Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pastor's Wives: What Do YOU Think?

The following blogpost was written by Pastor Gary Lamb, who I think is phenomenal. I do. I am curious to "bounce" his thoughts around a bit in the circles I run in, just because I am curious. After reading the article, if you have a minute answer the four questions that follow in a comment... or even better yet, blog your view and link back to me! (This pertains to church planting wives and apstors wives)

My personal thoughts? I'll blog them tomorrow.

Repost: Church Planting Wives

I wrote the following post over 3 years ago and for some reason it has gotten a lot of buzz this week. My understanding is there is a forum or something for church planting wives and they posted a link to it. Anyway, people have been sending me thoughts on it so I thought I would repost it here again in the hope that it will be a help to a church planter as he plants a church and balances having a family. I told our staff today that a lot of guys are successful at building a church but complete failures when it comes to being husbands. Anyway, here is the post just as I wrote it 3 years ago with a few minor tweaks where it would make sense.

Today (Not today but three years ago) Ben posted about the tears, burnout, and stress that the wives of church planters go through.

His exact words were:

“Most Church Planter’s wives are in tremendous pain. Tears streaming down their faces from the emotional, spiritual, and physical exhaustion of starting a new work.”

I have seen this and I couldn’t agree more.

However I feel that this is a result of us as church planters putting our wives in position’s they should not be in. It is that plain and simple.

I’ve been around a lot of church planters and I know many won’t agree with this post, that is why I have waited so long to post it but please realize that I am not trying to be a mean with what I am about to say but this is a huge problem and it needs to be fixed.

I am in my second church plant (and last), I have been in full-time ministry since I was 20 (I’m now 29 EDIT: Now I’m 32) and I have to say DeAnna has never went through this or experienced burnout, wanting to quit or hating ministry and it is because I made some choices early on in my ministry.

1.) God did NOT call my wife to pastor this church. DeAnna is 100% behind what I do. She could not imagine doing anything else with our lives BUT I pastor and lead this church not her. There is no reason for her to feel the pressure or stress that comes along with doing what I do. She doesn’t have to give me advice on every decision that the church makes. She is my wife not the other pastor of the church.

2.) She doesn’t need to know every thing that happens. DeAnna and I talk a lot and we talk about the church a lot, however I do not tell her every thing. There are things she doesn’t need to know because it will change the way she looks at situations, people, or events. If she knew what people have said to me or have done to me, it would cause her to get bitter and angry. She doesn’t need to know every thing.

3.) She doesn’t have to be at every thing. Being married to me is rough. :) Besides being married we have two wonderful children. They are a full time job. She attends what she wants too or what we feel would be good for her to be at but she does not attend every thing the church does. There is no need for that and all that does is burn your wife out. The church needs to know she has other responsibilites then just them.

4.) I am VERY outspoken about complaining to my wife. In our membership class and from the stage I have made it very clear that if you have a complaint about the church or me you better not go to my wife with it. That is what cowards do and we need to let our church know she is not the complaint department.

5.) She serves where she feels called. Early in my ministry I made my wife play the good pastor’s wife. Not anymore. I only expect of her what I expect of every other member of Revolution. She must serve somewhere. For the first 9 months she led our preschool ministry. When she was ready to quit and turn it over to someone else, she did. She now serves weekly in our Planet Shakers area because she want to serve there.

6.) I don’t dump all my problems on her. The reason your wife hates ministry is because she sees and hears that it is tearing you apart. All she hears is the negative stuff and because of her love for you, it upsets her. She doesn’t need that.

7.) I don’t cheat on her with the ministry. Most pastors are having on an affair on their wife with the church they pastor. This might not be popular but I would let all of Canton die and go to hell before I allowed my wife to grow bitter and stressed in her feelings for God. I work a lot of hours. I leave the house at 5 in the morning and I usually am not home until about 6:00 p.m. but when I get home, it is time for her and the kids. I talk ministry all day, I don’t want to or need to talk it with her.

8.) She loves where we are at. If DeAnna wasn’t happy, we would leave. She knows that. That is important to me. I have had several job offers lately that I didn’t accept (I’m here until I die, I hope) but if I would have she would have killed me because she is happy here. That is important to me and she knows it.

9.) I don’t put financial pressure on her. Church planting is hard and the pay stinks. Of course she lives by guidelines when it comes to spending but when things are tight I don’t pressure her or make her feel guilty in this area. She has not worked since we have had kids and that has been fine. God called me to plant a church, God called her to be a mother.

10.) I date my mate. We make time for each other. No matter what is happening in our lives, we make time for each other. It might be sitting around the house after the kid are a sleep but we spend one on one time with each other no matter what. You need to make time for you wife. I tell my church all the time, “If you don’t make time for your spouse, someone else will.”

11.) I made sure she felt called. We had a lot of discussions on this matter. Just as God called me here, He called her. She has a different role but she has the same call. That is so important. I know that I know this is where God would have us to be and part of that call is because she feels the same way.

12.) I protect her. Under NO circumstances will I allow someone at church to hurt her. You haven’t see redneck until you see how I will react. I will not allow her to be attacked, I will not allow her to be taken advantage of, I will not allow her to be put in a bad position, etc. She knows that.

Church planter, listen to me. Your wife is the most important thing in your life. You have the duty to make sure she isn’t feeling stressed, pressured, or bitter about church planting. If she is, chances are good you have not protected her as you should have.

I meet with church planter’s and their wives all the time and I am amazed at the ready to quit attitudes of most wives.

Ladies, know your role as well. Remember God called you to be a help mate to your husband, not run the church.

I am so passionate about this topic. I could not do what I do without my wife. She is my anchor and I will do whatever it takes to keep her from feeling what most planter’s wives feel.

You should do the same for your wife.

Okay, here are the questions.... (and feel free to elaborate in whatever way you would like in your response:

1.) Does you husnband lead/pastor the church himself or do you partner with him in leading/pastoring? 2.) Do you prefer that your spouse keeps you in the dark regarding pressures from the church, (i.e. financial, pastoral care, etc.)? 3.) What issues as a wife in ministry do you feel bring you the most grief? 4.) What, if anything, would you add/change about Pastor Lamb's post?

I am looking forward to reading your thoughts!


Deanna Shrodes said...

1.) Does you husband lead/pastor the church himself or do you partner with him in leading/pastoring?

We co-pastor.

2.) Do you prefer that your spouse keeps you in the dark regarding pressures from the church, (i.e. financial, pastoral care, etc.)?

ABSOLUTELY NOT. I think this is dangerous for any pastor to do in my opinion. I don't think you should keep your spouse in the dark on anything either way (husband or wife) Why should the pastoral marriage be different from what we would advise our own people to do? Would we tell our people in the church, "hey, keep your wife in the dark about what happens at your job..." or "hey make sure you keep such and such from your husband..." OF COURSE NOT.

We share everything unless it's something that simply slips our minds and then when it comes up we would more than likely apologize to the other that we haven't conferred with one another about it. We are a team.

3.) What issues as a wife in ministry do you feel bring you the most grief?

Critical people; betrayal; people leaving for unGodly reasons or in ungodly ways; financial pressures in the church.

4.) What, if anything, would you add/change about Pastor Lamb's post?

I believe there are different styles of leadership. Some women are simply the woman who happens to be married to the pastor but they are not really different from any other woman. Others feel the same calling their spouse does. Big difference. Major things I take issue with in his post are these:

#1 - That's fine for he and his wife but this would not be a blanket statement for all; in fact in your case (Tara) and mine, as well as many other ladies who serve as pastors -- we ARE called to pastor the church. Therefore this one would not apply to those who are co-pastoring.

#2 - your wife shouldn't be in the dark anymore than you should be in the dark about the goings on in her life - enough said.

#6 - if a pastor can't tell his wife his problems, who in the heck can he tell? Where is he supposed to go? Yes he has friends but his wife should be his best friend. You share your issues with your bf.

#8 - This is one that REALLY bothers me and I see it in a lot of people. Your wife doesn't call you to a place nor away from it -- GOD DOES. It's not your wife, it's not the people, it's God Almighty Himmself and if your wife can talk you out of it then you are not called and are probably nothing more than a hireling. I know of plenty of pw's who have put pressure on their husbands about how unhappy they are and the husbands resign solely because of that and miss God and are out of His will for years and miserable. I think some pw's are spoiled brats, plain and simply. (Okay Tara, why don't I say what I really feel? lol)

Everything else about his post, I agree with.

More than likely this guy has a baptist background although he may be independent at this point (I don't know) he sounds rather SBC at the heart of some of his remarks so I'm curious...

Anonymous said...

I feel like he is talking out of both sides of his mouth...first he says,

"God did NOT call my wife to pastor this church."

Then later...

"Just as God called me here, He called her."

I kind of get where he's going here based on the whole context of his blog, but the English geek in me is screaming at him, "BE MORE CLEAR AND CONCISE!!!"

I don't think there's any commandment in Scripture that a man who is called to preach must marry a woman who is (or vice versa, for that matter!) - but I do think that if you're going to undertake something as crazy as the ministry, your spouse really needs to be "all in" with you, or you're in for a very frustrating experience...

Melissa said...

I agree with Leanne! He does seem to be talking out of both sides of his mouth.
#1 TO be honest I am not totally clear on the whole copastoring. My husband is "the" pastor here and I am the children's pastor. He makes the major decisions when it comes to the church with my help of course. I make the major decisions about the children's ministry with his approval. But he is 100% behind what ever I want to do. So it's never a "can I do this" its more like "I am going to do this" and he supports.

#2 NO! NO! NO! He needs to share what is going on when he doesn't I always figure it out. He isn't very good at keeping thing a secret his body language speaks volumes to me. He may keep it to himself for a while but he generally tells me everything and I him.

#3 Issues - petty people, critical, the attitude that we (pastor & wife) are to do everything (we do pay you ya know attitude), finances.

What would I change about the post...ALOT. I agree with Deanna I think this guy is SB. WHen God called my husband to pastor a church I already had that call on my heart. I have known since I was little that I would be one day a pastor or pastors wife. I feel I am both. I may not have the credentials but did any of Jesus' disciples have "credentials" to! I think it is sad when the wife is not involved in the church at all. Yes we are all called to different places and seasons in the minstry but I feel that for a pastor to be truly affective the wife really needs to be involved, even if that means somewhere in the a prayer team. He needs that support and as a pastors wife I can not ask of things from my women if I am not willing to do it too! But just because I am called doesnt mean I can perform miracles and do everything on my own!!!