Friday, February 22, 2013

3 Practical Ministry Tips

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Once upon a time..........actually, 135 weeks and 2 days ago I thought I heard God tell me to write a book for pastor's wives. Sitting in my backyard, I quickly jotted down notes and a simple outline of advice for ministry wives. I was so thoroughly convinced, that I then went about announcing my grand plan to everyone. 

This desire has turned into something different, but I believe that God gave me that little kick in the pants so that I would begin the process and educational research journey that I have been on for the last 947 days. I now know that I am a writer, have been paid for my writing and will continue to see where my love for words and the arranging of them will take me.

Still, the urge to assist young women in ministry life is strong in me and I will continue to encourage them and tell my ministry stories through this blog. Today I want to share some very practical ministry advice. A few things I wish I had been told before entering the odd and beautiful life of full-time vocational ministry. The first three.......

3 Practical Ministry Tips :


  • Keep family as first priority.
  • This seems like an obvious instruction. Of course our kids are first! But the choice will be faced again and again over the growing up years of your kids. You may start to hear the excuses in your head......"These people are in crisis, they need me right now."......"The kids will understand that it is for God."......."Just this once."....."A Christmas Eve service for hundreds is more important than a home evening for the kids."....."The kids understand why we cannot afford that."......"What will the church think?"
    The growing up years are short. The years of serving your congregation are long. If anyone can understand that they must sacrifice some time with you, it should be the church.

  • Cultivate outside friendships.
  • Yes, you can be close friends with people who attend your church, even though earlier generations taught us otherwise. We do not have to keep ourselves separate and should be able to be real and honest with the people we worship among.
    BUT, outside friendships are vital too. Get to know other women in your community through clubs, sports or schools. Spend time in NON-WORKING venues with the other ministry women and un-churched women in your city. You need and deserve friendships that have nothing to do with your ministry. And the ultimate motive for these friendships cannot be that you will help get them saved. Do I need to tell you that a women's Bible Study does NOT count as outside social fun? 

  • Put aside money for late in life. Begin NOW!!! In our idealistic ministry bubble, when asked what we were doing for a retirement plan, we answered, "We will never retire from ministry. Ministry is for life and God will take care of us." Umm, if we could change anything in our ministry life, it would be our naive assumption that financial planning was not needed. We have since seen that the phrase "God will take care of us" often translates into "the church will take care of us." and that is not cool. So I have become very knowledgeable about the processes of food stamps and county-provided health care in recent months. Not what I was picturing as a young and idealistic ministry wife 25 years ago.

    Open a savings account today. Yes, God will take care of you by giving you the wisdom to listen to this advice! Haha!

That will do for today. The whole look and feel of ministry has changed a lot over the last decades and it is important that we are constantly reviewing and upgrading the expectations we place on ourselves and those who serve God around us. 


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21 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness, your brilliance and spiritual gems are in full vigor once more- You must be feeling better! Wielding those words well, lady. As always succinctly stated. One of the many reasons why you are my hero...er, heroine. ;)

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  2. Wow. Did I ever tell you that that was exactly my first idea for writing a book? We must collaborate on this project someday. I kind of gave up the book idea also, but realized that there are so many women in need of our years of experience and life lessons who are not necessarily pastor's wives...and perhaps God wants us (at least me) to be open to that reality. I had to accept the fact that today's ministry wives are a lot freer than we were years ago...they view their position much differently than we did for the most part...I guess I've realized that I've become somewhat of a dinosaur in that department...but God still has a plan to use what He has invested in us in new ways. I'm rambling...visiting with the kids...playing silly games and being a mom and grandma. I wish we could get together and compare notes someday...it could be a best seller... Good night. I've definitely rambled too long. Loved your thoughts in this post. I so agree with everything you said.

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    1. Hey Pam, yes it is a different time and that's one reason I no longer feel the urge to give my attention to a book specifically for PWs. But people are still people and the basic truths I had in mind will still work in another way, hopefully to set some people free.
      Our accumulated wisdom and lessons from doing it wrong do still have value, I'm convinced of that. Though I do have the days when I just want to float away and hide on an island. Which I actually would do if I had the $$. Ha!

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    2. see you on the island! Or out in the woods in my little cabin that I still intend to build.... Who needs $$? Maybe we just have to do it!

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  3. So, so, true. May every young PW out there PAY ATTENTION!

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    1. Thank you Niki, please feel free to pass it on.

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  4. Good advice. Being a PW is a weird life. After 20+ years still not sure what I think of it. Fortunately, we've recently made the transition out. But your advice is well-placed. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I am convinced that there is no other husband-wife job quite like it Julie. The boundary between person, belief, family and job is just so fuzzy!

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  5. This was very well said. I married into a family of pastor's and the burdens (some unspoken and most rather silly) they are/were under was painful to watch. All feel isolated and living life in a fishbowl and even more so for the PK's. I'm so glad to see you point these three things out. Being the wife of a higher ranking military guy, I know the isolation that can creep in if you feel you must separate yourself for the good of the church, the husband, the career. But really, we must be real. Being real, whether as a pw, pk, or military spouse or kid is what we need. What the world doesn't need is more seemingly stuck up religious folks afraid to be who they really are. Thanks for your input! Enjoy your posts!

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    1. Whoops, pastors, not pastor's.

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    2. Thanks Rhonda, (Don't you wish comments had an edit button?Ha) I can imagine some of the same pressures in a military family. Being real helps everyone relate and make an even better difference in the lives of others.
      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

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  6. Hey Susie, Great words of wisdom for any lady, PW or no. Although I don't go to to a church building, I feel like what I do is a ministry: manifestation of the words God has spoken over my life. And These three areas are definitely places where there is constant pressure to conform, or give more, or blur a boundary. Thanks for the reminder that I have permission to take care of what's important. :)

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    1. Thanks Rebecca, the pleasure to conform in these 3 areas comes from outside and inside unfortunately. Some churches do not place any undue pressure on their leadership, but we do it to ourselves, passed on from past generations or our own silly rules. And God is usually loving us rules or no rules.
      Thanks for coming by Rebecca!

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  7. Good advice. It can be a lonely post and relationships, and (savings!) are wise.

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    1. Hi Marcia, thanks for coming by! The isolated life of a missionary family has got to be one of the toughest. You know from experience. I am enjoying your blog and you already know how much I loved your book!
      S

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  8. Those are fantastic points! After twenty years married to a pastor and most of those in the ministry, I concur...I just stink at #2. Sigh. On the other hand, I am getting better at it. Living in the sticks just does not provide one with a lot of opportunities.

    On another note, I started a blog called "The Irreverent Reverend's Wife". It's ludicrous ravings from a Reverend's wife. http://theirreverentreverendswife.wordpress.com/

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    1. Love your title, must check it out later today! Thanks for coming by!

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  9. I'm not a pastor's wife, but I overdo church ministry work. I'm helping to plan a retreat for one church, I'm helping with a capital campaign for my church, and I volunteer for Worldwide Marriage Encounter, besides serving as a parish library volunteer. I appreciate your tips and will add another for me: "Say NO sometimes." We're not able to do it all.

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    1. YES, learning to say "No" is as big lesson to grasp. Very hard to be strong when we feel responsible for so much. Actually, I could do an entire post on this one bit of advice, thanks for reminding me Susan!
      Susie

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