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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Book Review: Sacred Privilege by Kay Warren

As pastor's wives, certain struggles can be hard to admit.

That sometimes our marriages need work, too.

That depression and mental illness also affect us and our loved ones.

That criticism hurts.

That change is hard.

That we can struggle with finding our identity and our place in ministry.

That sometimes we just need a break.

In Sacred Privilege, Kay Warren honestly and vulnerably shares about all these struggles and more. Today we know Kay as wife of Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren, advocate for caring for orphans, those living with HIV/AIDS, and those coping with mental illness, as well as a nationally-known author and speaker in her own right. But Kay was once a young pastor's wife struggling with difficulty in her own marriage as well as the scars of childhood abuse, all while figuring out how to do life and ministry. She writes to pastor's wives as one who is in the trenches with us, reminding us that despite the burdens of ministry, serving in Christ's name is still a privilege.

Sacred Privilege is a book for the twenty-first-century pastor's wife. No dated advice about casseroles or lipstick here. Kay is real about the real struggles pastor's wives face today, offering biblical counsel and wisdom gained through her own experiences. The questions she deals with are questions I've asked and heard others ask as well, and I'm grateful that she checked writing a book for ministry wives off her bucket list.

I've got a variety of books for ministry wives on my shelf, but Sacred Privilege is going to the top of my list of books I recommend to new ministry wives and women looking for encouragement in their role as pastor's wives. Get it. Read it. You will be blessed.

Learn more about the book and download the discussion guide here.

About the author:
Leigh Powers is a pastor's wife, Bible study and devotional author, freelance editor, and mother of three from Houston, Texas. She is passionate about helping women find hope and healing by meeting God in his Word. You can connect with Leigh on Facebook or Twitter, or follow her at her blog, My Life. His Story (www.leighpowers.com).

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Keeping Your Marriage Strong in Ministry

“Christmas Greetings from Our Home to Yours,” I read on the card. Opening it caused a family picture to fall to the floor. I picked it up and looked at the friend I hadn’t seen in about a decade. Kathryn has more kids than I remember, I thought. As I looked closer I realized I was not looking at Kathryn’s husband, Mark. I thought maybe I was having a moment of faded memories, so I read what she’d inscribed in the card. No, this was not the couple we’d served on church staff with. It had been a few years, but I hadn't realized so much had changed. Kathryn was no longer married to Mark and was now with someone named Stephen. I searched Facebook for Mark and found he was now married to Anna. “And another one bites the dust, played in my mind as I mentally calculated how many ministry couples I knew who had dissolved their marriages and moved on.

I don’t know the details, nor do I need to, but my heart aches. Not only for my friends, but for their children, their families, and the church they served. It seems the older I get the more I see this happen to people I’d once thought solid. People I’d looked up to and aspired to be like.

While I can’t change things for them I can take steps to make sure my marriage lasts, to make sure the vows my husband and I made that cold winter morning twenty-five years ago are stronger each year. My children and my church family deserve leaders who practice what they preach.

There are three important things that will keep the marriage relationship in top form:

1.     God-Care
This is the most important of all. When my relationship with the Lord is my first priority, I am able to thrive in all other relationships. Life gets in the way of so much and we are easily pulled into the busyness of it all. Unless we are taking time to consciously keep God first in our lives, we will stumble. Make sure to consciously spend time with the Lord and not just spend time doing the Lord’s work. We need to dedicate ourselves to pleasing God so he is able to fully use us.

2.     Couple-Care
Our spouse needs to be a top priority in our lives--even above our church and above our children. We need to nurture the relationship that God gives us so we are better parents, better pastors, and better examples to the world. If we don’t take the time to cherish one another and serve one another, then someone else will gladly step in.

I loved it when Vice President Mike Pence refused to have meetings alone with women who were not his wife. My husband and I have done this for years and I am honored that my husband would take these steps to guard our marriage. His actions make me feel treasured. Nothing or no one should come between a man and wife (uh, wasn’t that one of the lines in our wedding ceremony?) Take time with each other. Consider it an investment in your future. Laugh together. Date each other. Be friends. Be lovers. There is always more to learn about your spouse. Just when I think I know everything about my guy,  I’m amazed by something new. Marriage can be a fun adventure if you dedicate time to it.

3.     Self-Care
As women we tend to neglect ourselves and focus on everyone around us. I’ve learned that taking time to take care of myself is as important as taking care of those around me. If I can’t function well, then how can I serve others? I’ve also learned that these things can be costly. I’ve had to find creative ways to take care of myself without putting a strain on our finances. Some simple things I like to do just for me range from an afternoon cup of tea to buying myself a funny tee shirt on etsy. Self-care can be a hobby or outside interest. Don’t feel guilty about it.

          If you’ve found yourself on the other side of marriage and are beginning again, please don’t feel like you’re worth any less. God is still using you. He is the God of second chances. Learn from the past and make decisions that will help this time around to last.
          As anything in life, you get out of it what you put into it. If you invest in your relationship with the Lord, with your spouse, and invest in yourself you will reap benefits in every area of your life. You will be a stronger person, have a stronger marriage, and be closer to the Lord than you can imagine. It’s worth it. You’re worth it.

About the Author:

Suzanne Schaffer has been in full-time ministry with her husband Wayne since 1992, pastoring in Pennsylvania and Illinois. She has two grown children and spends most of her days either writing or reading with a cup of tea close by. She enjoys attending auctions and sometimes brings home more stuff than she knows what to do with. She believes life is too short for mediocre food and insists on having good chocolate in the house at all times. You can connect with Suzanne at her blog, www.notenoughchocolate.blogspot.com

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Pastors’ Kids are Still Just Kids

Finally! Our three-year-old was old enough to sing in the preschool children’s choir. She was so excited; we were so proud. Sure, it was “Jesus Loves Me” (or something similar), and sure, every church kid ever has done the same thing. But this was our child: our cute, sweet, well-behaved little girl. I put her in her best dress and made sure her pigtails were even for her big debut.

There were probably six children lined up on one side of the stage. Between stage fright, general shyness, and the regular confusion of a three-year-old, we couldn’t hear them over the accompaniment track. My child, however, was not contributing to the singing anyway. Why? Because she was PICKING HER NOSE! Yes. Right there in front of everyone, my cute little girl, the daughter of a paid minister, decided it was the right time to clean out her nose rather than singing the song for which she had practiced so long!

I was mortified.

Looking back more than ten years, I realize it could have been much worse. We laugh about it now, and I tease her occasionally just before she goes on stage. But in that moment, all the pressure of being a minister’s wife and raising my children as role models for the rest of the congregation bore down on my shoulders like one of those harnesses used to pull a semi-truck in a strongman contest.

When it was all over and the beet color drained from my face, I had a few options about how to respond. I can’t remember the sermon that morning, but I do remember the things I told myself over the next few days. Perhaps you need to hear them too:
  1. My child will act like every other child because she is like every other child: a sinner in need of saving grace. And children do childish things. It’s part of the package.
  2. I am not responsible for every action of my child, whether I’m a first-time visitor or the head pastor’s wife.
  3. My friends at church accept me and my child as regular human beings. In fact, they accept us more readily than I accept us.
  4. Another mother in the congregation may have needed to see her child wasn’t the only one prone to gross and inappropriate actions. I hope that mother was comforted in my embarrassment.
  5. If someone judges me for the childish action of my child, that’s not my problem.

So what did I do? There was no discipline for my daughter because I had never told her not to pick her nose on stage. I simply explained that it’s not nice to pick your nose in front of other people, especially when they’re all looking at you.

She got over it quickly. Me? As you can see, I’m still recovering.

Question for Reflection: How do your expectations for your children differ from those of “regular” church members? Should your expectations differ?

Dear #pastorswives, don’t be surprised when your #pastorskid acts like a regular kid. From @pwconnect via @CaroleSparks (Click to Tweet)

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