Devotions and the clergy marriage

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom…
Colossians 3:16

I read a study* of over a thousand clergy, only 26% of who reported having a private devotional time in the course of the day.

This led me to wonder how many clergy couples are in the Word together each day. I couldn’t find any studies on this, maybe there are some, but let’s bring it down to the individual level. My husband and I have an on-again-off-again relationship with couple’s devotions. As James writes on another topic…brothers and sisters, this should not be.

Is it any wonder that there is no difference in the trend of divorce among clergy than there is in the laity?

I want my marriage to be more. Many of us want to uphold what marriage should look like, as a representation of Christ and His Beloved Bride, the Church, to the best of our ability. We often fall short. We experience falling short as a couple, in our Christian walk, not just as individuals.

That can weigh heavy too.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my husband, He loves me. We pray together, we worship together (sort of), and we have deep and meaningful theological conversations. But there’s plenty of our marriage that reflects our sin, and mostly our sins of omission. Omitting time together, omitting His word together, omitting compassion for one another.

So, this Lent, we’re going to spend a little extra time doing inserting something, instead of omitting something- intentionally. We’ll set a time to remember grace where we fall short; time to reflect on Christ’s grace in our home; picturing His grace filling our marriage up.

Join us!

Get your spouse and a cup of coffee or a piece of chocolate and dive in.

Our lent devotions will meander slowly through Romans 8, one verse at a time for 40 days. These devotions can take 5 minutes or 30 minutes of your time, depending on the discussion you create while reflecting.

Get the link to the PDF of the devotions at this link!

*http://www.intothyword.org/apps/articles/?articleid=36562

Oh Christmas Card…

I love Christmas cards.

I love receiving them, I love giving them.

I like gold foil and nativity scenes and family photos. I look forward each year to getting the letters that tell, however brief, our friend’s stories, of their life and their year.

Each year we also receive a few Christmas miracles.

They come in the form of cards from people who took a bit of extra time to hand select a card, just for my family.

Someone stood in front of a card rack and searched for a card just for their pastor.

Someone wrote a note thanking my husband and our family for faithfully serving.

It blows my mind to imagine it and it touches my heart to be a part of it.

Every Christmas congregational life refreshes my heart in a new way.

I look at my husband, crafting sermons, leading services, checking on shut-ins, and eeking in all the extras for Christmas, and then I look around at people and wonder if they notice. Not notice him, or me, or anything earthly, but do they notice that our God is a God who came to them, just for each of them?  It’s a hard reality in this world – there are thousands who don’t know and don’t care.

Then the cards come.

It goes a long way in a pastor’s heart to hear that what they do makes a difference in someone’s life. That just by being them, by being faithful, by representing a God of Love and Comfort, people have been touched and it has mattered. It goes a long way in my pastor’s wife heart to not be the only one telling him that.

So thank you card companies and thank you members of the Body. These cards are no small thing.

Thank you for building up, reaching out, and including us, every year.

Is he my pastor or my husband? Spiritual Care in the Clergy Marriage

It’s complicated!

The more life I experience, the more useful this phrase becomes, especially in the realm of relationships.

Today’s topic: Spiritual Care in the Clergy Marriage

God invented the idea of husbands and He invented the idea of pastors. Surely He knew that these two things would reside together, under the same roof. Of course He did. I just wish He would have given us a little bit more instruction on how to do this particular thing well.

Can my husband also be my spiritual care giver?

Perhaps it’s something you’ve never contemplated, but you’ve probably felt the difficult dynamic. It’s a difficult time in your life, a difficult season, maybe it’s a marriage struggle, or trying to be a new mom, moving someplace new, a hospital visit, or a difficult situation with one of your adult children. Fill in the blank for some kind of challenge. Many people take these struggles to their pastor. They lean on their spouses and family for support, but they also dial the church’s number or check the communion card box and ask for a visit from the pastor.

What if your pastor is your husband? What if you wake up every morning next to that person and wonder “How did he miss that I’m hurting?” or “How can I burden him with my junk? He’s got so many people to care for.” or “He’s stressed out enough as it is, but Lord, I need someone to care for me.”

After a lot of contemplation, lots of stories from other beautiful pastor’s wives, and some time in prayer and the Word… Here is what I will present on the subject so far…

Husbands are certainly always the spiritual heads of the household. We as wives lift them up and honor them in this position. Husbands pray with us and for us naturally in this position. They lead our families and guide the family ship through the turbulent sea of life. Pastors should, in theory, be exceptional at this role. They know the Biblical picture and seek to fulfill it in their homes. Obviously sin comes in, people fail, life overwhelms. Even in the pastor’s family.

However, one problem, I think is that somewhere in trying to love us as wives and minister to us as pastors, care gets lost. Your husband is always your husband, loving you deeply, even when sin creeps in. But how can you know when he is your pastor?

Even when a pastor’s wife sits in the pew listening to the Word delivered to her heart on Sunday, does she receive it from her pastor or her husband? I for one receive the Word gladly most Sundays with a side of “I really hope other people are listening and this one goes well for him.” Or have you ever walked into your husband’s office and said, “Wow. I’m struggling. You know when our child was disrespectful. I lost it and I have no idea what to do.” Your husband can offer you grace and forgiveness, but do you hear it the same?

So there is this tiny piece missing when you become a pastor’s wife. And maybe it all works out in the wash, but I think we need to put into words this struggle. I kind of gave up having a pastor like other people experience it.

Let’s put a layer of protection around this strange relationship conundrum. What if we actively received pastoral care from other pastors or deaconesses, as church work couples? Maybe this looks like checking in with another circuit couple once a month, or utilizing the circuit visitor, dropping a bit of anxiety and being more transparent. Maybe it’s offering to be a another church work family’s source of encouragement on a regular basis.

This does not replace our husband as pastor in our lives, but I think it frees them up to love us and be to us who Christ intended them to be in their primary role- husband, lover, best friend.

Honestly, I don’t know what it should look like yet, but I know it’s worth a discussion. Tell me your thoughts. Share your story.

I wouldn’t trade my pastor/husband for the world. I love him, I love his role, I love seeing God’s big amazing plan in our strange and wonderful lives. I also love him and our marriage enough to ask difficult questions and open a conversation that doesn’t have easy answers.