I still quote the pastor’s wife advice I was given 22 years ago. It was simple and sage.
Sitting in a hair salon, I watched the seasoned pastor’s wife next to me get her Aqua-Net hair teased and set in rollers. She was in her polyester skirt, and I was in my shorts. I was convinced we were nothing alike, but I still needed some insight into this pastor’s wife gig. I had convinced my naïve self that I could do this pastor’s wife thing better than the generation before me. (Funny how all generations think that.) All I needed was a little Intel.
So I popped the PW question. The same question I now get asked by young women marrying that ministry man.
“What advice would you give someone going into the ministry?”
The quickness of her answer surprised me. I had expected her to give some methodical thought to my question, or at least the spiritual courtesy of praying about it and getting back with me. Speaking in her southern accent over the hum of the bowl shaped dryer on top of her head, she said,
“Sometimes you need to be like rubber and sometimes you need to be a sponge.”
In the pause, I stared at her blankly, trying to decipher the meaning of this code. Then she added, “Sometimes you need to be rubber and let things bounce off you and sometimes you need to be sponge and know what to soak up.” That was it.
I was not happy with my new advice. It seemed shallow. I wanted more, something deeper; but it was a small town and she was the only pastor’s wife I knew.
Now, I find myself quoting her!
ON THE SUNDAYS WHEN…
…when it feels like everyone’s opinions add up to overly critical expressions that decline my very existence and identity…RUBBER! I’ve learned to let it bounce off.
…when I’m depleted and God puts someone in my path to help me…SPONGE. Although, I’ll admit my first internal response is to be in tough “ministry mode” and think I don’t need help or encouragement, or feel guilty if I do receive it. On these days I’ve learned to be a SPONGE and soak in the love and help of others that God has put around me.
…when it’s tense because my husband has received some push-back from a staff member or advice from that well meaning deacon…SPONGE AND RUBBER! Sometimes even the hard to hear things have some hidden truth. So, I ask myself, is there any truth here that I need to soak up? (Or my husband needs to soak up and I don’t need to be defensive). I find the truth, absorb it, and let the rest of it bounce off.
What advice were you given that you’ve carried with you in ministry? OR what advice would you give a young woman entering into this unique role?
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Lori and her husband, Mike McDaniel, and their 3 children were missionaries in Africa before returning to plant Grace Point Church in Bentonville, AR where Mike is Lead Pastor. Lori serves as a Global Mission Catalyst with the IMB, mobilizing churches and leading women to participate in God’s global mission. Lori shares how everyday life can be a life on mission at lorimcdaniel.org.
In all the years we’ve been in ministry, it’s been pretty peaceful with not many trouble makers. Or at least they didn’t stay long enough to cause major trouble. I’ve worked with people who were difficult and have learned from them the “what not to do” stuff. It’s helped me to be more discerning and careful with who I recruit into my ministry. But my overall advice as a pastor’s wife would be: Be yourself and don’t try to live up to others expectations or you will end up hating people AND the ministry. Serve according to your gifts just like everyone else, and don’t compare yourself with other churches and what their pastor’s wives do . Don’t think or act like you are the most spiritual woman in the church just because you are the Pastor’s wife. Don’t be intimidated by other godly woman who may have the gift to teach a woman’s ministry as you oversee it with a different gifting. Support your husband and guard your mouth. I’m sure there’s more others can add…..
The advice that I treasure relates to raising kids.
Only call it “going to church” when the whole family goes. Otherwise say that Daddy is “at work.”
That way they do not resent church as the place Daddy is when he’s not with the family, but church is where we all go together to worship God.
Good point Rachel
Thank you for posting this. I’m so glad I came across it. My husband has been a Pastor in his first church for almost 4 months now. We like it here, however, there have been several people who have been very critical and will criticize my husband to his face (and of course to other people). I expected other people to talk to others about criticisms but I NEVER expected them to criticize my husband so much. It makes me so mad! And he takes it hard. Most of the time it is petty little things about the service, (the service was too long, the sermon was too long and it was unacceptable to have an hour and a half service, I don’t like the music, there was too much music, you’re never in your office (that’s because he can never get anything done at the office because people come in to give their opinions all the time), etc.). It is infuriating to me mostly because I know how hard my husband works, how passionate he is to make disciples and teach the congregation how to study the Word, but then there are some people that constantly criticize him. This post I think will help me, at least, try to be like rubber in those situations, and hopefully can encourage him to do the same.
Thanks Jennifer I totally understand where you are coming from. We will be praying for you and your husband! Keep your eyes on Him and not on people.