“Lucille Williams is a wonderful person, great writer and wife a pastor. I thought this blog was filled with authenticity and filled with good thoughts about her role.”
This past week the suicide of a 30 year old megachurch pastor made national news. National news? Devastating news. Heartbreaking news. Tragic news. He left behind a gorgeous wife, three beautiful little boys, and a grieving congregation who loved him. What could cause a young man who seemed to have it all to take his own life? As a mom with children his age it’s almost an unthinkable thought. My heart bounds as I pen these words.
Being married to a pastor myself I understand the demands of ministry life. For me, the joys markedly outweigh the challenges, but oh, the challenges can be oh-so painful and difficult. Difficult to the point where one needs to turn off a portion of one’s heart just to endure the weekly and day to day struggles.
We all have struggles, but what most do not understand is that your pastor has the same struggles as you do. Yes, he is called. And yes, he is gifted. And yes, he is a talented personality and a remarkable speaker. But please never forget he is human. And his wife is human.
Just because someone is an amazing communicator does not mean they have all the answers or are immune to pain and criticism.
When was the last time you complimented your pastor or wrote a note of encouragement?
What most don’t understand is that pastors are bombarded with negative comments and problems. Yes, there are those who encourage and say uplifting words, but sadly, they are overshadowed by the complainers.
Being a pastor can be like riding an emotional bobsled. One minute you are talking with someone who just had a baby, and the next with someone who just found out their loved one was diagnosed with cancer. One minute you are celebrating with someone who landed their dream job, and the next grieving with someone who lost their wife due to divorce or death. With every text, phone call, person around the corner, the unknown creeps up and unloads with rapid fire. Celebrating. Mourning. Answering questions. Fielding criticism. It’s emotional whiplash.
Being a pastor can mean being very lonely. I mean, think about it, who can the pastor go to when he is struggling? Oftentimes in the church we equate struggle with poor leadership. A pastor is struggling and his leadership abilities are questioned. Instead of getting him help we give him a break and say, You’re not fit to lead right now. Your wife filed for divorce? We need to let you go, you must not be able to lead. You feel depressed? We’ll give you a break, how can you lead through this? You’re struggling with anxiety? Maybe we need to give you a position that doesn’t have so many reporting to you. Your marriage is in trouble? What?! The pastor never has marriage problems, after all, he’s the pastor! It’s no wonder many pastors don’t share their weaknesses with anyone.
As a pastor’s wife how do I handle the stresses and challenges of ministry? First, I am real. I don’t ever pretend I have all the answers or don’t have any weaknesses. I don’t have it all together, and if you are around me long enough you will discover this early on.
I only “put on a show” when I have to. There are some settings as a pastor’s wife which you need to conduct yourself in a respectable manner. I’m not going to wander around church announcing details about the last fight I had with my husband or tell you how lonely I feel because he had to work extra hours the week before and had nothing left when he got home.
I will however, talk about my struggles with friends who I trust. In ministry, one must test the waters on friends and find those trustworthy. You’ve got to slowly share sensitive issues, if any bit comes back, that person needs to be crossed off the trust list. There is too much at stake. But this cannot stop one from trusting others. If one is going to survive in ministry we’ve got to find people we can trust. I’m reminded of a recent call from a friend. She had sensed my distress and got me on the phone. As soon as she asked, What’s going on? The waterworks started flowing. I knew I could trust her and I knew she loved me. After, I felt ready to concur the world again. Or at least the rest of the day.
On that note, I want to send a shout out to my friends—you know who you are—I love you and am so thankful you let me be me and love me anyway.
Recently, my husband had knee replacement surgery. It’s been refreshing to hear his response when concerned people have asked, How are you doing? And he says, Terrible! I’m in a lot of pain and this has been tough. Most don’t know how to respond. One gentleman stopped and prayed for him. Just one. We appreciated this person greatly.
Truth be told, I love being married to a pastor. The care he shows others is the same care he shows me. Actually, it’s only a small portion of the care he shows me, which I am hugely thankful for. I am thankful for a pastor husband who pours into his wife and family as much as he pours into the church. Maybe that’s the key to long-term success in ministry?
Ministry is not an easy path to walk but with balance and good self-care and continual focus on God, remembering what we do we do for the Lord, we can have victory over our deepest, darkest struggles.
Ministry is not a path one can walk alone.
Life is not meant to walk alone.