Reflections on ministry – Behind the Curtain part 2

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Is it godly to let people walk on you when you are in ministry?

My reflections here are not to point fingers and whinge, but to open discussion and get people to start thinking about ministry families. My hope is that by opening discussion it will bring out into the light the struggles of ministry life…and by bringing it out into the open it will help people to start talking and help families to stay in ministry for the long haul.

I have just read this very interesting article:

http://www.alifeoverseas.com/im-not-supposed-to-have-needs-lies-we-believe/

Her description of life in ministry was so true of my experiences in it (though don’t get me wrong…i also had many wonderful and God honouring experiences in ministry as well). For example: many times i had people from church walk into my home (without asking) and walk around like it was their home, why? because it belonged to the church. I once found a woman in my son’s bedroom tidying it up…i was horrified (and so was he when he found out) that she was putting his underwear away. I had another criticising where i had placed furniture in the house. At another church i had a member of the parish council ask to come in to check a new oven they had put in, and then he promptly went around the rooms and in my sons room found the heater still on. He had ‘words’ with me about wasting energy…at the next parish council my husband was reprimanded for heaters being left on in a room someone wasn’t in (this was in a house which was bitterly cold in winter) and yet did i tell him or the others to get out and keep their opinions to themselves? No, because there is an expectation within churches that the ministry house is theirs and they have access whenever they want.

Another expectation is that the minister’s wives will be polite/gentle/non complaining etc and can be told how to do things in her own home aka church house, how to run their families, asked to pick up the slack when others can’t do things, expected to run ministries. Those minister’s wives who get angry over the expectations of others are looked down on by some in the church, as if they aren’t as godly as they should be. And yet there are so many expectations on the minister’s wife ie don’t want to do criche/Sunday school on Sunday? Ring the minister’s wife the night before and ask her to do it… you know she will never say no (even if it means she is up all night planning the next day’s lesson) she is expected to just do it and with a smile.

These are just a few examples, not all churches/members are like this and these aren’t always the experiences of all those in ministry but, churches need to really think about how they treat the family of the minister (as well as him) and ministry families need to think about why they allow people to treat them like this. We all need to ask ourselves…how does God want me to behave/respond? We can deal with any situation in a godly manner without ending up being a doormat or being aggressive. God doesn’t want us to be a doormat, nor does he want us to be rude and aggressive. He wants us to deal with each other in a way that is honouring to Him.

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Reflections on ministry #1: Behind the curtain

Many of us serving God, in churches, have experienced the ups and downs in ministry. We expected it to be a hard road…a suffering road, but seminary never really prepares you for the trials you and your family will face. It never trains you in how to handle the politics and sinful behaviour often found in churches. It is a poor reflection on us, as a church, that we behave no better than any secular organisations do towards leadership. To the public view, all is well, but behind the scenes there is back stabbing, politicking, gossip, power struggles etc. All this, even in small country churches. Most wouldn’t be aware of it because many ministers put on a good public face, the ‘public smile’.

I went through seminary with 50+ other people, and knew many in years ahead of me or behind. Sadly, I have seen many either walk away from the ministry, or have their marriage/family destroyed by the stress caused, by others, against them, and i have seen many ministers have a break down or burn out. This has to stop, we are losing too many godly people from ministry. It is time we start talking publicly about the struggles faced ‘behind the curtain’ of public appearance and work out a way to help our ministers and their families…keep them in ministry for the long haul. This will be the aim of my ‘behind the curtain’ blogs…to bring out into the light the things many have kept hidden.

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