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Ministry Matters: If It Weren’t for People


“Ministry would be easy if it weren’t for people” is a common phrase that pastors and pastors’ wives chuckle over. We know it’s silly, because ministry is people- it would be pointless without them. And…we ourselves are part of those “people” we are referring to.

No matter what walk of life you find yourself in {not just ministry}, you can likely look back and observe that much of the pain we face in life stems from issues in relationships with people. Perhaps you don’t have to look to far back, because you’re dealing with it right now.

And the truth? You will always be navigating some sort of relationship that is challenging. Perhaps it’s in your marriage, or with your children. Maybe it’s work drama. If you’re a pastor or pastor’s wife, then no doubt you are facing it in your church. The same people problems present themselves over and over, in different places and faces, but clearly representing the same human tendencies and personalities.

I don’t know about you, but personally, in dealing with ministry hurts, I have not had as much trouble with forgiveness as I have coming to grips with the fact that other professing believers in the church displayed such explosions of ungodliness. Even now, in processing the aftermath of some of those perplexing situations, the question of “why” comes to mind far more often than I care to admit. And lately, in childish relation to my Father, I have asked Him ‘why’ often. He doesn’t chide me. He pulls me close and delights to hear my deepest cries of honesty before Him. My cried ‘why’ gets a whispered ‘because’ in return. I don’t always like His ‘because’ answer. But gradually, lovingly, He works the answer into my soul. I share it with you today in the confidence of faith, and not of feelings.

Feelings like to scream that human injustices within God’s church are a plot against you and you only….that there must be something wrong with you for this to happen so many times, that this only happens in your church, your marriage, your family. That you are totally alone. That you must protect the testimony of the church by keeping silent about the crushing grief that is emptying your soul of understanding and logic within Christianity.

How could this happen within the church?

Why does this happen within the church?

I have no deep, earth shattering answers for this perplexity other than the fact that churches are made up of sinners. You and I, as pastors’ wives and spiritual leaders, happen to be part of that generalization. But even with the absence of the answers we want to hear, there is hope.

Oh yes. There is HOPE! For God, ever wise and creative and individually focused, wants to take who devastates us- people- and use them to further our Christlikeness.

People are part of our sanctification process. Always and every time. Through the good, bad, and ugly. Our beloved pastor, who did our marriage counseling and then married us, taught us a principle that we will never forget…and we talk of it often. We look at each other {sometimes we roll our eyes, sometimes we smile} and say, “It’s the completion principle!”

This is the belief that God uses our interactions with the people in our lives to make us better people. More grace-filled. More understanding and compassionate. More longsuffering. More conformed to His image. More Godly.

From the divine standpoint, we can only be “complete in Him.” No human, even our spouse, can ever perfectly complete us. But amazingly, in our human lives, God graciously uses the positive and negative dealings with people to bring about positive change in our hearts. If nothing else, this truth shines a light of hope to our perspective on life…and people.

Sometimes the completion principle brings a smile and immediate joy…

When a person takes the time to listen to how you are really doing.

When a person takes your hand and prays with you.

When a person does something to intentionally encourage you.

When a person gives a gift or a smile or a letter or a meal.

When a person offers the hospitality of their heart and home.

When a person gives you the benefit of the doubt.

When a person keeps your confidence.

When a person lets you know you are loved and known.

When a person lets you be a person.

Sometimes the completion principle brings you grief and brokenness…

When a person betrays your confidence.

When a person criticizes…again and again.

When a person levels an accusation against you.

When a person buries the truth and defends the lie.

When a person considers you to be disposable.

When a person pushes you out of your position.

When a person speaks and writes angry words.

When a person makes you the object of gossip and slander.

When a person wrongs you and doesn’t make it right.

Memories are flooding, yes? Bitter sweet, no doubt. There are so many ways that person-to-person contacts affect our day-to-day living. These things, no matter how small, will complete us little by little and day by day until that we reach eternity.

And, something else? You are someone that God is using to complete others. So am I. Oh, how I pray that our lives as pastors’ wives will complete others in a Godly, graceful way!

“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:4

From my experience, there’s no better place to complete and be completed…to let patience have her perfect work…than in God’s church- people and all.

So…deep breath, dear pastor’s wife. You need the people around you- every single one of them. The critical and cranky as well as the sweet and soothing. No one knows better than we do the reality of finding both types within the church. Let’s determine to resist resentment and instead let God mold us through people…again and again, until eternity.

Because, truly, if it weren’t for people…I don’t even dare to imagine what kind of people we would be.


A Kindred Spirit

1 thought on “Ministry Matters: If It Weren’t for People

  1. This so accurate. Unfortunately, those involved don’t see the hurt and pain caused by their actions. Even bringing others alongside – to justify their own personal feelings and opinions. The hardest 7 years of our ministry ended at a church where groups met behind closed doors, my husband was undermined by our youth pastor and a group of his close friends to the point that we HAD to seek Gods call elsewhere for mental and physical reasons. Not only us, but for our children even though they we tried our hardest to shield them. The stress and strain on us had become apparent to them.
    Left that ministry with our hearts and spirits utterly broken.

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