By Nancy Nelson
Have you ever felt hunger pangs while you’re walking through a grocery store? Food is all around you, and yet you’re starving? Pastors' wives often find themselves spiritually hungry, even in the midst of the grocery store called church. You can attend Bible studies and dutifully listen to sermons and still find yourself feeling empty. What causes a person devoted to God, diligent in ministry, and busy caring for God’s children, to run dry? Over the last 26 years, I have occasionally found myself in a spiritual famine. My spirit growled, even while I was serving soul food to others.
Sometimes you can miss the signs of spiritual hunger, while others pick it up in your irritability, resentfulness, negativity, and overwhelmed attitude. I’ve discovered a variety of ways to feed my soul in the midst of ministry.
Schedule disciplined, in-the-mood-or-not, time alone daily with God. Are you busy? Sure you are. Is it hard to wake up early when you’ve ministered late into the previous night? Yes it is. Can you still be a Christian and not read your Bible every day? Of course. Can your body go without drinking water for a day or two and not suffer? Doubtful. Your time with God is for you. He can renew you as you spend time with Him. I’ve found no substitute for time alone with God. You must be the one to give yourself a spiritual drink every day to nourish your soul.
Unload the burdens you’re carrying to God. We lug around a lot of guilt, burden, and concern for people that we try controlling ourselves. Before we can be refreshed spiritually, we need to clean out our inner refrigerator.
The Main Course.
Prayer! Is it hard to pray regularly? Do you sometimes feel like your prayers are not even heard? If you believe those things, you’re missing out on the meat of a strong relationship with God. Prayer is talking to Jesus. It’s telling Him your desires, your longings, your frustrations, your secrets, your burdens. It is the main course—the most important aspect of your relationship with God.
Spend time with godly friends. Find someone who makes you laugh. Carve out time to be with people that care about your walk with God. Pray with another woman in ministry about your personal needs.
Pour yourself into a new Christian. Sometimes we stagnate in our walk with God because we’re not discipling someone else. Take what you know and mentor another woman. It will refresh you spiritually. Once I was discipling a woman with an Italian background, fresh and hungry to grow. While learning the books of the Bible, she got excited to read about the “Italian” prophet called “Malachi!” Those smiling moments renew your soul.
Mold in the Fridge.
Let’s be honest, people hurt us. There are times when the criticism, disappointments, or workload leave us feeling resentful. Just as mold creeps into an unguarded fridge, spiritual spores sprout in the private spaces of our souls. A lack of forgiveness poisons a heart toward God. Give the hurt up to God so He can use it in your life.
People in ministry sometimes believe they don’t need spiritual dessert. We teach, train, preach, and pray for everyone else. But sometimes, we need some sweet stuff! Take opportunities to grow from others’ teaching. Attend a Bible study, form a support group with other ministry wives, read inspirational books, or take yourself on a private retreat. The rich part of our experience with God is attainable! Indulge!
Don’t Eat Alone.
I’m amazed at how often ministry couples eat alone spiritually. We’re surrounded by people, yet we feel lonely. Many couples don’t ever find the time or energy to pray together. Your spouse can become your soul mate. Share the things God is teaching you with each other. Ask each other, “What is God doing in your life?”
Chances are you’ve heard all this before, but when the tennis or golf pros are in a slump, they always go back to the basics. Sometimes, the best lessons in life are those that remind us of the things we already know, but have forgotten to practice. Staying close to Jesus is not as complicated as we make it out to be. James wrote, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” So pull up to the table. It’s time to eat.