The saying; “The Honeymoon is Over” gives reference to the fact that you now see the reality of many of your ministry life situations, and your parishioners see what they’ll be getting from you! The glow of the marriage bliss hath ended!
Introduction: It has been a year or so since you began this new phase of ministry life. You and your husband have identified many needs and you are trying to meet them.
You are doing your best to plug the many holes with willing helpers, or at least you have managed to encourage some to give it a try. You have stuck your own fingers into many holes in the dike, trying to plug it for now. And you are – worn – out.
You have seen people come to your ministry and add to your number and you have seen people leave, causing some obvious vacancies. Some of the “happy faces” you thought would be your encouragers have become the faces you dread most as they are your frequent complainers and regularly offer their “constructive criticism”.
But it is not all negative. You have been privileged to begin some sweet friendships. There are some kudos to the job you had not expected. Your abilities have been stretched and are improving.
Most everyone has a story related to the early years of your ministry.
Now its your turn to give us your story!
Anonymously respond to these questions in the “Leave a Reply” box at the very bottom of this page:
- Give your story relating to the end of the honeymoon.
- Perhaps you had a prayer for a situation that was not answered as you had hoped it would be answered. What was God’s answer?
- Are there wounds from this period in your life that need healing?
You can see the responses received below from when the blog was first posted. You can add your story by scrolling to the bottom of the page and posting in the Comments.
Don’t forget, here’s how this works…
Each month a topic will be presented. I will give an introduction and an invitation to all of you who would like to respond to the topic. Ask questions. Tell your story. A little bit of crying and bellyaching is allowed, however, there will be limitations. Our goal is to find each other through our discussion of our shared experiences and to encourage each other. God will be with us!
Respond to the topic in the “Leave a Reply” box at the very bottom of the this page.
- Be sure to use only your initials in the section where it asks for first and last name, or give a pseudo-name to keep your identity private.
- Please, don’t give actual names of people or places as you tell your story. Protect. Protect. Protect.
It may be necessary for some editing of your submission to present a concise version. I will work (and pray) through your comment/response and then post both what you contributed and my own comment or response, as well as interaction from “the Sisterhood” I have received concerning it. Nearing the end of each month, I will inform you of the next month’s topic, to give the opportunity for you to prepare.
For our family, we moved many times in pursuit of a bigger, “better” church that included a home for us to live in. Whenever we started to get settled/comfortable, we moved. I remember seeing my mother with a permanent smile on her face no matter what was happening around her. To this day, I can see her switch to “on” mode whenever others are within view (and I can do it too!). *Are there wounds/sad memories/regrets you have looking back?* It was saddening to hear her say later in life that she didn’t really have any girlfriends with whom she could confide in or just be herself around. I don’t think she ever had a “honeymoon” phase except when she first got married and the idea of her marrying a charismatic, handsome “Presbyterian” minister sounded perfect. We definitely spent the majority of our time consumed with church functions/activities and the word “NO” was never in our vocabulary. *Give a humorous story relating to the end of the honeymoon* I remember one time my father came home midday which was odd and said that his secretary, bookkeeper, potluck organizer, Sunday school teacher and the best cookie baker got upset at him and quit on the spot. That’s kind of funny because she held several roles within the church and my dad (and I) had to quickly learn how to bake! 🙂 There is never a dull moment in the ministry!!!
Thank you for sharing a snapshot of your life of ministry. You are right, there is never a dull moment in the ministry!
Your mother’s mention of not ever having a close enough friend to confide in and be herself with is, unfortunately, a common experience of the minister’s wife. I can agree that a position of Christian leadership is most often a lonely place to live life. Some have managed to find this type of friendship outside their own church body, a friendship that could give them complete faithfulness and confidentiality. Some find relationships like that, but they are a rarity.
A ministry wife’s position allows her access to “inside” information about her parishioners that she is obligated to keep private for their protection. This situation can cause conflict if a situation concerning a church member directly affects her or her family. As you point out, your mother’s need (and nearly every woman’s need) for a confidant and close friend is what most ministry wives can’t ever find with anyone within their churches.
Your mother’s commitment to God and doing His work honorably was undoubtedly rewarded as she turned to Him as her ultimate confidant and deepest friend. He has promised us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and when you go through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life. I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
*Give your story relating to the end of the honeymoon*
We had been working so hard and were happy to do so, until our efforts began to come under criticism from some church members, mostly towards my husband; “He wasn’t preaching correct doctrine; his disciplinary practices were unkind and unloving”, and other accusations that were so far from the truth of who my husband really was and how he was shepherding his flock.
One Sunday morning, I walked in on a conversation between two ladies where one was being quite harsh in her estimation of my husband’s method of dealing with a church discipline problem. The other woman pretty much told her that she respected his choice and would stand by him. My entrance ended the “warm” exchange of words, and it was over. This was only one of the areas of complaint towards the pastor, and once a number of them were brought to a head, what followed was a definite line of decision for the church members. Did they trust his leadership? His stewardship?
A third of our church left.
*Perhaps you had a prayer or longing you felt was not answered during this time*
It hurt so badly. My prayer to open their eyes to the truth of these situations was not answered. I watched some brothers and sisters in Christ gang up on my husband and try to degrade him with their bitter accusations. Our hearts broke. Our entire church body was heartbroken.
God did answer our pleas for His intervention and for His wisdom and strength to endure.
The conversation I had interrupted was just one of many that went on between the church body members as some accused and some defended. It caused them to make choices. Hard choices. Some of them were happy to hold the church door open for the disgruntled exiting church members. Those who chose to stay had to come together as never before, as we sought the Lord’s will in how to regroup and rebuild our diminished flock.
This “church split” was the first time of defining who we wanted to be in that church body. We had ridden the storm together and our eclectic congregation had joined in these unified decisions to serve our Lord and Savior and to support the position of stewardship of our shepherd. Within months, new people had begun to fill the gaps in membership and we were on our way to future growth.
Dear B. H.
Thank you for sharing your story. I would like to focus on the end portion of your painful, yet illuminating experience from this early time of your ministry.
Through this heartbreaking situation, you prayed specifically for these people’s difference of thought to become one of a unified church body. Because they chose not to change, this prayer was not answered.
However, God heard your pleas for His intervention and for His wisdom and strength to endure. Our Omniscient God answered your prayers by, as you wrote; “…bringing your remaining church body together as never before as He showed you how to define who you wanted to be.”
Your unified decisions strengthened and equipped your church to do His will and serve Him.
I have been so blessed with various studies and talk-sessions from the beloved evangelist, Jill Briscoe. I would like to share some excerpts from one of her weekly devotionals as she reminds us of the Omniscience of our God:
Remembering Past Experiences
“I will remember the LORD’S deeds; indeed, I will remember your awesome deeds from long ago.” Psalm 77:11 (ISV)
“O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.” Isaiah 25:1
I find it especially helpful to think of some experiences in the past that God has turned around for me. I go over them bit by bit, reminding myself how dark and hopeless it all seemed and then of the way God moved in turning the whole thing around. I let myself savor the memory of those incidents and then simply pray.
As we persistently remember the mercies of God from the past, we will find it easier to persist in the present.
Lord, what a great reminder to remember Your faithfulness throughout my life. Great Is Your Faithfulness! Great are Your awesome deeds from long ago! Amen.
From At His Feet with Jill Briscoe
I would like to open this up to anyone who would like to respond to both the B.H. response, as well as to Karla’s response.
The open interaction is so very important concerning these subjects.
We are here to encourage, equip, and have empathy for our dear Sisters in ministry!
Hi, dear Melinda! Thank you for starting “Her Life in a Fishbowl”! We have been in a new area for almost 3 years now, and I’m still adjusting! Since this is my husband’s first call as a Pastor/Priest for 2 different congregations, I feel I am still up and down in my relationship with each church, but also with my husband! We worked together as a music ministry team prior to his ordination, and it was a united “us” with the pastors and congregations we served. Now I often feel alone, and honestly, resentment toward my husband creeps in. I was supportive and happy for him during seminary and his 2 ordinations, and willingly moved to a new area to a new life, but I miss our former life together. The honeymoon is definitely over!!
I understand your frustration and resentment that your teamwork is not being used in your husband’s newer ministry position.
Ministry couples serve in different types of character roles, with some side-by-side, some with the wife working exclusively in their home, and some wives having a career outside the home and church.
The fact that you miss serving alongside your husband tells me that you see that his ministry is missing something important – You!
God gave you unique abilities to use to serve Him. I suggest that you find your gifted areas of service in the two congregations you serve and get involved! Don’t wait for an invitation. PRAY FIRST though, to be sure it’s not just your desire, but that God wants you there! Our prayed-through requests of where to serve Him result with the drawing of His Holy Spirit.
Being a team in ministry, whatever each of your jobs may end up being, result in a wide-ranging content of ministry for one wonderful purpose. Doing the big job for the glory of God!
9 Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Thank you, Melinda, for your advice! I love the “Two are better than one” Ecclesiastes text, and it was a good reminder to me to invest myself in my husbands ministry more fully. Today I visited a Mom and her disabled son and felt really fulfilled. Later as I talked with my husband, I felt a call to open myself up to be a visitor to members of our two congregations. My part of the ministry team is to be a friend, a listener and a supportive person, as well as a musician and reader.
When I first wrote to you, I was hoping for some sympathy, but instead you gave me what I really needed, a challenge to pray and serve and make myself part of the team in this new place with new roles. I’m grateful, Melinda. God has blessed me through you!