I have wanted to do this type of blog for quite a while. A blog that focuses on ministry and ministers. Since I was a full-time, paid minister for 31 years and now work with them through my business, I realize they present a unique challenge. Hopefully, what is brought up in these posts will produce a conversation from which we all can learn.
Several very high profile and respected speakers in the Christian community sought to put on a workshop for pastors and their wives. They wanted to help these marriage strengthen as they modeled healthy relationships to their congregations. A lot of time, money, and effort went into promoting this event across the country. Sadly, the response was dismal.
I recently tried to offer a similar workshop. I contacted around 300 churches and sought to give ministers tools that would help their marriage and in turn help others. One person signed up and he was a retired doctor who is now helping a church planting.
What does this say about pastors? Several other colleagues of mine commented on the state of these men and women in full-time, paid ministry. We have opportunity to see them in our offices as clients. We all see a very unhealthy seclusion, isolation, and even a kind of paranoia. If these pastors would only sit in my office for a while and listen to spouses and children of pastors regarding the affects that type of life has on them. Consider the following statements from some past clients:
“When he over works it is not just for the church or his job, it is for GOD. God trumps family and He is always used to justify my husband’s need to be accepted.”
“I’m not just another volunteer. My husband’s ministry is not necessarily mine and I was made to feel guilty for that.”
“As a Pastor’s wife, my behavior was tied to my husband’s success. Every action was scrutinized. I felt like I had to be perfect.”
“As a child of a pastor, I was held to a higher standard? Perfectionism. My dad told me that my behavior was tied to his credibility as a pastor. That was a huge weight to bear.”
“It was all about my dad helping everyone else in the church. We got seconds and thirds.”.
“Never ever did we do things just for the family. If we went on vacation, he would have to go speak somewhere also. We were not as significant as his work.”
“As children of a pastor we were never protected from the critical eye and words of the members of the church. Lots of “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts”
“I felt that I had to have the perfect family, perfect kids, perfect marriage, pray the perfect prayer or even have the perfect answer to anyone’s situation. “
My experience with other pastors is that many (not all) will minimize these comments as exceptions and not typical. I believe recent research would tend to support the fact that these are more common than not. I would love to hear what you think about these statements. Especially from pastors, wives and their children. What do you think keeps them from being transparent, vulnerable… normal?