Life is all about perspective. Viewing life through the lens of a child is different than the lens of an adult. Even when experiences belong to the same person, perspectives can easily change. Over the course of my life, I have found my perspective shifting in the various ministry roles God has given me. From pastor's kid, to pastor's spouse, to the mother of a pastoring family, each life stage has brought a new angle to see ministry from. But it hasn't always been easy.
Perspective 1: Ministry kid
I often joke that I was born on a pew. I can't remember much of my life without church or ministry. My dad was in pastoral ministry before I was born, and when I came into this world, I came as a "preacher's kid." For me, it was an honor of sorts. I was Brother Monty's daughter. From a child's perspective, you had to appreciate me and put up with me, or so I thought. Not always the easiest to teach, I met my match with a few youth ministers.
But truly, I loved being a pastor's kid. I loved that people had high expectations of me, and enjoyed trying to meet those expectations. I enjoyed center stage and proving to people that I was different than other "PKs" they'd known.
My family served together. I worked with the bus ministry, the children's department, my youth group, nursing home ministry, and even played the organ. Once, I went to the hospital with a family because both of my parents were tied up serving other people from the church.
But while I loved those high expectations, I also fell short of them frequently. I was terrible at daily Bible reading. I had a feisty temper, and struggled with self-acceptance. Every time I disappointed someone, I didn't understand how God could love anyone like me. I had doubts about my early childhood salvation and frequently felt inadequate.
People's expectations—myself and others—had clouded my view of God's expectations. Under those twisted expectations of what I should do or be, I felt like I was drowning. Some days, I felt great and strong. Other days, I just wanted to hide under a blanket. One thing was for certain though; I knew God had called me to ministry and as a pastor's spouse.
But I wasn't sure if I could ever measure up.
Perspective 2: Ministry machine
In March of 1993, I was walking with a guy that I really liked. He jokingly said, "You will probably marry a doctor or someone rich like that." I took that opportunity to shyly admit that I felt that God had called me to marry a pastor. In a few moments, he told me that he had been called to ministry. I think we both knew then that we had found our mate.
In 1997, my husband became the pastor of a small church in a resort community. We had a brand new baby, he was starting seminary, and I was a teacher. I was sure then that things would be a breeze. After all, my life was all about ministry!
It didn't take long for that rosy illusion to fade. Soon, I became the pianist, Sunday school director, sound person, nursery person, VBS director … and the go-to person for anything else that needed to be done. I was overwhelmed. It was the expectations that were the real burden—I felt like I was the church's scapegoat, allowing the congregation to not have any responsibilities. I became bitter. The laziness of the people made me angry! I now understand that I enabled this to happen. But I was not healthy enough to see it at the time.