Several weeks ago, my nephew’s wife was ordained to the ministry. Shortly before her ordination, she wrote me and said, “If you have any words of wisdom to send a new minister, I’d welcome them anytime.” So Carrie, this post is for you.
Thirty-eight years ago today, May 20, I married my best friend. When we met, he was a youth pastor. When we married, he had just been called to his first pastorate. It was a small country church with a 40-year-old parsonage – the kind of house where when the wind blew outside, the curtains moved inside. The town never fully accepted us since we had not been born there but we made our mark on the community anyway. We took the youth to camp, brought in revival speakers and even held a youth rally in the football stadium that featured Walter Abercrombie, a Baylor running back who had just signed to play for the Pittsburg Steelers. When Walter arrived at our house in his new car, I felt pretty sure that was the first time a Porsche had ever been parked in the parsonage driveway.
Carrie, that rural church was the first of six churches we would serve over the next 30+ years. Each church was unique yet each was similar. Every congregation you serve will have people who are in charge as well as people who believe that they should be in charge instead. If you’re lucky, every church will have at least one person who will have your back and, unfortunately, probably every church will have at least one person who. . .well. . .won’t have your back. Every church will have delightful members as well as disgruntled ones. That’s because every church is made up of people. Simple, flawed, sinful people. There is no perfect congregation because there are no perfect people.
I know I haven’t told you anything you don’t already know, Carrie, and by now you may be wondering when I’m going to get around to “words of wisdom.” So here are my two words:
Always remember Romans 8:28: “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” No matter what happens in your ministry, God will ultimately work everything for good. When things in your ministry are going great, it will be easy to see how God is working things together. But when things go wrong, and they will, remind yourself repeatedly that God will somehow weave everything together for good. You may not see the good for a while but in His own time, God will work everything for good. He always does. Always.
And secondly, always put your marriage before your ministry. I can hear gasps from readers who think I just committed blasphemy but I’m serious. God will probably not call you to serve one individual church for your entire ministry but He did call you to be Josh’s wife for life. So take care of your relationship. Nurture it, protect it, defend it, treasure it. Never let your ministry consume you to the point that your husband gets your leftovers. Give your marriage your very best and trust God to help you juggle the rest of life as you serve Him, whatever your ministry may look like and wherever it may be.
So that’s it, Carrie. Those are my two words of wisdom. I can’t wait to watch your ministry unfold and your marriage thrive as God weaves every moment together for His glory.