“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.” Matthew 5:10-11.
When I met Earl, he had already been in the ministry 12 years, he had 3 children (10, 12 & 14 years old), and was pastoring as an abandoned single parent in a church that had about 10% of the city residents, (600 of 6,000). I was in my mid 30’s he was in his early 40’s. I had 2 children of my own (10 & 16 years old). But I didn’t think twice about dating and eventually marrying a pastor. I had been a Roman Catholic growing up, became a Baptist at 28 and didn’t see any issues with becoming a Presbyterian when I married Earl at the age of 36.
After 13 years of marriage bliss - :-) – I have since discovered how life in the ministry can be. My husband has had all of the 8th beatitude negatives hurled at him at one time or another in his ministries, from insults to persecution to loss of larger church calls because he wouldn’t compromise his beliefs, and to having all kinds of evil said against him falsely on account of his belief in the Jesus as presented in the Bible.
I remember a church that would have called him, but told him that he would have to leave all his controversial sermons in his filing cabinet. Needless to say, he didn’t take the call. Over the years, I too, have had derogatory and untrue comments said about me. Those have really hurt especially since I have been very actively involved at many levels in every church that we have served.
I would highly recommend to all church sessions, leaders, staff and church members, the book, “What Pastors Wish Church Members Knew” by Denise George. This book says it all and then some.
If you take the time to read the book mentioned above, you will actually see the real world of a pastor’s life and the far-reaching effects upon his family. Jesus warned that all those who made the decision to follow Him would be persecuted, they would be afflicted, and they would be oppressed. In 1 Thessalonians 3:4-7, Paul writes that he advised the church that he was going to suffer affliction and then by verse 7 he states, “In all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith.”
A pastor and his family know that according to the Scriptures, ministry is going to be difficult. Jesus promised that it would be. That is part of God’s call, and I am not really complaining. But Christians need to recognize that sometimes they can be used, usually without their awareness of it, to damage a good ministry and to discourage someone who has been graced by God to shepherd and benefit the church. With this knowledge and with a lot of prayer, forgiveness, and the strength of God, a church family and a pastor’s family can be victorious through all kinds of trials. We can all bear much more fruit for Jesus Christ when we stop insulting and discouraging pastors and start praying for them and supporting them and respect the fact that God may be working through them.
When I read God’s Word, I am in awe of the prophets who have stood in time past and had been persecuted. I never compare my life with theirs, but I can understand just a little better some of the dynamics and trials of their lives. To be persecuted because of your belief in Jesus Christ is like a badge of honor because when this happens to us, Jesus reminds us of His promise, “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:12) At least when we are persecuted on account of Jesus, we know that we are on the right side!
One of the most important and holy acts of kindness a church family and shepherds can do is to be in continuous prayer about their shared ministry together. Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Churches that have done exactly that have seen the positive results of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of those who have had a God-change of heart. Blessings abound for all involved when we do as Jesus directs rather than taking matters into our own hands and reacting cruelly, hurtfully or in an un-Christ like manner.
Unlike many minister families who may be experiencing more severe issues, Earl and I are doing relatively well. I did not write this blog to imply that we are always experiencing persecution. But some pastors and churches are going through such trials that we should not only be praying for them, but also teach and proclaim that it shouldn’t be the church that persecutes its own – even if the world does. Many times churches and shepherds can experience great love, prayers and support for each other. And this is how our witness should be to our culture. But in this ministry as a pastor’s wife, I have learned what God’s call upon my life is. As Earl ministers to our church family, I am to minister to him. For his days are long and hard out in the ministry field. The very least that I can do is to minister to him and attempt to make his divine call as easy to bear as possible. We are in this ministry of Jesus Christ together – for better or for worse.