More than ever this year, I want to add some balance to a very kind gesture – kind, but in some ways incomplete.
Someone declared October to be Pastor Appreciation Month (by the way, according to a Wikipedia article, October has been adopted by almost 30 other causes, including Breast Cancer Awareness, Fire Prevention, and Vegetarianism – we’re talking about a VERY popular month here). Greeting cards are available in Christian bookstores, but it’s probably most visible these days through memes like this one floating around social media.
I’m glad that someone had the idea to express appreciation to pastors. I’ve already received some encouraging words, and I’m grateful. I’m sure my fellow pastors feel the same way.
But as I said, the focus is incomplete, because it leaves out a very important member of the team. I first addressed that problem two years ago, with a post entitled “When is Pastor’s Wife Appreciation Month?” I reposted that article last year, and I’m pleased that it has become one of the most-read pieces on my blog. It describes the behind-the-scenes ministry of my wife, and everything I said is still true. If you wish, you can read it here.
I’m writing a sequel this year, because my wife Murf said something to me a few months ago that amazed me. I still marvel at it. I want to honor her, and remember and learn from her example. This post is one way for me to do that, and if it encourages you too, that’s a worthwhile bonus.
You are probably aware that this has been a year of huge transition for us. We moved away from a church where we had invested 13 years of ministry. We made life-long friends there, and it was hard to leave a church that we loved.
More importantly, we moved away from our daughter and son-in-law and our two grandsons – the youngest was born just days before we left town. Murf had been lovingly involved and invested in the lives of our extended family, getting to play Mimi several times a week for more than two years. She is a wonderful mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother, and I know that each role matters to her. She lives for those moments.
I knew from the time we began discussing the move that there was a lack of balance as we looked at our future. While there would be excitement and cost for both of us, most of the excitement would be mine, and most of the cost would be hers. As the plans firmed up early in the year and we neared the date to announce our departure, I wondered if she would get cold feet as she contemplated the loss that was coming. She never did.
One day I was telling her how excited I was about the new opportunities ahead of us in our new church, about my enthusiasm for the roles I would be asked to play, and she told me that she was excited too. I finally asked her the question that had been nagging me for weeks. Holding my breath a little, I said, “Are you happy for me, or for you?”
I will never forget her response. After a small pause, and with a look of sincere confusion on her face, she replied “What’s the difference?”
Without a doubt, that is the most selfless statement I’ve ever heard. It humbles me to be the object of that kind of selflessness. It’s hard to believe that I get to live with a person who thinks like that. It makes me want to be worthy of her.
When I grow up, I want to be like my wife. This is not the first time I’ve said that, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. That’s why she deserves an Appreciation Month.
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