How do you encourage your husband when he is not leading it and loving it? What is the best way to remain supportive of my husband as a pastor, but encourage healthy amounts of unplugged and disconnected time from the church?
“Everybody loves a leader until they lead.” I heard that quote years ago when my husband and I were knee deep transitioning our traditional 100 yr. old church. No truer words have ever been spoken. Each bold step my man took to steer the rudder of our ancient and quickly sinking ship brought out the spirit of mutiny and fear amongst the ‘crew’ and passengers. He became sullen, angry and almost paranoid with fear and anxiety over the loss of respect and support. I watched a strong man with BIG shoulders and a heart for God become broken and disheartened. He was NOT leading and loving it and neither was I.
I felt at such a loss to know what to say to encourage him. One evening I walked into our bedroom closet and found him sitting on a stool sobbing with his head in his hands. I tried to console him the best I could, but the only thing that came out of my mouth was this: “Honey, we have to accept that there will ALWAYS be problems and people that disagree with your leadership. We can’t change that, but we have to figure out a way to change the way we deal with it.” We needed to stop trying to carry and manage every conflict on the OUTSIDE and figure a way to steward our own hearts on the INSIDE.
Soon after I was sitting with my friend, Lori, around our backyard fire pit and she asked me when the last time was that he had some kind of break or rest. I had to answer honestly. For the six years that we had been married, he had NEVER taken his paid vacation, and frankly refused to take his scheduled days off each week. He was addicted to his purpose and working made him feel productive. She shared a link with me from Pastor Ed Young Jr. about the importance of building margin into your life as a leader and the importance of time off for the health of your home, ministry and life. I quietly sent him the link hoping something would resonate before we completely bottomed out. Ladies, that day something changed in my man for GOOD. My husband called me the next morning in tears asking for forgiveness for not taking the necessary time to refuel and repair his own heart and spirit. He immediately scheduled our vacation time away and committed to staying ‘unplugged’ for a time of true Sabbath. We’ve been married ten years now and he has kept the same promise. God is FAITHFUL.
I love the passage in Mark 6:31 that says, ”And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to deserted place and rest a while.” Jesus was speaking to the disciples after they had taught and ministered to the sick, broken, demon possessed and lost. He KNEW that they needed time alone to recover from the highs and lows of all they had experienced. There is something powerful and intoxicating about being on the front line of ministry. It is thrilling AND exhausting but the danger of pride and ego can begin to overcome your motives if not checked. I believe we are called to a DESERTED place by God to allow for a time of healthy introspection, prayer and more importantly learning that our total reliance is on Him. When we decide to take on and navigate the waves of the storm on our own, our ship will eventually sink. We were not meant to manage, control or own all the variables that take place in every day ministry life. We do have a burden to carry, but the ‘yoke’ is meant to be light because we are required to release it to Him daily. Remember that there is a gentle Captain just waiting for you to loosen your grip on the wheel and come away to a deserted place with Him. He has been and always will be in charge of this journey.
Vacations are sometimes difficult to schedule for so many reasons, but where is a ‘deserted place’ that you can go to each day to find peace and refuel?