Young YP and the Roller Coaster

Dear DW-

 Just got hired as a full-time youth pastor 8 months ago…it’s my first ministry position and it’s out of state.  Also, just got married 2 months ago, so everything is still very new for my wife and me.  On top of getting married and moving to a different state, she is also finishing up her bachelor’s degree in secondary education – she is student teaching full-time. Oh and there’s this whole new thing of what it means to be a youth pastor’s wife.  

We absolutely love being married…it’s everything we dreamed it would be!  However, my wife is having a hard time adjusting to this new life.  We are in our early 20’s and like most churches there are very few people our age.  We spend most of our free time with teenagers or people who could be our parents! 

 Our biggest struggle right now is we feel alone.  We have no family within 5 hours of us and no real friends within 5 years of us.  I hate thinking my job as a youth pastor is hurting the emotional health of my wife.  I love teenagers and helping them grow in Christ, but I love my wife more – much more.  Any advice for us at this unique stage of our lives would be awesome…thanks so much! 

 YoungYP

 

Dear YoungYP,

 Yep, you have done it!  You have just invited the woman that you love more than anything on earth into the front seat of the biggest, baddest roller coaster anyone has ever experienced.  And not only do you have her in the front seat, but she’s not sure that the restraints are really locked in place.  Coming out of the chute and riding up the hill was kind of fun and exciting.  But at the precipice of the first plunge where you both can see the reality of how deep this coaster goes and how long, twisted, and harrowing your ride will be, you start to experience your first thoughts of regret.  Yikes!  Let me off!!  

I’ve been riding that rail for a while now, and let me say to you that it’s going to be ok.  Give yourselves some time to adjust.  You have experienced enough change in the last few months to overwhelm anybody.   Your sensitivity and concern about how your wife is adjusting to the ministry lifestyle is the first step to holding her hand and helping her feel secure during the ride.  But also recognize that you can’t secure her in the cart by yourself no matter how strong you are.  You can’t be your wife’s only source of support and friendship.  If you are going to survive this ride, you both have to develop a support system to help hold you in place when the ministry lifestyle turns you upside down and corkscrews you through the twists and turns of life.  I wish I could tell you that once you make it through the first plunge that everything is easy from then on, but, you know roller coasters, on the good ones the ride is usually exciting and unexpected from start to finish.  The ministry lifestyle is the same way.  Every stage of life will be filled with these kinds of loop de loops. 

 Below, I have a few questions for you to answer.  I hope that they will not only help you to find a support system no matter where you go in ministry, but also help you to figure out how to embrace your wife on the roller coaster ride of your new life together.  And if you both can figure out how to hold on tight at the beginning, you might just enjoy this exhilarating and terrifying, heart-stopping, spectacular ride that we call ministry.

 Love,

DW~

  •  Do you have a group of friends from before marriage and moving that you can connect with via Skype on a regular basis?
  • Do you have friends or mentors from your former church families that you can call up when you need to hear a familiar voice?
  • Are there any other YP’s in your area that you could invite over for dinner? 
  • Have you considered befriending a YP from another denomination?  (I bet some of them have wives that can relate to your situation!) 
  • Is there a YP association in your town, neighboring city, or state?  (Have your wife check out www.leadingandlovingit.com for a virtual ministry spouse community.  Take her to your next YP conference, and let her connect with other spouses.  www.conference.youthministry.com has an excellent spouse tract that also continues to meet on FB –“Married to a Youth Pastor-Wives Connect Group”.  You can friend the FB group even if you haven’t attended the conference yet.)
  • Is it worth one night a week of your busy schedule to join a Para-church Bible study where you can connect with others your age?
  • Is there a hobby that you both can participate in that may connect you with other people your age? 
  • Have you too quickly disregarded the support and influence of the older friends that you have in your church?
  • Have you connected with the other staff members and their spouses?  Have you considered inviting them to do something social with you?
  • Are you taking regular days off?  Are your days off truly “black-out” days from church work?
  • Are you giving your wife your leftovers or is she getting the same man that she met before you took the ministry position?
  • Is ministry occupying every aspect of your life or do you and your wife have very definable boundaries where ministry is not allowed in? i.e. day off, vacations, regular private time together
  • Have you ever discussed with your wife what she wants her “role” to be in ministry?  Are you helping her to define God’s unique role and purpose in ministry or have you and/or the church been defining that role for her?

 

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Posted on June 20, 2012, in Marriage, The Pastor Asked and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. My husband is also a youth pastor. We are also in our early 20s, away from family, and at a church where there are not many young couples (especially without children). We have found that a great way to find some friends is to network with other youth pastors in the area, regardless of denomination. Because some of them live 30-45 minutes away, we may not see them often since we’re busy, but knowing you have some people you can get together with occasionally and text/call in between when you need a friend is great. Also, enjoy spending time and learning from those who are older than you and have similar interests. As you grow in your marriage, having someone you trust to go to when you have questions or problems is wonderful. Hope these suggestions are helpful 🙂

  2. What does a “black out” day really mean or look like?

    • A “black out” day would be specific time when no phone calls are answered, no emails or social media is checked, and no discussions about church are allowed in your time together. It’s a total break from all ministry work. It’s a moment in time for you to reconnect with your spouse without the distraction of having to serve other people. It takes discipline and commitment, but once you “turn off” ministry for a day, you may rediscover a part of your relationship that you have been missing! Love, DW~

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