The Safety Dance
by Amanda Maguire
I believe the hardest thing about being a leader in the church is the island I am put on by the people of our church as a ministry family, and as a ministry married couple. There are not very many people I can be brutally honest with and unapologetic about the hard stuff I deal with.
It’s hard to find someone that can really relate to the spiritual weight Jeff and I carry, or what its like to lead in the church. It is an honorable calling from God that can leave me feeling lonely real quick! As I have talked to many couples and wives about leadership in the church, this issue seems to hit the hardest and its the sneakiest.
I am surrounded by people all day long. Talking and praying, planning and caring for, meeting and greeting, hugging and mentoring each and every day. People are our “business.” How in the world can I feel alone when it’s hard to even find a place daily to be alone?
It’s why I so strongly believe that as leaders in the church we need to be seriously intentional about finding safe people in our lives that we can be honest with about ministry and the craziness of our calling.
Jeff and I have been married for 16 years and both of us have been serving in ministry for even more years than that. This wonderful ideal of having safe people in our lives did not happen overnight. It has been years of trial and error. Many friendships over the years have evolved into beautiful wonderful people in our lives, but still they cannot provide the “safety” I am talking about. And some friendships when testing these waters of safety fall right off a cliff or send people running for the mountains—and right out of our lives and out of our church. It’s painful to say the least.
We have been so bold to even tell people, “Being friends with us is dangerous. You will see how your pastor really lives and acts. Church will become messy for you and probably not picture perfect (if it ever was). Can you handle that?”
It’s been prayerful years, begging God for safe people whom I can be real with, cry with, yell with, and belly laugh with. I need friendships that will call me out, and keep me accountable, push back at me when I’m off my rocker, speak into my marriage when it’s heading the wrong direction, help me with parenting my non-perfect-pastor-kids. Friends who can see the mess of the church and love it even more! Friends like this are a diamond in the desert.
I am blessed with many wonderful friends, but just a small few who can walk with me through the landmine fields of ministry, who are brave enough and strong enough to see and accept my imperfections as a pastor’s wife and the imperfect church we work in. Someone who will keep trudging and celebrating with us day after day. I have a friend like this, and keeps me alive and able to love ministry. God has sent me this gem of a human and her husband and family to love us unconditionally in ministry.
Not only do these safe people need to be amazing and accepting, I have to be willing to be vulnerable, real and authentic. Can I do that? As a pastor’s wife, it’s easy to believe I am pretty awesome because other people seem to naturally think that about me and our family just because of our role in the church. It’s a trap!
To begin to act or believe that I may be even one degree more “together” than the people who attend my church, is a lie! God did not choose my husband and our family to lead His church because we are smarter, braver, more spiritual, more Bible thumping, more patient, more graceful, more loving, more prayerful, etc. than anyone else!
I DO NOT KNOW WHY HE CHOOSES TO USE US! More realistic, He probably roped us in because we didn’t know what we were in for! Many days if I knew what I was in for being a pastor’s wife, I would have jumped off a cliff myself rather than say yes to this calling!! It’s hard. Period.
Safe friends are essential. We were not meant to live alone and especially not meant to lead alone.
Amanda Maguire has been married to a youth pastor and now the lead pastor of a church. (It’s the same guy!) They are raising a family with three kids. Amanda is passionate about being a part of the divorce rate going down in her community and the happy healthy rate of marriages going up!