Today’s post is for those who are pastors and pastors’ wives… in my heart of hearts I pray that this will be taken in the spirit of encouragement.
If you can name it and it has something to do with the church and its’ members then it can be a stress in the life of you and your family. Any type of stressor can become a burden when you are unsure of how to deal with something… or you are waiting in prayer for God to give you an answer so you can move on in faith. Church life definitely can come with baggage — that type of baggage that makes you want to stay in bed on church days or hide in your office as service times begin. It is not uncommon for unwanted circumstances to come at you in waves and for you to feel inadequately prepared to deal with them in wisdom and a right spirit.
If I could have a heart-to-heart with pastors and their wives about church staff and faithful church workers I would say this: “Friends, don’t bear your burdens alone.” And then I would gently say, “Don’t discount your staff as being people who will not understand your burdens.”
Hey, I know I’ve never been a pastor’s wife (yet) and you can come up with an excuse on the reasons why you hoard burdens upon your shoulders, but please allow me to explain…
We have served beside others or communicated with peers and have seen people we loved keep us from comforting them. We could discern that the weight of the daily in’s and out’s of ministry were bogging them down and causing the spark in their eyes to dim to a depressive state of mind. Yet, for some reason when God brought us as comforters to their door with hands empty and ready to carry some of their load, they slammed the door on us. This left two families with burdened hearts (theirs and ours) instead of a common bond of brother/sisterhood and unity from sharing the weight in their hearts.
Allow God to send comforters to you, who will be a blessing.
Never assume that the only ministry family that is suffering and bearing the load of life and ministry is the pastor’s family. If you have church staff or you have laymen that are whole-heartedly invested in your ministry then they also carry the burdens of ministry and responsibility of meeting the needs of people on their shoulders. Sin in church members affects them and their hearts too, it can consume their thoughts and prayers also.
Others may never know the degree of weight you carry because the accountability of the pastor is greater, but remember responsibilities weigh on each person’s life. A burden is a burden. They may not know all the details of counseling sessions or the diligence required to do all things decently and in order while ministering as a shepherd (or shepherd’s wife). Do not minimize their heart’s burdens as insignificant in comparison especially when their burdens are linked to the same church family as yours.
The hands of ministry workers, staff, and volunteers are tied when you separate yourself in a class all of your own and elevate yourself to some level of never being understood because of a position. One person or couple should not be bearing all the burden alone. We are meant to bear one another’s burdens because it fulfills the law of Christ. Christ took all sin of the world upon Himself as He died in our place, He understands the concept of bearing the burdens of others.
Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
Church staff in specific situations can often bear a harder burden because of the pressure that is applied from the expectations of the pastor believing they will never understand. They may want to understand, and see how it burdens the pastor. They can recognize how sin puts a blanket on each ministry that is effected by imperfect choices. Do not discount them from being a source of help and encouragement! Most people are capable of genuinely being able to be compassionate in heart toward you. They can understand the behind the scenes knowledge that comes along with being closely involved in the work of the church and respect the need for keeping them in confidence.
“But, what if!?”
Part of bearing one another’s burdens is being humble enough to share. One worry is whether we are sharing our heart’s contents with those who are trustworthy and that is a legitimate concern. Time can only tell you if you can trust someone. Keeping burdens upon our shoulders because of fearing what other people may say or do (without giving them a chance) is just that, fear. “What if they tell other church members what we’ve talked about?” It is always wise to use discretion in specific matters and to keep information private if it is required.
I feel like I have to make disclaimers all the time because in this world we live in. This message will not fit with every pastor/pastor’s wife and church staff situation out there. There are pastors and their wives who will continue to bear their burdens. There are staff members who will still struggle to feel as if they cannot connect with their pastor/pastor’s wife. Above all, do as the hymn by Charles Tindley states, “Leave it there, leave it there. Take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there. If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out. Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.” God is our greatest burden-bearer. No amount of troubles overwhelm Him when we cast those cares upon His shoulders.
Some of you will try to share their burdens with their staff and might be misunderstood or your “fears” may come true when a staff member unwisely shares your information with other people. For those situations I am truly sorry. You might be robbed of a blessing and I would suggest this: Keep praying. Be sensitive enough to share those burdens with someone you are close to so they can help you bear them (ministry friend, family member, etc.). Then, when the time is right and the Holy Spirit gives you a nudge, take a risk again somewhere in the future and share a burden. Share your prayer request, visions for the future of your church/ministries with your staff, and allow them to see the human part of your spirituality that needs God’s guidance.
Taking a risk here and there is part of the growing process. You may just find that your church staff will do exactly what you need and help carry that load and strengthen you in the process. Remember: You found beneficial qualities in their lives or you would not have hired them! The possibility of sharing these matters may allow you to see God work in His mysterious ways to take care of these burdens… we never know what God will do when we join together in prayer for the problems going on in our church. We may actually see victories against sin, repair in relationships, and spiritual growth but the benefit is that they are shared victories and growth instead of just personal.
Eliminate some of your stress by casting your cares upon the Lord and having enough confidence in your staff to be able to share matters that are on your heart. You need it, they need it, and Lord willing, growth will happen in the process. Your work and ministry is valuable, don’t bog yourself down if you can let others walk and work with you.