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Ministers, wives cite pressures on their marriages & families

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–Ministers and their wives were encouraged to set boundaries to deal with pressures they experience as couples and as families during a dialog session at Minister’s Family Weekend at Glorieta, a LifeWay Conference Center, July 7-10.

The event was offered for the first time this year at Glorieta, as well as at Ridgecrest (N.C.), a LifeWay Conference Center.

Pressures cited by participants included difficulty in protecting family time, setting and keeping priorities, leaving the job at work, the expectation that they are models for others, difficulty in saying “no,” planning time away from church, stress and health issues, conflict at church, finances and confidentiality.

Others included living in a parsonage versus having one’s own home, friendships with others in the church perceived by some as a clique, living in a glass house, self-imposed pressure, pressure imposed by others and being flexible when personal plans must be canceled.

Additional pressures couples said have an impact on their children. Those included the perceived need to be at church for every activity, difficulty for children to be individuals, a lack of children the same ages as the minister’s children in some small churches, the need to be perfect and finding ways to make children realize they are important in their parents’ life.

Responding, Neil Knierim, manager of the LeaderCare Section at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, said ministers and their families need to consider taking more control of their lives.

“You may have to set some boundaries, and that may irritate a church member or two, but you have to do that,” Knierim said. “The church can swallow you up, if you let it.

“How you define success will determine how you conduct church, your marriage and your family,” he said.

Knierim reminded ministers and their wives there are privileges that come with a ministry career, including being able to schedule work to attend children’s school and sports events.

“If you worked in a factory, you couldn’t say, ‘I can’t work after 3 o’clock because my child has an activity I need to attend.'”

Participants also cited advantages of ministry careers, including the opportunities to meet and know others in ministry, getting to see God’s work in others’ lives, increased opportunities for discipleship, friendships that last for a lifetime and, in some churches, having tuition-free Christian schooling.

“Our children are proud that we do things that matter,” one minister’s wife observed.

“We’ve been invited by God to be a part of impacting the world,” Knierim reminded conferees. “You can find all the bad stuff about ministry, or you can find all the good stuff. It all depends on how you choose to view your life.”

The LeaderCare section of the pastor-staff leadership department at LifeWay sponsored Minister’s Family Weekend. LeaderCare is a ministry to ministers and their families.

Glorieta attendance for the weekend totaled 196 persons, including 56 families. At Ridgecrest, registration totaled 162, including 31 families.

Minister’s Family Weekends for 2001 will be June 22-25 at Ridgecrest and July 6-9 at Glorieta.

    About the Author

  • Charles Willis