This week I am featuring Amanda Lockyer. She and I have known each other since we were children as her father pastored my childhood church for many years as we were growing up. I have been inspired by her perseverance as she and her family have experienced many trials over the last few years. Her unflinching reliance on God has strengthened my faith and has touched the lives of many.
Tell us about your family and your ministry.
After 8 years of Bible College while working full-time, my husband graduated from Calvary Baptist Bible College in 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies. Following the Lord’s leading that May, we stepped out on faith to be “church planters” in NE Kentucky in a 100-year-old church building. We began holding services in September of 2010. We have seen many children in the area come to know the Lord in the past 3 years. In July of 2012, we merged our ministry with a small group of people in South Shore, KY that needed a Pastor. So, my husband Todd is now the Pastor of New Hope Baptist Church. www.newhopebaptistky.com
This Church is still a mission work in many ways. We have a very small group of attendees, a bus ministry and we are not “officially” a year old yet. Daily, we are praying and trusting that God will continue to bless and “build the ministry” in His way and in His time. Currently, my husband works full-time along with being the Pastor there because the church is unable to support us financially at this time. They do pay us a small weekly salary when they are able.
Is there a single trial or event within your ministry that you feel has helped to make you who you are or that taught you a necessary lesson? Tell us about it and explain how God has used it to help your ministry.
There is no other event that has affected our family greater or changed our viewpoint of God than the 7 month struggle we had with our daughter Gracie being in intensive care and then passing away. You know, every individual has a “plan” for his or her life that they scheme or dream or try to make happen. Ours was to have children, healthy, 3 years apart, with a friendly church, full-time support, and “happy ever after”. Wow. The scripture that resounds in my ears is when God says, “My ways are not your ways” “My thoughts are not your thoughts”. (Isaiah 55:8)
Our ministry and life has been a picture of constantly yielding and TRUSTING in the perfect plan of the Lord for our lives. What looks like chaos to us is what He had planned. What seems totally wrong to us is totally right. But, if a believer can get to a point where he/she says, “Lord, I trust you; I know you love me and want the best for me. I’ll quit trying to do it my way.” Then, that is where we feel the peace of the God in the storm. Many times in our lives we have questioned God and said, “Are you sure about this?” But, when we bow to His plan and give our burdens to Him, then we do well. Whether it be by the bedside of a dying child or in front of a suffering ministry, we have to surrender to Him. I still struggle with this surrendering daily.
What five words would you use to describe being a ministry wife?
“Honor, Pressure, Responsibility, Difficult, Calling”
It’s an honor, but often difficult, full of responsibility and pressure and must be looked at as a calling of God.
What would you say is your most important job(s) as a ministry wife? What expectations do you feel are placed on you as a ministry wife?
It is hard to nail down the most important job as a ministry wife. Often, we have many “expected” jobs and if we are willing, most of the church people will let us do them all! From teaching the kids to cleaning the bathrooms to typing the bulletins to being hospitable to always smiling and having it together to never letting your “sinful nature” show to singing in the choir to shaking every hand to loving every person and always be content with all things. Always support your husband, too. All of these are “good” things when done in the right spirit. All of these are great things when not forced but done for the Lord.
But, I believe the most important job of a Pastor’s wife is to stay right with God! We have got to be so in love with the Lord Jesus, so in the Word and learning and growing in Him, that we will be ready to do or respond in ministry in whatever the Lord leads. If our prayer life is weak and our heart is sinful, everything else we do will be in vain and often we will fail. We need to earnestly pray for our selves, our husbands, our children. And, we need to pray that God fill us with His love so that we can love others.
I have been told over and over by many pastors’ wives that it is very difficult for a ministry wife to have close friends and to form relationships. Have you experienced this? Why do you think this is a problem and what do you think ministry wives can do to change this? Do you feel relationships are different for a ministry wife? If so, how?
I can honestly say that my best friend is my husband. I have some really sweet ladies in my life who would be there no matter what. But, there is always the temptation to share our burdens with ladies who love us in our church only to have it used against us later. This is not a fable. I have had it happen several times! Even those friends we love with all of our heart have sin natures, too. A slip of the tongue or saying too much can come back and bite us with a vengeance. It may not happen right then—but one day, the devil can plant the hard words in the heart of a “friend” and it cause many problems.
I truly do feel extremely lonely at times and wish so much for Godly friends outside of my ministry. I believe a fault of many “Preacher’s wives” is they feel they have to look “all together” even for other Pastor’s wives. That is not so! The Bible says to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2) The way I have prayed is that God put me into contact with Godly ladies who are also open and want a friend that I can be myself with. Sometimes, I try to find a Pastor’s wife or Christian lady with whom I have like tastes, like burdens, like ministries, etc. and then I reach out to her for fellowship. Not all of the ladies I’ve asked to share with have been willing, but God provides who He wants us to share with. And, if we pray specifically for a friend, He will answer.
I do believe that Preacher’s wives should have “monthly” meetings just like the men do. Not all women feel comfortable or are outgoing in this way. But, I know that it would be a blessing to me. If you know of any Ministry Wives’ fellowships….let me know! Maybe one day I’ll start one.
Lastly, when the burdens are heavy, we feel that if we can just share it with someone else it will help! If anything…maybe they will just pity us! But, then I am reminded that God is the one I need to tell the most to…and I often don’t. I love the song that He reminds me of that says, “Are you weary, are you heavy-hearted? Tell it to Jesus. He is a friend that’s well known. You’ve no other such a friend or brother. Tell it to Jesus alone.”
How do you respond when someone criticizes your husband or when a conflict arises in the church that your husband has to deal with?
There are 2 answers to this question. One being, how do I respond in a conflict; and secondly, how should I respond? I can say that there have been several conflicts and criticisms and times where I have responded to in the wrong way. I believe all conflict should be bathed in prayer and words spoken in love. I believe we should specifically pray before confronting any person and we should consider our motives as to why we are confronting the person. Many times, it is to “force” an outcome, soothe our anger, or rush to a “fix” when a person is not ready.
I have responded many times by “head-on” confrontation and it has yet to be a success. Many times, people are offended and leave. Every time I fail, I ask God to help me have grace, love and patience. If we continue to be Godly, loving and faithful in the midst of a person who is not right with God, that is the best way to deal with the issue. If the person has a problem that is an unspiritual complaint, we have every right to speak the truth of it being wrong in love. However, conflict is often avoided by people. You may know they are upset with you. You may even know that they are talking about you behind your back. But, if you try to handle it on your own, it always has the potential to be a worse outcome and leave you looking like the one with the problem. If the person is a believer, God will convict—and in His time, either they will make things right, or God will resolve the issue. My #1 problem has been learning once again to give my anger and hurts to the Lord and waiting on Him to work them out. Instead, I try to take matters in my own hands with face-to-face confrontation and often I lose control of my emotions and I fail. The Bible says to have joy and be “happy” when reproached for the name of Christ.( 1st Peter 4:14). There will always be attacks when you are living for the Lord.
Do you ever feel like you are living in a glass house…like someone is always keeping an eye on you and your family? Does that change how you act?
There is no doubt that people will watch a Pastor and his family closely to see how they live and what they do. I believe the way we handle it will help us to deal with the feeling of being in a glass house. While being a Pastor’s wife is a leadership role, we are still humans with sin natures and faults. Often times, Pastor’s wives feel that they cannot admit their weaknesses and struggles because they have to appear “super spiritual”. It’s not about being perfect—it’s about being right and confessing when we are wrong.
If you are humble and tell people that you will make mistakes and that you are on this “Christian life journey” just like them, I believe it takes some of the pressure of. But, be ready! Because, even though God forgives when we “blow it”—church people aren’t as forgiving. It’s hard for them to see a Pastor and wife fail spiritually and sometimes it can cause them to stumble or offend them even if you make it right. Because of this, we should try to live above reproach and cautiously, knowing that while we cannot be a “fake”, we need to be sensitive to our testimony and how it affects our “sheep” or church people. But, you must answer to God and not a person’s “idea” of what you should be, or you will drive yourself crazy.
Be honest…have you ever felt like just walking away from ministry and never looking back? How do you stick with it when you want to give up?
Honestly, many times I have questioned my calling, my strength, even my personality and have wondered if I am really able to be used of God in the ministry. Sometimes I feel like I do more damage than good. How do I stay with it? Well, I tell myself that as long as God has kept me in ministry, He wants me there. That means that He still has a use for this unstable, doubtful, emotional, faithless woman that I am. I pray that God would do something in my life for His glory—and I know He is able even when I don’t feel able. I love the saying that “God doesn’t call the equipped…he equips the called.” Also, we have a promise that he will continue the good work in us. Philippians 1:6-“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” That’s a relief! It takes the pressure of me to be successful because I know that if I just let Him be in control, He can use me. Also, when I want to walk away I can tell that my priorities are shifting towards my personal needs and not God’s plan. I know He will not give me more than I can bear and if I can’t bear it, He will take me out of it. Though some days I think, God, are you sure you have the right person here? I don’t think I can take anymore.
Has ministry forced you to move away from family and friends that you were very close to? How has that affected you? What have you done to make such a transition easier?
That’s where I am now! For all but 2 years of my first 7 years of married life, I lived where my parents were. During this time, I had a child and had grandma and grandpa right there. We had Sunday dinners together and saw each other almost every other day. When God moved us 3 years ago, I asked my mom, (who is also a Preacher’s wife and has been away from her mother her entire life) what I was going to do?? She said, “God will work it out! He will put ladies in your church to be “grandma” and He will give you people to love and care for you like family.” And, that is true. He has!
As a matter of fact, the rubber “hit the road” 1 year after we moved away. I became pregnant! The past 19 months I have had a child for the first time without being near any family. Often times, I have to take him with me when I run errands, get groceries, etc. I don’t get as many “date nights” and I have to plan appointments around my husband’s schedule so that I can have help. God has given me ladies who have helped in wonderful ways through the past 2 years. And, visits with both sets of grandparents have never been sweeter
In the end….you just kind of deal with it! I always see ladies who have it worse off than me—no family living, single mothers, etc. I could be across an ocean; I’m only a day’s drive away. So, it’s not that bad in the grand scheme of things. It’s not like being by family; but God’s grace is there.
Has your husband ever had to work outside of the church while also serving in the church? How did that affect you and your family? What did God teach you through that experience?
We are still right here. My husband is bi-vocational. We are living by faith and he is busy! Having to work full-time greatly limits his opportunities to visit, minister, follow-up on visitors, etc. God knows this and right now, this is how He has seen fit for our lives to be. But, the Lord has given my husband a loving employer who knows his priorities and the job works around his ministry needs in an amazing way. So, God is definitely in the details. Also, it is a good thing for preachers to experience the “real world” and what it is like to work 9-5 in the world with sinners. It gives you a taste of what your people who are “employees” have to face in the world with the dirty comments, the sin, the conflict, etc. That way, they will know you have been there and will not resent you for not having a “real job”…..even though we know the ministry in itself is work enough!! 😉