Five Phrases Every Pastor's Family Should Know
Though striving to be made perfect by God is worthwhile, too often we try to be perfect on our own. Self-made perfection leads to feelings of inferiority and depression. Working to meet others' expectations ultimately drains us.
Kindly showing church members that your family can't be everything to everyone requires patient training, especially if "the last pastor's family did it better." It involves effort, but reorienting others to understand that ministry families are "real" proves to be worth the investment.
Your family can begin by learning several simple phrases that might help others better understand your challenges.
'I'm having a difficult time'
We need not reveal every detail, but showing that we feel sad, bothered, hurt, or discouraged makes us human. We are reminded in 1 Peter 4:12 that we should not be surprised when we suffer painful trials. When we allow others to see that we face difficulty in our lives, they will be more prepared when they find themselves struggling. Making our supporters aware of our frustrating times also gives opportunity for them to pray fervently.
'I need to pray'
Protect your daily quiet time, letting callers know you didn't answer because you were praying. Spending time at the altar before, during, or after worship services gives you a moment away from distractions and time alone with God to center your thoughts, sending a loud message that you are humbly seeking God. And nothing squelches a critical spirit in the group like seeing the object of criticism kneeling at the altar!
'I don't know'
Where's the pastor? Who was supposed to shovel the sidewalk? What time does the witnessing class begin? Why can't the new pews be chartreuse or blue instead of beige? Questions such as these carry the potential to send a pastor's spouse running and screaming!
Though your wife has been called into ministry as your helper, she need not feel responsible for every detail in the church. Encourage her to refer queries to you or other individuals who can answer correctly.
'I'm not comfortable with that'
I don't play the piano, teach Sunday School, or join the weekly scrapbooking group. I'm not good at those things. Each person has personal preferences. Some women are scared silly standing next to their husbands after the service to shake hands. Others might be horrified at the thought of making cookie calls. Some may even feel more capable in the less traditional role of driving the church bus.
Find out what works for your family, not by default but by careful attention. Then design roles around individual interests and gifting. "Based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others" (1 Pet. 4:10).
'I have a history too'
Though most Christians feel somewhat embarrassed to share about their lives before they knew Christ, pastors' families often find it nearly impossible. Yet our past sins can act as a point of identification with others. In the proper setting, without giving sordid details, an admission of past sins can help others heal, as well as give ourselves permission to continue in the healing process.
Each time we reveal to our church members that we are "real," it serves to chip away at the glass of the fishbowl, until one day we might just find ourselves free to swim along with all the other fish in the sea!