This month is officially Pastor Appreciation month which was started by Focus on the Family. It is a time set apart when we are supposed to honor our pastors and let them know that we appreciate all they do throughout the year. I think it is a great concept and I can tell you as the wife of a pastor that it is well deserved. No matter if you agree with everything your pastor says or does I am pretty sure that he is working hard doing the things that need to be done to keep your church moving in some sort of direction. There are so many things that he does that you are probably totally unaware of and will never know. You may personally disagree with some things that are being done in your church or the way they are being done but I am pretty sure that he is not taking those decisions lightly. If he is at all like the pastor I am married to he is praying, agonizing, searching, and seeking to listen to God's voice as he leads you. He is trying to let go of his agenda and follow God and he is, above all, praying that you will follow. It is a job that doesn't allow you to relax or leave at the office. There are always people who need your help, your prayers, your counsel. It is truly all consuming. So please take some time this month to tell your pastor that you care. Give him some slack, some benefit of the doubt that he is a good guy who wants the best for you and your whole church.
That actually isn't what I wanted to write about today. I started this post thinking about several friends, former pastors, acquaintances that I have heard about lately. They all have two things in common, they are pastors and they are getting divorced or have already. It just seems like it is happening so much more often and to people you would never expect. People I grew up looking up to or people my age who seemed to have it all together. On the outside it appeared that they had this ministry thing all figured out. The divorce rate for pastors is now the same as the general population, over 50%. This epidemic doesn't seem to favor any type of pastor. They come from all different types and sizes of churches. I have been thinking about it alot. Why is this happening?
One recurring theme I am hearing is that it isn't necessarily infidelity or some major crisis that causes the marriage to fall apart. It is stress that builds over time and is never dealt with in the right way. In many of the situations I have heard of recently it is the wife who just decides she can't do it anymore. She is tired of the whole thing and just decides that she wants out. Several of the situations I am thinking of are ones where the children have grown and are on their own and the wife just decides it is time to leave. Before you start throwing your stones at these women, take a moment and listen to one share her heart. Listen to me as I let you know my side of the story.
No, I haven't left my husband and I'm not planning on it. I would be lying, though, if I told you I never thought about it. I would be lying if I told you I never fantasized about a life with a husband who went to work, did his job, and came home ready to just be with his family. A husband who has the weekends off and no meetings or hospital visits in the evenings. A husband who doesn't receive those phone calls right in the middle of a family event. I'm not talking about true emergencies or needs, but the ones where someone wants to be heard loud and clear. A husband whose job doesn't require his wife to be a silent partner. Just smile and do what we want from you but, by all means, don't have an opinion or feelings.
I'm not trying to whine and complain about being a pastor's wife. I love our church and appreciate the people. I try my best to see the good in everyone and to believe they want the best for my family. After fifteen years of being married to a pastor I am still trying to figure it out. Trying to be myself and use my gifts, not because I am the pastor's wife, but because I am a follower of Jesus Christ. Trying to seek God's best for me and my family without allowing the expectations of others to cloud my vision. It is a hard journey. And sometimes I am just tired and I want to quit. I don't want to try anymore. I look at all of the odds that are against us and I feel overwhelmed. Having a special needs child and facing the loss of a child put us in a category of people who face a divorce rate of 90%. It is a tough battle with that alone.
I can hear what you are thinking. I have heard it so many times when I pour my heart out to someone. They say with all sincerity and good intentions, "You knew Dean was going to be a pastor when you married him. You chose to be a pastor's wife." And to that I say; Yes, I knew Dean was going to be a pastor when I married him but did I know what that meant? Was I called to be a pastor? No, not at all! Was I called to love my husband and serve God? Yes, and that is what I try to do everyday. I love my husband. I will love him no matter what occupation he has now or in the future. I serve God, not because I am married to a pastor, but because I am His servant.
So, I say all of that to say this, Have you let your pastor and his wife know that you are praying for them, loving them, pulling for them? They are pulling for you and they need your support. They are fighting against the odds and many are losing.