The first staff wives retreat I attended came very early on in my 26 years of marriage and ministry with Clay. I’ll be honest: at the time, I did not think it was all that great. My biggest takeaway from the weekend came when my then pastor’s wife told me, “I will never get close to another church member again. I did that once, and I got burned.” I was young. She was seasoned. I respected and valued the wisdom and experience she had. And her outlook was troubling to me. I recognized the line I would walk in relationships as the wife of a minister. I also knew friendship was something I would need.
Then, there was the time we were on staff at another church and we wives drove five hours to attend a retreat together.... three hours later, we got back in the van and drove back home. My husband had been taken to the ER with severe back spasms. Those sweet ministry wives drove the whole way and let me sleep so that I could tend to Clay and the kids when I got back home in the wee hours of the night. They also prayed for him. Out loud. While we were driving.
I had the privilege of attending another retreat with a different group of wives, not long after Clay came on staff at a new church. The retreat had a spa theme, and during free time we sat down together for makeovers. The beauty technician noted my fair skin and suggested I use the lightest color foundation; then she told us to each use one application. I took her quite literally, and by the time I was finished with that one application, I very much resembled Boo Radley. In no time at all, my thick pasty white foundation face had the other staff wives from my church in tears. I did not care one bit that their laughter was at my expense. It was, to me, the moment we became friends.
That’s an important thing, no matter who you’re married to or if you are even married at all. But for women whose husbands are in ministry, deep friendships can be a little bit more difficult to come by sometimes.
That’s why when a pastor’s wife who had attended another Platform 320 retreat suggested we plan one for ministry wives, I thought it was great idea. Stellar, even. But, in case you need more convincing, here are seven equally compelling reasons ministry wives need to retreat together.
Cynthia Hopkins is a minister’s wife from First Baptist Church College Station.
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