Para-church ministry: Challenge 1, number of relationships

A bit of background.  I'm married to a church minister, but he doesn't work for a church.  He works for a not-for-profit organisation that supports the ministry of Christian students on a university campus.  He is responsible for a team of about 20 full time staff members and is responsible for ensuring that the funds for this organisation are raised to pay everyone.  He also works closely with the student leadership of the group which at the moment has about 800 students involved.

Here's my first challenge about this type of ministry (nice way of say 'big fat whinge' but anyhoo, off we go).

I am on the introverted end of the spectrum but we have A LOT of different groups of people in our life that we are involved in.  The ministry is large and busy and totally people orientated.  We have our family (which is large and busy and people-orientated!).  We also go to our local church (which is thankfully not too large, but is also people-orientated).  We have two schools full of relationships that our kids attend that we're keen to be involved with (it will be three schools next year).  I have a job that is people-focussed.

Consequently we find it really hard to get up the energy to go to extra things like parties or social events.

Consequently I am regularly paralysed by guilt by how bad I am at keeping up with all the different people in our life.  I permanently carry a feeling of being a disappointing friend to many.

If I gave up working I could potentially do more, but contributing financially to our family does help make staying in this type of ministry more viable for the long-term.

And if I did stop working I could potentially do more in the ministry but I don't feel that I would actually be very good at it.  Not putting myself down.  I'm 40.  I've tried.   Just because I'm married to someone who is, doesn't automatically make me great at it.  And I'm pretty confident that I would drive Rowan totally mad with my helpful 'suggestions' ;)

I find this so tricky.  I'm still waiting for someone to give me the magic solution that will make me feel at peace about this issue.


Gordon Cheng said…
A shed?

Like, one of your own, with a padlockable gate on the surrounding fence.

Or at least, a spot you can call your own.
Kath said…
Jenny it's difficult isn't it? There are so many good things we could be doing. It is actually impossible for us to do them all. I regularly feel pangs about the things I'm not doing.
If only we could feel peace about it. I wonder if that would involve trusting God a little more that he can use what we are doing (albeit imperfectly) and doesn't need us to do/be everything.
I also wonder if this is part of the inevitable discomfort of living in this struggling world and longing for the next.
Miriam said…
Interesting post Jenny!

I think this is something that a lot of us struggle with. I wonder whether in a way, it isn't necessarily something that is ministry specific because as we age, and move through different life circumstances, it would be fairly normal that we are increasing the number of people that we are coming into contact with. Each new phase of life brings with it a new set of relationships.

For example, when I had very young children at home, I was really only forming relationships with church, mother's group friends plus my husband's work friends. Now it is mother's group friends, preschool and primary school parent friends, church friends, work friends and husband's work friends. Soon it will be high school and primary school and preschool and mothers groups and church etc!!

The other thing that might be helpful to remember (and I forget this constantly!!) is that minister's wives primary job is just to support their husbands. So it shouldn't matter whether we are introverts or extroverts - our job is just to free our husband up and support him so that he can be involved in his main area of ministry. Obviously, what that looks like, is going to be different for everyone - and perhaps this is where we struggle the most; thinking that we need to be doing what THAT person over there is doing (even though they might have completely different gifts and abilities to us! :).

But if we are introverts that shouldn't have to mean that we are involved with all the people that our husband is involved with. Only that we make it possible for him to be involved.

At the end of the day, we can only do what we can do, with what God has given us - trusting in Him and His ability to continue to do great work in our weakness! And thankfully, God doesn't need to rely on us - we just need to rely on Him!!
Deb said…
How about a quote from Nicole Starling:
"...I need to remember that I am finite, not infinite, and God doesn't necessarily will that every good thing that could theoretically be done is something that is going to get done by me."
Sarah said…
I like that quote, Deb. :)

I remember when I was a uni student involved in the ministry that your husband works in, I never thought that the staffworkers' spouses should be involved more, reading the Bible with me, *fill in the blank*. I would see them occasionally at events, but they also had kids/jobs/lives etc - they were a support to their spouses, but not an extra unpaid staff member. Don't be too hard on yourself.

I just wanted to quote something you wrote on my blog last year which really helped me as I too struggle with not being able to do everything and keep up with everybody:
all for the glory of God. He's not that interested in the amount you achieve. More interested in how/why you live life.

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