4 Ways For The Pastor’s Wife To Manage Bitterness Towards Ministry
By Allison Crandall
My car traveled a familiar route. I was on time, but anything but relaxed. Typical Sunday morning. My husband had left before sunrise to set up for our church plant. Dragged out of bed by my children, I balked at their constant requests. I fed them. I huffed. I dressed them. I puffed. And when they asked for snacks, dirtied their clothes, and needed dressing yet again, I nearly blew the house down. And now on our way to church, I felt the constant hum of resentment in my heart. On the sidewalk, I saw a runner out in the sunshine. Being a runner myself, I was jealous. I wondered what his morning had been like. I imagined how he’d slowly awoken to the morning sun. He’d leisurely sipped his cup of coffee, and afterward decided to go on a nice, easy run. I thought of the brunch he would have when he got back. Eggs benedict. Followed by a well-deserved nap.
And then, I realized something. I was bitter. There I was, envying the person our church plant was trying to reach. I was letting my heart envy sinners, and not continuing in the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 23:17).
I think more often than we might admit, we as pastors’ wives find ourselves here – bitter at the load we carry while our husbands are away, and weary of doing good. But friend, let me say: we don’t have to. For the sake of our families, and not at their expense, we can guard our hearts against bitterness and resentment. But how?
1. Consider Sunday a Workday:
“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is still day, for night is coming, when no man can work.” – John 9:4
As odd as it sounds, I decided to consider Sunday a workday. This simple shift in perspective went a long way to changing my attitude.
The real truth is that for pastors and their families, Sundays are workdays. The harvest is plentiful, and the workers are few, because people would rather be out for an early morning run or having brunch. The day will come when we cannot do the Lord’s work. They’ll either put a toe tag on us, or He will return. So, on Sunday, I put my feet on the floor. I tend to my children. I attend service or work nursery. I fill in any gaps for my husband. And I go to bed feeling happy to have done work for the Kingdom.
Resting on Saturday, and being ready to work on Sunday, has meant so much more peace!
2. Share a Calendar:
Sharing a calendar is an invaluable tool for guarding your heart against resentment. I’ve heard Christine Hoover, author of The Church Planting Wife, mention this point, too. Indeed, for any pastor’s wife, i lends a little structure to the madness. My husband has a fair amount of evening meetings. When they are added to the calendar we share on our phones, I can see them. They don’t catch me by surprise on the day-of Also, I make plans to do things with my three kids during those meeting times. We visit the grandparents, play at an indoor playplace, splash pad, or the neighborhood pool. o sitting between the four walls of the house stewing in anger while my adorable children tear it down board by board. Been there. Done that. No, thanks. Share a calendar and get creative about what you could do, too.
3. Lower the Bar:
And I mean, really lower it. When my husband is gone, I totally turn into a dad. Their method for caring for children alone is totally genius. I make it as easy as humanly possible on myself. Calling all superfoods: get out. Kale? Keep walking. Elaborate meals? Hilarious! Structured craft time? Pfffffft. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I plan on playing with my kids for hours (see previous point). At dinner, I break out the paper plates, and pair them with only the best plastic silverware money can buy. Or perhaps I throw Lucky Charms from a bucket at their open mouths. That way, when Dad comes home from that emotionally-draining counseling meeting, we cheer and tell him only tales of rainbow marshmallows, clovers, hearts, stars, and balloons. And fun.
4. Talk to Your Friends:
Dearest reader, fellow pastor’s wife, we are among friends here. Let’s take a moment to admit the fact that we are convinced that husbands with secular jobs have way more free time, and it’s totally better. I assumed that secular jobs were more family-friendly. Stay-at-home or full-time working mama, consider actually asking your friends about their husbands’ work schedules. Like every lie we tell ourselves, it just needs a little light.
When I spoke to one friend in particular, she said that her husband was home just an hour before the kids go to bed. Curious, I asked how she felt about that. She said she felt fine, because she thought often of military families whose husbands were gone for months at a time, or even pioneer days when husbands were gone often, too. She said she was glad for how well her children knew their father, and how they had a great relationship with him. I was amazed! I was internally-focused – thinking only of the sacrifices a pastor’s wife made. She was externally- focused, and considered the sacrifices of others. She was focused on the family time they did have, and not the time they didn’t have. Still sometimes, I pray for military families, or widows. It helps me approach the family time we do have with a real sense of gratitude, and remember how my assumptions about secular jobs were wrong.
Don’t misunderstand me. If you have concerns about your husband’s workload, talk to him. But, if we choose to nurse our resentment, we will reap what we sow. If we treat the Church like a mistress who is always stealing away our husbands’ time, then when they grow old, our children will reject her as one.
With all that said, know I’m in the trenches with you. Let’s fight this battle. It won’t be perfect, but we can find ourselves less bitter together.