This weekend, Trent and I have the privilege of being involved in a Family Life Weekend to Remember Getaway. We are piloting a couple of new sessions specifically for pastors and their wives. As I was reading and studying to prepare for those sessions, I noticed a dark cloud hanging over me. Why am I so heavy hearted, I asked myself realizing at the same time that I had been studying and reading about me! I am a pastor’s wife and some of the statistics are not good. See for yourself...
According to one study, 43% of pastors that have been fired from the pastorate, left the ministry altogether. In the United States 1,500 pastors leave their assignments every month because of conflict, burnout, or moral failure. Although there are times when it is best for a pastor to step down, far too many good pastors are been driven out of the ministry. If you look behind the pastor, there is usually a family who is also feeling the effects of ministry life.
A conference sponsored by Focus on the Family asked ministry wives what their greatest pressure or challenge in ministry was. Five areas were stated over and over again by these ladies:
1. Loneliness and feelings of isolation.
2. Balance of family and church; there is none.
3. Expectations of church members
4. Criticism when they needed affirmation and encouragement.
5. Tight Finances.
Just asking for prayer requests from ladies in ministry can open our eyes to a world of hurt and complex issues. Here are a couple from a recent conference:
“We are a family in ministry. My husband is the pastor. It’s exhausting and demanding. We need to find a way to stay connected with each child and with each other while serving.”
“I am exhausted spiritually and physically, trying to balance the demands of homeschooling and being a minister’s wife. I feel all given out. Need to be re-fueled. Need renewed intimacy with my husband—so many demands. I’ve pushed him to the bottom of the list.”
I so wish I had four simple steps to fix it all and make all the complex issues go away but I don’t.
Recently I felt like a goalie in the warm up before a game. To warm up, each player comes and takes a shot at the goal. As puck after puck flies at the goalie every two or three seconds, he moves frantically trying to block the puck. At times, ministry can seem like one shot after the other flying into our lives. I remember crying out to the Lord and just saying, “Lord, I don’t know how to do it all. Which pucks do I stop and which ones do I just let go? What have you called me to?” In the quiet of the morning, I heard His still small voice, “Andrea, just WORSHIP ME. In all the processes and games of life, worship me.”
Suddenly, everything shifted. It became all about an audience of One. He is the head. He is the one who holds it all together. As I get my eyes onto Him the author and perfector of my faith, the struggles and challenges of ministry, while still at times painful, grow lighter. Hebrews 12:3 “Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” We can zero in on the struggles and challenges or we can fix our eyes on the One who has reconciled us to Himself and now entrusts us with the privilege of telling others that reconciliation is possible. He has already paid the price and invites us to say yes to His great exchange.
Got ministry challenges? We are all there. Look up, get your eyes up, focus on Him so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.