“A church in Clearwater voted last night for you to come be their lead pastor. Will you go?”
“Can we take a little time to pray about it?” My husband Randy asked.
So, we prayed, but called back the next morning with our answer, “Yes, we will go!”
We were both just twenty-four years old.
The next couple of weeks were filled with a whirlwind of emotions. We were busy packing all our belongings and saying goodbye to both sets of our parents, our hometown, our church family, and some of the dearest friends we’ve ever had. When our last goodbyes were said, and lots of tears shed, I drove our car (with our two-year-old, potty-training toddler boy) following behind my husband in a U-Haul.
I confess. I sobbed over many of those miles.
As we arrived in Clearwater, we realized that our church was in a very depressed neighborhood, and our home was a makeshift apartment, very conveniently located…in the back of the church! “Oh my.” I swallowed hard, “This may not be as easy as I’d thought.”
AND IT WASN’T!
But during this transitional time in our lives and ministry, I had some personal choices to make. Decisions that would proactively help keep my heart settled and at peace, even though my world felt utterly upside-down.
Here are a few principles I practiced through change:
- I focused on maintaining a daily devotional life. Matthew 5:6 in the Message version, says, “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.” I know without a doubt that my relationship with Jesus is THE most important KEY to my spirit staying strong and every part of my life remaining in balance. If I don’t pray, I’m not as gracious and loving as I can be. Just ask my family. So, spending time with Jesus in prayer and in His word helped keep my heart tender and my attitude in check. Sometimes I had to pray a lot!! And might I add: My love for Jesus and His love for me is still what’s holding me together today
- I kept my joy-tank filled with worship music. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength,” so I played worship music in our home and in the car. This practice in worship helped me (and our family) see God as so much greater than any of the problems we were encountering. And today, He’s still healing my heart and giving me joy as I worship Him and rest in His love.
- I made our marriage and family relationship a top priority. Even though this change had altered so much of our life, we were still the same people. I knew I’d married my husband because I loved him, and he loved me. We were together in this, and we couldn’t allow the unfamiliar to change our family. So, we continued our routines, mixed in some fun things, and encouraged each other along the way as we tried to grow into our new normal.
- I didn’t initially assume additional responsibilities. As a brand-new, first-time, lead pastor’s wife (at a small church that needed EVERYTHING), it was tempting not to take on a plethora of leadership roles right away. But I didn’t. Instead, I only did what seemed necessary without over-obligating myself. Then, as time progressed, and our family became more settled, I began taking on additional ministry responsibilities.
- I rested in God’s call and leadership over our lives. Proverbs 3:6 tells us, “Listen for God’s voice in all you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” This change for us came with countless challenges, but we kept coming back to the fact that we believed God had truly called us there. And that gave us great peace. Trusting His lordship and leadership over our lives still does.
I’m still practicing these principles today, and I’m overjoyed to tell you that this is the only church we’ve ever pastored. We stayed in the Clearwater-Largo area of Florida for thirty-seven and a half years experiencing innumerable changes (including relocating our church across town). But, last year, my husband Randy transitioned into a new role where he’s helping pastors to be appointed into lead pastoral roles in churches all over our state. Our ministry seems to have come full circle because now my husband is the one calling young pastors, asking, “Will you go?”
So, here we are in the middle of another transition. Yet, we’re still determined to stay strong and steady, allowing God to change us for the better through the process. If you happen to be reading this, and perhaps you’re experiencing a season of change, I have prayed for you.
Written by: Peggy Morris. Peggy and her husband, Randy, live in Seminole, FL.