A Shift of Priorities
About 15 years ago, my husband and I were Chi Alpha campus ministry leaders at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK. One of the highlights every summer was getting to lead a group of students to the National Fine Arts Festival to serve as volunteers. This opportunity allowed us to travel and visit some cool places. This particular year, we were in Denver, CO.
As a Chi Alpha Pastor’s wife, we were given special assignments - printing results and certificates for participants. You have to remember this was long before the age of instant results via a device in our hands. Often, it was my team that broke the news via their printed materials as to whether they made it or not to the next round. I even got to tell a Merit Winner once she had won (top award in a particular category).
One afternoon while sitting and clicking away, I saw the National Youth leader and his entourage walk across the exhibit hall near our booth. I leaned over and told the girl next to me, “You know, it would be so cool to work for someone like him.” Never in a million years did I dream that 10 years later I would be HIS assistant, that specific National Leader.
I loved my job. Day in and day out I was able to solve problems, answer questions, organize events, coordinate meetings, and associate with so many leaders. I was really good at my job. I knew it and everyone else did.
Everyone I worked with was thrilled when I announced I was having a baby. I knew things would shift but I felt my job was important and I would magically find a way to make it all work.
Then, I had a miscarriage.
I was devastated. I didn’t know how to process. I literally went back to work on Tuesday of the next week. I would have gone Monday but it was a holiday. I felt lost. I felt like a failure. I felt like I messed up. The only thing I knew how to do, and do well, was work. So that is what I did. I worked and pushed everything else aside - family, finances, and boundaries. I made work the main thing.
When I say it all came crashing, that would be an understatement. I knew I had to change. I knew a transition was required. Although everyone else perceived that I was excelling, I knew, God knew, and my husband knew that I wasn’t.
This is where my journey really began. My journey to transition my priorities into the order God called them to be.
My life verse became Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
I had heard this, read this, even memorized this verse my entire life. Living in a minister’s home, being married to a minister, and being a minister myself, I knew this. I preached this. But I didn’t live this.
Ministry is hard. I think sometimes, as pastors and pastor’s wives, we get caught up in doing God’s work that we justify that, since we are working for God, work is first in line to our priorities - even before our families. It’s okay if it becomes first in our lives because, after all, we are working for the Lord. That is a lie from the enemy to keep us busy. We must set aside our busyness and bring ourselves back to the place of keeping God Number One.
This could mean a few things:
We might need to learn to say “no.” I’m right there with you, friends. This is hard. We feel like we are failing those around us but in fact we are failing ourselves when we don’t.
It could mean rearranging your work schedule or routine to adjust things. Maybe it’s setting a boundary to ensure you are off work every day at the same time. Maybe it’s setting an earlier alarm so you can take care of mundane tasks, freeing yourself for family later in the day.
It could also mean completely readjusting your focus. I read a blog once where the author challenged you to change the response of “I’m just too busy” to “that’s not a priority to me”. This was a major eye-opener for me! Even unconsciously, I was sending the message to my own family that they weren’t a priority to me when I would tell them, “Sorry, Mommy is busy right now”.
Transition in any form can be hard, but it can also be rewarding. For me, it’s been a daily process to adjust my priorities. I still work hard. I still work for a national leader. I still have multiple clients as a virtual assistant. But with my new focus, my family and my Lord keep their place in line.
A Shift in Priorities is Entry Two of Sanctuary's current blog series on the subject of transition. To read Entry One, click here. Stop by Sanctuary every Wednesday throughout October 2022 for a new entry featuring the writing of Sanctuary's leadership team.
Richelle Wingo is a wife and a mother of three. She and her husband Joel are born and raised Oklahoma natives. They have served in a variety of ministry roles over the years, including Chi Alpha campus pastors, staff pastors, and leading roles in Assemblies of God ministries such as COMPACT Family Services and Teen Challenge. She currently serves as the children's pastor at Calvary Assembly of God (Stillwater, OK). She has served in children's ministry for 23 years. Outside of the church, Richelle serves as a virtual assistant for 12 clients all across the nation. In her free time Richelle enjoys time spent with her kids and loves finding new and creative ways to do things. Richelle also serves as Sanctuary's Let's Retreat Assistant Coordinator. She was featured on Season One of Sanctuary's podcast, sharing more practical elements to this very topic. Take a listen to Let's Talk with Sanctuary, Episode 15 to hear more life hacks!