I just did the math. It’s been 85 days since we’ve become a pastoral family “in transition”. 85 days since our last day at our church. That’s almost 3 months. Here are few reflections from my perspective as a pastor’s wife re: resignation, leaving and being in transition:
- After my husband resigned from our church, he received phone calls and e-mails and coffee dates from colleagues who were all interested in seeing how he’s doing. He even had a coffee date with a pastor in our area who is from a different denomination. As a result, he felt very supported. During that same time-period, I was attempting to process everything. But no one called to see how I was doing. This was a wake-up call for me. Of course, it’s natural for my husband to be more connected to his colleagues than I am to other spouses of a pastor. Part of his job has included denominational networking and he’s been part of an interdenominational pastoral group in our town. While I was previously aware that there’s not the same networking for spouses of pastors, this reality really hit home when we entered into transition and I was processing our new reality alone.
- In the weeks leading up to our last Sunday, we as a couple were committed to, “leaving well by loving well”. For me, I found it rather therapeutic to write encouraging cards to congregation members and to give a speech on our last Sunday at the church.
- Some days or moments, I’m able to soak up this “in transition” status. There is significantly less stress and more family time. We actually go to church together as a family! That’s been so nice.
- At other days or moments, I’m feeling impatient. Searching for a church can be a long process. I feel lost without a church family. I want to know people at a church and be known. I desire to serve. I describe us as being “an island” at this time. Not fun.
- A retired pastor said to me, “leaving a church is a loss no matter the reason”. He’s right. Some days or moments, I miss our old church family so badly that my heart aches. We’ve created appropriate space between us + them during these early transition days. But I think about them. I pray for them. I don’t love them any less now that we are gone.
If you recall anything from these ramblings, I hope it would be this: Remember the pastor’s spouse during a season of pastoral transition. Remember that their life has changed in a big way, too. They could be experiencing relief or grief or anything in between. They are likely feeling very alone. Do ask how they are doing and offer support in the best way that you know how.
(We’ve been asked by some people what “in transition” means. In the Canadian Free Methodist Church, pastors are first approved for ministerial service by the denomination. Then, they are eligible to be interviewed and hired by a local church Board. That employee-employer relationship is then formalized by the Bishop officially placing the pastor under appointment at the particular location. For those familiar with the terms ‘episcopal’ and ‘congregational’ when describing church governance, the Canadian Free Methodist Church is a bit of both. In a nutshell, then, “transition” is the season between when a pastor resigns from one appointment and begins another appointment.)
While making a veggie dish for book club tonight, I began thinking of my role as a Pastor’s wife. Growing up, most wives of the Pastor tended to serve on the music team (played piano to be exact). While I took piano as a child, I’m not in any shape to play publicly (unless you want to hear a right-hand-only simple music piece, ha!). When I think of pastor wives that I knew growing up, I’ve often felt different. What I’ve recently started telling myself is that maybe this is OK. Maybe how we each serve as Pastor’s Wives is not better or worse, just different.
On that note, I’ve been reflecting on how I’ve served over the last 5 years at our church. During this time, my primarily focus has been identifying gaps and filling them. Basically, I like to start things that no one else is doing and then hand them over to others! Here are some examples of things that I’ve started from scratch over the last 5 years:
- A Youth Group (that now has other leaders in place)
- A Church Softball Team (I didn’t play but organized it to make it happen)
- An Adult Sunday School group (that continues to meet)
- A monthly social group for young adults (this group has had various leaders over the last couple of years)
- Filled in as Nursery Co-ordinator (there’s now a new leader in place, yay!)
- Book Club (the group carried on when I took a break from reading books after we welcomed a newborn to our home)
- Community Outreach (there’s several passionate leaders now part of this small group).
- A College & Careers small group.
I absolutely love filling the gap & then having someone else take over. When someone else is able to take over leadership then it gives me more time to do something else. I also LOVE to figure out what someone is gifted in/passionate about and help to plug them into meaningful service. That gives me great joy.
I guess in a way, I like being an entrepreneur. In regards to entrepreneurship, lately, there’s been a new stirring in my heart to combine my skills & experiences as a social worker in church ministry. More specifically, I’ve thought of maybe doing public speaking/training on specific topics. Some examples might be: Assertiveness Training (can include conflict resolution + boundaries), Social Justice, Marriage, Financial Freedom, How to talk to your kids about sex, etc. etc. We’ll see! I am returning to full-time work in April. But my heart is definitely bent towards creating teaching topics that may help spur people on towards health. And the hope would be that non-church folk may be interested in a teaching topic as well!
We’ll see what 2016 has in store. First and foremost, I hope that I grow in my relationship with God and that I love others better. In the end, that’s all that matters. And we’ll see if I can take baby steps towards this new heart stirring. If you’re married to a pastor and reading this, please remember that how we each serve in the church is not better or worse, just different. You are amazing at being you.
My husband is a pastor (he’s the solo pastor at our church). I work full-time and have a 45 minute commute each way. In spring of 2015, we welcomed our first child. When I’ve searched google for answers re: being a pastor’s wife, working full-time and being a mom, I can’t seem to find anything. I’ve found plenty of great articles re: the challenges of balancing ministry life while raising a young family, but nothing re: being a pastor’s wife + working full time + raising a family. Hmm.
After a year of mat leave (thank you, Canada!), I plan to return to my job in April. I’m not sure how I’ll manage church life activity while working full time and raising a young child. I love church community and serving, my job and my family! But as we know, we can’t do it all. This may be a challenging season of finding balance through creativity and establishing priorities.
Are you a pastor’s wife who works outside of the home? If so, I’d love to hear from you! If you have any thoughts to add please leave a comment below.
In my previous post (click here) I wrote about some common challenges that spouses of pastors face. Just like a parent who speaks to the challenges of raising children, its a shame if they also don’t also mention the joys. Here are 5 things that I love about being married to a pastor:
- I love my husband. He’s my best friend. He feels called to the pastorate. To support him in ministry is a privilege.
- I love people. All different types of people. Different ages, stages of life and economic backgrounds. Being married to the pastor helps me to meet more people! And I love that.
- Speaking of people, I wouldn’t know those at our current congregation if my husband wasn’t a pastor. We wouldn’t have moved to where we are living now if he wasn’t pastoring our church. I LOVE the people in our church. What a shame it would have been if we never met them.
- I’ve likely stepped out and tried more new things as a pastor’s wife. I like to be challenged. To learn more about the areas I’m gifted in (and not so gifted in!). This has helped me to grow.
5. This last one has only recently come to my attention. Prior to having a child, I used to sit at the front at church. Now I tend to sit in the back in case I need to step out with our baby. One Sunday during the singing ,I looked around and thought how beautiful it is for so many different people to gather together. The following reality struck me: I know about the struggles and the disappointments so many in this room have experienced in life. I know the HARD parts of their life story as a result of them telling me or my husband and I together. What an incredible privilege. Instead of seeing a room full of people who have their life together (what people often say that church goers look like) I saw a room full of people with scars who come to a saviour who carries our burdens for us. What a beautiful sight to witness. I get teary just thinking about this.
For these reasons and many more, I will forever be grateful for the experience of being a pastor’s wife. Perfect I am not. Privileged I am!
People often say that raising a child is the hardest thing that they’ve ever done. I’ve heard spouses of pastors say that being married to a pastor is the hardest thing that they’ve ever done. The explanations as to why this is varies depending on who you talk to. I’ve heard the following: feeling like you’re in a fish bowl, the pastoral life schedule (unpredictable schedule/nights/weekends/holidays), conflict and criticism, feeling lonely, financial hardship, etc.
It’s no secret that I was nervous to marry a pastor. I actually met with several pastor’s wives and interviewed them before getting engaged to Derek. I wanted to hear what the experience was like for them + see if they thought I could cut it. The best advice that I was given from one pastor’s wife was this: all you need to be is the best Christian you can be. That’s it. Make that your focus and you’ll also be the best pastor’s wife you can be.
My grandfather was a long-time minister of the Free Methodist Church, so I was able to gather from my grandmother little bits and pieces of what being married to a pastor was like for her. My grandmother rocked hospitality in ways that I won’t come close (one example: her apple pie was the best!). But there are ways that I serve in the church that my grandmother wasn’t gifted in. That’s the problem with comparison: we forget the unique role that we can play in making our church and community a better place. The comparison game is hard for spouses of pastors because in addition to the ways that you are already hard on yourself, there can be opinions from congregation members regarding who you should be/what you should be doing.
While there’s some parts of pastoral ministry that you can’t help with, there is an area that you can make a difference in. You can find ways to be an encourager!
October is Pastor’s appreciation month. I’d like to challenge you to go out of your way to encourage your pastor. Not just in October but always. If there’s anything you appreciate – tell them! Don’t just assume that they know. And while you’re at it – why not encourage your pastor’s spouse as well. I’m sure that they will appreciate your time and effort.
It’s Sunday. My husband is a pastor. And I stayed home from church this morning with the baby (gasp!)
Ever since our girl joined our lives 4 months ago, my church attendance is no longer 100%. With our newborn, I’ve arrived at church early, arrived late, and I’ve missed church altogether. Please remember that as a Pastor’s wife, I’m essentially a single parent on Sunday mornings.
I really hate missing church. Especially in the summertime when people are gone to their cottages or trailers. The summer months are hard for the pastor (our church’s attendance drops by 50% in the summer. Most pastors have to work twice as hard in the summer months while congregation members disappear. I digress).
I know that I’m still fresh into motherhood but so far, going to church with a baby has been challenging. Church begins right around the time that our girl would take her first nap. Do I let her sleep and stay home? Or go to church and forgo that nap? I’ve done both. If I take her to church instead of letting her sleep, then the rest of the day is a write off. She won’t sleep at church as there are too many new sights and sounds. And then I leave church with an overtired baby who fights sleep the rest of the day.
I believe that it’s so important to go to church with young children. Not easy but important. Most congregations welcome the noise of little ones. And every time that I’ve gone to church with our baby I’ve gotten something out of it. Even if I’m in the nursery for most of the service, it is still so good to connect with the church body. Church is more than the singing and the message. It’s being part of a community,too. Even if it’s hard to get out of the door with a baby, I’ve been encouraged each time I’ve gone.
I want to be at church each Sunday. It’s good for me and I believe that ultimately, it’s also good for my baby. So I guess what I’m looking for is your tips and experiences. I am eager to learn! Can you relate? Do you have any advice? I welcome your thoughts!
For Sunday morning, I wear dress pants. No skirts or dresses.
I don’t play the piano for Sunday morning. Or sing on the worship team.
While I volunteer in the nursery, working with children isn’t my life’s passion.
I work full-time and have a 40 minute commute each way.
Some people have no idea what all I do in the church. And yet, my involvement can feel like a part-time job.
I tend to serve where I see the greatest need. That’s the social worker in me.
I love to serve. But before I commit to something I ask myself, “would I do ____ if I wasn’t a pastor’s wife?”
I give my husband feedback on the service (not just his message) fairly often.
At society meetings and the like, I worry about voicing my opinion because of how it may come across as the Pastor’s wife. But I do speak up at times (and worry about it later!).
I can feel invisible at times in the presence of my husband when people want his thoughts or wish to praise him. But it helps keep me grounded.
Here’s just a few points about me. Can you relate to any? What about you?