Ministry Myth Busters
By Michele Jones
As the new ministry wife, my mind filled with grandiose visions of a lifetime of “mountaintop experiences” for every day. It would be my duty to host all the Bible studies, prayer vigils, fasting, retreats, mission trips, youth rallies; you name it, all too grand to be reserved just for a certain Sunday or a special occasion. I would be sure and tell my husband of all of our commitments later.
How wonderful it would be if we could maintain that “mountaintop” experience in our everyday lives. Let’s face it. We are all human and easily distracted. We put way too much pressure on ourselves and often let others dictate our expectations and priorities. Suddenly, we find ourselves lost in a sea of busyness. We can even lose the joy of being in ministry because we have momentarily forgotten to whom we belong and what our priorities really should be.
Throughout the years I have had to cling to that “mountaintop” vision. Life in ministry can be quite daunting. How will I ever get it all done? Work the nine-to-five, teach in youth church, drama practice, mid-week Bible study, ladies morning Bible study, hospital visits, planning special events, president of the ladies group, facilitator of a support group, benevolence, and still prepare a steaming hot dinner, while folding five loads of laundry. There’s homework to be checked and help needed with the science project naturally due tomorrow!
All while bearing a smile for those pew sitters. You know who I mean! God love ‘em, they don’t think you’re doing enough and have volunteered you for yet another committee!
Sometimes my prayer life falters. I am embarrassed by the words that fall from my lips like, “Hey God, please help,” all because I tried to do something in my own strength and failed. Many times I suffered pain and stress by not seeking Him first.
There are some myths out there about ministry and especially about ministry wives. Let me share a few I have experienced.
Myth #1—Ministry Wives are superhuman. We can do everything needed at the drop of a hat all while preparing the best homemade casserole you’ve ever tasted!
Truth be known, I don’t exactly corner the market on casserole recipes. I do, however, have an ear to listen when you just need to talk. I have tissues when you need to cry and I will give away my favorite sweater to warm you when you are shivering in the cold.
Romans 12:15 says, Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Fact #1—Overcome the superhuman expectation. It’s okay to sometimes say “no.” I find if I limit my commitments to my passions I am more productive and less stressed. We don’t have to be superhuman and do everything ourselves. We do need to look for opportunities to share our faith and the source of our joy. We don’t have to fix everyone’s problems; that’s God’s job and He’s very good at it.
Myth #2—Everyone knows that the ministry wife is musical.
I can’t tell you how many times I have been introduced as the pastor’s wife only to be immediately asked, “Do you play the piano? Do you sing?” I often find myself ashamed when I answer, “No, I don’t sing or play.”
Well, I do sing, but I promise it’s a far cry from what you would want to hear. As for the piano, if I had one, my best effort would be to keep it dusted!
Fact #2—Overcome being stereotyped. We are not all gifted to sing with a choir or play in a band, but we are gifted to sing in our hearts songs of praise and adoration. So what if we can’t all play the piano. We certainly have God-given gifts and talents. Use them! Don’t base your opinion of yourself by what talents you see in others. Ask God to show you your talent or gift He has for you to share.
Myth #3—Ministry Wives are prepared for everything!
One must consider being “prepared for anything” when coming home exhausted from a long day at the office to find candlelight forging a trail throughout our home. Is this a night of romance or are we having a prayer walk later with our Sunday school class? I was in no mood for either!
Fact #3—Overcome having all the answers. I must stop second guessing about what will happen next. We cannot see into the future but we know the One who can. Ask Him for the vision and discernment to be receptive of people’s needs and to provide you with ways to meet them.
Remember, that pastor you married is human too. He will have those “mountaintop” experiences and the “valley” days too. Either way we can encourage him. A helpful reminder is found in Colossians 3:6, Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
Myth #4—Ministry Wives are the perfect hostess.
Isn’t it ironic that I would find myself exhausted and diseased with “Martha-itus?” You remember Martha who was consumed with making everything ready for Jesus and His traveling companions? She even became frustrated with Mary for not helping her with all the preparations she thought necessary. Mary’s only focus was on Jesus and what He had to say. Be sure and re-read their story in Luke 10.
The only cure for my “Martha-itus” disease is to retreat to my Father’s arms and bury myself into His Word. Sometimes I actually pretend Christ is sitting on the sofa and I, like Mary, am listening quietly at His feet.
Fact #4—Overcome being the perfectionist. The point is life can wait while we savor quiet moments with the Savior. We can never have enough of them. The dishes may pile up but they can wait. The dust will come back, trust me! It’s worth it just to hear the children’s laughter as they draw funny faces on the tabletop. (Naturally my OCD would never let that happen.)
Let’s seek to grow in our relationship with Christ. So put away those cookbooks, set down the feather duster, and turn off the television, or whatever the distraction may be, and sit down on the sofa and hear what Christ has to say.
There are still some days that seem to be a bit overwhelming. When I resolve myself to let God take control I find myself back on my “mountaintop” for through Him alone I am able to accomplish the tasks He has sent before me.