Worry and anxiety are the scourge of modern living. Stress, over functioning, lack of rest/sleep, and even depression can be cousins of this blight in our lives. Regardless of gender, age or status it can become a battleground for many of us.
There are a variety of great tools and practices we can learn to help us cope with anxiety, with a powerful one actually being God’s word. We forget that there are so many promises in scripture beautifully presented for us to mull over, pray through, submit too and help readjust the lens of perspective and peace.
Last weekend I had the privilege of chatting to many women in ministry, where pastors wives especially spoke of feeling overwhelmed, drained, discouraged and fraught in busy ministry life. Many felt inadequate and beaten down by circumstances out with their control. Others struggled because they felt disconnected to their spouse or misunderstood by the congregations they were serving. Still others felt exhausted balancing schedules, worrying about their families, finances etc. Whatever the situation the end result of worry and anxiety was the same for all. We need to remember that we have an enemy of our souls who is all too eager to maximise every opportunity to fill us with worry, negative thoughts and fears. It can be debilitating. That’s why we are flagging up a very helpful book today.
If you are reading this today and your anxiety is to a point where it’s become a mental health issue, then please do go and see a doctor and get the help and support and even medication that you need. There is no shame, there is only support to help you cope. Please don’t suffer alone, confide in someone today and start the journey towards wellness.
The recommend book today is “Anxious For Nothing” by Max Lucado. (..finding calm in a chaotic world). It’s a wonderful helpful book, filled with tools to come against anxiety and how to win the war on worry. This book is a recommended read for all of us. Not just for life in ministry but just for living daily life well. Books like this are incredibly helpful and indeed can be a life line, that’s why we like to share them with you.
I’ll leave you with these beautiful verses below today. Yes, anxiety can feel like a battle but in God we can win the war!
“Today, I will live today.
Yesterday is past.
Tomorrow is not yet.
I’m left with today.
So, today, I will live today.
Relive yesterday? No.
I will learn from it.
I will seek mercy for it.
I will take joy in it.
But I won’t live in it.
The sun has set on yesterday.
The sun has yet to rise on tomorrow.
Worry about the future? To what gain?
It deserves a glance, nothing more.
I can’t change tomorrow until tomorrow.
Today I will live today.
I will face today’s challenges with today’s strength.
I will dance today’s waltz with today’s music.
I will celebrate today’s opportunities with today’s hope.
May I laugh, listen, learn, and love today.
And, tomorrow, if it comes, may I do so again.”
(Max Lucado Nov 2015)
I was having my hair cut last week when my barber casually asked me what brought me to the area. ‘My other half is the minister of the church down the road,’ I replied. The look of confusion that flashed across the woman’s face said it all. She didn’t voice it but I could imagine she was thinking to herself, ‘Oh, is he gay then?’ The answer is ‘no’, I’m simply married to a female minister. The fact that someone might as easily jump to the other conclusion is interesting for all kinds of reasons, but it mostly indicates that society is still getting used to the concept of female clergy.
My wife Lucy was ordained five years ago. Our denomination has a long-standing tradition of female ministry, so few people within it find the concept of a woman minister particularly strange. Nonetheless, the fact that male spouses of clergy are a relatively new phenomenon means there were very few pre-determined expectations for me.
Life is always busy. We balance Lucy’s fulltime role as minister with two young children and my part time job as a radio presenter and freelance writer. I’m as keen as Lucy to see our church advance, so getting stuck into creative worship, drama, music and other aspects of the general running of the place has seemed a natural thing to do. It’s a personal choice and not one that every clergy spouse would necessarily choose.
Being so involved can make life feel too hectic sometimes. Of late we’ve realised that there may be a case for me ‘pulling back’ from some responsibilities in order to ensure that our family life doesn’t get too stretched or stressed as a result. At the same time the church family is ready to help out – there’s a variety of people we can hand our children over to if the situation requires, which is all part of the joy of being part of a ‘wider’ family.
My wife will blush when she reads this, but I think that she was born to be a church minister – she’s really good at it. When we met, her call by God into ministry also became a shared call to me – to support her in that ministry. That has meant limiting my work to a part time arrangement so that I can look after our children and Lucy can do her job. It also means I’m the first person she turns to when she needs to unburden herself.
One of the hardest things about being married to a minister is the hurt I feel on her behalf when she is treated badly by people in the church. I am the only person who knows the truth about the hours she puts in, the way she agonises about how to care for everyone and the future of the church. As her husband, I inevitably struggle when others are thoughtless in their words or expect her to be super-human. There have been times when I have wanted to react on her behalf – ‘how dare you…’ but I don’t. Instead I pick up the pieces and help her, at the hardest of times, to keep on keeping on.
There are plenty of other challenges, shared in common with any clergy spouse too I imagine. Days when the phone seems to ring incessantly, the house being in regular use for church engagements, the evenings when Lucy is out at yet another meeting, and the fact that she is always ‘on call’ for the other 200 people that I share her with. Or it may be the feeling that our children should be models of exemplary behaviour in the church service – especially when our two-year-old has escaped from my clutches and wrapped herself around mum’s leg while she’s trying to conduct a prayer.
Sometimes I’m the one of whom the standards are expected. I remember being reprimanded by an older member of the congregation, early in Lucy’s ministry, for not wearing a tie to church! I have also been accused of looking ‘scruffy’. I don’t think people would bother to pass such a comment about anyone else, but being part of the minister’s family it seems even my appearance is viewed by some as public property. In reality those occasions are the exception – the church is full of caring and supportive people too.
On a personal level there’s also the challenge of the days when I’m a house husband – feeling in the minority at the mums and tots group or getting the children fed and bathed while trying to get that urgent email sent at the same time. In reality, such challenges are vastly outweighed by the privilege of being able to spend more time with my kids than most working dads do. We also try to be strict about having one day a week when we are both ‘off duty’ from the church to concentrate on each other and the children exclusively. As for the busyness of our church-centred life – well, that comes with the territory. It’s borne out of a shared belief in what we do, and I wouldn’t have it any other way
Justin is Theology and Apologetics Editor at Premier and presents the Saturday radio show and podcast ‘Unbelievable?’
SATURDAY 1st FEB – WOMEN IN MINISTRY CONFERENCE
Get envisioned and positioned for the exciting year ahead! Make time for ‘you’ on this special Saturday to step out of the busyness and come and receive.
Join us as we explore what God has for this year in fresh vision for our lives. Seasoned speakers, anointed worship, prayer ministry and a wonderful time to meet old and new friends.
Check the flyer on our website for further details and to register - https://espsministries.org/
We look forward to welcoming you on the day!
At ESPS Ministries we regularly come across pastors spouses who still feel an element of uncertainty and confusion as to what their role as a spouse in church should or should not be? It generally seems to be unique to each couple where wives/husbands have to find what works best for them.
I came across this article for pastors spouses with some great reminders for us to shape our clarity at the start of this year. Remember these are just one person’s opinion, but it may help us in forming our own. Be mindful to keep communication lines open with your spouse and both of you share thoughts, expectations, level of engagement, etc together. Pray these through, seeking God’s blessing on all decisions.
Resist letting your spouse, children, or church family push you to become someone you don’t want to be.
Use your best gifts most often.
Do the things you do the best and leave the rest - and don’t feel guilty about it.
Make your priorities obvious.
Let the congregation know what’s important to you. Don’t let the church squeeze you into their mould, and don’t do too much.
Show visible love to your spouse.
In your conversations let people know that your spouse is both special and human. Keep showing the church that you love one another and you care for each other.
Talk about advantages to your children.
Never tell your children they have to do something OR not something because they are the pastor’s children. Help them see how they can play a positive part in your family’s shared ministry.
Take a worship break.
Go somewhere every few months where you can worship as a family.
Don’t spiritualize everything.
Enjoy life - its ups and downs - without becoming so religious in your outlook that you’re no fun to be around.
Learn to laugh at yourself and your situation.
Have a life outside of church activities.
Schedule vacation days and date nights.
See to it that your spouse puts important family dates on the calendar.
Encourage your spouse to find an accountability partner.
Every pastor needs a covenant partner, where “pastoral stuff” can be talked about and burdens understood and shared.
Stay attentive to your spouse’s needs.
Don’t back away. There will be times when your spouse, under the weight of the struggle, will become sullen, aloof, and depressed. This is when he or she needs you the most.
Try doubling or tripling your affection and support.
Commit to self-care. Take care of yourself - spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Continue to mature spiritually.
(Written by H.B. London Jr. and Neil B. Wiseman. )
“And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
( Minnie Louise Haskins)
Wishing you all a very blessed and Happy New Year. May we walk confidently toward the many blessings God already has in store for us in 2020, knowing the loving presence of our Lord right by our side.
Love and blessings from All at ESPS Ministries
We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our subscribers, readers, and ESPS Ministries supporters a very Merry Christmas indeed.
Thank you for all your encouragement and engagement over this year. It is a joy to connect with you and journey together in all the highs and lows that are part of the wonderful adventure of ministry life.
From ESPS Ministries Board, the prayer team, and myself as National Director, we wish every pastor, pastors spouse, and family, a truly blessed, peaceful, and restful Christmas. We pray the blessings of God to be yours in abundance.