By Rodetta Cook

Rodetta Cook has been a pastor’s wife for over 40 years. She and her husband, Ron, have actively served the Lord together in ministry during the entire time and are co-founders of Care for Pastors. She understands the expectations, loneliness and how hard it is to find balance in ministry as a pastor’s wife. Rodetta also leads the pastor’s wives initiative at Care for Pastors called The Confidante and ministers to hundreds of wives each week. She strives to share blogs with other pastors’ wives that will help them in their ministry walk.

    When to Walk Away

    Monday, October 25, 2021

    I feel sure anyone reading this email/blog today can relate to this statement, “I didn’t expect life to be this way.” How many times have we all said that throughout our lives? But as a Christian, we can be assured God does not make any mistakes.

    We all have either had or do have toxic people in our lives. I would like to share a quick story of a pastor’s wife who had to help some family members realize it was okay to set boundaries with toxic people, even if it is a parent.

    I knew a pastor’s wife who lost a younger sister suddenly to death and that sister left behind three children ages 15, 20, and 21. That pastor’s wife (Aunt) kept reminding those nieces and nephew that we may never understand, but God does not make a mistake.

    That pastor’s wife (Aunt) could not replace their mother, but she could be there for them as much as possible to give them emotional and spiritual guidance.

    Unfortunately, those three children’s father was more concerned about himself and his loneliness than he was these three children who had lost their mom. So, over the next four years they realized they were left with a toxic narcissistic father, and they must set boundaries even though it was with a parent. Decisions like this are hard for young adults to make especially when it is dealing with a parent, but in order for them to live a life of freedom, the decision had to be made.

    Because narcissistic people are so good at putting on a front and selling themselves to be something they aren’t, it becomes very hard for those who live with them to know how to set boundaries so they don’t have to live in that toxic environment. And when those boundaries are set, many times other people do not understand because they don’t know what that toxic person is really like. It’s called living a life of duplicity for the narcissistic person.

    Thankfully these three young adults have now set healthy boundaries and have found freedom from the toxicity.

    A book that was very beneficial to that pastor’s wife is a book that I would like to recommend “When to Walk Away” by Gary Thomas. The subtitle is “Finding Freedom From Toxic People.” Here is a quick description of what you will glean from this book:

    Whether it’s a sibling, parent, coworker, or friend, we all know toxic people who seem determined to frustrate our life’s calling. While you’re seeking first God’s kingdom, they’re seeking to distract your focus and delay your work. Yet it’s only once we learn to say no to bad patterns that we are set free to say yes to the good that God has planned for us.

    Renowned writer and Bible teacher Gary Thomas uncovers surprising biblical principles for dealing with the toxic people in our lives. Drawing from years of serving as a pastor, Thomas shares real-life anecdotes, biblical truths, and practical illustrations to set healthy boundaries and protect your life’s calling. Each chapter includes insightful takeaways to begin applying right away.

    Discover how to:

    • Learn the difference between toxic people and “difficult” people.
    • Find refuge in God when you feel under attack.
    • Discern when to walk away from a toxic situation.
    • Keep a tender heart even in unhealthy relationships.
    • Gain new vision and enthusiasm for seeking first the kingdom of God and investing in reliable people.

    We can’t let others steal our joy or our mission. It’s time to strengthen our defense, learn to set good boundaries, and focus on our God-given purpose.

    This book is based on scripture and gives us very practical insights to help us sort through our hurts and feelings and filter them through truth, and set healthy boundaries. I believe it is a book that every pastor and spouse should not only read, but recommend to others.



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