March 8, 2011

For Church Planting Wives: Advice from Kendra

Today marks the fourth in a series of interviews with ministry wives. We started with an insightful interview with Lauren Chandler, a re-planting pastor's wife, and then gleaned wisdom from Emily Freeman, a youth pastor's wife, and Shauna Pilgreen, wife to a brand-spanking-new church planter.

Today I'm honored to introduce Kendra Duty. Kendra and her husband planted New Life Church in College Station, Texas around the same time that my husband and I planted in Virginia. They have three little ones and previously served on staff at an established church. She recently answered my questions regarding being a church planting wife:

What advice would you give to church planting wives who are just starting out?

First, let go of expectations. It's going to be nothing like what you have planned out in your head. There are going to be major emotional strongholds to overcome, like recognizing that your "role" is not a role at all to most people in your church. You and your husband know how essential your calling, support, encouragement and help is in the new church plant, but most other people will not recognize this. If your husband doesn't know, you may also need to have some hard conversations with him. Which leads to the second thing...

Communicate your needs to your husband, not only about your marriage, but also about your gifting and passions to serve the new church plant. Together come up with a plan to get you involved in the process, but not too much that you have to make sacrifices for your family. Many times we have unrealistic expectations for ourselves, but our husbands can help us find balance.

And last, stand committed to the call of the Lord on you and your husband. There may be many circumstances and emotions that will lead you to question whether this is still His will for you. Continue to cling to the original calling and direction that He put on your hearts. Otherwise, when hard times come (and they will) you will want to give up, wonder why you are doing this in the first place and question the clarity of the call.
How do you support your husband when he is discouraged about how the church plant is going?

Commit to be his number one supporter. No matter if I am also discouraged, disappointed to see people go, upset about something said to him or even if I felt he could have done something differently, I push all that aside to let him know this: even if, in all other areas of his life, he experiences disappointment, discouragement and exhaustion, I am the one place he can turn for spiritual, emotional and physical replenishment. And I do all I can to replenish him in those areas: speaking truth from the Word (even though he knows the Word inside and out, he needs to hear specific truths from me), being bold in prayer (on-the-spot intercession), encouraging him (little things that I know bless him and let him know I care), and most importantly to him, giving him affection.

What has been the hardest part of church planting for you and how have you handled it?

I think it would be finding my "place." Amidst everything—shepherding 3 little ones, trying to be a supportive wife, wanting to be a significant piece of the church planting puzzle, and maintenance of the home—it can get overwhelming. When it's hard to find that "place," maybe even because of my stage of life, it can be devastating. I believe that Satan uses those weak spots in my heart to tell me that I can’t be used in certain ways because I’m not gifted, not valuable and not even necessary to the church. It’s only compounded when I’m not communicating well with my husband or vice versa and feel left out of the loop on things going on in the church. Although I wouldn't want to do the first year of planting again, I know that God used it to teach me so much through the process. Finding my confidence in Christ and not in the roles that I assume, recognizing that Christ defines me, not my service or recognition, has been most helpful in defeating the lies and emotions that are so hard to overcome.

What do you like most about being the wife of a pastor/church planter?

I love being able to come alongside him in ministry to women. There are so many women in our church who want counseling, mentoring and wisdom. I have been able to speak into their lives, boldly pray over them and ask for God to move powerfully in their lives. It has stretched me to depend on Christ more fully, asking Him constantly for wisdom that I don't have.

I love our church body. I don't feel like I am in a fishbowl at all. I just love being a part of the ministry that takes place naturally and organically in our body. I love seeing how the Lord is growing us and refining us in so many ways. I love to think about all the disciples we are making and yet it is harder to send them out because we love them so much! God couldn't have put together a more wonderful church to shepherd and serve. 

Thank you, Kendra! 

Are you a ministry wife or soon-to-be ministry wife? What questions would you like me to ask in upcoming interviews? Tell me in the comments.