*Our guest pastor’s wife is Mrs. Laurel Davis, wife of Pastor Charlton Davis of the New Beginnings Believer Bible Fellowship in Los Angeles, CA. Sister Laurel, is also the founder of www.reluctantfirstlady.com.
The Unfair Expectations of Pastors’ Wives was addressed in our first blog for the “Pastors’ Wives Perspective” (PWP) series.
Now I’d like to address church hurt.
Typically when we think of church hurt, we think of church members being wounded by other members, or sadly, the leaders of the church. Rarely, does one consider the “church hurt” of a pastor and their family.
A pastor’s wife must have thick skin.
“Sometimes you need to be like rubber and sometimes you need to be a sponge.”- unknown
She must be able to handle the constant criticism, unrealistic expectations, disrespect, and lack of appreciation of her husband/pastor. Not to mention the impossible to meet expectations that is placed on her shoulders.
Many pastors’ wives suffer in silence from church hurt they’ve experienced. She walks into the church week after week with a smile on her face, continues to pray for and serve those who have betrayed, ridiculed, slandered, accused, and mistreated her husband.
In my ( Kesha Griffin, Bible Thinking Woman) experience, church hurt is normally from the person you’d least likely to expect. It’s from the faithful member who appears to be pleasant, loving and a great woman/man of God. From members who are actively involved in the church, and from those who publicly proclaim their love for their pastor. It’s from the well-meaning believers who want to dictate “in love”, how the pastor should run the church, what he should preach, what the church should be doing, etc.One of the most devastating forms of church hurt is from a member who seeks revenge. Click To Tweet
One of the most devastating forms of church hurt is from members who try to control their pastor, and when they can’t they seek revenge and ways to harm him. Often what seems to be a suggestion, is a command/demand on what the pastor ought to do (including what to and what not to preach). So when the member doesn’t get their way, they leave. But, they don’t just leave quietly, they:
- Try to win others on their side by secretly undermining the pastor, his authority, his character, and/or his teaching to others in the congregation (and some are effective and take church members with them when they leave).
- Secretly begin to plot with others on how/when to leave the church ( it sends a more powerful message that something is wrong with the church when more than one person leaves at a time).
- Leave angry and bitter.
Church hurt doesn’t end when the disgruntled member leaves the church.
Sometimes the person who leaves the church is so angry, they slander the pastor, his wife, and the congregation, to anyone who would listen, believer and unbeliever alike. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard of a person bad-mouthing my husband/pastor and the congregation once they left our church. Including from those I deemed to be great friends, and from family.
Not once has someone told me that the church member who left, blame their sin or wrong-doing as the reason for them leaving. The blame is always the pastor or their fellow church members.
CONFESSION, when a church member tries to control, make false accusations, and attack the character of my husband, it gets under my skin. I deem this to be the most difficult aspect of being married to a pastor. I can take the accusations, disrespect, and dislike towards me… but my husband/pastor is another thing( y’all pray for my strength and patience,lol).
My husband and I are one, so when he hurts, I hurt. His sleepless nights, are my sleepless nights. His anguish over his sheep, affect me. His church hurt, is my church hurt.
I’ve come to grow in the joy of the Lord, for it is my strength. And my prayer is that I will follow the footsteps of my Savior, who suffered much worse from those He created. I pray for a continued heart of forgiveness and that I serve and love others, as Christ has forgiven and loved me.
“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” Ephesians 4:32”
Let’s hear another perspective on church hurt. Here is Sister Laurel’s, experience.
Few things hurt like church hurt hurts. This is true for any family in a local congregation. But when it’s directed at the pastor and his family unfairly, the resulting ripple effect is often far-reaching. A church that was once characterized by, say, mutual trust, unity in the truth, and unconditional love is now characterized by envy, backbiting, and mudslinging. As people take sides, friends become enemies and armies are formed. Churches then fracture, or crash-and-burn. Worst of all, innocent sheep are left in the lurch, some feeling so lost and disillusioned to the point of stumbling.
The people who have hurt my husband and me – different people at different times over the past 17 years – have all followed the same general pattern: They were all fine with standing up for the truth of God’s Word . . . until it pointed at them.
When Charlton is made aware especially that a fellow leader in ministry is in error or sin (it’s always brought to his attention, he doesn’t seek it out), he knows that his biblical obligation is to follow Matthew 18:15-18 and Galatians 6:1-5, coupled with 1 Corinthians 13:1-7, to help bring that person back into God’s will. He also knows that turning a blind eye for any reason is akin to being complicit and is also potentially dangerous to God’s precious sheep. Besides, if our church calls itself a place where truth really matters, how can we speak against, say, false teachers if any of our own leaders or teachers is willfully violating God’s Word?
But apparently, some people would rather try to undermine a God-fearing pastor than submit themselves to biblical accountability. The resulting betrayal has been very tough, and both my husband and I have felt at times like throwing in the towel, thoroughly battle-worn and, yes, even struggling against frustration with God for allowing it to happen (yet again) or for not exacting immediate justice.
Add to that the unique pressure a pastor and his wife can feel knowing that people – whether they’re for you or against you – are closely watching how you react.
Nevertheless, I praise God for His faithfulness! And for His wonderful grace, wisdom and strength! Not just for Charlton and me but also for our fellow congregants as we endeavor to remain steadfast in our service to the Lord and our desire to bring glory to His Name. Through it all – the gossip, the slander, the name-calling, the evil devices against us and even our children, the broken relationships, the fishbowl pressure – God has affirmed Charlton’s calling all along the way, and He has fortified our resolve to finish the race He has set before us.
We are also convicted to let the evil of other professing Christians remind us to always, always keep our own selves in check.
Jesus is our anchor, so we are encouraged to stay the course. What Jesus has done for us – not what people have done to us – is our invigoration.
Are you a pastor’s wife that have experienced church hurt that you’d like to share? Or a church member that has been enlightened by this blog? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Drop your comments below or to firstname.lastname@example.org
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