Wow. Some of the blogs I read are far more profound than the books I read. Today I was humbled and encouraged by Gary Lamb's post "Church Planting Wives." This could be written about the wife of any pastor.
And if you are not a pastor, church planter or pastor's wife, you still need to read this. I want church members of all sorts to read this and realize the stuff going on in a pastor's home and marriage. Here's the post.
Today Ben (who has one of my favorite blogs) 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 am prepared to get BLASTED 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) and I have to say DeAnna has never went through this or experienced it 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 responsibility 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 Ridge Stone. 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 in there once a month and leads a bible study for mother's of preschoolers.
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.
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.