February 23, 2012

Sunday Mornings for a Pastor's Wife

Sundays are the most challenging days for me. And the most challenging part of Sundays are the hours before church starts. During those hours, I feel like a boxer in a corner of the ring preparing for a fight. As I blow dry my hair, put on makeup, and choose clothes to wear, I am praying and pumping myself up for what is to come.
What am I fighting? Myself, of course. More specifically, I'm fighting my thoughts, thoughts that want to tear me down, take me out, or render me useless for the day. I'm drawn to focus on myself, to be overcome with insecurities (What do I have to offer anyone today?), resentful (Another Sunday going to church with the kids by myself. Sigh.), or apathetic (I'm just going to turn my heart off, put my head down, and get through this). 

Every Sunday, I must beat these thoughts into submission and wrestle them into order. Every Sunday, it's this working it out, squaring off with small deceptions and insecurities, digging through to the truth, fighting for God's heart and an others-focused perspective.

Please don't misunderstand. My boxing match is not because I don't love God or love the church or love the people in my life. Not at all. It's that my flesh loves itself most of all. The fight is a spiritual one. If I surrender to doubt, resentment, insecurities, and apathy, I stay inside my head, focused on myself, paralyzed and unaware of others. When I surrender in defeat to my flesh, I am rendered useless in ministry.

At least now I recognize the war I am in. At least now I fight back, drawing on the Spirit's power. In the early days of ministry, I'd go to church alone and walk around in a bubble of self-doubt and self-consciousness. Who will talk to me? What do they think of me? Am I good enough? Am I doing the right things? I cringe to think of the opportunities I missed to hear from God and encourage others to come out of their own bubbles of self-doubt.

Now, I fight hard. I recognize that the battle is not evidence of my incompetencies and inabilities, as I saw it before, but evidence of a spiritual reality for every believer. Now, I fight back with truth, working it out while I work out the tangles in my hair and the mascara.

No, I have nothing to offer anyone, but the Spirit works powerfully through me in my weakness.

Yes, I'm tired and needy, but I trust that God will provide the encouragement and strength that I need.

No, I'm not capable or good enough to do this, but if I cling to God, He will produce fruit in and though me.

Yes, it's a possibility and a risk that I will be overlooked, but there are others I will interact with today who feel the same. Might I be God's answer for them through my touch or my words? I will seek to serve and not be served. I will seek opportunities to be a blessing, rather than seeking a blessing.

By the time I have brushed my teeth, put on some earrings, and slipped on my shoes, the skirmish is done. There will be others, for sure. But I know I am ready for church, not because of the primping I've done in front of the mirror, but because the eyes of my heart have turned upward toward Him and outward in anticipation of those I will encounter.

Are you in the battle? How do you fight and wrestle with untruths?


Nikki said...

Thank you for posting this.  Sundays are definitely the most difficult for me (as well as Wednesday nights!).  It's ironic that when I dated a non-believer for years one of my fears was getting the children up and ready to church by myself and attending alone.  Now, married to a minister, that's exactly what I do.  Thanks for your encouragement to stop the pity party and prepare my heart as I'm preparing breakfast, etc. for everyone else!

Dana said...

Kay and I just had the conversation yesterday that Sundays are the hardest day of the week to get ourselves going. I have been so simplistic in my thinking---I never thought about the fact of it being spiritual warfare going on---but you have put it in words articulated so well. I have turned inward to myself instead of looking to the Lord to try to be a blessing to others. This is one of your most powerful posts ever! Thanks for baring your soul today that others may gain wisdom and be blessed.

Mary said...

My best friend is a pastors wife, what can you share with those of us called to love on and support those in ministry to do to help out? What would be the most helpful? I pray for her and her husband everyday, are their tangible things I could do on Sunday's or any other day really to help? Thanks for all the insight, it really is helpful.

Christine Hoover said...

Thanks for asking these questions. It's encouraging to me that you pray for your friend and her husband everyday. I hope you'll continue to do that! My answer to you would be to ask your friend and follow through with whatever she says would be helpful to her. Here are things that have been encouraging to me on Sundays (and any day):

1. Prayer. And not only prayer, but when people tell me they are specifically praying for me and what they're praying for. Also, that they are praying for my husband and for the church leadership.
2. When my children were all preschool age, it helped tremendously when nursery workers would help me get my kids into their SS classes. Or when someone would meet me at the car and help me get inside.
3. Something as a simple as a hug, a "good to see you", and a word of encouragement before she moves on or you move on to talking to someone else. 4. On Sundays at church, the pastor and his wife are bombarded with needs and questions. If you have a need or question, it is very helpful if you go to them later in the week or by email.
5. Ask her if she'd like to sit with you in the service.
6. Say thank you to the pastor/staff and their wives for what they done. Be specific for what you're thankful for/how God is using them in the church.

Any other readers have suggestions?

Mary said...

Thanks Christine for the help. Will do those things you suggest and whatever else we can figure out. It is a reconnect for us, knew them well back when I was in high school and they were youth leaders then called into the ministry. Circumstances created an 18 year gap, and now we are reconnected, but now more as peers, rather than leader/student though I never cease to learn from her. I've also never looked at her as a pastors wife even though that she certainly is, primarily I see her as my friend. So there has been a learning curve for me and Sunday's in particular, what is most helpful and beneficial to her. Your blog has been so very helpful in that regard and I thank you for sharing!!

Kristen said...

I have to comment on this post.
I am a pastor's wife (planted a church 16 years ago) and I just thought about that yesterday - how even after all these years that is still the battle we all fight on Sunday mornings! We have 3 teenagers and it seems like we have peaceful mornings all week but on Sundays the arguing and bickering =FLESH takes over! :)
Even last night as I was leaving a women's event I had to FIGHT the urge to give in to my flesh and my self-doubt, wondering if anything good was accomplished, etc. by just praying Scripture over my mind. I have known so many of these women for years but still struggle with whether or not I have anything to offer. I need to constantly remind myself to "pull down those strongholds" and recognize the spiritual battle going on around me.  We have to fight back in His strength and power.
Thank you for putting voice to my thoughts and feelings on a Monday morning! Blessings to you...

Christine Hoover said...

Thank you for your comment. I'm glad to know I'm not crazy, that others are experiencing the same spiritual battle. I'm assuming that, really, it's a good thing that the enemy is after us. Otherwise, we might not be making a difference for the kingdom. Blessings to you in your ministry!

Sophia Rohlin said...

Oh, it's so wonderful to find this blog! I'm newlywed (just over a year) to a man called to ministry. While he is not a pastor now, he is on staff at our small church with his father and grandpa (the senior pastor). Eventually we both expect he will be pastor of  his own church. I've always thought the most intimidating job for a woman would be being a Pastor's wife, and now it looks like one day I'll have that job myself!

In the meantime, God has been gracious and given us a place where I can gently "learn the ropes" of leadership without the pressure of being the main one people look at. I know this is a season, though, so every time I find a resource that will help me learn I'm excited. Thanks for this! :-)

Christine Hoover said...

Welcome, Sophia!

Bethe Wright said...

Thanks so much for this post - it's so encouraging to know I'm not alone! The hardest moment as a newly married pastor's wife was walking up to the Christmas Eve service alone and anticipating sitting alone while everybody else was there with their family. I think Sundays are also hard because I want to spend the afternoon resting and soaking in life with my sweet husband, but it's his most stressful (and longest) day of the week. The enemy finds our weaknesses and attacks there - you're right, we have to war against that.

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