After Thirty-Six Years in the Pastorate . . .

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Prov. 25:11).

I love how Solomon encourages us to be discerning about the words we use. Our words can water parched hearts and bring such encouragement to those who desperately need it. There is nothing quite like hearing a word and knowing it was God’s word for your heart at that specific moment in time.

And since October is Clergy Appreciation Month, what better time to use our words to put a smile on the faces of our pastors and pastors’ wives who work tirelessly to lead the flock! As Erin mentioned yesterday, if recent statistics from Barna and Focus on the Family are accurate, there is much need for encouragement. Here are some additional sobering statistics: 

  • Eighty-four percent of pastors’ wives feel unqualified and discouraged in their role.
  • Eighty percent of pastors’ wives feel their husband is overworked and wish he would choose another profession.
  • The majority of pastors’ wives surveyed said the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.

After Thirty-Six Years In the Pastorate

After thirty-six years in the pastorate, I must say I’ve seen many pastors and their families fall by the wayside because the pressures of ministry were so heavy. I have had my own personal seasons of regret–wishing my husband would have continued to pursue social work like he was when we met. I have dreamed of what it would have been like to actually be married to a regular nine-to-five guy. What would it have been like if he had been able to be at home every night pouring himself into the life of our family instead of working hard to shepherd the church?

The other side of that reality is that I have loved the ministry. I cannot imagine a life that could have been any more rewarding and more meaningful than this one.  And by God’s grace, our children each have an abiding love relationship with the Lord–in spite of–and dare I say because of the sacrifices made for the church.

Last Sunday, the usher ministry at our church presented us with a gift certificate to Olive Garden as a token of appreciation and in recognition of Clergy Appreciation Month. Along with the gift certificate was the most beautiful card. It was a token of love that reminded me that it’s worth the sacrifice . . . it’s worth the labor . . . it’s worth it all.

As Erin encouraged you yesterday, why not take a few moments to encourage your pastor and his wife with a call, a card, or a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant. It might be just what they need to remain steadfast and to know that their labor is not in vain in the Lord. It might just be the “words fitly spoken” that will encourage them to keep up their labor of love.

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About the Author

Karen Waddles

Karen Waddles

Karen is assistant to the publisher at Moody Publishers, a conference speaker, and contributing author to Our Voices: Issues Facing Black Women in America and The Women of Color Study Bible. She and her husband, George, who has been a pastor for the past 35 years, have four grown children and nine grandchildren. Her greatest joy is seeing women experience the fruit of God's blessings when they apply the principles of biblical womanhood to their lives.