I still quote the pastor’s wife advice I was given 22 years ago. It was simple and sage.
Sitting in a hair salon, I watched the seasoned pastor’s wife next to me get her Aqua-Net hair teased and set in rollers. She was in her polyester skirt, and I was in my shorts. I was convinced we were nothing alike, but I still needed some insight into this pastor’s wife gig. I had convinced my naïve self that I could do this pastor’s wife thing better than the generation before me. (Funny how all generations think that.) All I needed was a little Intel.
So I popped the PW question. The same question I now get asked by young women marrying that ministry man.
“What advice would you give someone going into the ministry?”
The quickness of her answer surprised me. I had expected her to give some methodical thought to my question, or at least the spiritual courtesy of praying about it and getting back with me. Speaking in her southern accent over the hum of the bowl shaped dryer on top of her head, she said,
“Sometimes you need to be like rubber and sometimes you need to be a sponge.”
In the pause, I stared at her blankly, trying to decipher the meaning of this code. Then she added, “Sometimes you need to be rubber and let things bounce off you and sometimes you need to be sponge and know what to soak up.” That was it.
I was not happy with my new advice. It seemed shallow. I wanted more, something deeper; but it was a small town and she was the only pastor’s wife I knew.
Now, I find myself quoting her!
ON THE SUNDAYS WHEN…
…when it feels like everyone’s opinions add up to overly critical expressions that decline my very existence and identity…RUBBER! I’ve learned to let it bounce off.
…when I’m depleted and God puts someone in my path to help me…SPONGE. Although, I’ll admit my first internal response is to be in tough “ministry mode” and think I don’t need help or encouragement, or feel guilty if I do receive it. On these days I’ve learned to be a SPONGE and soak in the love and help of others that God has put around me.
…when it’s tense because my husband has received some push-back from a staff member or advice from that well meaning deacon…SPONGE AND RUBBER! Sometimes even the hard to hear things have some hidden truth. So, I ask myself, is there any truth here that I need to soak up? (Or my husband needs to soak up and I don’t need to be defensive). I find the truth, absorb it, and let the rest of it bounce off.
What advice were you given that you’ve carried with you in ministry? OR what advice would you give a young woman entering into this unique role?
Lori and her husband, Mike McDaniel, and their 3 children were missionaries in Africa before returning to plant Grace Point Church in Bentonville, AR where Mike is Lead Pastor. Lori serves as a Global Mission Catalyst with the IMB, mobilizing churches and leading women to participate in God’s global mission. Lori shares how everyday life can be a life on mission at lorimcdaniel.org.