Your Voice: What I wish I would have told my pastor husband sooner

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Your Voice: What I wish I would have told my pastor husband sooner

We all know ministry life is hard and marriage is hard, so combining those two can be extra complicated.

These are my personal reflections of a few things that I wish we could have tweaked earlier in our ministry years so that we could have been an even stronger team. All the years we served were blessings so I don’t mean to take away the important Kingdom work that was done during our time when Ryan served as a pastor.

He served as a lead pastor in his last position for 12 years and as a youth pastor for 3 years at one church and 3 years at another church. Do the math on that and you’ll see that being in ministry is just what Ryan has always done.

We started dating when we were 15, so it’s basically all I’ve known for a long time as well. When he took on the role of executive director of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, all that we had known and done for so long suddenly shifted, and I was left with a season of grieving and evaluating all those years of service.

I wished that during those years I could have communicated my needs more clearly to Ryan. So I write this in hopes that you can communicate well with your husband in order to strengthen your marriage and your ministry.

Feeling alone

I wish that Ryan and I could have had more connection on Sunday mornings. He always got up before me on Sunday morning and got to church early to practice with the worship team.

I love that he uses his musical talents to lead worship, but that left me at home to wake, feed, dress and get our five children in the van and to church in a presentable manner.

That alone could lead a person to feel crazy.

For the 12 years we served in our church, I taught preschool Sunday School and volunteered on the children’s church rotation. I’m guessing this sounds familiar to many of you in whatever way you serve. Ryan was teaching a Sunday School class as well, so we rarely crossed paths.

During the service, he was in front with the worship team and preaching — all with the best intentions and using his gifts well.

After the service, there was the gathering of children and small talk with church members.

One night after Ryan had left that pastorate, I said to him, “I wish you had looked at me more at church.”

I didn’t mean this romantically.

Just simple looks, smiles and hand squeezes to know that he noticed me and that we were in this together.

I was 100% in for serving the church and sharing Jesus well with the people there. I just felt lonely some days and would have liked more small connections with him because he brings me comfort and calms my crazy.

I wish that he would have given me a heads-up when he planned to use a story from our lives in his sermon.

I didn’t mind at all that he shared cute stories about our kids or funny moments from when we were dating. I actually felt honored and special, and I knew how much the congregation enjoyed getting to know us more personally through those stories.

I just wished I knew they were coming because the moments leading up to the story when I could tell he was heading into something personal, would leave my heart racing and my mind spinning as to which story he was about to tell or which parts he was going to include.

Preparing my mind would have been great, but I truly could have benefitted from preparing my face so that I could have properly and respectfully responded.

I have never been good at my face not showing exactly what my head is thinking, so a heads-up could have saved me from feeling like I didn’t respond to the moment in a mature way like I would have wanted.

I wish Ryan would have pursued friendships more so that I felt more comfortable doing the same.

It took me years to learn that it was OK for me to have friends. Friends that I truly connected with. I always struggled with not wanting to show favoritism to anyone or wanting anyone’s feelings to be hurt if they didn’t feel included.

Connecting through it all

Both of those things are important and should be considered as a church leader, but we all need friends who are just there for us — a normal person, not a pastor’s wife.

I think if Ryan had sought out friendships with other men or a couple for us to hang out with together, I would have felt more at ease to seek out those relationships that are just for fun, just to relax and just to eat good food with. Plus, he would have actually liked it.

I wish that Ryan could have let me know when he was facing hard situations at church without giving me confidential details.

Pastors see the ugly side of people and have to counsel people through really weighty situations.

I never wanted to break the confidentiality he needed with church members or with the elders, but I would have liked to know if he had had a particularly hard day.

Maybe a secret code word for “Today was extra hard” rather than internalizing and trying to just be strong on his own. I want to be strong for my husband. I wanted to support him, but I couldn’t because I didn’t know he was struggling.

As a person who processes my emotions outwardly, I felt like I was always sharing my struggles.

When he didn’t give any sign of hardship, it felt like I was a weak and whiny Christian. Sharing struggles brings people closer and deepens marriages. Strong marriages make strong church leaders.

Some of these situations could have been easily changed if I had paused to think about what I would have liked to be different in the ministry part of our lives.

Let’s be proactive today so we don’t look back years from now with a list of things we wished would have been done differently.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This story written by Nikki Strother was originally published by the Indiana Baptist. Nikki is the wife of Ryan Strother, executive director of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana.

Eclipse a marvel from our Creator

Dogs were howling, crickets chirping and birds were tweeting — and nobody else’s tweets mattered. The sky grew dark at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. It was weird and wonderful, all rolled into one. The sun and moon aligned so that the moon’s shadow passed over the earth and those in the path of the shadow saw a solar eclipse.

We came, we saw and God conquered.

There’s no other way to reasonably explain the mysterious solar happening on April 8 other than our Creator. The complex physics and math at play work no other way. Astronomers say there are nearly 300 moons in our solar system yet the one nearest to us is the perfect size and distance to match the sun even though the sun is 390 times larger than the moon and 390 times farther away.

Could all that be coincidence? I’m not buying it.

Call it God’s handiwork.

It was perfect, like always — and that’s so God.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This is an excerpt of a story written by Mark Maynard and originally published by Kentucky Today.

Lessons on trust from a ‘nervous flyer’

By Meredith Flynn
Illinois Baptist

Our city’s small airport recently added direct flights to two vacation hotspots in Florida. It’s a big deal here in Springfield, Illinois, being able to fly straight to Orlando or Tampa in a couple of hours. How perfect, I thought as I booked the flight that would take me to a work conference.

What I hadn’t counted on was the anxiety that would set in a few weeks before I was to take off on this relatively untested airline.

“Never heard of them,” people said when I reported the well-priced fare I’d found. Always a nervous flyer, I prayed off and on for a few weeks before I left.

But on the plane, with every bump or ding of the seatbelt sign my silent prayers took on a more frenzied pace.

‘I will actively trust You’

Until this started echoing in my mind: actively trust Me. I tried it out, praying “I will actively trust You,” every time turbulence shook the plane.

It worked, mostly. Over the course of two hours, I tried to train my brain to actively trust God, even as I sat silently in my seat. I prayed, “You are in charge of my life.” I remembered the refrain from a gospel song: “My life is in your hands.” Literally, I thought.

The small step of active trust was one I had to remind myself to take dozens of times during that single flight. The disciplining of my mind to remember God’s authority over my life was hard work, even though it didn’t look like I was doing anything other than sitting still.

Back on the ground a few weeks later, a small group I’m in started a study of “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster. His approach to spiritual disciplines is that they aren’t a matter of willpower. Rather, God uses the disciplines to bring our hearts more in line with his. They are small, consistent steps toward a deeper love of him.

I had to take the small step of active trust on my return flight as Springfield was fogged in. “Don’t be alarmed if we experience a ‘missed approach’ due to low visibility,” the pilot said. That would have put me in the aisle four days earlier, but I remembered the peace God had brought when I focused on actively trusting him.

Our plane broke through the clouds just seconds before touching down smoothly on the runway. And that comforting refrain echoed again: “My life is in your hands.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was originally published by Illinois Baptist.

“I’ve been shaken, no doubt. But when I zoom out of my immediate horrific loss and look at eternity, I see a different picture. I see a redemptive story that reshapes my current story.”

D. Ray Davis

@DRayDavis on X

“The first 100 days in any new position is a significant opportunity to set yourself up for long-term success, but it is also an opportunity for significant frustration.”

Jeff Iorg

@Jeff_Iorg on X

“I woke up this morning and I just wanted to say; how thankful I am to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thank you, Lord for my health and my strength, Amen.”

Mr. T

@MrT on X

“God has been reminding me not to worry about what comes next because He is taking care of the details, and that He created me for this purpose,” said Grammy Award-winning recording artist and comedian Mark Lowry. “The plan is just to keep telling people that God is crazy about them.”

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