4 Reasons Every Pastor’s Wife Needs Church Friends
We were invited to a surprise party for one of our church members a couple of weeks ago.
So we went.
We drove an hour and a half with our four kids to a lake house in the middle of nowhere to celebrate one of our church friends.
We spent gas money and our entire day on the lake trip.
We ate food that wasn’t on our diet and let our kids have way too many sugary drinks and slices of cake and struggled mightily with baths and bedtime because we got home late.
It was a fun day, but it was not an easy day.
While we were there, the comment was made that one of the former pastors would have never come to a party for a church member because he wouldn’t have wanted to show partiality.
As we talked about this conundrum, an older member of our church lamented the fact that she never got to know the former pastor’s wife. She said that his wife was perfectly pleasant and kind to everyone but had no close church member friends.
They were pastoring during a time where you didn’t let anyone in or show any partiality.
And while that is certainly a safe way to live, I don’t believe it’s the best way to live.
It’s certainly not the way that Jesus lived.
Jesus kept twelve men incredibly close.
They traveled together.
They did ministry work together.
They ate together.
They worked together.
They did life together.
Shouldn’t we learn from Jesus’s example of being a leader in ministry and having close friends?
1. It’s okay to show partiality.
Jesus chose twelve men to be his disciples.
He went out and found them and called them to him.
He chose them.
So it’s okay to choose people at church to be friends with even if you can’t be friends with everyone. Don’t form a clique and exclude people, but do find people that you can connect with.
Related Post: How to Make Friends When You’re a Busy Mom
These people will be there to weather the storms of not only life but ministry as well.
Because we all know that ministry life can be very stormy and having people in the boat with you makes the rough waters seem a little less scary.
And another thing. It’s okay to have close friends for seasons.
When we first moved to our current church, I made fast friends with a sweet lady.
We were both trying to get into better physical shape so we became accountability partners.
We jogged together three times a week, texted daily about food choices, and celebrated victories as we reached health goals.
We both met our health goals and reached a place of sustainability as life pulled us in other directions.
She went back to nursing school and bought a house to renovate that was completely gutted on the inside. I am homeschooling four kids and renovating a house myself.
Life stays crazy at our house.
We are still friends.
We text when we can, we see each other at church, and I’m sure we’ll circle back around to hanging out more when things calm down.
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It’s okay for friendships to change as life changes.
By being open to God putting you in people’s lives for a season or people in your life for a season, you are accepting that His plan is better than yours.
You’re allowing yourself to be used as He sees fit and to accept help as He sends it.
2. It’s okay to be vulnerable.
Jesus was vulnerable to his disciples.
He asked them to come and pray with him when he was facing death.
He knew he would be betrayed.
He lived life with these men and they saw him at his weakest and loved him anyway.
And I get it. Jesus at his weakest was still a million bajillion times stronger than me. But on the flip side of that… no one is expecting me to be the long-awaited Messiah.
And yes, being vulnerable to people at your church is risky.
To be vulnerable and live life with people means they’ll see you and your husband’s flaws.
They’ll realize that despite your complete surrender to a life of ministry, you still aren’t perfect.
And honestly, they’ll probably like you even more.
Because being friends with the pastor’s wife is kind of intimidating.
Yep, you’re intimidating.
You’re married to a man who has surrendered his whole life to ministry.
You hear more sermons and know more about the Bible than most of the people at your church.
You have a skill set that you use for ministry that is impressive.
So letting people see that you (and your husband) are human, can actually help people.
And I know.
Letting people in means giving people the opportunity to hurt you.
And that will probably happen (if it hasn’t already) if you’re in ministry long enough.
According to a 2017 survey by LifeWay Research, more than 50% of pastor’s wives “worry about being betrayed by people at church.”
Church members are sinners saved by grace just like the rest of us.
And while the pain of having friends betray you is certainly awful, we should expect no less.
Remember Jesus’s friend Judas?
3. You’re being watched.
Okay, that sounds a little creepy.
Here’s what I mean.
For me, as a stay at home, homeschooling mom of four, I am being watched by my kids.
They are learning what it means to have friends and how to be a friend from me and their dad.
They see that even when our house is a complete disaster, we still have people over for lunch after church on Sundays because hospitality is important to us.
They see that even when we are absolutely exhausted from 3 hours of sleep the night before due to a horrible combination of parenting and ministering, we still go to game night because fellowship is important to us.
They see how we babysit our friend’s kids for free even though 7 kids makes for a tough night.
They see how we take time to text back or answer calls even when we’re busy.
They know that every June I go on a girl’s trip with my best friend and that I come home rested and HAPPY, and after three days find that their dad is
barely hanging on doing his best.
When my husband was a youth minister, we frequently had parents come to us super concerned that their child didn’t have friends.
We’d talk to them, and they’d tell us about all the opportunities their kids had to make friends. They’d explain how much money and time they’d invested in extracurricular activities to give their child the chance to spend time with other kids.
But when we asked the parents about their friends, it quickly became obvious that they had none.
They’d mumble about some acquaintances from church or bring up a double date from two years ago.
Most of the time, the parents ended up saying that they were each other’s best/only friend.
We suggested they give up on forcing their child to make friends and instead start looking for a spouse for them.
This idea was ridiculous, but it made the point.
Our kids are going to imitate us.
If we show them that we cannot let people in because we are in ministry, they will grow up feeling like ministry life is a secret to be ashamed of and people cannot be trusted.
And you may not have young children in your home that are watching you, but I guarantee someone is.
There are younger (or older!) women in your church that are watching the way you do everything.
And while I can’t tell you the exact reason for their observation, I can tell you that it matters.
So choose carefully how much distance you keep between yourself and other people.
You may be modeling Christian friendships for others without even knowing it.
4. It’s okay to need people.
Jesus had the full power of God at his disposal and in his darkest hour, He brought his basic human friends with him to pray.
He could have called down angels to surround him and lift him up in prayer, but He wanted his friends with him.
During some of the roughest times of our ministry, God has blessed us with precious people from our church. These people were there and knew (most) of what was going on.
They prayed for us and brought us meals and kept our kids and listened to us cry and eventually helped us load our moving truck.
Related Post: How to Talk to Your Kids When Church Life is Ugly
They are still dear friends who we will always keep in close to our hearts and in our lives in spite of distance.
And here’s a sobering thought:
Your ministry is going to end in a place.
There will be a day that your husband is no longer a vocational minister and you are no longer a pastor’s wife.
You will be living that dreamy, retired life and will want to have friends. Where will these friends be found? Church?
If you keep everyone at an appropriate distance, that will never happen.
You will miss out on doing all the fun stuff that retired people do together because there will be no one in your life.
The other night after Bible Study we were talking with a group of friends. One of them mentioned a cruise they had been on, and another said, “We should all go on a cruise together.”
My husband has resisted going on a cruise for 15 years.
I have pushed and prodded again and again.
He has cited an unfounded fear of open water as the reason he would not consider a cruise.
Yet, after it was suggested that we go with this group of friends my husband, Mr. Open Water said, “Yeah. We should.”
When I asked how he overcame his fear of cruises, he said, “I’m still scared, but I want us to grow old with these people. I want to plant our lives with them. I want our kids to call them their aunts and uncles and have to explain that they aren’t actually their aunts and uncles. If getting on a boat is what it takes, then let’s go.”
Making friends can be scary, especially for pastor’s families.
It may cost you a day driving to the lake.
It may force you to get on a ship.
It may even cost you a job, but opening your life to live life together is important and worth it.
What do you think about the pastor’s wife having church friends? Are you a pastor’s wife that has friends in the church? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments!
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