A brand-new LifeWay Research study came out recently about the lives of Protestant pastors’ spouses. The representative study of 720 spouses revealed that their lives and ministries were a mixture of challenges and blessings.
I asked my wife Janet to comment on some of the results, since she has been a pastor’s spouse for 30 years, and a pastor’s daughter her whole life. Janet also speaks to approximately 1,500 pastor’s wives each year in conferences, retreats, and Pastor Date Nights across North America. Here is the first post in this two-part series.
Mark: You showed some concern about the result from the question on personal time with God.
In the last 7 days, 52% have had personal time with the Lord involving Bible study and prayer five or more times.
Janet: Yes. I know for me there is an obvious direct correlation between my outlook on life and my personal time with God. I am left wondering if some of the other survey results like, “26% could not say they have a clear sense of purpose in ministry” came from those who indicated the least amount of personal time with God?
Mark: What would you say to these women?
Janet: Years ago I felt trapped and guilty in the legalistic idea that if I were truly spiritual I would spend an hour every day in prayer and Bible study. I am proud to announce that since now I have an empty nest and am unemployed, I am finally spiritual! I joke, but in all seriousness, an hour every day has not always been a reality for me. One year I was working 40 hours a week, working on my master’s degree, with a husband, two kids, and a ministry. Beth Moore was going to have to wait! It was in that year that I spent short, but highly focused time with God. Like the poor man’s offering, I gave sacrificially of my time and God was faithful to meet me there. Andrea Lennon of True Vine Ministry says, “As busy women, we need to practice the presence of God throughout the day. Start in His Word, whether 10 minutes or an hour, and use it as a starting point to cultivate a relationship with Him. Find creative ways to stay engaged with Him and our faith will be spurred on through the busyness of life’s activity.”
When I had preschoolers and mornings were chaos, I looked forward to my 2:00 p.m. date with God during their naptime. I have always lived by the principle that if I am too busy for my personal time with God, then I am too busy. Not only do I need it, but also it is why I was created. According to Jesus, everything and everyone else needs to fall in line behind Him. The fact still remains that my quiet time has not always looked the same. I have worshiped while exercising, listened to sermons while cleaning house, memorized scripture while doing my hair, and one year I did a read through the Bible plan—all in audio.
I’m not advocating short cuts and nothing completely replaces a relaxed, focused time alone with a Bible, a pen, and some quiet. As ministry spouses we need to prioritize this. So much is riding on it. But we need to remember that time with God does not make us holy. God, through the time we spend with Him, makes us holy, and He does not have time restraints. Obviously, more time in His Word and concentrated prayer is best, but Christianity is not a rigid formula, it is a relationship with a loving God of grace who eagerly awaits us. Determination is key.