Monday, October 26, 2015

What I LOVE about being a pastor's wife

I've spent time talking about the perils of ministry and have read lots of blogs on the same topic.  But today, I want to talk about the JOYS of ministry.  There are so many!!  Andy & I have been in ministry for 40 years and on staff of a church for 35 of those years.  We've learned a lot on that journey.  And boy!  Do I wish I could go back and teach the things I've learned to a younger Becky.  But that younger Becky had to learn a lot of things the hard way.  And the most important thing I've learned is that God is most interested in our journey.  Are we teachable?  Will we obey?  Will we apply truth and grace to our life?  Will we love?  Will we change?  As I reflect on the past 35 years, here are a few things I'm most grateful for...

No matter the size of your church, instant friends are available to you.  Of course, these relationships have to be developed, but even on the first day of being at a new church, the promise of friends is there.  Will everyone be an intimate friend?  No.  But everyone can be a friend at some level.  We pastor's wives are just like anyone else.  Our personalities are going to "connect" with certain people more than others.  And there are just some people more willing or more available to make deeper connections.  Some of my friends have been staff wives but most have been lay people in the church.  I think it's so important to go to a new church with the attitude that I am going to LOVE the people!  It's a choice.  And a good choice.  My life is so much richer because of the people I've met in the four churches we've been a part of.  I can't imagine missing out on any of them!

Man!  Have I done a lot of growing in the past 40 years.  There's no more beautiful place to grow, develop, and change than within the body of Christ.  God has promised "iron sharpening iron" between family members.  I think the difficult things stick out in our minds just because of how hard they were.  And I did grow from them.  But as I meditate on my growth, I think God grew me most in the sweet places.  Andy & I were a part of a prayer group we called P&P (Praise & Prayer) for several years.  We learned so much about God, how He speaks, how He works, how He delights to hear us and answer us, and how He still does miracles!  Our faith grew so much during that time.  I also grew from praying with a group of women.  We were crazy enough and needy enough to see God do some awesome things--like save marriages, deliver from drug addiction, and return prodigals home.  It was through relationships within the body of Christ that I began to see who I was in Christ.

I've been able to be myself in the churches we've been a part of.  No one taught me how to be a pastor's wife.  And because Andy started out in youth ministry in a church we'd already been members of for 5 years, no one had any expectations of me.  We were already a part of that church and they knew me well--and I was actively involved.  And because of that experience,  I assumed I could just be myself...and I did.  Honestly, I think that's key.  If we don't put on airs or fear expectations and just present ourselves as "this is who I am," things go so much more smoothly.  And I think being willing to do the dirty work (being a servant) helps.  We develop relationships when we roll up our sleeves and clean a playground together or wash dishes with others.  They begin to see and know we're just like them.

I've never been affirmed more than through the body of Christ!!  I am so serious about this one. need to know my love language is gifts.  And our churches have lavished gifts on us: clothing, refrigerator, patio furniture, cars (yes, plural), repairing cars, a trip to Israel, a house remodeled and filled with new furniture when we returned from a mission trip to China, food, gift certificates, money for three of our children's weddings, and so much more.  Just yesterday, our church honored us for Pastor Appreciation Day.  Their words were so kind, the love was evident...and yes, there were gifts.  Over and over we have been affirmed.  But as much as gifts say "love" to me, the power of someone's words washing over me is even more amazing.  Recently, I went to a sweet man in our church and told him that his confidence in me meant more than he could possibly know.  He was a true encourager in my life.   Actually, God has used the affirmation through the years to change me.  I had a "poverty mindset" years ago, but because of the gracious giving of others towards us (which was so humbling), I began to see the true character of God--and His opinion of me.  Close friends and their generosity--and not just towards me--changed me.  Because of their example of generosity in my life, I became a giver...a giver of affirmation and gifts.

I've loved helping my husband's ministry.  We've been partners since the beginning.  I opened our home (no matter the size) for every kind of youth activity, dinner parties, game nights, open houses, small groups, and prayer meetings.  I've taught youth Sunday school, mentored girls, etc.  But it was a give-and-take.  Andy encouraged me to spend time with friends.  He would watch the kids at night so I could go get a Coke and spend time girl-talking.  He encouraged me to go on women's retreats and eventually lead them.  He encouraged me to use my gifts and express myself--and not just in his ministry.  In fact, he was my best cheerleader when I became the director of a benevolence ministry.  I've helped him.  He's helped me.  We've had a great partnership through the years.  But we've also partnered with those in our churches doing ministry, going on mission trips, youth camps, etc.  When you partner with others, a strong link is formed.

I started to put laughter as the title for this section, but realized it was much deeper than that.  I have loved laughing with the body of Christ.  There's nothing I enjoy more.  But I've also cried and even wailed with the body of Christ.  And there's nothing that builds a better bond than crying with a brother or sister over needs together.  I've been angry with some of my brothers and sisters (as they have with me!), but I have always tried to work it out.  I can't stand rifts.  But I have loved deeply.  I have deep relationships from every church we've been a part of.  There are people I could call at 2:00 in the morning who would be by my side as quickly as  they could get there--and I'd do the same for them.  Andy & I have been with people in some of their most painful crises (and they with us), which has built a forever-bond.

I think I could go on and on.  What a privilege God has given me to be a pastor's wife!  God told me when I was 12-years-old that I would be a pastor's wife.  And He's spent 40 years training me and working stuff out of me.  But most of all...HE'S BLESSED MY SOCKS OFF!!

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