or cancelled in order to do for others, it is only natural for children or even wives to start to question their importance. Just like an elderly parishioner whose visits from Pastor keep getting cancelled would start feeling undervalued, and understandably so. Now, I am in no way saying that a minister’s kids should expect Dad to refuse to attend homeless ministry every Saturday in order to stay home and play board games. Nor am I saying that his wife should pout if a church member enters the hospital, thus ruining date night. What I am saying is that every couple, whether they are in ministry or not, needs planned and consistent (not necessarily often) time alone. Every family needs time away together. While it is vital to teach our kids that serving others is paramount, it is also important to teach them that they are just as valuable as those being ministered to and therefore deserving of time with Dad that is not always in jeapordy of being cancelled. It is equally vital for spouses to get away every once in awhile without kids, even if it’s just overnight. Seemingly, those we minister to are labeled on one column of our agenda under “crucial”, while family and spousal time are often on the other column under “only if circumstances permit.” Sometimes (admittedly not often and barring emergencies) those columns need to be reversed.

    Posted on February 25, 2015 at 3:21 pm
    1. I agree, Valerie. There is a fine line between graciously accepting the “demands” of ministry on our time, and setting boundaries for family activities and special getaways as a couple.

      I guess I am coming from a more rigid mindset, so my greatest need is flexibility. I am by no means suggesting that pastor’s families should not put boundaries around their time. We most definitely should.

      Last year, my husband and I created a new family tradition- a monthly “family day”. We turn off cell phones, get away, and just enjoy some togetherness and down time. It’s a welcome reprieve!

      Posted on February 25, 2015 at 4:14 pm
  3. Your posts on ministry always help me so much, Kristy! Just to read some of my own thoughts, feelings, and struggles lets me know that I’m not crazy or selfish. This is a normal part of the job and something that we have to uniquely wrestle with.

    Posted on February 25, 2015 at 2:22 pm
    1. I’m so glad, Kristen! It’s important to feel validated. In fact, your comment validated my own feelings in writing this post. I was a tad concerned that it might come across as selfish and rigid. I do struggle with those two issues, you know. 🙂

      Posted on February 25, 2015 at 4:15 pm