Gayle Haggard on Embracing Life as a Pastor's Wife
- Monday, March 07, 2005
As the wife of a man involved in ministry, you sometimes may feel trapped by unrealistic expectations and overburdened by obligations. The constant demands on his time and yours–as well as the feeling that your life is always on display–can lead to discouragement and frustration.
But ministry life isn’t about enduring challenges, says author Gayle Haggard. It’s about embracing joy. After more than 20 years of working alongside husband Ted Haggard, she believes that women supporting their husbands in ministry truly can be free, happy and fulfilled as they recognize the value of their unique vocation.
Haggard has been married for 26 years to Ted, president of the National Association of Evangelicals and pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs. From the early days with just a few people meeting in their basement, through its growth into a megachurch of 11,000, Gayle has worked alongside her husband in building the ministry. Today she oversees New Life’s small-group ministry for women, which includes more than 100 small groups. She and Ted are the parents of five.
In her new book, A Life Embraced, Haggard leads wives of pastors and other ministry leaders to find strength in their dependence upon the Holy Spirit and to pursue intimacy in their relationship with God. Her insights, drawn from personal experience, will inspire and equip you to view your day-to-day responsibilities from a fresh, positive perspective. Read more in our recent interview.
Crosswalk: What adjustments did you personally have to make in order for your marriage and ministry to work? How did you find balance?
Haggard: I had to grow up and mature as we all do if we want our relationships and our lives to be successful. As a Christian, I sought the counsel of the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures to help me and I was not disappointed. God met me, spoke to me, and helped me as I sought Him. I learned to lean on Him and He so satisfied me that I felt increasingly free to love my husband and to participate with him in ministry and the life and calling God has given to us. I believe God delights in this type of relationship. It's his desire to make us whole and only He can do this. As we receive his ministry, we become less needy and self-focused, so life and ministry get a lot easier.
As far as finding balance goes, I think this occurs when our lives become whole and the various aspects of our lives – i.e. marriage, family life, personal ambitions, and ministry – are not fighting against each other. Ted and I believe we are called to give our lives to serve and encourage the body of Christ. Everything about our lives supports this, how we are at home and how we are at the church and in public. It doesn't mean that all we talk about at home is the church and that our children are involved in every church activity. It just means we recognize our purpose and are conscious of it in the way we live our lives. This is not burdensome! We love what God has called us to and it is not too heavy. His yoke truly is easy and his burden is light. We only get in trouble when we take on more than God has given us to do or try to take his place as the answer to everyone's problems. Instead, Ted and I try to identify specifically what God has given us to do in the body of Christ (which includes raising our children well) and we encourage others to do what God has given them to do. This keeps our load from being too heavy and brings real freedom and joy to ministry, partnerships and friendships. It also allows us to be home with our kids most evenings of the week, enjoying engaging discussions around our dinner table and growing as a family as we should. The joy and security within our family brings tremendous strength to our lives and ministry. That's what I call balance.
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