When Ministry Gets Messy
Gone are the days that being the pastor's wife or woman in ministry is a cookie-cutter role. We are no longer expected to play the piano, wear pantyhose, and have dinner on the table for our families every evening at exactly the right time. (Thank You, Jesus!) Today women are serving their families and the church in many different forms. Whether you co-lead with your husband, lead as a pastor on staff, volunteer in your church, or stay home during the week, your role is valuable and unique to you.
Being a woman in ministry is a great privilege, but it is not without challenge.
One of the most common questions we are asked by other women in ministry is about how to relate to other pastor's wives and women on staff. Because our lives, our families, and our ministry giftings are all unique, we don't all operate the same way in ministry. We come to the team with different perspectives and expectations. This can often create a tension which can lead to relational challenges. When tension creeps in, it's good to evaluate some things in our own hearts.
Expectations. Do I have unfair expectations of her? Am I expecting her to be someone she is not wired to be? Her season of life is different than mine. If God hasn't called her to lead exactly like I do, why am I putting that pressure on her?
Offense. Am I holding onto an offense that I need to let go of? Ministry can be messy. We are going to let one another down or unintentionally hurt one another once in a while, especially as we work closely with one another. We must love one another enough to work through our differences and move forward with forgiveness. Resist the temptation to stay quiet while secretly storing up ammo each time you are hurt. When you do that, you become a time bomb, just waiting to explode!
Ministry can be messy.
Comparison. Let's be real--this is an issue for all of us. We are constantly comparing. She seems so put together. Her kids behave perfectly and her husband adores her. Why don't I have the opportunities she has? It's a dangerous path. Comparison only leads to one of two places--pride or jealousy. Neither of those are healthy roads we should be traveling.
Motive. What is my motive? Am I trying to be noticed or gain approval from people around me or am I serving out of love for God and His people? Am I trying to build my kingdom and gain "followers" or am I building His Kingdom and make disciples?
Love. Do I truly love the women God has placed on my team? If you are serving with a staff wife that isn't interested in being your BFF, that's okay. Just love her anyway. Reach out and ask how she is doing. Don't assume she doesn't like you. She may be going through something and just needs to know you love her.
No matter what our title or position, we are all called to one mission! We are called to make disciples. God has put different talents and opportunities in our hands. What He puts in our hands just determines HOW we work out that commission. I need to be thankful for the opportunities God has given me. What He has put in my hand is valuable. And I need to learn to celebrate the opportunities that God has given her. She is not a threat to me. She is a gift to me.
Therefore, I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. (Eph 4:1-4)
We can bring encouragement and lead the women in our congregations by developing healthy relationships among the women on staff. Whether we realize it or not, the women in our churches are watching us. We have the opportunity to model healthy, loving relationships for them.
As you think about the other leading ladies in your life, ask yourself...
How can I celebrate her? How can I pray for her? How can I better show her love?
Let these Scriptures challenge you as you consider the true nature of your current working relationship with those who serve on your team, whether paid or volunteer staff.
1 Corinthians 13:4--Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant.
Philippians 2:3--Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
James 3:14-15--But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
Psalm 37:1-3--Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
James 3:16--For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
Proverbs 14:30--A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.
Be encouraged! Your gifts are needed and so are hers. We are better together!
Kelli serves alongside her husband, Benny, as Executive Pastors at LifePoint Church in Clarksville, TN. They have been married and serving together in ministry for 15 years. They have four children: Elaina, Malia, Benny, and Laci. She is passionate about mentoring women and leading them to discover God's great love and purpose for their lives. Kelli enjoys reading, sharing coffee with friends, and party planning. Kelli shared this piece with us that she co-wrote with her Lead Pastor's wife, Stephanie Burnette. Kelli and Stephanie have served together for the past few years in Clarksville as part of a church plant that has recently expanded to its second campus. Church planting can be quite messy and challenging in its own rite! However, these are the principles they have implemented to aid in their success to fulfill the mission God has placed them on together. To learn more about their upcoming annual women's conference, check out flourishwomensconference.com