“Dear Discouraged Ministry Wife…” A Letter From a Woman Who’s Been There
October is Pastor Appreciation Month. While not all church families have caught on to this opportunity, many have snagged it and ran with their hospitality gifts to bless their pastor and his family! For many ministers, wives, and their families, it’s a time of abundance, and for others, it can seem like just any other time of year, good or bad! As I flip through the files in my mind of seasons we’ve experienced in ministry, I am both humbled and exhilarated. We have certainly tread the paths of the whole gamut – and I live to tell about it!
Ministry wives, come pull up a chair at my farm table for a moment and let’s chat. (Just for our imagination: There are freshly-cut sunflowers in the center and water, tea, or coffee fixed to your liking there. Oh, it’s also outside, but there’s a nice breeze that is just cool enough. p.s. If you’re wondering, I’m imagining because it would never really be this way at my house! )
For so long, the pastor’s wife was the forgotten and seemingly unappreciated part of the story. Many of us have lived through these feelings, and some of us are living through them even now.
It’s nice to be loved and appreciated, but we’ve got to be mindful that our significance comes from the Lord and what He says about us (1 Cor 1:31). Hear this from my heart:
- You are valued.
- You are needed.
- You are on mission wherever you are and however that looks.
- You are important to God’s plan.
- You are full of purpose.
- You are special.
You will not always hear these things from those whom you serve and serve alongside. But that doesn’t make them any less true of you!
If you forget these words from God, you will search for them in people who may not be able to give them to you.
You will seek affection and even close friendships there, but, as you long to be watered by small drops or an occasional shower by other people, you will feel dry. Naturally, sometimes we are energized by the sweet people we work with, but God never intended for those people to take His place or to fill us up.
Fellowship isn’t a substitute for time with our Father. It’s just not possible. He is our Source.
There have been times that I have been like one of those dry, almost crunchy petunias at the end of summer, with just a bit of color left (like the ones in my flower bed now!). Those may have been seasons when I ventured away from the Lord and allowed something or someone else to try to give me the spiritual nourishment I needed. It could have been anything that smuggled its way into my attention, good or bad. Maybe I didn’t even realize what was or wasn’t happening.
On the other hand, those dry-petunia kind of seasons could have been allowed by the Lord to pull me into Him a little closer, and for that, I have respect for those seemingly dry times.
Whatever the cause, I’m reminded of God’s words in Jeremiah 29:13-14:
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity…”
There are times when I’ve felt like I would never find God in my circumstances, and I just wanted to be done, times when I felt like nothing more than a spiritual captive. Still, He remains true to His promise, in spite of the way I felt.
Like Jeremiah, there are times when we’ve had to minister to people who weren’t very good listeners. It has felt like a struggle to lead anything of spiritual value, because frankly, no one wanted to follow! If you’ve been there – or are there now – know that…
...blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
That faithful servant and prophet, Jeremiah, painted this beautiful word picture in chapter 17, verses 7-8. I’m praying this for all of us:
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.
Be encouraged, dear one. God hears. He knows all about it. And He has a purpose for you.
Whether you feel you’re on a mountain or trudging through thorny, thickets below:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Pastor Appreciation Month may find you with abundant happiness; or, it may find you feeling dry and despondent. Whatever season you find yourself in, keep your eyes on Jesus!
Draw water from the only One who can restore and give you what you need to grow strong in Him. They might not be what or how you think, but blessings are headed your way!