A Letter to A Weary Pastor’s Wife: Balancing Ministry and Family
Dear Pastor’s-Wife-And-Mom-Who-Feels-Like-She-Is-A-Circus-Juggler, Sister, I see what a big load you carry. It is such a privilege to be married to a man that lays down his life to serve the Lord in full-time ministry. He loves the Lord, takes care of you, and you get to watch him faithfully minister the gospel to others in your city. And while it is so good… it is also so hard.
Every day you are called to serve beyond what seems possible. You have responsibilities as a daughter of God, a wife, a mother, a Pastor’s wife, a church member, a sister, a friend, and the list goes on…
I see your earnest heart for the Lord. Oh, how you want to live your life as worship to Him! You want to live your one life making the gospel known to the ends of the earth! But somewhere between squeezing in a kitchen-table-counseling session during your child’s nap time, hosting 25 people for dinner at your house, and cleaning your kitchen at midnight after the college ministry students have left, you may think you are doing it all wrong. You are so tired! You may want to throw in the towel.
I hear you cry out with a lump in your throat, “God, how can I really do it all?!?!”
Sister, I’m right there with you. I’m a minister’s wife too. I have stood at the kitchen sink, with tears streaming down my face, wondering if what I was doing mattered to God or if I was failing miserably at balancing my family and ministry.
There are two fears that have plagued me from day 1 of entering into ministry:
- What if I’m disobedient to the Lord and don’t labor well alongside my husband?
- What if my children resent the Lord because of the way we (my husband + I) minister to our church and shepherd (or worse, neglect) our home?
I have searched high and low for a formula to help me achieve a healthy balance of a thriving ministry and a happy home, but as much as I’d love to give one to you right now, I haven’t found one. Besides, I know if I give you something to add to your to-do list you may cry or run and hide. However, there are 4 passages of Scripture that have shaped my heart, helping me make sense of my role as a minister’s wife and mother.
Would you let me share them with you? I pray the Holy Spirit uses them to help you persevere and to give water to your thirsty heart.
- “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” – 2 Corinthians 12:15
Wow, the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:15 have rocked me. Shipwrecked-beaten-rejected-church-planter Paul says that he “will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” He found great joy in his high calling as an ambassador for Christ! He knew the honor that the Lord had bestowed upon him to entrust him with the gospel.
Sister, let me speak truth that I know that you know but that can never be forgotten: The gospel is worthy of our entire life.
The gospel is simple, and yet it is profound: We were once enemies of God because of our rebellion against Him. But God, sent Jesus to live a sinless life, die on a cross, and rise from the dead to pay the penalty of our sin and restore the relationship between Him and us. He offered forgiveness to you instead of death. And when you accepted His offer, He adopted you as His child and gave you a new heart to love and live for Him.
This astonishing good news changes everything, and it is worth laying everything aside to share with everyone. [quote]This astonishing good news changes everything, and it is worth laying everything aside to share with everyone.[/quote]
Sweet sister, the work that you are doing to share this gospel is worth it.
What an esteemed place of honor you have. You get front row seats of watching God work in your church. You get to witness God work through your husband as he preaches each Sunday morning. You get to have lost and hurting people run to you for help. You get to hold their hand and walk them to the foot of the cross. You get to see the power of God move in people’s hearts… and oh, how I pray it moves yours as well!
- “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35
Jesus says that brothers and sisters in Christ have a unique love that designates them as His disciples. And in Mark 12:31, Jesus tells the scribes that the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love is important. You know that. But Sister, these passages are not just referring to the love we have for members in our church and the lost people in our city. Sister, you are called to love your nearest neighbors well… your husband and your children.
Don’t undercut the value of your ministry to your husband or your children. [quote]Don’t undercut the value of your ministry to your husband or your children.[/quote] You are the dearest friend, listening ear, person of peace, cheerleader, and partner-in-crime to your husband. Your support strengthens him to love others in your church. You both, also, have the privilege of discipling your children to know and love the Lord. The security of your home provides a safe space for your children to discover who God has wired them to be and seek to follow Him.
Having a loving, stable, peaceful home doesn’t happen magically out of thin air. It takes intentionality, lots of communication, time together, and rest. However, as you and your husband seek to nurture love by shepherding your family, don’t run away from the world or your church. Put your love for one another on display! Let others see your family interact with one another as a testimony of the gospel! Sister, whenever you can, minister to your church as a family! I have found that I have the most fun ministering with my husband and daughter because they are my favorite people to be around and I am better because I am with them. A gospel-centered family is a powerful tool in God’s Kingdom.
- “But I say, walk by the Spirit” –Galatians 5:16a
I know you are starting to feel burdened again. You are called to labor hard for the gospel both in and out of your home, but how do you do it? How do you make daily decisions of which priorities you should keep and how to order your to-do list? How do you show grace and the beauty of the gospel to those around you when you are feeling overwhelmed with all that is before you?
Sweet Sister, you cannot face it alone. Walk by the Spirit. You must press deeply into Christ. Christ has promised He will give you all you need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Allow your juggling act and long to-do list to show you your desperate need for Jesus. Saturate yourself with God’s Word. Run to Him in prayer. Beg Him for wisdom. His Spirit will lead you. He will grant you wisdom as you search Scripture, and He will whisper and “your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it (Isaiah 30:21).’”
- “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”-2 Corinthians 12:9
Sister, I know there are days that you feel like you just simply can’t do it. There are probably even days where you feel like you’ve totally blown it. Your kids are falling apart, you weren’t kind to your husband or you feel like you are failing in ministry.
Take a deep breath.
Are you ready for this?
His grace is sufficient for you.
Sister, you don’t have to be it all. God is not surprised by your failure. He is your loving Father who meets you in your hurt, anxiety or sin, and kneels down to gently restore what was broken. He sustains us in our moments of weakness so that the light of the gospel can burst forth piercing the darkness around us.
If you find yourself broken over your sin or fully aware of your inability, take heart: Your awesome God loves you unconditionally, uses you despite your failure, and His plan is not thwarted by you. Respond to Him today in repentance and ask Him to cover you with His grace. He will hear you and answer you, because you are His child and He is a good Father.