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Monday, April 15, 2013

Observations of the American Pastor Couple -- (Guest Post by Rita Hanon)


We have been watching all of you.  And we are encouraged. 

A lot of polls and articles in Christian magazines report that the pastor in the USA is overworked, over tired, and on the brink of burn out.  These facts may all be true of some or even many, but often these articles paint a picture of the pastor couple that is full of negatives.  We see a very different picture that is full of positives and promise.   

Perhaps we just see a different kind of pastor in the retreat setting.  I don’t think there is a way to “poll” the answer to that statement.  We can say this; the couples who come are from over 93 denominations, 35 states, and 10 countries.  They are all ages and have shepherded a congregation from 1 month to 50 years. 

The variety is huge – the commonality is simple. Because they are called to serve, by a God who knew full well what He was doing when He called them, and how they could not do any of it without Him; there is a vast difference between the pastor who is shepherding the flock and the person who is (or thinks he is) in command.  So that makes it simple – a pastor knows he needs time away – a person who feels he is in control has no need to get away to talk to God. 

So the following is what we observe:

  • Pastors know that they're second in command – it is God’s church – no one else’s
  • Pastors are more polite than any other “people group” we have every dealt with
  • Pastors are more grateful and express that gratitude honestly and humbly
  • Pastors have a drive to learn, read, excel, and grow that is amazing
  • Pastors are often very critical and aware of their own shortcomings 
  • Pastors feel torn between serving the church and their family  
  • Pastors often expect their spouses to understand more than those spouses can
  • Pastors receive more direct, confrontational criticism from those they are trying to serve, knowing full well that these critics cannot be "fired" and simply replaced by "hiring" another parishioner
  • Pastors' wives are resourceful, patient, and creative
  • Pastors' wives often feel that they do not fit the “mold” of Pastor’s Wife
  • Pastors' wives are often lonely and long for close women friends
  • Pastors' wives are protective of their husbands and children
  • The very best thing you can give a pastor’s wife is time alone with her husband
  • Both pastor and spouse are sleep deprived
  • Each longs to laugh, be prayed for, sleep, be cared for, and hear from God

When the pastor couple *catches up on their sleep* and begins to hear God’s still small voice for their own lives, then we see amazing changes: 
  • Couples can see each other through God’s eyes instead of their own veil of tribulations.  
  • Being separated from the church offers an opportunity for a distant, honest viewpoint that is more ready for solutions from God and not men
  • Each person can begin to grasp how much God loves them; just as they are – just where they are – just who they are
  • The place of Holy space gives grace to every face

One of the days during our retreats we give each couple some questions to talk about with each other: 
1.  What do you believe God has uniquely gifted you to do?
2. Tell me, [in the last 6 months] about what activities that you have been engaged in have stoked your passion?
3.  Are you in a place where you can do more of what stokes your passion?
4.  If you are not, what do you need to do to change this?

One pastor wrote that when they got these questions, his wife easily shared the answers to these questions while he felt numb and unable to even identify what he believed God had gifted him to do.  Through the rest of the retreat and on into the next 6 months this pastor wrestled with this dilemma.  They talked and prayed and finally received an answer that not only let him stay in his senior pastor role in his church, but also find a way to have others take over so much of the routine things that bogged him down, giving him the freedom to do what God has equipped him to do. 

Another pastor’s wife called our retreats, “A way to push God’s reset button”.  She suggested that you run to your Bible and read Psalm 139 to grasp how much God really does love you. 

So we see clergy a little different from the polls.  We see people trying to change the “bad stuff” in their lives and focus in on the wonder and high privilege of serving the God who loves them, by taking time to ask Him for His help.   Sometimes we get to see Him answer their prayers -- the look on their faces when they get those answers is priceless.   We also are privileged to hear about how God called each one into ministry.  Each couple unique – each call unique.  It gives us a view of the pastorate in America that is encouraging, hopeful and gives reason to pray for all of the churches and their shepherd-leaders. 

If you are a pastor – thank you. 
If you are a pastor’s spouse – thank you.
If you are in a congregation – thank you for praying for your pastor and spouse.  

Some couples have only attended a retreat once; others come back for a second or third go-round.  Each retreat is 5 days so we really get to know you. They are free of charge, so there is no excuse for you to delay taking the time away with Jesus.  

-rh- 

Dwayne and Rita Hanon founded the Cedarly Pastor's Retreat Center, and later Broomtree Ministries, answering God's call to provide pastoral couples a place to recharge and reconnect with God and each other. My husband and I have had the pleasure of attending both retreats under their leadership. I'll never forget hearing Dwayne speak to our congregation, reminding us that God commands us to rest, and for good reason! If you've never taken a retreat or sabbatical, you should -- might I suggest once every 7 years?

-rg-

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pastor's Wife Monthly Link-Up

Again, I'm just making this up as I go, people!

I'm rarely one who is good at anticipating my schedule. I generally underestimate how long something will take, and then my plans and procrastinations band together in all out war for my time.

Such is the case this week. Really, any 2nd Monday/Tuesday in a month, I am swallowed by a project. So, sounds like the best time each month to open this blog up to you instead.

Let's share our ideas with each other this week -- I've included the April link-up script at the bottom. Any posts from April that you really poured your heart into or otherwise believe would be of interest to pastors' wives, link them up here! The link script will be open all month.

Right now, it's fine to link up more than one! There's room for that, believe me!

Please remember to visit and comment on the blogs of your sister PW's, especially if you participate in the link-up! I know they'll appreciate connecting with you and would love to hear your encouragement.

-rg-

Friday, April 5, 2013

PW Blog Round-Up, Link-up, & Speak-Up Vol. 2 #3: Tales from the Fishbowl

Earlier this week: "Those Few Sheep": Pastors' Wives in Small Churches
All this month: The Pastor's Wife Post (Link-up Time!)


Ultimate Blog Party 2013This is a special edition of our weekly pastor's wife blog round-up, welcoming guests from the 5 Minutes for Mom ultimate blog party. If this is your first time visiting, welcome! To everyone else, welcome back! (And yes, I can write a sentence without the word, "welcome!" but what's the fun in that? You might feel unwelcome!)

Quickly reviewing what this blog is all about -- Sometimes it's lonely being a pastor's wife. It can also be very lonely blogging about being a pastor's wife. You can feel like you're talking to air, and might even resonate with the chorus to an old Neil Diamond song (I Am, I Said).

If either of the above fits you, I invite you to pull up a chair, and I'll do the same. Because neither of us is alone, and we all need each other!

This blog offers resources and encouragement, as well as several ways to connect with other pastors' wives. We have a twitter list, a blog directory, a brand spanking new monthly link-up, and also a list of recently updated blogs over there. --------------------------------------------->

You're welcome to connect with us in as many ways as you'd like. It doesn't matter if you regularly blog about church or not. It's just a great way to meet other pastors' wives online. (For more information on the various ways to list your blog, please see this page.)

I also post a discussion topic on Mondays (this week's topic for pw's in small churches really struck a chord). On Fridays I do a blog round-up, like this one. And again, please don't miss our brand new monthly link-up!

Eventually, I'd also like to begin featuring interviews with other pastors' wives. Here are some other topics we'll be discussing in the future.


So on to this week's blog round-up...

 Last week, I stumbled upon Pastor's Wife, Conversation Killer from Christine Hoover of Grace Covers Me. I shared it with some other pw friends of mine, and we had quite the laugh!

I also found some other fun topics about being a pastor's wife that I've listed below. (Many of them are older posts, but possibly new to you?) 


Meet the Pastors' Wives, from Teri Lynne Underwood

Busted by the Preacher Man a silly post I wrote a long time ago!

Being a Pastor's Wife, from Jennifer Faulk

If you've written a fun or informative post about being a pastor's wife, please share a link to that post in the comments. I'd love to read it. (I'm sure we all would!)


And if you don't have a story right now, that's okay, too. I'd love it if you just stopped in and said, "hello!" (Comments)

And finally, don't be a stranger! 

Dust off a bench and sit a while. Pick your favorite way(s) to connect and please come back to visit! We're also on facebook, pinterest, and google plus.

 (Oh, by the way, I'm Ramona. You can read more about me at my personal blog. In fact, here's my post from last year's blog party).
-rg-

Monday, April 1, 2013

"Those Few Sheep": Pastors' Wives in Small Churches


This is for all the pastors' wives in small churches!!! We often hear ourselves saying that it's not about numbers. Yet, in our hearts, it's hard to not look at numbers sometimes. Amen?

Others may sneer at our attendance figures, too, declaring publicly that we're insignificant or ineffective. Or, they may just declare it quietly in their thoughts, as they dismiss us and anything we may have to say.

David faced similar ridicule, too, right before he faced Goliath. In 1 Samuel 17 we cringe along with him, as his oldest brother scolds him:
 28 ...“Why did you come here? Who’s taking care of those few sheep of yours in the desert? ..." (NCV)
Ouch! But we all know better. We know the rest of David's story! And God know the rest of our stories, too.

My family's story goes something like this:

When we switched denominations, we found ourselves starting over. My husband served bi-vocationally before moving up to a full time position. The next logical step would have been higher up, not down.

After 13 years helping that church turn the next corner or two, we moved across the country to a ... wait for it... *smaller* church. Not the typical aim of a pastoral couple, and it wasn't always our aim either.

 It was tempting to stay at our previous church, bask in the accomplishments, and coast. It was also tempting to hold out there until we could find somewhere bigger to serve. But neither option was the best use of our gifts. (And believe it or not, the smaller church was a better financial decision for us than staying, but that's a whole other post!)

Though frustrating at times, I do love small churches. They have their own strengths and weaknesses. I believe it takes a unique set of gifts and callings to minister well in them, just as it does serving in a larger church or a mega-church. What works in one setting doesn't always work in the other, and vice versa.

The thing to remember is that small churches are small for a reason -- maybe they're in a really small town; maybe they have some challenges to overcome from past hurts or controversies. That takes time -- lots of it, to build trust and confidence in your ability to lead them.

At our previous church, a former colleague of my husband's told him to give the church three years to turn around; and if nothing happened, to leave. Honestly, we thought that was giving up too soon, and we were right.

The church did turn around, but it took seven years before people began to realize that he wasn't just another revolving-door pastor. It took that long to really start gaining trust. It took being there and walking people through their darkest hours.

I have more to say, but I'll end there for now. What about you? Are you in a small church? Do you love it or hate it right now?

-rg-

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