My husband is always working.
Many church planter’s wives would agree with the above statement. When our husbands are leading a church plant, every minute of every day could be filled with critical tasks.
Where does this leave wives? Much of the time it leaves wives working alongside their husbands, working outside of the home to boost the family’s income, or stuck at home taking care of the children by themselves. I’ve heard church planter’s wives say that sometimes they feel like single moms. While this may feel true, it isn’t true.
When you feel like a single mom, this is a sign something in your family schedule is out of balance.
I remember, very clearly, feeling this way when both of our daughters were in small. It was the night before Easter, and John had been busy all week getting ready for Easter Service and all of the extras that went with this wonderful holiday. I was about to unravel. We had dinner, and he hugged us girls, announcing he had to head out to the hardware store to buy materials to build a cross. (Only a church planter’s wife can understand this particular task. Most people don’t get the opportunity to build a cross from scratch.) Instead of kissing him on his way out the door, I announced, “I have to get out of the house, or I’m going to lose it.” That night, I drove to the mall, wandered around until closing time, and then sat in the parking lot for a little while before I returned home. Yes, I did some crying, and yes, the cross did get built.
The truth was, the imbalance in our family schedule had been upsetting me on a daily basis. It wasn’t only my husband’s fault this was happening. It was my fault, too. I hadn’t analyzed my daily/weekly schedule to prevent this kind of meltdown.
What should a planter’s wife do if she finds herself in a similar situation? If I could go back in time and talk to that new mom and church planter’s wife sitting in the dark mall parking lot, I’d ask her the following questions…
What is missing from your schedule that is making you feel this way?
You may not be stuck at home in a new town, with no family nearby, with two kids in diapers/pull-ups. Still, you might be feeling like your life is off-balance. Be honest with yourself. It’s okay to have interests outside of ministry. Maybe you miss the times you and your husband used to go out with friends with no ministry agenda, or you wish you had more time for your favorite hobby.
If you can pinpoint what you miss having in your schedule, then you are well on your way to achieving a more satisfying balance.
Are you willing to ask for help?
There is no shame in getting help. Maybe you have taken on too much. Maybe in this particular season you need to let something go. The point is, something in your schedule has got to give if you recognize your calendar is out-of-balance.
3. Do you recognize a pattern in your husband’s schedule? Can you discuss this with him?
One advantage we have as church planter’s wives, is we see a lot of what goes into making church happen. Since we have a different perspective from our husbands, we might need, from time to time, to share our observations.
Is your husband the head of too many ministries? Is he worrying over what the people think about how he spends his time? Does he believe everyone else is unreliable? If so, then he would naturally be taking on too much.
Make an appointment with your husband, outside of fun family time (and preferably not directly after Sunday service is over and he just got back from unloading a trailer) to discuss your concerns. Your husband’s first job is to take care of his family. This is something that should be made a priority. Choose a time when you and your husband can breathe and think carefully how to work out a new schedule that includes the agenda items you are missing.
4. Is this merely a season you need to endure?
I don’t suggest your husband working eighty-hour-weeks from now until the end of time. However, there will be weeks that are busier. Typically, Fall, Christmas, and Easter are really busy times. These are times when we use the natural momentum from our culture to reach out to the community to bring them the gospel. Sometimes, we have to be patient with our husbands when the church requires a little extra from him. During this time, find ways to get help from other people. Trade baby-sitting, schedule a fun class, carve out time from the evening to do what you want, or fly your mom in to town to help you.
Consider this scripture, which reminds us to endure…
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6 ESV)
Finally, dear church planter’s wife, I want to say that it’s okay to keep a schedule where you have time for some things outside of the church. Take time to carefully analyze your daily/weekly/monthly habits, and make the changes needed to maintain family and keep going in ministry.
Please be with the planter’s wives who find themselves too busy or frustrated with their husband’s hectic schedule. Provide a perspective for them to see what is missing, and please help them to make a way to include these important things in their lives. We love you, and want to be strong in this life of ministry. We thank you for your Holy Spirit, which empowers us to keep going and doing your work. We love you,