New Resource Aims to Help Pastors Balance Ministry and Marriage

Joe Wright, executive director of the Bivocational & Small Church Leadership Network, leads with his wife Pennie BSCLN conferences on balancing ministry and home life. BSCLN photo

Happily wed to his new bride Pennie, Joe Wright didn’t want to travel without her in his role as executive director of the Bivocational & Small Church Leadership Network (BSCLN).

“When I interviewed with the BSCLN and they offered me the position, I shared with them, ‘This is a burden on my heart. A lot of ministers are struggling. I’m a newlywed, I’m happy and I want my wife to go with me,'” Wright told Baptist Press in describing a new BSCLN conference for pastors and their wives.

“And they said, ‘Joe, will you buy her plane ticket?'” Wright recounted. “And I said, ‘I will, I will.’ They said, ‘Then she goes with you wherever you go.'”

The Wrights’ story segues into “The Pastor’s Wife & The Other Woman: Balancing Your Marriage with Your Ministry,” a conference available at no fee to Southern Baptist churches, associations and conventions. The conference, adaptable to a single evening or two days, is designed to encourage and equip pastors and their wives to manage their ministerial and personal lives in harmony.

“I believe the greatest vulnerability for the modern minister is not in his church work, but in his home life,” Wright told BP. “And if Satan can injure him at home, he will cripple him at work.”

“Doctrinal, theological, missiological, practical places in the ministry all can be places of failure, but if a minister has trouble in his own home,” Wright said, “that trouble will bleed over into all of those places in his ministry and he’ll struggle. And it doesn’t have to be a moral failure.”

Stan Wafler, who helped host a conference as associational missionary of The Beech River Baptist Association, told BP the event is a valuable opportunity for associations to encourage pastors and their wives.

“I would just encourage associations to be the organization that actually lifts up the role of pastor and takes that time to invest in them so that they know that they’re important,” Wafler said, “because it’s possible that there’s nobody else doing that.”

The Wrights both lost their first mates to cancer after more than 30 years of marriage. They thought their lives and ministries were essentially over, Wright told BP, until the Lord intervened.

“And then all of a sudden, God introduced us to one another. We carefully courted for a year, and then God opened the door for us to be married,” he said. “And we discovered that with the advent of personal happiness, we began to be available to God again to be used in the ministry. Our attention, our strength, our focus wasn’t on our own personal loss anymore, because God had taken that loss away.”

The conference incorporates BSCLN main strategies of finding and engaging small church and bivocational leaders, encouraging and equipping them through training and resources to be better pastors. Costs are minimal, Wright said. The conference is underwritten by BSCLN supporters, while hosts provide a location and perhaps dinner for attendees.

The Wrights have hosted four conferences this year, he said, and have additional conferences planned in Iowa, Kentucky and a regional event serving Delaware, West Virginia and Maryland.

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Source: Baptist Press