Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Who is a Pastor’s Wife?



Who IS a pastor’s wife?  The wife of a pastor, right?  Well then...who’s a pastor?

There’s been so much confusion over this issue in my own mind through the years.  I would have guessed it was just me.  But I’ve gotten messages from other women who seem to be just as confused.  Maybe my story will explain my dilemma.  

When I married Andy, he was in Music Evangelism—he traveled and sang with a gospel quartet, The Royalheirs, and then with his twin brother, The Dietz Brothers. We joined a church where we lived but were seldom there because of our travels.  But as we had children, I was there almost every Sunday and Wednesday.  We were members there for six years before our pastor asked Andy to become the Youth Minister or Youth Leader, I think he was called.  Because I was so involved in the church, it just seemed like the next step. I never felt like a pastor’s wife because my friendships never changed—and we had great friends.  We were on staff there for three years and then moved to our second church.  I didn’t feel as involved at our next church because I had a new baby and four children under six. I was busy at home.  Our third church was the church where Andy grew up. So we were “home.”   He was among old friends who quickly became my friends. We remained there for 26 years.  

If you’d asked me during those years if I was a pastor’s wife, I would have said, “No.  My husband is the Youth Minister (or later Missions’ Minister).”  Or I might have said, “I’m a staff wife.”  I didn’t feel like a pastor’s wife and was never called a pastor’s wife. In fact, it wasn’t until my daughter was grown and talked about being a PK (preacher’s kid) that the lightbulb went off!   I WAS a pastor’s wife!!   Why had that never registered?

I became a pastor’s wife during a time that only the senior pastor was called a pastor—at least in my denomination.  But a pastor is someone who is a shepherd. He’s someone who cares for the sheep—who feeds the sheep by teaching the Word. My husband did that from the beginning in our youth ministries.  We’ve had anywhere from 50 to 500 youth. He taught them, cared for them, led them, and doctored their wounds.  He also did that as a Missions’ Minister. My son has done that as a Worship Pastor. Children’s Ministers, Activity Ministers, Education Ministers, Family Ministers, New Church Members Ministers, Small Group Leaders all pastor...if they shepherd the people.  

We are in our fourth church where Andy is the pastor.  The senior pastor.  And I’m glad I finally figured out who I am...and now realize it’s who I’ve been for 37 years!  





Sunday, May 5, 2019

Ministry Change




A young pastor’s wife contacted me recently and said she and her husband are in the process of changing churches and wanted to know how to finish well.  Their denomination has their pastors send resum├Ęs to other churches without a pastor...so they’re early in the process.  They just know their ministry is finished where they are.  She also said they were under attack.  I gave her the following advice and then thought it might help you if you’re in the process or may be in the future.  What would you add?
  1. Stay focused.  You’re not gone yet and still have a job to do.  Do it well.  
  2. Whoever is attacking, overcome them with kindness. Love the people. Bless them.  Do good to them.  Pray for them. 
  3. Do the next thing in front of you that you know would bring God pleasure and you pleasure.  Stay occupied—it’s so easy to get antsy when you know change is coming.  And it’s very easy to get ahead of God.  
  4. Minister to your family.  If your children are old enough, prepare them at the appropriate time for the change coming (depending on their ages and ability to keep it quiet, if necessary). Plan play times with their special friends.  
  5. Keep doing ministry.  Don’t just quit.  Plan ahead and put people in place to carry out the plans.  Hopefully you’ve trained others for ministry—empower them!
  6. Don’t get overwhelmed.  Remember God is in control and has good plans for all concerned. And remember He loves this church.  If you start stressing, take short trips out of town.  See a movie.  Go to the carnival. Do something fun!
  7. Pray with your spouse and your family.  Enlist trusted friends and family to pray with you.  
  8. Stay in the Word. Hear God.  He will encourage you, counsel you, and direct you.  
  9. Leave the church better than you found it.   Ask God what that looks like—and do it.  
  10. Praise God for this church.  God had a good purpose in bringing you to them and giving them to you.  Bless them.  

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Mary Slessor



Mary Slessor was born on December 2, 1848 in Aberdeen, Scotland to Robert & Mary Slessor, a poor working class family.  Robert was an alcoholic and was unable to keep up his work as a shoemaker.  The family moved to Dundee so Robert could work in the mill—which he never fulfilled because of his drunkenness. Mary’s mother began working at the jute mill and asked Mary to go to work at the age of 11.  Mary worked half of the day and attended the factory’s school the other half.  

Mary’s mother was a devout Presbyterian and read the Missionary Record each month.  Mary loved reading of David Livingtone’s adventures in Africa in the magazine and upon learning of his death, she wanted to follow in his footsteps.  At the age of 27, she applied to become a missionary and was appointed to Calabar, Nigeria—the very place David Livingstone had served!   She was elated.  

Upon arriving in Calabar, she was assigned to the mission station there.  She was told no one had gone more than 5 miles into the interior because it was too dangerous.  Tribes were at war with one another.  But Mary chafed at having to spend her money to support the lifestyle of entertaining, imported foods, and fine living at the mission station.  She wanted to go inland.  She began making appeals to the Foreign Mission Board of the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland.  She was finally permitted to move further into Nigeria.  She met King Eyo Honesty VII whom she’d read about in Livingstone’s journals. He became a protector and helper as Mary moved further down the river.  The people were frightened of Mary at first because of her white skin and red hair—they thought she had fire on her head.  

People began to bring babies to Mary’s doorstep—they either considered the child cursed or couldn’t feed it. The first child she adopted was Janie.  When Mary contracted malaria and went back to Scotland to recuperate, she took Janie.  People loved hearing Mary’s stories of Africa and seeing her African child.  Money began to flow into the mission board for her work in Calabar.  

Mary finally made it to inland Nigeria upon her return.  She found a very superstitious people who followed witchcraft and practiced human sacrifices and slaughtering of twins and mothers—considering them a curse.  Many men had up to 30 wives and if he died, all of his wives were killed and buried with him.  Mary intervened many times with the chief when he was about to pour hot oil on a person for punishment.  Mary was fearless.  She intervened in tribal wars convincing chiefs to sit and talk to one another.  

Because of her relationship with many chiefs of the area, she was asked to become the British vice-consul and judge the people. She agreed to be vice-consul with the understanding that evangelism was her main focus.  Mary would knit as she listened to the disagreements of men and then give fair judgments. She was soon revered and called the “white ma” and later, “The Mother of Us All.”  

Mary suffered from several bouts of severe malaria and eventually developed rheumatism.  Her daughter, Janie, helped her in her work. Not only did many people come to Christ, but Mary single-handedly stopped the practices of human sacrifices, killing twins and their mothers, capturing slaves, and many of the other pagan practices.  She started churches and schools in many villages. Mary died of malaria January 13, 1915. Drums beat the news from one village to another that The Mother of Us All had died.  Mary had served God in Nigeria for 39 years.  

The Reward





Matthew 10:41 says, “ Anyone who welcomes a prophet and surrenders to his prophecy will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who welcomes a righteous person and conforms to the righteousness that surrounds him and proceeds from him will receive a righteous man’s reward.”


Jesus had been preparing his disciples.  He’d just told them to expect persecution, divisions—even death!   But then he told them some people would receive what they had to say and to those people, he would give a reward.  There may be hard times coming, boys—but hang on!   The rewards will be fulfilling.  


We may be the prophets and righteous people bring the word of truth but we’re also receivers.  Have you ever heard something and then gnarled and worried it to death?   Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t examine a word—we absolutely should!   But it’s usually because that word is out of my spiritual comfort zone that I wear it out until there’s nothing to receive.  Or Satan may accuse the prophet or righteous man to me..and I listen.  I’ll never receive that reward.  


We should be the prophet and righteous man bringing the word of God fearlessly.  But we should also be the receiver.  We should test the word...and receive.   There’s great reward when we do!  Don’t miss out on any rewards.  

Monday, March 18, 2019

Understanding Your Pastor’s Wife

Understanding Your Pastor’s Wife
by Becky Dietz

March is Pastor's Wife Appreciation Month.  Did you know that?  Don't feel bad...It’s only been in existence a few years.  But since it is, I thought it would be good to discuss your pastor's wife here and maybe give you a rare look into her life.  You may not know what she is walking through.  I have been loved so well, taken care of, and befriended in the churches we've been in...but I've learned some things through a few of my own circumstances and a lot through other pastor's wives and the difficult things they've faced.

Did you know most pastor's wives feel invisible in their church?  And if they don't feel that way, they almost feel like they should be that way.  They have no say.  They usually hear all of the problems of the church because their husband needs a safe place to unload...but they are powerless to change anything except through prayer.  They can't go tell off the church board or deacons or negotiate with the finance committee.  Their response has to be to continue loving everyone--regardless of how they or their husband have been treated.  The church we’re in now is the FIRST church that has allowed me to be on a committee—and that was after 35 years in the ministry!  Most pastor’s wives literally have no say--beyond them raising their hand to vote--which they may even be fearful to do that.

Did you know most pastor's wives fight the expectations of their church?  You don't think you have expectations?  What if the pastor's wife walks right by you without speaking?  What if the pastor's wife invites another woman over for coffee, but not you?  What if she is quiet and reserved and doesn't get involved in church activities?  What if the pastor's wife is outgoing, outspoken, or loves to take charge?  See?  We do have expectations.  We want the perfect mixture.  The perfect pastor's wife is someone who is outgoing and speaks to everyone but never oversteps her bounds.  She leads the women's groups and teaches the children but never makes a suggestion to a man in leadership.  She opens her home to everyone, not a select few.  You never hear her argue with her husband or criticize how the church is run.  Ahhh...yes.  The perfect pastor's wife.  The model none of us can live up to.

Did you know most pastor's wives would do so much more if they could afford it?  It takes money to invite people into your home.  It is expensive to invite a couple or a family out to eat.  If she plans a women's retreat, she has to be able to afford it herself.  She might love to be involved with the youth or missions programs, but it would be impossible to pay for all of the trips they take.  She may not be able to be a part of a women's video series because she can't afford the study book.  It takes money to lead and very few pastor's wives are compensated for the expenses of the ministries they do.  It's just expected.

Did you know most pastor's wives fear comparison?  If your last pastor's wife was well-loved, the new pastor's wife knows she's starting from behind at the get-go.  She may fear being involved in or leading out in the same things the former pastor's wife was involved in because of being compared.  She may fear failure--not because of anything she's done, but just because she doesn't measure up to what the last pastor's wife did.

Did you know most pastor's wives have been subjected to private criticism of their husband or children by someone in the church?  This is probably the biggest cause of pastor's wives "retreating" from church people.  Some people feel called to let the pastor's wife know of every mistake their husband makes.  And especially when their children become teenagers, some busybodies are watching and waiting for their children to sin.  Very few pastor's kids are allowed to be just that...kids.  Everything they do is scrutinized, gossiped about, and condemned just because they're the pastor's kid.  There are very, very few kindhearted people in the church who take those kids under their wings and love them unconditionally and encourage them continually.  It's the reason so many PK's leave the church.  (I hope if you know of an offense you've caused, you'll go this week and ask forgiveness.)  Every pastor's wife hopes for a kindhearted soul to mentor her kids to reinforce the things they're learning at home.  I actually made this a matter of prayer when my kids became teenagers. I prayed that an adult would embrace them, love them unconditionally, and encourage them spiritually.   And God graciously answered that prayer for all four of my kids!  By the way...there’s no perfect kid whether a PK or not.

Did you know most pastor's wives are lonely?  Some of them are afraid to make any friends because of the possibility of some women in the church feeling left out.  Or they don't want to risk being criticized.  It's risky business having friends when you're the pastor's wife.  If you share your burdens, the very person to whom you share may turn on you and use you as fodder for church gossip.  The pastor's wife knows that sharing her burdens could even be the means to having her husband fired.  Most pastor's wives have surface-level relationships because of the risk of sharing their hearts.

Did you know most pastor's wives have tried to talk their husbands into getting out of the ministry at some point?  The pressures are real.  The enemy has a bullseye target on their family.  And the complaining, control, and offenses in the church can be overwhelming.

What does your pastor's wife need?  She needs a friend.  A supporter.  Someone who will love her, her husband, and her children unconditionally.  She knows she's going to make mistakes and may even mess up BIG time!  But she wants the grace--and a safe place--to make mistakes and survive.  No...thrive!  Every pastor's wife also hopes for enough compensation so she doesn't have to work outside of the home.  She hopes for enough in her husband's salary so she isn't constantly worried about how to feed her family--and still do things to be involved in the church--especially if she has two babies in diapers or two or more teenagers needing to be involved in youth programs/trips/camp.  Most of all, your pastor's wife needs encouragement.  The pastor gets lots of pats on the back (hopefully!)--he's upfront and visible.  Very few pastor's wives get the same.  Even if her concentration during her time in your church is on rearing her children, she needs to hear someone say, "You're doing a great job!" and mean it.

Like I said...I've been loved well.  In fact, I have to pray I don't get a big head because of all of the affirmation I get--and have gotten from each church I've been in.  But so many of my sisters doing the same job are hurting.  Everyone wants to be appreciated.  I hope you'll take the opportunity this month to encourage your pastor's wife--even if you've never done anything like that in your life!  Ask God what she needs...and do what comes to your mind.  And next time you're tempted to criticize her, I hope you'll remember....she needs a friend, not a critic.
Most of all, pray for her.

Believe me when I say that I know there are pastor's wives in a totally different hemisphere who just don't care what the church thinks--and could care less if someone reaches out to them.  They may be rebellious or bitter. In fact, they may be the ones trying to destroy their husband's ministry or the church.  And there are women whose husbands aren't in the ministry who suffer some of these same things [i.e. a coach's wife].   But I also know Satan is attacking church leaders in hopes of getting rid of church leaders...and churches, for that matter.  It’s his aim to destroy spiritual leaders—so they’re attacked mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  Even if your pastor's wife is in that different hemisphere, she (more than any of the others) needs to be ministered to.  What if she could be transformed by your love?  Your pastor's wife may have also offended you.  I've been guilty of the very same thing.  But you know what?  Sometimes we don't even know!  If you've been offended, please go to your pastor's wife (even if she's left your church) and work out that offense.  God desires unity.  And if you're just hanging on to how bad a pastor's wife was, please let it go and extend her some grace.  You just might not know her story...and we all need grace.

"...more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise!"
II Corinthians 4:15

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Church Conflict




Have you ever been engaged in church conflict and didn’t know how to handle it?  We had a lady who ran our church kitchen who became very controlling.  She didn’t like the fact that Andy (my husband, the youth minister) wanted plenty of food for the high school youth we fed each Thursday.  She thought they were wasteful.  But she never approached Andy...she’d always come to tell me her complaints as I was serving the youth.  


At first, I let it slide. Then I began saying, “You need to talk to Andy.”  But she didn’t.  As she became more aggressive and began to actually sabotage the meals by not cooking enough food, I decided that if she approached me again, we needed to talk privately.   Believe me...I was praying because I really didn’t want a confrontation.    The thought terrified me.  


That day came.  She verbally attacked Andy to my face and I waited until everyone left.  I told her that she was never to come to me again with complaints about my husband. If she had an issue with his ministry, she needed to go to him.  It wasn’t a pleasant confrontation—at all.  We were both pretty angry before it was over.  


But something slowly happened.  This woman’s attitude towards Andy & me completely changed.   And within a year, she got married and asked Andy to perform the ceremony.   We became good friends.  


I’ve thought on this a lot.  I didn’t want to confront the conflict.  I wanted to maintain unity.  But there is no real unity as long as a conflict is going on.  Satan wants us to think if we leave it alone or sweep it under the carpet, it will go away.  It doesn’t.  Or we think we’re maintaining unity by not touching it.  That’s not unity.  That’s avoidance.   


Two verses helped me during this time.  

“If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”   Romans 12:18. The part “as far as it depends on you” stuck out to me.  And the other...

“If your brother wrongs you, go and show him his fault, between you and him privately. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother.”  Matthew 18:15 (and following). 

  

I don’t want you to think I did everything perfectly because I didn’t.   But I begged God for help and I knew I had to confront the conflict—to bring peace and unity.   God wants us to deal with the conflict and then step back and allow Him to redeem the situation.  It’s what He does best.


I highly recommend the book, Antagonists in the Church by Kenneth C. Haugk.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Weaknesses



Do you know what your weakness is?  I know, I know...we’ve been taught to look for our strengths, our gifts, our purpose.  But what if God wants to uncover and address your weakness—with the purpose of invading it with His power?


My weakness is listening.  It was exposed in 1st grade when my teacher threw a piece of chalk across the room because I hadn’t listened to instructions.  It also wasn’t the last time I exasperated a teacher with this particular weakness.   


Look at Gideon.  His weakness was fear.  The Angel of the Lord found him hiding in the wine press.  But when God showed up and moved on Gideon with HIS POWER...he became a fearless, mighty warrior willing to execute God’s unconventional warfare.   


Maybe God wants to show the “before & after” photos of our lives to a world desperate for help and hope.  The “before” photo is only what we’re capable of doing in the flesh.  The “after” photo is of a person walking powerfully surrendered to the Spirit of God!   


I’m trying to die to my flesh and LISTEN to God’s voice these days.  I want God to have “before and after” photos of me—in case someone needs to see His transformative power.  When I listen to the Spirit of God and obey His voice, His power is showcased in me. 


What if this, after all, is our strength?


“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

II Corinthians 12:9-10