WHAT DO YOU DO when your spouse’s job interferes with family plans? As pastors’ spouses, we’ve all faced or will face this dilemma. By nature our pastoral spouse’s job is 24/7. And we know that he or she is doing a special work for the Lord. So how do we “compete” with that? What should be our response when our spouse is called on during an inconvenient time for the family?
This question is difficult to answer because each situation is unique. Are children involved? What are their ages? How often does it happen? Can someone else step in? I personally still struggle with this, and the ideas presented here are as much for me as for anyone reading this!
ESTABLISHING IMPORTANT ROUTINES
First, we have to make sure we have a “sure foundation.” Is our own spiritual life being fed? Is our devotional life consistent? Do we have family worships?
Next is our family life. Are we regularly taking a day off together? If this is part of our routine, an occasional interruption won’t be nearly as hard to take, since the “bank” will have funds to draw on. If these two areas of our lives are in place, scheduling conflicts won’t be nearly as much of a dilemma. However, when an interference does come, what do we do?
WHEN CHILDREN ARE INVOLVED
Most often the conflict is heightened when children are involved. Involving the kids in the decision helps. One year my family planned a weekend away for spring break. We were going to the lake for a much-needed vacation. But then a former church member from a family we were close to died. The family asked Bob to help with the service. Since he was no longer their pastor, Bob felt comfortable telling them “no” because it was family vacation time and their current pastor would be there.
When we told the kids about the situation, however, they said, “Dad, you have to do it!” They knew how much the family had done for us and wanted to pay them back in a meaningful way. Knowing that Dad would have said “no” gave them the freedom to give that as a gift from their own hearts. If Dad had made the decision on his own to go, I’m not sure they would have been so willing. If kids can learn that their sacrifices are gifts to God, it will help them see things in a different light. It will also help them think of what they would want if they were the person needing the pastor.
One thing I’ve learned is that my kids will usually reflect the attitude I have. If they are getting disgusted or frustrated with Daddy, is that attitude coming from me? If I can have a positive outlook, it will help me to explain to them what is happening in a manner that won’t turn them off from church or the “work.” But how do I acquire that positive attitude? A quote that has really helped me is from The Ministry of Healing: “The Father’s presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us. He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. Whatever comes to him comes from the Savior, who surrounds him with His presence. Nothing can touch him except by the Lord’s permission. All our sufferings and sorrows, all our temptations and trials, all our sadness and griefs, all our persecutions and privations, in short, all things work together for our good. All experiences and circumstances are God’s workmen whereby good is brought to us” (pp. 488, 489).
I encourage you to read The Ministry of Healing, chapter 41, “In Contact With Others,” in its entirety. You’ll find many good points about whom to go to when we suffer, how to relate to the burden bearer (our spouse), and how to deal with difficult people.
Also encouraging to me is 1 Peter 2:20-24: “For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth’; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (NKJV).
I like to sing the hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” When I look to Jesus and see what He suffered for me, it definitely puts my trials into perspective. When I pray and give the problem to God, what a peace can fill my soul. I’m praying that peace is yours too!