Are You A Friendly Ministry Wife?

Are you a friendly ministry wife? A question was asked on Q&A Tuesday on the Ministry Mamas Facebook page about what to do when other ministryAre You a Friendly Ministry Wife wives were not friendly at a fellowship meeting she had attended. I wanted to share both the question and the answer with you. I hope it will encourage you to reach out and be friendly to other ministry wives. Whether you are at church welcoming a guest, a ladies retreat, or even a fellowship, make it a point to smile, shake their hand, and at the very least ask their name. You get bonus points if you ask about their family, ministry, and especially their children!

Q:”We are new to our area and in a new ministry. I really want some new ministry friends to be able to spend some time with. There are many women I have met at fellowship meetings but none of the ladies seemed genuinely the type of person who is friendly. It has all been surface-level kindness and I have not been able to engage anyone in any good conversation or anything close to friendship. I am discouraged and really do not want to go back to the fellowship meetings if it is going to continue to be this way. What do you suggest?”

        • I’ve kinda always had this experience at fellowship meetings. It can be very discouraging. But I went back, if for no other reason than the good preaching! Also I’ve noticed that not having a lot of friends in the ministry is something the Lord has used to strengthen my marriage. My hubby and I don’t have a lot of friends in the ministry, and the ones we do are not close by except one couple which we occasionally do things with but we have each other and we’re happy with that. It could be because we’re also both sort of introverted personalities. Sadly, many preachers wives come across to me also as not “genuinely the type of person who is friendly.” I try to reverse that trend with the Lord’s help as I am now a pastor’s wife. Having been on deputation with my parents and in and out of many churches, the pastor’s wives were not always the friendly type. I just tried to remember that friendship is a two-way street. As you’re there longer, use your experiences to seek other ladies you may begin to recognize as new and reach out to them.
        • I think sometimes I have found pastors’ wives, like everyone else, are busy. I wouldn’t say they are not friendly, in my experiences. Unless you are intentional about trying to make friendships, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. Put yourself out there and try to get a coffee night or in my case a tea night. I know I’m from New England and ministries are not very close together. Once a month start out small and see where it goes.
        • My husband and I use to feel this way. We had friends four hours away that were in the ministry. We grew closer to each other. If you have friends in the ministry that live far away, I would try to set up a certain time to talk on the phone. The Lord brought us someone who lives an hour away now and we talk more than we see each other, but when we do see each other it’s wonderful.
        • Hang in there! I am not a pastor’s wife, but definitely have felt lonely at times. Seriously, there was a time I begged God for someone I could spend time with! The great thing is God answered, it wasn’t who I expected but I am so thankful for that dear friend. Just like the other ladies said, you can be a friend! You can be the one God uses to encourage others. I was just talking to someone the other day and we came to the conclusion that Satan wants us to feel alone. We just desperately need to encourage each other and pray for one another! Hope it’s only a short season and things get better.
        • As a pastor’s wife of over 20 years who has made every effort to be as friendly as I can be, I’ve found that sometimes no matter how friendly you are, other pastor’s wives just aren’t interested or don’t have time to get together. I don’t fault them for that as I don’t know the struggles with their ministries. What I try to do instead is be a friend to the ladies in our church. Yes, I know it’s not easy or necessarily wise to be close with ladies in the church, but I can fellowship with them individually and this makes it easier for me to see what their needs are spiritually and otherwise. So I often invite a lady for coffee or tea just to chat. Often it leads to spiritual discussions or maybe a concern on her heart that we can pray about. It has worked to build a bridge of trust that has benefited our ministry. And as a bonus, I enjoy the fellowship too.
        • In my circle of fellowship, I have observed something–many of the preacher’s wives don’t know each other. It’s because we’re the ones who stay home if kids get sick; or the men will form a team and get a hotel room while the wives stay home. I have had to stay home many, many times (from morning sickness, sick kids, or homeschooling). That being said, when I would go I felt embarrassed at not knowing who I had met or knew. This is common; when a lot of women meet up, they don’t remember who is who. They’re embarrassed because they have been introduced to you but don’t remember. Let me just say, take the time to get to know the women even if they don’t seem over-friendly. Don’t be embarrassed to say, “I’m sorry. I can’t remember your name or if we have even met.” I have done this a lot and it almost always puts a smile on someone’s face. Don’t be fooled, other women in that group are just as lonely and looking for a friend too. They just might need a friendly smile to break the ice. I’ve been at my fellowship for 10 years and I feel like I just now know mostly everyone. Maybe another lady will go to your next meeting who hasn’t had a chance to make it in a while and you could be good friends. And no matter what, stay encouraged in the Lord; He’s truly the best Friend who will always be there for you. 
        • After having recently moved I found it very difficult to adjust. It took a while for me to conquer the depression from moving and being lonely. I began talking to other ladies in the church, even ladies outside the church and I can now say I have a few wonderful friends whom I love dearly. Remember though, relationships take time and effort. You would not expect a good relationship with someone you don’t talk to or make an effort to spend time with, so take the initiative and TRY to be friends outside of church. In the ministry we are often too busy (mentally and physically) to build a deeper relationship during church, so making time outside of church for others will make a huge difference in how they feel about you. Also, just because you are “in the ministry” does not mean you cannot be friends with people within your church. They need friendship as much as you do.
        • We recently moved to a new city and it was a time of many new things (new baby, city, church, schedule, etc.). It was very hard for me to adjust. I’m not naturally an outgoing person, but I do enjoy fellowship with others. The Lord kept reminding me of the verse in Proverbs, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly.” It has taken time and effort, putting myself out of my comfort zone, but I truly have several friendships that have been such a blessing! Other friendships are continuing to grow! It certainly takes time but continue to try to be the friend you would like someone to have been. In the midst of all this, “there is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

Church Camp Adventures

After spending a week at church camp, as the photographer, with my little brood accompanying me, I am so happy to be home. I always enjoyed church camp but there were some things about it that I always dreaded, so I have to say that I love going to church camp as an adult. Thankfully, we were given the opportunity to be able to bring our kids with us and I was given a responsibility that I could handle while monitoring the kids.

A Lesson Learned – Whatever you do, do not forget your razor when you go to church camp! I remembered almost everything except my razor to shave my legs. What a bummer that was because the majority of my outfits were shorter skirts. Here’s a tip, if you ever are like me and find yourself in a faraway place razorless, then you just plan to wear your shorter things earlier in the week and progressively wear your longer outfits as you go along. That covers up your hairy-ness and saves you from a bit of embarrassment and having to explain why your legs looked like a javelina pig’s back. Yikes! I hope I never do that again.

Morning Devotions

A Heart Burdened – It doesn’t take me long around a group of teenagers to begin to pick out the fringe teens and begin to have a burden for their lives and their spiritual growth. I see myself in too many of them not to have a concern for their well-being. I was heart-broken that more of our teens did not make open decisions. I know though, that God’s Word will keep working in their hearts as they go along their journey of life into the next school year and quite possibly their life. The best thing I can do is to continue to pray for those that seemed to leave exactly the same way they came.

My Axe Sharpened – My greatest joy of church camp is being able to fellowship with other people in the ministry. I was around two special ministry mothers that both have more children than we do and just talk to them about their life and experiences. I am thankful for both and their openness to share with me little glimpses of their lives and the wisdom God has taught them both.

This year my husband and I were able to see two other ministry people that we have not seen in several years. Listening to their testimonies and heart for their particular ministries was like an energy drink sparking our weary spirits. What seem like momentary interactions or discussions really do encourage our hearts to be faithful to the Lord and be encouragers ourselves.

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17

Past Experience Used – God has a way of using your past experiences for a purpose. I was really praying and hoping God would give me an opportunity to be able to minister to a teenager this week, but that did not happen. Instead, God used a borrowed camera and allowed me the opportunity to be able to minister by the click of the button. In 9th grade, I took a photography class, so that I could be in the Yearbook class in the older grade levels of high school and this week I was able to take many of the tidbits of information from that class and use them this week and take photos. It was a blessing to me to be able to see how God used that to be able to help our church work. Now I just have to work on not coveting the camera I borrowed…it was a fancy Canon with interchangeable lenses. I hope someday to save enough money to buy my own.

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Fears Conquered for My Children – Both of my boys decided to climb the tall rock wall and to go on the zipline. For Uno, our oldest, he had to conquer some fear to carry out the feat. He is naturally more afraid of most things and sensitive, this was a huge obstacle for him to have the courage to accomplish and I could not be more proud of both of them.

My Velcro child, Cuatro (our 4th child), did cling to my legs a lot this week as we were around multitudes of strangers, 136 teenagers plus their pastors, youth pastors, and other church sponsors. But she did branch out and sparkle her personality to people as they came along. She struggled with potty training all week long, but that was to be expected. She did not quite conquer her fears of me leaving her side but she is improving. We take her stick-to-it-tiveness one day at a time.

Uno ClimbingDos Climbing Rock Wall to Zipline

God Works in His Ways – In many ways I was expecting a huge gong to be struck in my heart this week, but God just used the everyday life experiences of our church camp and the preaching to speak His faithful soft whispers of exactly what my heart needed. But isn’t that just how God works? Big things can happen, but God likes to use His still small voice and speak the clear sweet tones of comfort and even conviction. That’s how loving He is, to watch over us so carefully and to speak to us so gently.

I urge people who have a heart for teenagers whether you are a parent or not, if you have the opportunity, go to church camp! If you don’t have any huge responsibilities at church camp then I even dare you to take your family with you. The kids and I had a better time being where the action was than waiting around for a week for The Ministry Papa to come home. It may take you a little sacrifice, extra fundraising, and even more time to pack up all of your kiddos, but I truly believe it is a great opportunity for your family to experience the same blessings as those who go to camp, just in a different way.

 

Hurting From a Distance

A gush of pain pours out from my heart every moment I think of the hurt.

The remorse I feel for the very situation is something I regret. To feel so depleted from inner energy and speechless from an inability to know how to comfort the pain of the one I love that is hurting.

This pain is not of mine own doing. Another has hurt not just someone that I love, but the whole family. Their hearts are broken more deeply than my own. Their tears have fallen and they now have questions about the future. What will they do now? Where will they go? How will they go on living with the ache in their hearts and stomachs from their great loss? Will they ever love again?

This is the heartache of our dear friends as they have offered a resignation to their church. They loved and served with many sacrifices and difficulties. They never pretended to be perfect people, but their hearts were open to helping, loving, and giving but often they were rejected. The toil at times was unbearable, like the tasks many of us face.

The hurt I hold in my heart feels so useless. It is the same hurt I have felt while carrying a healthy child in my womb and hearing of another woman having a miscarriage. My heart has cried for her and asked many questions of why and borne a burden of guilt for having been able to carry all of our children to term. Our ministry, although we have no guarantees, is blessed at this time. We face struggles, but they seem so minor in direct comparison of our friends’ great loss.

They are not the only to lose, their church loses in a multiplicity of ways…but that is its own separate discussion.

I do not know, more than just mere words and prayer how to comfort those I love from a distance. I want to rescue and help them. See their faces, hug their necks, place a hand upon their shoulders and reassure them of God’s promises. I don’t want to hear their voice of hurt on the phone and wonder how much of a front they are putting on to make me feel better.

These were friends that appeared in our lives as we were struggling in our marriage with two little boys, trying to get my husband through Bible college so we could follow God’s will. We were probably a sad excuse of anything back then. Their friendship brought us a sense of hope and family when we had been so far from our own. We were together for Thanksgiving, Easter, and many other celebrations of family events with a dash of everything else in between.

God gave them a beautiful home, about 5 miles away from our apartment. They would pick up the boys and I on their way to church on Wednesday nights, load up the carseats, we would hop in and buckle up and be off to the mid-week service. It was a good time of fellowship and burden sharing. I fell in love with their girls and her girls loved our boys. She and I were true friends.

Then we were called to our current ministry, they helped us load our moving truck and stay the night in their home before we set out on the new adventure of ministry. It was hard to say good-bye to them. It was not long afterward God impressed them to sell that beautiful home, and as my friend liked to say it, she believed they lived there because God wanted them near us. It boggles my mind in some ways that God would care so much for us both to have provided such a blessing of having nearby friends. Would we have made it through without them?

Some time later our friends finished their time at Bible college themselves, they are a bit older than us, but finished in record time. They went straight to the ministry where they are now… we have been able to see them at church camps, as well as in my husband’s home church during a holiday, while they were also there visiting their family. We were also able to visit them on one occasion and see the work God had given them firsthand.

I hurt here because they hurt there. It’s like watching a child falling in slow motion and being too far away to be able to rescue the child and getting there in time to pick them up off the ground. They are not my children, they are God’s and I know He loves them more than I do and will care for them better than I can. But even knowing that, I feel it is hardest at times to hurt with someone from a distance. My inability to fix or help the hurting person makes me feel like my hands are tied and my love is somehow meaningless.

So, when you are hurting in ministry and you have spilled your heart out to a fellow ministry friend that is across the miles, and you feel lonely…
know they might be grieving and hurting with you from a distance.

They may wish to bind your wounds, set you upon their beast, and take you to the inn like the Good Samaritan did.

They may be praying earnestly for your broken heart and wishing they could bear some of the pain with you.

They may be feeling grossly inadequate since words are their only means of comforting you.

If they had the money they might drive or fly just to see you and hug you and listen to your heart.

They may have to be brave enough to know that just wishing isn’t enough and have the faith to put you in God’s hands where you are already placed, and leave you there because He loves you more than they do.

They may have questions too about the reasons why.

Love those friends that hurt with you. You may have few of them but they must be loyal and kind people to which God has given you to aid you on your journey of following His will.

If you hurt like I do from a distance to those you love, let them know! Declare your love and use God’s Word to encourage them. And if necessary, make a sacrifice, to assure them that you care. It just may be what gives them enough strength to make it to the next day.