These “Her Life in a Fishbowl” posts are designed, not so much to present Aspect Ministries’ views and experiences of life in ministry for wives, but to call for women in those situations to share their own stories. So, what Melinda Bogart has done is to frame the questions about ministry life and allow pastor’s wives and other women in ministry to respond with their own experiences. So–here goes: How did you receive “the call”?
Congratulations. You are officially in ministry. Your husband brought the news with such joy and anticipation that you had been called to serve at a church somewhere you had never heard of: in a small town in the Midwest; in a village on the other side of the world; to a struggling inner city congregation, etc.
“Where is it?” You asked.
“How large a congregation/institution/missions endeavor?” You queried.
“Why US?” You cried joyfully (or bemoaned).
Everyone in ministry has some sort of story about how they were called. Now its your turn to give us your Story
- How did you initially react to “the Call”?
- Where was your heart by the time you arrived at this new venture?
- How did your first year go?
Here are the responses received when the blog was first posted. You can scroll down to the bottom of the page and add your story in the Comments.
Response from “Newbie Nancy”
*How did you initially react to “the Call”?
Bob completed Seminary, passed ordination and, believing God wanted us in the Senior pastorate, we were ready and willing to pack up the kids and go wherever He led.
After 10 months of inquiries, pulpit supplying and a couple candidating experiences, a small church one state over asked us to candidate for a couple Sundays with them. We were very excited. Even relieved to have another opportunity to “try out”.
Our family used our vacation time and stayed in the little house provided next door to the church. Bob preached the Sundays at both ends of that week. During the week, we were invited to parishioner’s homes for dinners and informal chats, a youth activity and I don’t remember what else, but it was a full week of meeting and greeting.
*Where was your heart by the time you arrived at this new Venture?
By the time our car was turned toward home, Bob and I were feeling this was the place. We prayed, the church prayed, and finally, we received “the Call”. My heart was full! Full of excitement for a new life venture and all its possibilities, full of some concerns as to how our family of four could financially manage this lower income, full of concern towards the children’s future in this very simple, seemingly uneventful farming community.
*How did your first year go?
We planned to live only temporarily in the tiny house adjacent to the church, but the promised salary increase did not come for years and we could afford to live nowhere else. This proximity to the front doors of the church considered our house to be the additional Sunday school room, storage facility, church office, and overall place of activity, second only to what went on in the sanctuary.
Our first year there was a whirlwind. There was no official staff save for my husband. Much was expected of us! I jumped in to help with both feet, hands and heart. This year was such an education that no seminary training could give. It was full of practical training through experience. The mistakes we made helped us to not make them again the next time. We gained the confidence to delegate as much as we could and began to learn how to start up a job, bring someone along and train them to eventually carry the leadership in that position. Sometimes it worked out wonderfully. Sometimes it was a disaster. Some jobs we had to keep the leadership of much longer than we wanted, as we never could find an appropriate recruit to fill the position.
All in all, I would say our first year was really positive. We learned a lot. It was a good preparation for the years that followed.
Melinda’s comment on Nancy’s post:
Thank you for your wonderful story. I want to give my comment. Please know that I am not trying to preach or tell you what you already know, but to give my acknowledgement through my empathy and to encourage my sister.
May God continue to bless you! We have the desire to serve Him, we have received from Him “The Call” to do so in the church. We begin this life of service for Him in the church with many innocent (pure-minded) ignorant (how could we possibly know?) preconceptions.
Perhaps the result of your family living in the smaller home that was right in the thick of the church action caused miraculous abilities in you. They had to work out, so you created ways to make them work out! I am guessing that some of the good things that came out of that kind of living forced you, among many other things, to be very creative in your space-management, privacy protection – a long list of creative answers. From it you found you had gifts you did not know you had!
Another gift of yours you might not have been aware of; Supervisory training! You brought someone who did not previously know how to do a job, up to the ability – to take over for you. I believe, greater things occurred from that than finding the person already capable to fill the position. You encouraged and assisted others in finding an ability they did not previously have. That is a huge accomplishment!
Our ways (pictures we draw in our minds according to our understanding) are not God’s ways. (He sees all of it, knows the reality of the situation and knows how it will turn out!) He sees the true and full purpose of what it is He has asked us to do for Him. Isaiah 55:8,9
Response from “Sassy Sue”
I’ve been reflecting on this topic and have come up with a response on “Three Calls.” I can’t seem to get it down to one. The first call was when my husband was “called” to go to Bible College. I knew that this was the right decision from the beginning. However, this “call” was not a threat to my comfort zone at that time.
I had grown up as a “Preachers Kid.” I vowed I would never marry someone who wanted to be a Pastor. When I got married I knew I was safe as my husband and I had both been divorced and the organization we were with did not allow divorced people to be licensed etc. So, off to school he went and me thinking I was safe!
The second call was years later. My husband had graduated from Bible College and was working for a large corporation. All seemed fine and then we took a trip with our church pastor to Australia. During this visit, we believe God called my husband into full time ministry. I knew it was a genuine call but I was not happy about it. But, how does one argue with God! So, I graciously went along with it on the outside but deep in my heart I was dreading it.
The third call was the one to a specific location. I hated everything about the town and the church situation. My teenage kids hated it and there was no end to difficult issues, both with the church and within the family. I remember praying that God would change my heart and help me to love this place and these people. I resigned myself to it, but cried every time we went back to visit our previous church family and community. At the time, it was so hard in so many area’s and I was pretty upset with God.
We ended up being at that church for seven years before we resigned and returned to our previous community. We returned financially broke, bruised and feeling we were failures. What we did not understand at the time is that it really was Gods’ will that we go thru this seven years’ process. We had much to learn and there was a lot of “transformation” that needed to go on in our inward lives if we were to continue in full time service for God.
So, it seemed like it was “hell” for most of the seven years, but God was doing some very deep work in me that had to be done. I learned what “sacrifice” is like at very pragmatic levels. I learned that God is “for me”, at a very personal level and he truly does work all things for my good.
Melinda’s comment on Sassy Sue’s post:
Dear Sassy Sue,
God doesn’t expect us to understand His ways. How could we possibly? We are not God with God’s all-encompassing comprehension of the situation. He allows us to experience great disappointments, extreme pressures, fear of a seemingly unsafe future, extreme work overloads, and so much more. Why? I believe one answer is so that we can desperately seek Him more, and consequentially, receive from Him more, and grow so much closer to Him and His ways.
James 1:2-4. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
I like the wording; “Let perseverance finish its work…” This is a process of growing us – not only making us mature of mind and heart, but also making us bigger people of character. We see it more than before as God sees it, and we can hopefully, see and deal with the next thing(s) coming our way with God’s bigger picture within us.
With great appreciation for your contributions, Melinda