Some of you may have been here. Some of you may never be here. And some of you without knowing it will be facing the in-between some day. Last April, my husband and I stepped away from pastoring the church that we planted five years prior, for a season of rest. Trust me when I say this was never the plan. My husband had this church plant on his forever list. Pastoring Forward Church until he grew very old and passed it on, that was the plan. However, with some medical issues, and lack of church finances, we felt God closing this forever chapter.
I have walked through many hard seasons as a pastor's wife, but to watch my husband's "baby," something we started coming to a close was probably by far the hardest thing I have ever walked through as a wife of a pastor. Honestly, we didn't really know what to do. This was all we had ever known as a married couple, and ministry was my husband's life he had been in for the past nine or ten years. Without it, we felt lost. So we decided to move back to our hometown for a temporary season of rest, 6mo-1yr.
Grieving the church ending, working through my husband's health, and finding a new way to provide for our family was all happening in a matter of days after the doors shut. 6 months came and went and we still did not know what "next" looked like for our family. We were resting, waiting, hoping, and looking for any chance we could grab a hold of something to get us out of the in-between phase. Feelings of wasting time, or maybe this was permanent, or what are we doing, all came in like waves. We were just very discontent.
But, the more we looked at the months spent out of ministry, the more we realized our binoculars were removed. We had stepped away, and without realizing it became more and more aware of areas we needed growth, the areas we succeeded in church planting, and the areas we failed miserably. We realized that as hard as rest is, had we done it more over the years, then we probably wouldn't have had to take such a long season of rest year five. Another month went by and little by little we started dreaming again.
Praying and dreaming about different places such as planting in Vancouver, or Asheville, and possibly working for a church in Charlotte, NC. Each never gave us a peace, even though Vancouver did sound like the ideal vacation spot!! We always knew we wanted to be church planters, even the day the doors shut. We had seasons of burn out in ministry, but fortunately no amount of stress and weight had ever burnt us out from Christ's church. So the more we kept and keep praying where, the more we feel called back to Nashville. But that is a blog for another day.
If you are in the in-between phase, or someday will be here. Be encouraged. Rest is good. There is purpose in it, even if it feels like you are wasting time and have no calling right now. We have learned so much about what "to do" and what "not to do" by stepping away and allowing God to refine our hearts, and look at the church without those yucky binoculars we picked up somewhere along the way. We have also never been reassured more how much God wired us for living kingdom minded in ministry as pastors of a church. We had our moments over the years where we wanted to give up, throw in the towel, and get a normal every day job. But, after this season I don't think we will ever take for granted the "greatest job in the world" again.
Pastoring a church is full of seasons. Seasons unknown that have yet to show their face. Chapters are always closing, and new ones are always opening without our permission. We must be willing to walk in faith in every season, good ones, bad ones, and the in-between ones that sometimes leave us hopeless. I would never choose this season, but looking back I am grateful for it. It was much needed for us to be who we wanted to be as pastors, and for where we someday want to be in pastoring a church. We want to be the best we can be, and if we have to rough out the in-between phase to get there, then let it be.
xo a girl who sleeps with the pastor