Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Unrealistic Expectations Put on the Minister's Family and How You Can Help

After spending numerous years in the ministry I have come to realize that people forget that missionaries, pastors, their wives, and children are just normal people like the rest of us.

Recently this was brought to my mind as someone I had tried to help was inadvertently hurt by something they misunderstood that I said. I didn't say anything hurtful, and my only intention was to help them, but sometimes these things happen. We all get misunderstood at times, and no one likes to be falsely accused.

When trying to explain myself to someone involved in the situation, they replied "Don't take it personally."

I didn't respond to the comment, but I felt like saying something to the effect--do you think pastors and their families are made of stone? Are we somehow cut out of a different piece of cloth than the rest of humanity that we don't get our feelings hurt, or when people don't show us the same sensitivity that they expect us to show them?

I acknowledge that to be in the ministry you must have thick skin. You can't take things personally, and you do have to learn to have a lot of grace with people. I think anyone who has been in the ministry for any length of time would acknowledge this. Most missionaries, pastors and their families are not serving the Lord for selfish motives. I would venture to say that most do what they do because they love God and want to please Him. They have a call on their lives, and are examples to the flock. There are qualifications of an elder and bishop which includes high standards for his family. We can not excuse bad behaviour and attitudes.

My point is this, try to remember that people in the ministry will disappoint you sometimes. They aren't "perfect" people with "perfect" families. Give them a little grace to be human. Forgive them when you feel overlooked--perhaps they had something on their minds that day, or have a burden that you don't know about.

Pray for them, and don't be afraid to approach them either if you feel they have offended you--most of the time when someone has asked me if I was offended by something they did or say I am genuinely surprised as I had no idea they felt that way or that they were feeling such things. A word in private can correct a lot of misunderstandings.

Try to have realistic expectations of what you think a missionary/pastor's wife should be. Let her be herself and don't expect her to run every ministry in the church that needs filled. We often to try to fill in the gaps because that is something we do as a help meet to our husbands--but unless the pastor's wife wants to the nursery coordinator, the Sunday school teacher, the Junior church leader, in charge of the woman's Bible study and soul winning ministries, the church custodian, bus driver, and church pianist (I think you get my point) don't dump these on her. Let her choose where she feels the Lord can best use her gifts. She has her hands full being a wife, mother, and in many situations a home school teacher. On the contrary, try to see a need and ask if you can help.

Sometimes people have said to me "Our church needs a youth ministry, or we need a junior church, or more women's ministries ....." and my husband will consider the requests and see if that is what the Lord is directing him to do, but more often than not, what they really are saying is that "you need to start a youth program, you need to start a woman's Bible study and prayer group, etc. "

How about coming to your pastor and saying, I think the Lord has put on my heart to start ..........you can fill in the blanks.  This would be music to his ears! And don't be discouraged if the pastor doesn't respond as enthusiastically as you think he should--maybe he needs time to consider and pray about it.

Recently a lady in our church asked my husband for some John and Romans so she could pass them out to her neighbors. This delighted Doug beyond measure. Nothing encourages a pastor or his family more when they see the congregation participating wholeheartedly in unity.

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