Making the Most of Your Family Rhythm & 8 other Ideas to Help you Grow as Leader, Spouse & Parent

leader

Here are 9 posts I came across this week that challenged my thinking or helped me as a leader, preacher, husband and father. I hope they help you too:

  1. Six Questions Leaders Should Routinely Ask Themselves by Eric Geiger
  2. 15 Things No One Ever Sees Which Largely Determine A Pastor’s Success by Brian Dodd
  3. Making the Most of Your Family Rhythm by Parent Cue
  4. 9 Of The Best Communication Tips For Churches by Steve Fogg
  5. How Our Sex Life Manifests Our Soul Health by John Piper
  6. Why Referring to “Screen Time” May Not Be Helpful to You or Your Kids by John Charles Dickey Dyer
  7. The Remedy for Our Helicopter Parenting by Gloria Furman
  8. 10 Ways to Be An Exceptional Parent by Doug Fields
  9. 4 Ways a Church Benefits from Having a Healthy Pastor by Dan Carson

9 Things I Learned From Preaching About Homosexuality

homosexuality

Recently I preached on the topic of sexuality, specifically homosexuality, and what the Bible says about it. I’ll be honest, for me this sermon felt like a dark cloud waiting for me as I thought about our series through Romans. While I love preaching and don’t mind when people disagree with me, this topic feels different in our culture.

Let me be vulnerable for a minute. This topic is one reason it took me so long to preach through Romans. Sadly, one reason is because of fear of what people would think of me and our church. The other is because I didn’t know if I could talk about it in a way that didn’t make me sound like a jerk. I’m convinced if I had preached this sermon two years ago, the tone would have been radically different, and that grieves my heart to think about what I used to sound like, but also grateful for the work of God in my heart.

Now that I’m done with that confession, I hope you’re still reading.

If you are a pastor, you should preach on this topic. If you will, here are nine things I learned that you should keep in mind:

1. Your people are curious. If you’re a pastor, you get the question, “What do you believe about homosexuality or gay marriage?” on a weekly basis. I know I do. People are curious. Most people think they know what Christians think, but most Christians aren’t even sure what they think. Why is there so much hate around this topic? Why do Christians treat this sin differently than others? Is that right? Did God make someone that way? Do I attend a gay wedding? How do I respond to a friend or child who says, “I’m gay”? All of these are questions they have.

2. Your tone matters as much as, if not more than, your content. Your content matters, so before you email me about that, it matters. A lot. You need to be clear and say, “This is what I think the Bible says.” In fact, as one friend told me, “Your church will remember your tone more than your content after this sermon”, and I believe that is true.

3. Your language and tone tells your church how to communicate it. Not only are you training your church what to believe about homosexuality, but you are also training them how to talk about it, what they will sound like. You are teaching them how to treat people in our culture that they disagree with. Christians are notoriously terrible at this. We post stuff on social media on a whole host of topics without ever asking, “How will a friend of mine who disagrees with me take this?” If you don’t have a friend who disagrees with you on homosexuality or some other closely held belief, that is a problem.

4. Your language and tone tell people who struggle with same sex attraction what kind of reaction they can expect from your church. This to me is one of the most important things about this entire topic and how to preach on it. Sitting in your church every week are people who love your church and are trying to love, or trying to figure out who God is, and they are wondering, “What do I do with these feelings? Do I talk about them in my small group? Can I ask my pastor about it?” You are telling them, “If you bring this up, here’s the reaction you can expect.” My hope is that my church will be a safe place to bring up this or any other struggle. It helped me to talk with friends who are gay and ask them about their story. How did people react? I also asked, “If you walked into a church and this topic was being talked about, what would you want to hear or not hear? How can I communicate what I think and not sound like a jerk?” These were incredibly helpful conversations.

5. It helps to preach through a book of the Bible. I don’t know if I would choose to preach on this topic if it wasn’t in a book of the Bible I was preaching through. In fact, I wouldn’t choose to preach on most topics, because like all pastors I have the topics I like to talk about, and those are usually ones that aren’t uncomfortable or things I’ve conquered in my life. That’s why preaching through a book of the Bible is so important. It makes you unable to skip things. I couldn’t just breeze over these verses. Also, it helps in prep. I knew for over a year that this topic was coming, so I was able to get articles, books and other resources to work through in preparation.

6. This is a gospel and worship issue. This topic is incredibly divisive for a number of reasons. It is a political battlefield as it relates to rights. (I think that’s a different topic, so when I preached on homosexuality, I stayed away from that.) It is also incredibly personal because most people are related to someone or are friends with someone who is gay. This is all about the gospel and worship. Here’s why: Is Jesus Lord and King? If so, then it matters what he says about this. If not, then we are back to exploring the gospel and what Jesus said. (And yes, Jesus talked about homosexuality, so don’t let someone tell you, “Jesus never mentioned homosexuality.”) Additionally, marriage is connected with the gospel throughout the Bible. Whenever we talk about it, we are talking about the gospel.

7. As passionate as you are about homosexuality being a sin, be that passionate about greed, gossip and adultery being a sin. Yes, I believe that the Bible calls a homosexual relationship a sin. I don’t think struggling with same sex attraction is a sin, just like being tempted isn’t a sin. Acting on that temptation is a sin. Getting drunk, ruling your life, trying to control your world, gossip, letting the opinion of others drive your life, being a workaholic, finding your identity in anything other than Jesus, the Bible calls all of those sins that Jesus died for. Yet Christians don’t put up a sign about that when they protest. If you are going to talk about this and be passionate, as so many are, be just as passionate about those committing adultery and being greedy as well. The Bible puts them all together. In fact, when Paul lists homosexuality in Romans 1, he also lists more than 10 other sins with it.

8. Think through redemption for someone in light of this topic. I’d love to say I have a clean answer on this, but I don’t yet as I’m still thinking and praying through it. Now that gay marriage is legal and happening more and more, what does redemption look like? What happens for the lesbian couple who has kids and they are rescued by Jesus? But if you are a pastor, you need to start wrestling through that and thinking about what gospel redemption looks like for those in gay marriages. In the same way that this conversation in our culture is becoming more and more complex (as letters continue to be added to LGBTQIA), this idea of redemption will become more complex.

9. Get over your fear. Maybe you aren’t afraid. If you aren’t afraid when you step into the pulpit to preach on homosexuality, you are probably going to sound like a jerk. Maybe not, but probably. If you are afraid, get over it. Pray through it, talk with friends, your elders, study up and get on stage and preach.

How to Figure out God’s Will

God's Will

Every time you say yes to something, you say no to something else.

This truth has had an enormous impact on how I live my life, how I make decisions, how we do our calendar as a family and how I lead Revolution Church.

But how do you know what to say yes and no to? That’s the most common question I get from someone who has read my book or has heard me say this in a talk. Honestly, it’s different for each person.

Too often we focus on what we want to do in the next day, week or month and then make a decision based on that. Let me frame it a different way for you: What kind of person do you want to become in the next month? In the next half year? One year from now, who do you want to be?

Will this involve doing something? Yes, but it changes the context.

For example, if a year from now you want to be closer to Jesus than you are today, a stronger disciple, then you will make the choice to say yes to community, yes to serving in your church, yes to reading your Bible, and yes to inviting people to church. That will then determine what you say no to.

Often we hope that something will happen. We will simply become kinder, more generous, thinner or smarter without putting in the work or even be willing to make a choice towards something. If you want to become a person who is known for ________, then you will have to make decisions for that to happen. A wish and a hope are not enough.

Take your marriage or another relationship. What if six months from now that relationship was stronger? It would mean that what you are doing right now would have to change. You would need to make more of an effort, you would have to say yes to giving time and energy to that relationship and saying no to something else (ie. golfing, sleeping in, working too late).

We often think we have no power over where our life goes, what our marriage becomes, the relationship we have with God or how kind we are. Yet we do. Every day we make decisions that get our life somewhere.

Here’s the problem: we never sit down to ask, Where do I want to end up?

9 Keys for Your Church to Reach More Men

how your church can reach more men

In most churches today, as has been true for the last few decades, it is made up of more women and children, than men. Yet, in most churches, it is still the men who lead and make decisions.

When we started Revolution Church and we started with the idea that the target of our church would be 20-40 year old men. Last year when we did our yearly church survey, we were 49% men, 51% women, and the average age of our church is 28 ½.

Our church isn’t that unique. Most churches plants are filled with younger people, but what we have learned over the years is how to reach men. This won’t surprise you:

  1. Reaching men is different than reaching women.
  2. Most churches are set up to reach women.

According to Focus on the family:

  • Did you know that if a child is the first person in a household to become a Christian, there is a 3.5 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow?
  • If the mother is the first to become a Christian, there is a 17 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow.
  • But if the father is first, there is a 93 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow.

We know this to be true, we know the impact a father has on the life of a family. Many people have their view of God tied up with their view of their earthly father. We talk about the father wound and the impact a father has on us. Yet, many churches have simply chosen not to reach men.

Companies have figured this out and largely market to 18 – 35 year old men. Are they neglecting women? No. The reality is that most women like a lot of what men like when it comes to marketing, but the reverse is not true. Churches need to learn from this.

Having a target

Every time I talk with pastors or Christians and say we have a target as a church, I get interesting questions. The reality is, your church has a target. The style of music, dress, what time church is, what kind of building you have, what ministries you have and don’t have.

How do you know if you are hitting your target?

  1. Who comes to your church?
  2. Who gets baptized?
  3. What comments or questions do you get?
  4. My favorite comment is the one I hear from a wife all the time: I wasn’t so sure about this church, but Revolution is the only church my husband would come back to, so here we are.

Here are 9 things you can do to start reaching men and see impact in the lives of people, families and your city:

  1. Think about men when it comes to the atmosphere, name of your church, structure and songs. Most churches are filled with pastel colors, flowers everywhere. Why? Women designed it. Not a bad thing, but it won’t appeal to men. One other thing that I think is important when it comes to thinking through the lens of men (and women) is preaching once a year on relationships, marriage, what it means to be a man or a woman. Our culture has so many questions, so many thing are unclear to our culture on these topics that people are wondering.
  1. Preach to men. Most churches, the win for men is to stop looking at porn. While porn is destructive and pervasive, every man is not looking at it every day. There are more things a man struggles with or has questions about. Men in a sermon tend to want logic, clarity and action steps. Women tend to want more stories, feelings and emotions. While a sermon should strive for both, most pastors end up on one end of the spectrum and their church reflects that. I often think about men I know when I preach on a passage and try to discern questions they would have about it. When men leave a church, they tend to talk about if they were challenged to think in a new way, while women tend to talk about how they felt after a service. Not all are like this, but I’ve found this to be typical. With a sermon, what do you want people to do? How clear is the main idea?
  1. Have a clear win for your church. If your church doesn’t have a clear win, a clear vision, men will not sign up for it. Men want to know what is on the line, what impact something will make, why they need to show up. This especially matters to businessmen. This may take you out of your comfort zone, but learn the language of the men you are trying to reach. How do they talk? What books do they read? What is important to them?
  1. Show them how actions affect their legacy. Men are concerned with legacy, how things will end up, how they will be remembered. When you minister to a man, keep this in mind. Date night with his wife is not just something for today, but has an enormous affect on the marriages of his kids. Purity in his life will be passed on to his kids and grandkids. Whenever possible, show a man who what he is doing right now, good or bad, will affect his legacy. Men think about the future in a way women do not.
  1. Give them clear examples worth following. One of the reasons I didn’t want to become a pastor when I was 18 was I had never met a pastor I wanted to be like. Most men look at church leaders and see people they don’t want to be like. Or, they don’t see men they would want to become. This doesn’t mean every pastor needs to drink beer or have a tattoo, but when men follow another man, they are following someone they want to emulate. Put leaders in your church, in visible places who men would want to emulate. This will sound sexist but I’ll just say it. Men follow men. If you want to reach men, have strong male leaders in your church who exemplify Ephesians 5. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have women leaders (if you are a true complementarian church, you will have strong women leaders in your church), but many men who are pastors aren’t actually leading, they are just shepherding. And men know the difference. One thing that is important and few men can articulate this but I’ve found this to be true: men want a pastor who is working hard on his marriage, is honest about his marriage and has a marriage they want to emulate. Is this pressure on the pastor? Yes, but so is everything else about his life and ministry. Too many pastors do not have a passion filled marriage and the men who walk into their churches know it.
  1. Expect men to succeed. It is amazing to me what happens in someone’s life when we expect them to succeed or reach a goal. People pick up on our expectations and they have a way of reaching our expectations. If you expect men to lead family devotions, tell them, tell them you believe they can do it and give them resources to do it. If you expect men to reach something, tell them and help them get there. Too many churches seem to say, “We’re content if men just show up.” Or, “You should do ___” and then never give them any tools to accomplish this. Men will often not do something if they are afraid they won’t succeed. This is why men don’t lead at home, don’t pray with their wife, they are afraid of failing.
  1. Give men something to do. What do most men’s ministries tend to be? A male version of a women’s ministry. They are discussion focused, a large event with men listening or trying to get men to share. While women will share before they serve, men want to serve first. Give them something to do. Help them see how their actions can make an impact. Which leads to the next one…
  1. Help them see how their job is a mission field. This is something churches have failed in. Give them a missional theology of work. Not everyone should be a pastor at a church, yet most of the time a pastor meets a businessman he makes him feel guilty for not being a pastor.
  1. Ultimately: The reality for reaching men is they have a habit of becoming what we expect them to be. Whatever bar you have for men, they will reach it. Men are able to do impossible things in life, but the church has by and large held up a broom stick they can jump over and wondered why men didn’t come back.

How to Catch Your Breath in December

book

Right about now, if you are like most people, you are wondering how you will survive December and get everything done that you need to. The list seems endless. Parties, gifts, people, food, traveling, more food, TV specials, plays and recitals. The list is endless. People are coming and going. If you are in college, you have finals on top of everything else. This is on top of what you normally do in life.

Deep down, we know this isn’t the way we should live life and it feels wrong at Christmas, but stopping to catch our breath seems silly. Impossible. UnAmerican.

It isn’t and deep down, you also know that.

Here are 7 ways to catch your breath this month so that you head into 2015 not exhausted, but refreshed, ready to tackle the New Year:

  1. Schedule some down time. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I believe that if something is not scheduled, it does not happen. We do things out of habit and planning. Including wasting time watching TV or surfing the internet. Put into your calendar days and nights when nothing is happening. If you don’t, you will run from one thing to the next and not enjoy any of it. 
  2. Say no to something. If you schedule down time into your schedule, chances are you will have to say no to something. This is hard to do. We like to say yes as much as possible, not miss anything and be at all the parties and get togethers, but we can’t and shouldn’t. If we say yes to everything, we will miss the important things. We will miss moments with our kids, friends we really care about and miss out on memories.
  3. Have a food plan and stick to it. One of the areas that causes a lot of frustration for people come January 1st is how much they eat between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Don’t simply show up at the party and eat, have a plan. Here are a couple of ways: Take something healthy to the party. There won’t be a lot of healthy options, so bring one and eat it (think of the memory each year now when you and your friends laugh about the fact that you are the one who brings hummus to the holiday party). Another one? Don’t stand by the food. If you are away from the food, it makes it harder to overeat. The hardest one? Limit how much dessert you eat when you are at parties. And finally: get rid of leftovers as quickly as possible, even if you have to throw them out. 
  4. Go to bed at 10pm as often as possible. Sleep is one of the most overlooked but important areas of our lives. I know, you think you can survive on 4 hours a night and a Coffee IV drip plugged into your arm, but you can’t. You will crash and that crash will happen sometime soon and ruin your holidays or at least make a dent in January when you need get going for the new year. Get to bed. Don’t watch as much TV and if presents aren’t wrapped, put them in a bag and call it a win. 
  5. Don’t wait til January 1st to exercise. In January, health clubs everywhere will be packed. New Years Resolutions will be made to lose that holiday weight you put on. What if you didn’t wait until January to get into shape? Put it into your schedule now. If you workout regularly now, don’t quit over the holidays.
  6. Plan fun memory moments. Christmas is a great time to make memories. The tree, decorations, TV specials, buying and wrapping gifts, plays, the food, the songs. All of it creates moments with family and friends in ways that other times of the year do not. Don’t miss this because you are busy doing other stuff. Spend time reading to your kids, TiVo the Christmas specials and watch them, listen to Christmas music all month, take some special daddy (or mommy) dates with your kids. Make this time special and pack in the memories.
  7. Make your goals for the New Year. Don’t wait til January 1st to make your goals for the New Year. Notice, I didn’t say resolutions. Here is a simple process I use to help you set goals you will actually reach. Don’t make 10 goals this year, make one. What is the one thing that if you accomplished would make the biggest impact in your life and family? Do that.

[Image]

How to Set Goals for 2015 You Will Reach

book

Every year around this time, people begin thinking about the New Year and make resolutions. Sadly, many of these resolutions will not be reached. There is a way, a practice of creating goals you will not only keep but reach.

Here is a simple process I use each year to make goals and reach them:

  1. Call them goals, not resolutions. I want you to think of this as a goal, not a resolution. A goal is something you are working towards, with a destination in mind. It creates all kinds of sports analogies that I think help us in our mind.
  2. Look back before you look forward. One mistake I see a lot of people make when it comes to their goals is they don’t look back and celebrate. Often, our year was not as bad as we think it was. What did God do in the last year? How has God worked, blessed, challenged and sharpened you in the past year? I think an important part of setting goals is celebrating what has already happened (and sometimes lamenting missed opportunities). But, then you get to move forward.
  3. What is the one thing you want to accomplish this year? The last thing is choose one thing, not 15 goals for 2015. Will you accomplish more than one goal this year? Probably, but one of the things many people do that sabotages them is they pick too many things to reach for. What is the one thing, if you accomplished it would make the biggest impact in your life? That’s the one thing you need to do. What if you accomplish this by April? Then set another goal. Two years ago my one goal was writing a book. Six years ago is was losing 100 pounds. Both of those goals took over one year to complete, so it rolled over, but they happened. Choose one thing and only one thing and work until it is done. Is it getting out of debt? Going back to school? Starting a business? Mending a relationship? Do that one thing and then move forward. 

[Image]

Lighten Up

book

I have a confession: I have high expectations for everything. For myself, my church, what I do, my family, the things my family does.

Because of this, I work hard at what I do, but I also expect others to work hard at what they do.

Which leads to, higher stress.

Let me give you an example.

When I go on vacation with my family, we make plans on things to do just like every family. Places to go, places to eat, activities, etc.

When we do this, I’m hoping that our family will make some fun memories and have a good time together. When that activity or plan does not live up to my expectations, my stress and anxiety goes up.

When this happens, I actually miss the memory that is taking place.

The lesson: lighten up. Take the moment as it comes.

Your life won’t end if things don’t go as planned.

Your kids won’t end up in counseling simply because a birthday party wasn’t perfect.

Your marriage won’t fall apart because of a failed date night.

These “failures” simply become part of the lore of your family and life. They become the stories you will tell one day and laugh about.

Remember that time…

So, lighten up and start creating the stories you’ll tell for years to come.

[Image]

Being a Pastor’s Wife

Pastor's wife

Many churches (and pastors for that matter) do not know what to do with pastor’s wives, how to treat them, what role they play or how important they are. It is a hard role to live in and stay in. Everyone has a lot of their own expectations of what the wife of a pastor should be like, yet, they are all different.

While Revolution (and myself) has struggled just like every other church to figure this out, I believe Katie and I have figured some things out that we have put into place which will prove to be invaluable in the future. While this is not exclusive to pastors, any leader in a church and for that matter, any husband can do better in understanding their wives and how to engage them.

Below are 6 things Katie and I have learned that I hope will be beneficial for you:

  1. Pastor Your Wife as Much as You Pastor Your Church
  2. Without Her, You Fall Apart
  3. What Role a Pastors Wife Plays in the Church
  4. Spiritual Warfare in the Home
  5. “Just” a Wife & a Mom
  6. Handling the Loneliness

Being a Pastor’s Wife: Handling the Loneliness

Pastor's wife

Many churches (and pastors for that matter) do not know what to do with pastor’s wives, how to treat them, what role they play or how important they are. It is a hard role to live in and stay in. Everyone has a lot of their own expectations of what the wife of a pastor should be like, yet, they are all different.

While Revolution (and myself) has struggled just like every other church to figure this out, I believe Katie and I have figured some things out that we have put into place which will prove to be invaluable in the future. While this is not exclusive to pastors, any leader in a church and for that matter, any husband can do better in understanding their wives and how to engage them.

Over the next month, I’ll be sharing some of the things we’ve learned that I hope will be beneficial for you.

If you missed them, you can read Pastor Your Wife as Much as You Pastor Your ChurchWithout Her, You Fall ApartWhat Role a Pastors Wife Plays in the ChurchSpiritual Warfare in the Home and “Just” a Wife & a Mom.

Being a pastor or a pastor’s wife is a unique role.

Besides the expectation that people have as to what they should be like and do, there is the relational aspect that is difficult.

For a pastor and his wife, friends are hard to come by. For a few reasons: some people want to be friends with a pastor or his wife so they can be close to the power, they like the feeling that comes from being close to the center, they want the inside track or information. Many people expect a pastor and his wife to be at every birthday party, baby shower, wedding shower, or anniversary party (and bring a gift)!

I remember one person who got mad and left our church because I didn’t show up to help him move. Even though he had never asked, he was angry I just know he was moving and come help.

That is not a joke.

Every person has had someone stab them in the back, lie to them or break confidence and share something secret with a group of people. For a pastor and his wife, put on the expectation that people have that they will be perfect, not struggle in their marriage, not struggle in parenting, not have doubts and you see how this can be difficult. I’ve seen pastors get fired for ridiculous things they shared with an elder they thought was a friend. I knew one pastor who was fired because his wife talked to an elders wife about a struggle in their marriage, that quickly came before the elder board and he was let go. Mind you, this was not a disqualifying issue.

Many pastors and their wives decide, loneliness is better than the pain.

It isn’t. In the long run, it is harmful.

When we started Revolution, everyone we got close to seemed to end up leaving the church. Church planting can be incredibly lonely. We reached out to other pastors and pastors wives and got the cold shoulder. So we pushed through.

In our Acts 29 assessment, our assessment team told us, “You don’t have friends. You need to stop holding back and start trusting people again.” Mostly that was on me and my inability to deal with past hurts, but it was a wake up call.

This isn’t without risk. It takes wisdom and time.

You don’t just share your hurts with anyone. You must be careful and wise about who is your accountability partner.

I’m an introvert and so I don’t have a ton of friends and can be content with a few close friends. Katie is an extrovert and so I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone to make sure we have time with friends and are making that a priority. Men, make sure you are encouraging your wife to get time with other women. Get babysitting, give her space to have hobbies and fun. Encourage her in this way.

Being a Pastor’s Wife: “Just” a Wife & a Mom

pastor's wife

Many churches (and pastors for that matter) do not know what to do with pastor’s wives, how to treat them, what role they play or how important they are. It is a hard role to live in and stay in. Everyone has a lot of their own expectations of what the wife of a pastor should be like, yet, they are all different.

While Revolution (and myself) has struggled just like every other church to figure this out, I believe Katie and I have figured some things out that we have put into place which will prove to be invaluable in the future. While this is not exclusive to pastors, any leader in a church and for that matter, any husband can do better in understanding their wives and how to engage them.

Over the next month, I’ll be sharing some of the things we’ve learned that I hope will be beneficial for you.

If you missed them, you can read Pastor Your Wife as Much as You Pastor Your ChurchWithout Her, You Fall ApartWhat Role a Pastors Wife Plays in the Church and Spiritual Warfare in the Home.

I talk to many wives and Katie and I have had this conversation as well. In our culture, it is seen as a step down to be a wife and a mom (in some Christian circles it is seen as a step down if a wife works, but that’s another post for another day). I have watched people ask Katie what she does and for awhile she felt embarrassed to say she was a wife and a mom. As if someone who is a wife and a mom is incapable of doing anything else with their lives.

Or, as someone asked me, “Why would Katie give up her dreams to be a wife and a mom?” I think that question is the crux of it all. To be a wife and a mom requires a sacrifice, a sacrifice that I do not fully understand, but do my best to fully appreciate and hold up.

A woman who pours into her husband and kids does make an enormous sacrifice. They are women who don’t simply buy into “doing whatever they want” but seeing how their gifts can be used for an eternal perspective.

How do I know that? If Katie had stayed in school and finished her math/engineering degree (another misnomer is that if you stay home you must be stupid, think again), we either don’t get married or we get married and live in Missouri while she finishes school, which means I don’t get my master’s or go on staff at the church I worked at in Maryland. This changes the complete trajectory of our lives.

There have been several times in my marriage (maybe not enough) that I’ve looked at Katie and said, “Thank you for sacrificing your dreams to be part of a dream of raising our kids for them to make in impact. Thank you for supporting me and sticking by me to get Revolution off the ground.” I always joke with Katie that her house will be bigger in heaven but I am now convinced that she will also get to live in the gated community while I live in the slums. Still in heaven but she will have to invite me over for a visit. 🙂

So, the next time you see a woman who is “just” a wife and a mom know that she is holding onto a bigger, eternal dream. That is what is driving her. Husbands, do not let anyone say your wife is “just” a wife and a mom.

And, always, always tell your wife thanks for the work she does. Without Katie, what I enjoy and love about life does not exist. That’s a perspective I don’t want to forget.

Does every pastor’s wife do this? To be a successful pastor’s wife, should you not work?

The answer is that it depends. For many, they won’t. I also don’t want it to sound like the only role a wife and mom can play is staying at home. Many, many women make a big impact while working outside the home.

One thing that makes pastoral ministry unique is that many churches want the pastor’s wife involved in ministry. For our church, we have always said a pastor’s wife should be like any other Christian woman. She should be encouraged to use her gifts, talents, be plugged into an MC and serve as she can (based on the stage of life she is in). That changes as life changes. Because ministry can be an all consuming job, it can be difficult for a pastor’s wife to work outside the home. Not impossible, but difficult.

For many pastor’s families, the need for money and security is high. Most churches think it is important keep their pastor’s poor (which is a sin on the church’s part), or a pastor has school debt and the need for extra income is there. If this is the reason for a pastor’s wife working, I think a pastor needs to educate his elders and his church about his needs, how much a pastor should get paid and move towards that. Many elders struggle with this because it is hard to gauge what to pay a pastor. One year as we were discussing raises at Revolution, an elder said we shouldn’t give anyone a raise because no one in our economy was getting raises. I pointed out, that may be true, but our church was growing, giving was going up and we were asking more and more of our staff. Elders board sometimes have to separate their situation to be a good elder and this can be hard.

In the end, finances and church staffs are a sticky situation. But one a healthy church must navigate and one a healthy pastor’s family must walk through.

The Other Side of the Coin

There is another side of this struggle that I think is true for all married women, but in particular for a pastor’s wife. Many pastor’s wives have poured their entire adult life into their husbands ministry. Helped him get through seminary, maybe helped him plant a church and possibly followed him to countless churches (since the average pastor stays at a church for 18 months). Because of this, many of her dreams, desires and talents are put on hold for the good of his ministry and what the church needs. Because of moving around, a feeling of loneliness and disconnectedness sets in, which we’ll look at in a future post.

Husbands and pastors have a responsibility to help their wife find their talents, gifts, what fires them up and help them do that. It doesn’t mean a business or work, although according to Proverbs 31 that can be a good thing. It does mean setting aside some of his passions and desires for her so that he can serve her. Many men at this point will talk about their calling and how that super cedes everything. True on one hand, debatable on the other. Your first calling is your wife and kids, and then your ministry. Many men because of being a Type A leader get this backwards and their wife feels the pain of this.

My goal with this post and all the posts in this series is to educate a church about the unique struggles that a pastors wife has. There might even be some education to a pastor about what his wife is going through as some can be oblivious to this. I also hope to create some good conversations among couples about what it looks like to have a healthy marriage and be in ministry.