October 25, 2012

Who mentors clergy/spouses young in ministry?

I spend each Tuesday volunteering as a chaplain at one of the Indiana University Hospitals fairly close to my house. Today I was walking through the lobby and saw one of Mike's (my husband)former district superintendents, Paul, and his wife, Mary. I was so glad to see them. They are getting close to eighty, but remain active in church, community, and family interests.

Paul was Mike's superintendent from 1981-1983. We brought them a meal when they moved. We were in their house numerous times for dinner, along with other clergy and their spouses. Paul and Mary came to our house too. Our friendship with them was close, like family. Paul mentored Mike and the other pastors in the district. Mary mentored spouses with warmth, and genuine care. We were so blessed to be in their district.

I wish clergy/spouses young in ministry could be mentored the way Paul and Mary did for us. They were integral parts of our growth in self, in God, and in ministry. My heart aches when I listen to spouses who have no one to walk alongside in close and meaningful ways. Our districts are so large now, geographically, that there are assistant district superintendents who help the district superintendent. Administrative tasks have increased. Ministry is so much more complex than in the early eighties.

The gracious hospitality that Mike and I received from district superintendents and their spouses the first twenty years in ministry was such a grounding for the future.

How do other conferences nurture clergy/spouses young in ministry?



  1. I so wish there was a more intentional mentoring component to life as a pastor or pastor's wife. I have often wished I had an understanding pastor's wife near me to turn to with questions or concerns or to share the kind of friendship that just isn't possible with members of my husband's church. I didn't count on the loneliness I would feel in this life. I had already lived a full life (this is a second marriage for both my husband and me)and knew myself pretty well. Now I feel like I had to love church life enough to be willing to marry a minister but then also be willing to detach from it since I no longer feel like a real church member. Quite a conflict. I'm just glad I had my own identity from my life before.

  2. Yes, we have a rather odd relationship to the churches where we serve. Sure, our spouses have the official appointment, but we also have a part and can help or hinder. While I've always been able to make at least one lasting friendship while in a church, the dynamics do change when we leave. And it takes a lot of energy to still connected. Being close of other spouses can be a challenge too, but I've found that if I really want understanding and candid advice, I have to go to these spouse friends. I hope you participate in some of the spouse events your conference offers (or at least I assume the conference offers something). Thanks for sharing.