Don’t miss out on the great responses to the last topic: Her Life in a Fishbowl: WHOA! I had no idea! (Part 1 of 2)
Let’s talk about some of the expectations that we didn’t cover from last month’s topic…
Your expectations for life in full-time Christian Ministry have brought some surprises!
These expectations may have included:
- I’m the only piano player? Really?
- I’m the Women’s Ministry teacher?
- I’m in charge of nursery?
- I’m really supposed to dress that matronly?
Your Turn: Give us Your Story!
Anonymously respond to these questions in the “Leave a Reply” box at the very bottom of this page.
Pick one, or all of these expectations (or come up with your own) and go with it! In your story you may want to talk about:
- Your surprises
- The good that came from learning to adapt to them
- Your advice for lovingly and courageously setting the limits on expectations
- Were there completely positive surprises?
- Were you transformed by the surprises?
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.
We began our ministry journey when our oldest was an infant and within a few years we had four wonderful children. My husband was to work with the youth full time, but in reality, he was the assistant pastor, secretary, youth leader, elder, and worship pastor. He did a lot of juggling, but by working a lot of extra evenings he was able to keep afloat, for the most part. Having young children made it difficult for me to join in with what he did, except for the youth ministry, since both middle school and high school groups met in our living room two to three times a week.
Making close friendships was difficult for me at our church. The ladies were kind, but distant. I had always had a few close friendships wherever I lived and yearned to feel a ‘sister’ connection. Around year four I found a friend whom I treasured. We are still very good friends, though we have lived on different ends of our state for many years.
The church placed a high priority on giving a livable salary to the senior pastor, but we were paid very little. We lived in a small house and had only the basics. A date night consisted of putting the kids to bed and watching a movie. We could not afford a babysitter or a restaurant meal. Our children wore hand-me-downs and during their school years they were able to get free lunches since we were considered impoverished. God saw to it that we never had to go without our needs being met and our kids were happy. The elder board told us since the church was paying our salary and since we could claim our house as a ministry expense for tax purposes, it was expected that we use it as an extension of the church. I didn’t feel very valued and found I wasn’t allowed many personal boundaries. As the years went by, I became anxious and depressed.
To help with our living expenses, I provided child care and found different types of employment I could do on Saturdays and some evenings when my husband could watch the kids. I didn’t feel much a part of the ministry staff. I absolutely loved the youth, and discipled high school gals on a weekly basis. When our kids were in elementary school, a new church with a youth wing was built and youth ministry shifted from our home to the church. This allowed our home to become our own personal space, which was very helpful. My husband wasn’t home much and I dedicated most of my time to raising our kids.
I prayed that my husband would choose regular employment so we could have family time and evenings/weekends together. It took time, but after 12 years he did just that and two years later we were able transfer to a different location with his new job. I also specifically asked for a house that would allow us to invite people over for ministry purposes with space for adults to visit and space for kids to play. God answered that prayer over and above my expectations in his own perfect timing at our new location.
I didn’t realize how many wounds I still felt until I started writing this. While God met me right where I was and taught me many things he brought me the book called, “Boundaries” by Cloud/Townsend that altered my life. I learned I answer to God first and He charges each of us to exercise our ‘yes’ and ‘no’ muscles as He directs, and it is for each of us to guard our heart. I started a book study with several of the women in our church the last two years before we moved and through the examples and scripture given throughout that book, my life was changed and my depression lifted. It’s been 21 years since we left vocational Christian ministry, but I have been able to minister in our church as a lay person. I KNOW that God never left me; He just used a difficult season in our lives to grow us in a myriad of ways. My heart is very tender toward those in full time ministry and I offer myself as a confidential ‘listener’ for my pastor wife friends and if I see a need for child care or a financial need, God has laid it on my heart to meet those needs whenever possible.
I believe I was too young and inexperienced to do well in the environment in which we found ourselves in the early ministry years. I went from a home where my parents made decisions for me, to Bible college with strict rules, to marriage and ministry in a very short few years. God has used the many trials I have faced to comfort and offer understanding and a praying heart for others, so I’m thankful for the experiences and the ways my God has worked and is working in my life. Praise be to Him.
Our hearts break as we hear of how your family was mistreated during your ministry service by those who profess to represent God. The guilty will one day stand before our Lord and will answer for their injustices and their misrepresentation of Him.
We thank you dear sister, for sharing your early ministry life with those of us who empathize with your struggles.
We are encouraged by your generous heart to serve God and use the difficult seasons of ministry life to grow your understanding of being a child and servant of Christ.
Thank you for your transparency.
Melinda Bogart and Glenda Friesen