Pastor's Wife, Mom, Writer & Imperfect Seeker of Jesus
Pastors' Wives--Friendship in Ministry
September 30, 2015
I almost hesitate to even begin to touch this subject, but as I hear the hearts of more and more pastor’s wives, I see that it is a constant source of struggle, conflict and question among PW’s across the country.
Can I be a pastor’s wife and have friends? Is it possible to have friends in the church we serve? How do I know who to trust? What do I do if I get hurt?
All of these and so many others are very legitimate questions for pastor’s wives. It’s crazy that something as simple as friendship can be so very complicated for those of us in this position. So let’s attempt to muddle through just a few of those questions today.
First of all, YES, you can and SHOULD have friendships. “Oil and incense bring joy to the heart, and the sweetness of a friend is better than self-counsel.” (Proverbs 27:23 HCSB) Friendships are beautiful and precious gifts, and truly deep friendships like we see in the lives of David and Jonathan (splattered from 1 Samuel 13-2 Samuel 9) are indeed rare and more valuable than fine jewels.
Some of you may respond that your husband is your best friend, so you don’t need anyone else in your life. That’s great, your husband SHOULD be a best friend, but that is only one of the many roles that he plays in your life. And let’s be honest, sometimes HE is the reason that you need a friend to lean on in the first place.
There are some who would say that it is impossible to have real friendships within the church you serve. But to say that feels like you are setting limits on God. You never know what rock you might find your closest friend under. I will admit though that it certainly can be more difficult to find a close friend in a smaller church. More difficult, but not impossible. With more people in your church, the chances of meeting someone you connect with increases. The number of arrows shooting at you usually increases as well, but you will probably find more safe havens to run to in a larger church.
But we shouldn’t ONLY be looking for friendships within the church anyway. How many times do we read about Jesus spending time with “tax collectors and sinners”? And we don’t find Him only teaching them. He is often simply just comfortably spending time with them. Are you fostering relationships OUTSIDE of the church? If not, that may be where God is trying to lead you.
Yes, you never know what rock you might find your closest friend under.
But here’s the deal with us: It’s HARD to be a pastor’s wife’s friend! It really and truly is. We have to cancel plans at a moment’s notice for “church emergencies.” We rarely can do anything as a couple. Weekends do not exist for us. People start to expect more from those who have an “inside track” with the pastor’s family. And at least for me, I get friends involved in some of the CRAZIEST things because that is the nature of my life.
And for those of us with kids at home....forget about it! Even Ryan agrees with me that probably close to 95% of the household and family responsibilities falls on MY shoulders because he is usually away from the house serving in other areas. If you have little ones at home and no sitter or older kids who need running around to afterschool activities every evening, that makes building friendships quite a bit harder.
I don’t want to sound harsh, because believe me, I’ve cried my fair share of tears over loneliness and lack of friends at times. But we have to be VERY careful not to fall into a pity-party, because that is exactly the pit that Satan desires us to fall into.
When I watched the movie “Mom’s Night Out,” there was a scene where Patricia Heaton as the pastor’s wife thanks someone for inviting her out for a girls’ night. She says it is the first time that anyone has invited her out in five years. It made me cry. I thought about how we have served for 14 years at a church of about 700 people (in a town of about 400--only God can do that!) and in all that time there have only been two women who have personally, individually called me and invited me to go do something just for fun. Two.
Fair or not, we MUST remember though that those outside of ministry have a certain perception of a minister’s wife, and it’s usually WRONG with a capital W! But it still exists and may keep others from befriending us. Just know, it’s not up to THEM to seek out enlightenment of those thoughts. It’s up to US.
We have always tried to teach our girls that if they are looking to find good friends, they will find very few. But if they seek to BE good friends, they will find that good friends abound!
So that puts the ball back in our court, ladies. We have to decide how much effort that WE want to put into a relationship and how much time we are willing to devote. Then just go BE the type of friend you want to find wherever you go, whether it be the grocery story, the sporting event, the neighborhood cook-out, or yes, even the ladies event at church. I believe that God will meet you there with someone special at the perfect time.
Trust me, I know first-hand that loneliness in ministry is very real and very raw, but there ARE steps that we can take to crush the loneliness in our lives. We just have to be willing to take that first step.