Something I heard early in ministry was “ministry is a lonely place.”
And it CAN be a lonely place, but it DOESN’T have to be that way. What I learned was that the enemy works in isolation, but God works in community.
Being a pastor’s wife isn’t always easy. Relationships and friendships can be difficult or complicated. In my first 7 years of ministry, I can say I had 1 close friend and she was only around for a few of those years. Overall, in the FIRST ½ of ministry:
I felt alone.
I could give the Sunday morning smiles, I did my “part”. But deep down:
I was guarded, I had walls up.
I was very insecure.
I was trying to be someone I wasn’t.
I didn’t know who I was in ministry.
Just tried to fit what others wanted me to be.
I was so tired of feeling alone but I felts like I was weak if I asked for help
I was tired of comparing myself to others, which was robbing the joy from my life.
It wasn’t till about 7 years into ministry (2 years into our second position), with the help of some pretty amazing ladies, I started figuring out what my role and purpose was in ministry and then being OK with me being ME.
Ladies, it’s probably safe to say: we’ve all been there. We have had those Sunday’s watching our husband bring the Word, being surrounded by a congregation, yet feeling alone. We feel like we are being jammed into a mold of what a pastor’s wife should look or act like. Sometimes you feel all eyes are on you and you are being judged. We feel we are not the best moms…wives…preachers…leaders…
People’s expectations can be stifling. They can make us feel stranded in the middle of nowhere with no escape. And THAT can make it hard to let your guard down, be vulnerable, and trusting. Like I said friendships can be difficult and complicated. It’s hard to find those close, real friendships
God NEVER PROMISED we wouldn’t have times of loneliness. Even Jesus experienced loneliness as everyone close to him abandoned him. I think of Genesis 32:24. It says, “Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.” When I feel alone, I feel like I’m in a wrestling match.
I wrestle with the mold I’m told to fit into
I wrestle with the expectations of everyone
I wrestle against the pressure to have a healthy marriage and family in ministry
On top of that, I wrestle with my own emotions (am I good enough? am I doing enough?).
The list can go on…
I’m so thankful for the Word. It’s full of examples, of people like you and me. They are people with “issues.” And one of the great promises in scripture is a promise he gave to people like Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Joshua:. He promised them: “I will never leave you or forsake you”
PLEASE NOTE THIS: God would not offer a reminder if he knew we wouldn’t need it.
I’ve have felt all those things many times and can still experience them. I haven’t mastered this thing of loneliness, but I think God has given me a great strategy: VULNERABILITY
1 – Be VULNERABLE to God. In your loneliness, draw near to God. In your inadequacies, draw near to Jesus. He didn’t place you in ministry so YOU could figure it out and work it out by yourself. He gave Joshua the promise of his presence in Joshua 5:1 because God knew Joshua would have times where he needed the reminder AND he promises us that MANY times throughout scripture because he knows we need the reminders.
2 – Be VULNERABLE to people. Take some chances. Be open to people. To be honest Dave and I have taken some chances and we have been hurt by some friends (or so-called-friends). And relational pain can make me want to put my guard right back up. But we continue to strive for healthy relationships.
Some of the things that I (or Dave and I) have done is..
- We have a team of intercessors that we meet with EVERY month, they have become people we trust and can say really anything to.
- We are part of a small group (that we do not lead) which have become some of our closest friends.
- We connect and are friends with many of the Pastor’s in our area! We love reaching our community with these amazing leaders! It’s about the Kingdom of God and not building our own little empires.
- When we meet another ministry couple (regardless of denomination), we look for opportunities to meet up and develop relationships.
- I look for ladies to connect with.
But it takes VULNERABILITY to do it.
I’m not saying you need to spill your guts to everyone, but you’re going to need to make some efforts and get creative. A great pattern to even follow:
- Find a Paul (mentor, wiser, mature, etc).
- Find a Barnabas (peer, encourager).
- Find a Timothy (someone to pour into, find someone to disciple)
But most of all, look around you. There are pastor’s wives around you. We are all women in ministry. We are all on a similar journey. We are joined by a common purpose. We are filled with the same Spirit.
We are here.
And it’s going to take you stepping out and being a little vulnerable to God and others.
Above all ladies, don’t let the enemy work in your isolation. Choose to work in community.
– Anne Barringer