If of all worldly things you are bereft,
and have but only two loaves
that are left,
Sell one, and with the dole,
buy hyacinths to feed your soul.
Living in the 1990s is a draining experience. Life is faster-paced than ever before, expectations are higher, needs are everywhere. Life in a ministerial family can be especially draining for a variety of reasons.
Pastoral families are more aware of the ever-present needs of the church family. Pastors often work long hours and never feel a sense of accomplishment. They are on call 24 hours a day. Many consider the home their workplace; the line between home and work often blur. Because of the long hours their husbands keep, some pastors' wives feel neglected or unsupported. Many wives work outside the home to supplement the family budget. Quality time between spouses is sometimes nonexistent. Moving is an ongoing issue; living near supportive family members is not always an option. Many pastors' wives refrain from forming deep relationships with church members because they are afraid they will be criticized for showing favoritism.
With all that faces the pastoral family, it is important that its members realize they are human. Everyone needs closeness, friendship, and support. Wives and husbands need time to refresh themselves. They need time away from the hectic rush and bustle of life. Jesus understood these needs. "And He said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while." Mark 6:31.
Women seem to have a hard time nurturing themselves. They feel selfish when they take time for themselves. But in reality, such actions are not selfish; rather they are healthy. Taking care of oneself is as important as breathing fresh air. No one else is going to make sure you are nurtured. It is your responsibility, and it is not always an easy one to accomplish.
Taking care of yourself can be a great challenge because, as pastoral wives, we are used to pouring our whole lives into ministry. To be able to nurture others, you first have to be nurtured. If you have unmet needs of your own, you may drain those you wish to help.
The Golden Rule of doing unto others as we would have them do to us is equally valid when reversed. "Do to yourself only what you would want to do to others."
Do we demand more of ourselves than we would ever dream of demanding of others? If so, why?
Personal Spiritual Nurture
"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33. The most important need you have is to nurture yourself spiritually. Above all, whatever else you do, make sure you are spiritually fed.
Collect texts that encourage and inspire you.
Listen to tapes of the Bible or inspiring interviews and sermons as you drive in ; our car or work in the kitchen.
Keep devotional material all over the house, by your bed, by your chair in the lounge, in your han 'bag, and even in the bathroom, so that whenever you flop, or have a few minutes to spare, you can pick up a Bible, study guide, prayer diary, or inspirational book and have a mini-feast.
Try to spend a specific amount of time each day with God. Guard the time, and ask your husband and family members to help you keep that time clear. Choose a time which suits your family's schedule and your own needs.
Take time to evaluate your own nurture needs and list them clearly. Pray specifically for those needs to be met.
Find a prayer partner and pray for each other's needs. It can be helpful to choose another pastor's wife as a prayer partner as you share similar concerns and understand the unique pressures and joys of ministry work. It can be very gratifying to know that someone understands your specific needs and is praying for you. You can pray together over the phone or plan a specific time to pray for one another. You can have a prayer pen-pal correspondence or even an email prayer partner.
If you are having a very challenging time, don't he afraid to focus your prayers on your own needs. Now may not be the best time to pray for everyone else's needs. You need healing and ministry too.
If you can, find a small women's fellowship group. You may be fortunate enough to belong to such a group at your church. Be open and honest about your needs. If your church does not have such a group, look to the community. You may be able to start a group with fellow pastors' wives.
Plan time with your husband. Fellowship with your spouse is invaluable. Don't forget your children. Make your family worship time as meaningful and creative as you can.
For those who like to write or use the computer, start a correspondence fellowship.
If your life feels out of control, ask yourself why it feels that way. Is your life too hectic and pressured? It's very hard to learn to say one tiny word, "no". We have been taught that we should work hard and he helpful. It's easy to feel that because something is God's work, it's also God's will for us to do it. That isn't always true. Though the task may be God's work, perhaps others need the opportunity to discover their own ministry. Maybe God is calling someone else to do the work. Learn to delegate and organize systems at your church, work, and home.
When committing to yet another project, ask yourself, "If I don't do it, what is the worst that will happen? What is the best that will happen? Will this activity fit easily into my schedule? "
When you do agree to take on another task, break it down into small chunks or let go of one of your other tasks. Pray about each potential commitment and make sure it is something God really wants you to do.
Develop strong friendships with other women. If you don't know where to start, choose a colleague, neighbor, or church member with whom you have a common interest. Join a class and find others with similar interests.
Discover ways to nurture your friendships. Send inexpensive cards or gifts. Talk on the phone, pray together, share flowers from your garden, plan outings together.
Especially take time to encourage other ministry wives and families. Call them, invite them over for a meal, or go out for a picnic or fast food together.
Don't forget those who used to be ministry wives. Because of death, divorce, or a husband's career change, they may now feel isolated from the "ministerial family."
Make sure your relationship with your husband is growing closer, not further apart.
Take time to be with your spouse. Cherish one another. Listen, hug, and pamper your spouse, Take care to show him how important he is to you.
Go on a Christian Marriage enrichment event.
Whisk him away from his desk and do something special with him, even if it just going for a walk or eating ice-cream together.
Find ways to delight him. He's probably a workaholic, and he needs your soothing influence more than he realizes!
Nurture someone else
Even when you need nurturing yourself, there can be incredible healing in reaching out and nurturing another person. Look out for others who maybe needing some encouragement, a hug, a listening ear. Give that person some of your valuable time. Share your nurtured heart with others, and pass the blessing on. Aim to encourage and nurture one other person each week.
Soon there will be hyacinths growing everywhere!
What are your hyacinths?
What feeds your soul? What Bible texts have encouraged and comforted you in the past?
Write them out below. Then write them on tiny cards to slip into your handbag. Carry them with you to read often. Write your own thoughts and responses on the back of the cards.
Make a prayer list of your own very specific nurture needs.
What nurtures you? People—list names:
Activities—list things you do which you enjoy and leave you feeling refreshed and happy.
Experiences—list experiences which build you up.
What drains you?
Look at what drains you and see if there is anything you can do to avoid being drained, or to turn draining experiences into positive experiences.
From what you have learned, set three small goals that you will try to achieve by the end of the week.
Name one person you know who needs nurturing, and write out one way in which you will reach out to that person and nurture them this week.
Share and Pray
Choose a text and write it down:
Meditation: write down any thoughts that come to your mind as you have meditated on this text:
Answer the following questions:
How has this text enhanced my relationship with God?
How can this text enhance my relationship with others?
How can I apply this text to my life?
What one thing can I do today, or this week, to put what I have learned into practice?
My current spiritual goals are:
My current ministry goals are: My current prayer concerns are: I praise God for: