In my past blog posts, I have talked about how many pastors’ spouses finding ways to seek to their own passion in ministry. I stated that many pastors’ spouses are learning to use their gifts to flourish and develop their own identity, instead of only taking on the identity of their clergy spouse or the church. Many pastors’ spouses who start their own ministry outside of their clergy spouse’s ministry find it very rewarding and are able to overcome the many challenges and expectations of being the spouse to the pastor. They spend more time working on their own projects and with people they want to be involved with. Working in their passion zone gives many spouses freedom to be themselves, helping to eradicate those occasional feelings of loneliness. My research continually shows how much more satisfied spouses are when they find their own passion in ministry, and I want to give you an example of how one spouse started her own ministry.
Last year Hope Hampton, a clergy’s spouse, decided it was time to transition into her own passion, ministry, and calling to assist women in poverty outside of her church. She believed that God had blessed her life, and in return she wanted to pass on to others what she had received. As a woman of God, Hope felt called to support women who were struggling to live life better for themselves and for those they had charge over but somehow did not have the right resources to accomplish that goal. Hope wanted to give these women an opportunity to become successful by providing financial resources, tools, and teaching that could break down barriers and obstacles to becoming successful in this world. Hope knew there were some women stuck in poverty who could pull themselves out of poverty and become thriving members of society if had the ideal resources. She also knew that when women are helped, they usually found ways to reach back into their neighbors to help others. Hope realized that reaching out to help women in poverty could change the lives of many generations in the future, especially for African Americans and people of color.
Getting off to a good start, Hope extended an invitation to other pastors’ spouses from across the city to participate with her, and now the ministry is powered and funded by these spouses along with corporations, non-for-profit organizations, counselors, therapists, and other donors who believe in the kind of work Hope is doing. Together this group of spouses, organizations, non-profits, counselors, therapists and donors formed a giving circle called Indescribable Gift, which will provide scholarship funding for women in poverty who have shown efforts that indicate they are striving to build better lives for themselves. Indescribable Gift Giving Circle (IGGC) has developed four categories of women that the ministry will provide resources to: 1) young women headed to college without support from their family, 2) single mothers who are making efforts to improve the quality of life for their children, 3) women who are 40+ who are making a difference in the lives of others after having their own major setbacks, and 4) grandmothers who are raising grandchildren with limited support. The women in these categories are those that the IGGC believes have potential for reaching their goal to get out of poverty.
IGGC has also given spouses of the clergy an opportunity to focus their attention on doing something outside of their churches that gives them personal satisfaction and fulfillment of their own. It allows them to choose how much time and support they wish to give, without overwhelming themselves. It will be their choice how they want to participate. Even if they choose to only donate and not become intensely involved with this ministry, it will be their own choice and they have the freedom to do so.
I share this example because many spouses of pastors are not always aware how simple it is to use their passion as a way to give themselves the opportunity to find out what they really care about and how they want to do ministry. Our passion gives us our identity and our identity shows us who we are and who God is calling us to be versus who others think we should be.
It is not always easy to come to this kind of clarity while living up to others’ expectations of how ministry is to be done. However, your heart’s desire does come into full view when you take time to find and live your passion. A choice many of us forget we have.
If you are a spouse of a clergy person in the Indianapolis area and are interested in becoming a part of IGGC, you may contact Hope Hampton at (317) 254-5852.
Dr. Joyce Scott Thomas is the Associate Director of the Academy of Preaching and Celebration.
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