Not just an “And”

I was glad when I saw the post that they shared to recognize our Pastor’s wife. I was happy that they were recognizing the work that she did. The comments began to flood in as everyone expressed their love and thanks. I had witnessed many times that she had sacrificially given and I knew that she deserved the thanks.

However, as the number of comments grew, I began to feel insignificant, unrecognized, and selfish for feeling those other things.

For years, I had faithfully served. Sure, the service was different — he was only the youth pastor after all. [I don’t say this to minimize the position. Unfortunately, it is how many see a pastor who isn’t a senior pastor.]

Jay was duel-employed for those 10 years — working a 40+ hour secular job more than an hour away and he still served for all the events. Our weekends were never ours — between the church events, youth events, and “ministry” meetings that needed to be attended. There was usually some teenager that needed to talk, a things that need done, some other event to plan, and another thing looming. He was tired but we were happy and fulfilled.

And it was never just him that showed up. I was there for those same events. I listened as the girls cried over break-ups, asked difficult questions about sex, and wondered about their future.

Yet, when the comment count applauding our Pastor’s wife grew, I quickly realized that my name never once popped up. There were only two pastors on staff at our church — making me one of only two pastors’ wives. Yet no one thought to mention my name.

I realize my own humanity in all of this. I recognize that when I start craving that earthly reward there’s a heart issued I need to deal with. I also realize that there are more responsibilities on a senior pastor’s wife. I’ve addressed those issues in my life — which is why this post is so long in coming.

There were countless rewards that being the wife of a youth minister offered! They weren’t just his students. They were my students and I loved my students. I enjoyed many of the challenges, events, and the unplanned conversations. I was always thrilled with “ah-ha” moments and I still enjoy seeing the continued growth.

I’ve worked through my issues and sought repentance for the heart issues. (I didn’t want to write this post until I had done so.)

But it’s Pastor Appreciation Month.

And I feel it’s important to share my own experience because as rightful recognition and appreciation is given to our pastoral staff this month, there’s a spouse who lost the only chance for “date night” this month to a sudden phone call. There’s a kid whose parent missed dinner more often this week because it was a “busy week” at church. Just because the young couple that’s serving on staff doesn’t have kids doesn’t mean they don’t need “family time.” And don’t forget, that money spent going the extra miles for all the things, it was pulled from their personal budget.

Please! Please! Please, honor your pastor and the only pastors that serve you, your children, and your church faithfully. Know that there are things that you will never, ever see unless you are serving in the same capacity. So bless them a little extra this month. Show love in an extra special way.

And while you’re at it, honor the spouse, honor the children, and recognize their sacrifice. Don’t make the family the “and.” [You know “Thank you Pastor and ________.”] Recognize that the family makes their own sacrifices — whether it’s arranging the flowers for the stage, teaching your children as “the only available sub”, showing up to your teenager’s sports event, or taking care of all the household chores so the spouse can attend to that last minute thing.

And just as a reminder, they are people too so they have their own hang-ups, struggles, and bad days. But they work through those things to support the ministry.

Ministry is a sacrifice freely given by staff members and the unpaid family members. It was my honor and my joy serving for those 10 years in one church (and I look forward to many more years of ministry!)

I’ve hidden away many conversations, moments, and memories that I shared with my teenagers. I’m happy when I look at the notebooks filled with the events I planned so that the cost students paid was kept low. I’m still honored by the texts, calls, and random social media shout-outs that my no-longer-teenagers send my way.

However, I didn’t like feeling forgotten — and neither do the background figures at your church.

Go ahead! Give them a small shout out. Let them know that they are seen — and not just as the “and” but as an individual who is giving so your pastor can do the “ministry.”

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