February 28, 2011

For Ministry Wives: Advice from Shauna

Last week, Emily Freeman shared some sage advice to just-getting-started ministry wives about wise habits and handling expectations.

Today, I put some questions to another faithful ministry wife, Shauna Pilgreen. I met Shauna way back when, at a college ministry conference we attended with our husbands. We recently reconnected and realized how much we have in common: we both have three boys, we both are church planting, and we both love to write. Shauna and her husband Ben just launched Epic Church in the heart of San Francisco. 

What advice would you give to ministers’ wives who are just starting out?

First of all, this is one vocation that works best when we, the wives, are fully-supportive and engaged in our husband's ministry. You don’t have to be actively involved in everything 'church,' nor are you in ministry to please the entire congregation. However, you did marry this man! So, since you said I do, supporting your husband's dream and vision in ministry falls under your marriage covenant.

Next, communicate with your husband. Your husband needs your attention, support, and verbal commitment. Give him room to share his fears, dreams, and vision. But you need his attention, too! Ask him to be open to hear your fears, dreams, and vision about ministry. Discuss how your dreams can come alongside his dreams and also how the two of you will serve each other before you serve the church. 

Give an example of how you’ve tried to support your husband in ministry.

In November 2008, my husband, Ben, shared his dream with me of starting a church in a strategic urban setting. (I believe I was trying to relax in the bathtub at the time!) At the time, he was serving as a teaching pastor at a strong missional church in the Midwest. I told him I would spend the next few days praying about this with him and for us. Ten days later, I said, "I'm in!" Here's what that meant: I'm on board. I agree to this with you. With a clear mind and a focused heart, this is what I think the Lord is calling us to do. Here's what this didn't mean: Everything must be laid out before us, before I take the next step. Or I'll do this on certain conditions

We talked long about how this would affect our 3 little boys (at that time, ages 5, 3, 1), our extended family, our current church family/staff, and our marriage. We made a list of non-negotiables, things we would NOT sacrifice. On that list: our marriage, date nights, a happy and joy-filled childhood for our boys, our personal faith journeys with God. What were we willing to sacrifice? Owning a home, having two cars, living near extended family. 

After starting out in ministry 10 years ago and serving in Louisiana, Alabama, and Missouri, one thing is constant with each move, each calling - listen. Listen first and foremost to Abba Father's heartbeat. His heart beats rapidly for you. He loves you and wants the very best for you. Listen to Him. Listen to your husband, lover and partner in life. Seek to have each other's best interests. Pursue this rich calling together, hand in hand. 

Thank you, Shauna!

There will be more from Shauna (you can read the second part here) about the hard parts of ministry and finding and maintaining friendships in the next post. I invite you to subscribe to my blog so you don't miss out on her advice or on upcoming interviews with other ministry wives.