Finding Fulfillment in Your Ministry Role
By Kelley Searcy
I went shopping with one of my closest and dearest friends the other day. While looking at shoes in Macy’s, my friend ran into someone she knew and introduced me, “This is my pastor’s wife, Kelley.” You would never introduce a friend as “my banker’s wife” or “my physician’s wife,” so why is the calling to ministry so different? How can we not only feel comfortable with this title, but learn to truly embrace it for the honor that it is?
Here are some helpful steps to help you find fulfillment in your ministry role.
Realize You Are Not Alone
I must admit that I have experienced times of great loneliness in ministry. I feel comfort in knowing that God is in control, but I long for intimate fellowship with other women. A great mentor of mine once told me that we should strive to have three types of friendships in our lives: playmates, peers, and personal confidants.
Playmates are those you just have fun with – the friends you get a pedicure with on a Saturday afternoon or laugh with on a girl’s night out. With these friends, there is no agenda. They are simply the ones who you enjoy life with.
Peers are those who are in equal standing with us. For those of us in the ministry, it may be other ministry wives with whom you can share the good, bad, and ugly of ministry life and they will understand because they are experiencing it, too. Sometimes your local denomination will have a group already in place. If not, start one yourself. You will be amazed at how much you have in common and what an inspiration you can be to one another.
Personal Confidants are the hardest friends to find. In fact, I am still struggling with this one myself. My mentor described this group of friends as those you can throw up on, and they will not only clean up after you, but they will never even share that you got sick. This group is so tough because we, as ministry leaders, need to make sure this is someone you can trust and that they are in it for the long haul.
Reaffirm Your Call
Sometimes we equate God’s call with an easy life. We think that since God has called us, all of the pieces in the ministry puzzle will simply fall into place. I have found just the opposite to be true. In my experience, the more successful I am at living out God’s call for my life, the more spiritual opposition I have faced: opposition in the form of betrayed confidences, marital tension, and loss of excitement.
There have been times in ministry that I have felt down and frustrated to the point of giving up. In those moments, I look back to the time when I heard God call my husband and me to start a new work here in New York City. I begin to look for the pieces in my ministry that affirmed the fact that we are making a difference. I hold firmly to these moments as affirmation of the fact that I am exactly where God wants me to be.
Revel in Your Uniqueness
Revel in the fact that God not only chose you to be part of the ministry you are in, but that He uniquely shaped you for your role in that ministry. There have been times in ministry I didn’t fit what I saw as the “traditional pastor’s wife” role. I don’t sing or play the piano. I don’t know how to cook. I chose a career early in life over staying at home. It has taken time for me to begin feeling comfortable in the role to which God has called me. Perhaps more importantly, I have become comfortable being the person that God called me to be.
There is no greater adventure in life than building the kingdom of God. Take comfort in the truth that God has uniquely shaped and placed you in the ministry position that you are in today. God doesn’t waste any experience – good or bad. Wake up every morning with the attitude, “How can you use me today, God, to build your kingdom?”
Discover Your Shape for Ministry
There are many tools to help you find out how God has shaped you for ministry. Here are some questions to get you started.
- What are my spiritual gifts? (Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12, Eph. 4). If you are unclear about what your gifts are, you can purchase a spiritual gifts assessment at your local Christian bookstore or online.
- What causes or people groups am I passionate about? (Do you like to work with children? Do you have a heart for unwed mothers or the homeless?)
- What are my talents? Focus on those abilities and talents that you enjoy doing and that you are proficient at. (If you are good at sewing but hate to do it, don’t list it.)
- What is my personality type? Am I an introvert or extrovert? Am I a dreamer or detail person? The DISC (Discover Your Personality by Gary Smalley) and Myers-Briggs are just a few of the assessment tools that will help you to discover your personality type.
- What have I experienced in life that might help someone else? Write down the experiences in your life that have grown you as a person. Think of both good and bad experiences.