One of the challenges ministry wives face is that when things are going badly for our husbands at church, often we can’t directly respond. We see the toll it takes when he drags in after another difficult board meeting; we encourage him when he gets blindsided by another petty critic. And as Karl Vaters recently wrote for Christianity today, those snapshots our husband bring home can be harder on us than on them. Where our husbands can be proactive in handling conflict, we can only react. And while they get to walk through the process of reconciliation, we only hear about it secondhand. How can we respond when the offense is against our husbands, not us?
- Acknowledge your own hurt. It may not be your job on the line, but challenges to your husband’s leadership still feel personal. Sometimes we try to dismiss secondary pain, saying things like, “It wasn’t about me, so I should just let it go.” But stuffing them into a closet doesn’t make feelings go away. In times of church conflict, we need to identify what we feel and why we feel it. “I feel threatened and insecure because I’m afraid my husband is going to lose his job.” “I feel angry because it upsets me to see my husband hurt unfairly.” “I feel betrayed that people can be nice to my face, then gossip and complain about my husband behind his back." Acknowledging our hurts brings them into the light so we can examine them, work through them, and heal.
- Walk through the process of forgiveness. We may not get the chance to be on the forefront of reconciliation, but we can still walk through our own process of forgiveness. Forgiveness is an essential tool for ministry longevity. I’ve written more about the process of forgiveness at my blog, but at the heart of forgiveness is accepting Christ’s payment as sufficient for the offenses committed against us and trusting him to heal our hurts. We don’t have to demand payment or retribution when Christ has already paid it all.
- Choose blessing over bitterness. One of the great dangers ministry wives face is the temptation to give in to bitterness and cynicism. Satan wants us bitter—focusing only on the bad and viewing the church through skeptical, untrusting eyes. But there’s a way of escape: blessing is the antidote to bitterness. As God brings healing to our souls, we can choose to be channels of blessing. We follow Christ’s example in offering grace and mercy—even to those who have hurt us, wounded us, and betrayed us. We keep loving, not putting ourselves in jeopardy, but offering kindness and choosing to do good. Bitterness closes us off. Blessing opens us up so we can continue to experience God’s blessings as we pass them on.
About the author:
Leigh Powers is a pastor's wife, Bible study and devotional author, freelance editor, and mother of three from small-town West Texas. She is passionate about helping women find hope and healing by meeting God in his word. You can connect with Leigh on Facebook, Twitter, or follow her at her blog My Life. His Story (www.leighpowers.com).