Dear Pastor’s Wife,
Life has a way of taking us from loud to quiet, doesn’t it?
I studied theology and music in college. (Somehow that started 21 years ago.) At the time, I didn’t yet have a lot of experiential knowledge of how either theology or music interacted with my real life. So when I chose hymn arrangements and classical compositions to work on, I chose the big, bombastic, hugely expressive styles. I loved the grandness of them, and how elated they made me feel. The same was true with my studies in theology. I loved what I was learning, the depth of it and the vastness of all there was to learn.
But after graduation, life hit. And it hit hard. As the early years of marriage and ministry slid by, I realized that something was happening in my soul. And the result was coming out in my fingers on the piano. I was leaving the crashing arrangements closed up in their books. And I was reaching for softer styles. More chord color. More depth of theory instead of a lot of noise and flair.
My music was reflecting the suffering I had been through. Still to this day I prefer the melancholy pieces with minor tones and depth of theory. Chopin would be so happy to know that he is one of my favorite composers. My own compositions of sacred arrangements have also changed, and reflect substance and whitespace more than surface and constant movement.
During this same season, my theology was sending strong roots down into my soul. My understanding of the Gospel was broadening, deepening, reaching the far corners of my life…and it was bearing fruit. More and more I was setting aside aesthetics and going for the heart in conversation, hospitality, parenting, and ministry endeavors as a pastor’s wife. I was learning that it was okay to be misunderstood, because God knows me. I was learning that steady faithfulness mattered, even if no one but God saw. I was learning that small, daily Gospel applications were life changing for myself and my children. I was learning that suffering has value.
And a certain verse was becoming precious as I tumbled it over and over in my heart:
“The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that rules among fools.” Ecclesiastes 9:17
This principle is so rich, and it just brims with God’s ironic, upside-down ways.
He silences the loud voice of the fool. He increases the volume (impact) of the quiet, wise person. I take comfort in knowing that my God values quietness- having a still heart before Him (Psalm 46:10), being a good listener (James 1:19), adorning with a meek and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4), cultivating the ability to hear His still, small voice (1 Kings 19:11-13), and letting Him quiet you with His love (Zephaniah 3:17).
During Christ’s ministry on earth, He went about doing good (Acts 10:38). He didn’t allow fanfare or pomp and circumstance everywhere He went. He found quiet corners and forgotten people and He worked. He changed hearts, healed bodies, lifted lives from the ash heap, reoriented people’s eyes to the cross and to eternity.
He also suffered silently. And that was part of His ministry, which He calls us to follow (1 Peter 2:21; Isaiah 53:7.)
Some of us struggle with quiet ministry. And others of us crave it. Still others feel forgotten in their small corners, and it’s not like they necessarily want the limelight- they just want to know that what they are doing matters.
I think that God hides us away sometimes and gives us a quiet, unseen ministry. We can also choose it by stepping back from social media or purposefully ministering under the radar. There are many ways to embrace quiet ministry.
Quiet ministry matters. How can you can be sure of it? Because Christ lived that way before us. He exemplified a holy humility that was content with quiet service and quiet suffering. He has made sure that His wise words (the Bible, the Gospel) has been heard in quiet by generations upon generations. His quiet ministry continues to be louder and more effective than the cry of the ring leader among fools.
Because Jesus walked the quiet way first, we can live in quiet ministry before God and know that our labor is not in vain and has eternal value (1 Corinthians 15:58). We don’t have to fear not being noticed or utilized to our full potential or feeling like we were either ahead of our time, or that we missed the boat.
Also, I’ve read the last chapter. And in the end, the quiet way wins. (It is also a narrow way with a small gate, leading to the One we love. Matthew 7:14)
Pastor Zach Eswine (author of Sensing Jesus) said, “I am already discovered. Jesus already knows me. I am already loved, already gifted, already known.” I have this quote written inside the opening page of my current journal.
Turns out I’m one of the ones who both struggles with and craves quiet ministry. Somehow I think I’m not alone…and that we all need the reminder that quiet ministry matters.
Maybe you do, too.
Take heart, my friend. Your quiet ministry speaks volumes, impacts many, and is heard and seen by the only One Who matters- your Jesus.
A Kindred Spirit