St Patrick the (almost) Protestant Missionary

I am a servant of Christ to a foreign nation for the unspeakable glory of life everlasting which is in Jesus Christ our Lord. – Patrick

Would you believe the original St Patrick was British, not Irish?! Patty was also a bit of a maverick when it came to methodology and practice – according to Mark Driscoll. I wonder how those that have a slightly pietistic view of St Patrick would receive his like today?

Saint Patrick is not even a saint, as he was never canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. Additionally, Patrick was not even Irish. Rather, he was a Roman-Britain who spoke Latin and a bit of Welsh.

Patrick’s unorthodox ministry methods, which had brought so much fruit among the Irish, also brought much opposition from the Roman Catholic Church. Because Patrick was so far removed from Roman civilization and church polity he was seen by some as an instigator of unwelcome changes. This led to great conflicts between the Roman and Celtic Christians. The Celtic Christians had their own calendar and celebrated Easter a week earlier than their Roman counterparts. Additionally, the Roman monks shaved only the hair on the top of their head, whereas the Celtic monks shaved all of their hair except their long locks which began around the bottom of their head as a funky monk mullet. The Romans considered these and other variations by the Celtic Christian leaders to be acts of insubordination. In the end, the Roman Church should have learned from Patrick, who is one of the greatest missionaries who has ever lived. Though Patrick’s pastors and churches looked different in method, they were very orthodox in their theology and radically committed to such things as Scripture and the Trinity.

Thanks to The Resurgence team for putting together this post and others in their Vintage Saints series.

NB: This does say Patrick is a Protestant. I use this term in it’s purest sense, not in the sense that he was a child of the Protestant Reformation. He was, rather orthodox, bible & gospel focused in his message, methods and ministry – which for all intended purposes makes him more “protestant” than many today who are not part of Roman Catholicism.

I had originally titled the post as “St Patrick the Protestant Missionary” – while Patrick was a proto-type of the later protestants, to call him such is anachronistic and, technically wrong. Nevertheless, we could use more of his kind today. Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Smashed by Greatness

Greatness is not something to be rejected outright. It can be something to pursue to be the glory of God.

A couple of examples? The below video highlights a few. It’s an excerpt from a sermon preached by Mark Driscoll on Luke 9:46-50.

If you’re sick, how often are going to wish your doctor didn’t aspire to be a great Doctor? Do you really want one that is “humble” and doesn’t think much of their own abilities and has made no time whatever to develop themselves to be the greatest Doctor they possibly can be?

If we are going to be a good steward of our resources, talents, time, gifts, abilities, relationships, etc then we will pursue greatness – not for the sake of being a celebrity – but so that Jesus is imaged in our life to the greatest extent possible.

Some of us, me especially, need to be smashed by God’s greatness so that we stop accepting mediocrity in our lives, families and ministry and pursue greatness for God’s glory. Lets stop trying to please or pacify people and be great servants, preaching a great gospel about a great redemption as told in a great Bible all about and for a great God and great King – the Lord Jesus Christ.

How to encourage your Pastor’s Wife

This is a tricky one. Just like commenting, in any way, on stipends and pastoral salary compensation, anything I say can and will be taken wrongly and treated with cynicism about my own motives. But the cynicism of others has infrequently stopped me before so… 🙂

I remember a few years ago, we invited our Senior Pastor and his family over to our house one Saturday morning for breakfast. It was a bit of a novel way for us to catch up and spend some time together. It allowed us to host them and treat them. We didn’t do anything too extravagant, just laid out a full breakfast with cereals, pancakes, eggs, croissants, tea, coffee and a few nibblies. We had a good morning! But, my pastor’s wife still talks about it today, over 10 years later. At the time her house was next door to the Church building and a school run, at that time, as a Church ministry. So her house was a veritable thoroughfare. They barely had a minute when strangers and school people or church people weren’t in their lounge room, dining room and kitchen, using their stuff, eating their food and expecting her to wait on them the whole time. Our little breaky gave her the morning off and let her have a break for a couple hours. She loved it! We learnt from that how to ‘treat’ her and followed that up with a few more meals, BBQ’s and restaurant visits over the years. Now that her husband is no longer a Senior Pastor (he’s still in ministry, just not pastoring) she is one of my wife’s closest friends and counselors. When she tells my wife, “I know how you feel” she really does!

In recent years, we’ve really appreciated some gifts of clothing passed down to my daughter for her school uniform as well as a few different gifts and household items. But as Mark Driscoll mentions below, sometimes gifts aren’t the best idea. Although one gift that both my wife AND I really enjoyed a couple years ago, was when one of our Deacons gave me a handful of movie vouchers. We had several weeks of movie-going dates on my “day off“. My wife loves movies and it gives us an escape as I have to turn off my mobile while I’m in the theatre.

I am urging people who love their church and its leaders to pray for and care for the pastor’s wife, whose ministry is so vital, yet overlooked or assumed. Gifts are a good practical way to love the pastor’s wife, but it is even more thoughtful and loving to give her cash or a gift card so she can get what she needs or wants. The purpose of gifts is defeated if her house is filled with a bunch of things she cannot use but feels obligated to display so that when you come over she doesn’t feel rude. Beyond gifts, tell her thanks. Write her thank you cards. Look for ways to ensure she is served and helped on Sundays.

Thankfully, after some painful years in ministry, Mars Hill Church has matured to a wonderful place where Grace and I are well loved and supported. So, this blog post is filled with things we do not need. Yet many pastors’ wives still do need them, and I am hoping that some of you can help be that blessing.

I echo Mark’s comment that not everything in this short series of posts about the pastor’s wife is about thing’s my wife needs. But, I would hasten to add, a lot of them are. My wife willingly sacrifices an enormous amount to support and assist me in my pastoral ministry whilst being an outstanding and devoted mother and a godly example of a Christian woman to the many girls and women in our Church.

10 An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
~ Proverbs 31:10-12

Related Articles:

The Pastor’s Wife on Sunday’s

Compensation and Holidays for the Pastor’s Wife

The Pastor’s Wife and the “other” women

The Pastor’s Wife and the “other” women

No. Not the amorous, besotted teeny boppers that are charmed by his preaching and presentation. (Although these have their own danger.) This is about the “other” women. The one’s who think they are entitled to be the confidant of the pastor’s wife, for no other reason than their own choosing. These are the ones that want the inside ‘goss’ on what the pastor really thinks about certain people or problems in the Church. Their intentions are not honourable and they are not interested in supporting and encouraging the pastor’s wife, just advancing their petty agenda.

Mark Driscoll explains:

Those women are legion. Those women are pushy, demanding, and masters at guilt. They try to make the pastor’s wife be their friend, expect her to be at every church event, have some job description they have dreamed up for her (like running the women’s ministry), demand personal email and cellphone access, expect to be in the pastor’s home whenever they like, and seek to get their hand on the rudder of the church through manipulating the pastor’s wife. Those women tend to be quite religious and difficult to deal with.

The truth is, the Bible has no office or job description called “pastor’s wife.” This is because the pastor’s wife is simply to be a Christian church member like everyone else. Her first priorities are to be a godly woman, godly wife, and then godly mother, after which all other duties fall. If she is busy with her family and the ministry she and her husband have, to their children, and the guests they entertain, her plate is more than full. If she desires to use certain gifts to serve in the church and she and her husband think it’s a good idea, then that is fine, but not to be expected. Perhaps, as her children grow up, she may have more time to be involved in more ministry, if that is what she and her husband desire and feel called to.

Those women need to know that a pastor’s wife is to be friendly toward all people, but should not be expected to be friends with all people. She, like everyone else, has a right to choose her friends. Whom she spends time with, opens her heart to, invites to her birthday party, and allows into her home is her choice to make.

Related Articles:

The Pastor’s Wife on Sunday’s

Compensation and Holidays for the Pastor’s Wife

Compensation and Holidays for the Pastor’s Wife

Is the pastor’s wife allowed to have any down-time? What about a holiday? How about a personal, uninterrupted week with her husband? How about a sleep in and breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day? What about a trip to the beach or a B&B for the Easter long weekend?

All of those have something in common. Can you tell what it is? It’s a bit hard to do most of these without her husband who is expected to be working at all these times. Even if the pastor could take the time off, how should she finance all of this?

Mark Driscoll continues his thoughts on Loving the Pastor’s Wife:

Many churches do not factor into the pastor’s compensation the thousands of dollars his family pours back into the ministry. If you want the pastor to live near the church, have a home big enough to entertain, have an extra room for guests, have lots of people over for meetings and meals, and tithe generously to the church, all of that costs money.

On top of that, consider how many birthday, wedding, baby, anniversary, and Christmas presents the pastor’s family has to buy each year. When our church was very young, we spent literally thousands of dollars a year on these expenses, even though the church was not paying us. We had a few thousand people in our home every year and interns living with us, plus a home office. We did so gladly, because we love the church. But we did go into some debt since we had no reserves, and if a car with over two hundred thousand miles broke down, the credit card was our only option. [AG – I’ve done this myself – I’d love to hear what you think about how a Church can serve their pastor in this situation? ]

If your pastor does not work hard and does not give generously, fire him. If he does work hard and does give generously, then compensate him decently and free his family up to be more generous and productive.

One of the worst examples I have seen comes from a small church. The pastor was not paid a full salary because their giving was low. His wife worked a job to make ends meet, and the two of them gave all of their life to the service of that church. One of their elders who ran their books asked me to offer consult to the church, as they had not grown in many years. The first thing I asked for was the giving record of the elders. Only two of the six elders had given any money of any decent amount over the entire year—the lead pastor and the bookkeeper. The other four men on the board—all with decent, steady jobs—gave nothing or next to it. But year after year they were fine with letting the pastor’s wife work a taxing job to make ends meet and open up her home week after week to feed and serve people. She was one of the top givers in the church. It was criminal. It is common.

To be sure, most churches do not have a lot of money. Still, even an effort to take care of the pastor and his family means a lot. [AG – as the saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat – it doesn’t always have to be cash to be loving, thoughtful and an encouragement to the pastor, his wife and family.]

Days off, vacations, and holidays

In the Bible, God commands all of his people to take a day off, called a Sabbath. Certainly, people can and do get legalistic and religious about this issue, but the simple fact is if we do not take a voluntary Sabbath, we will eventually take an involuntary Sabbath, as we break down and end up sick and/or hospitalized. For a pastor, Sunday is a workday. This is doubly true if he has evening services on Saturday or Sunday night. He has to set aside another time as his Sabbath.

So, when it’s his day off or his vacation time with his family (which is so vital), someone else needs to be on call to answer his phone, deal with emergencies, and tend to the flock. A handful of high-drama, demanding church people can ruin an entire pastoral family by constantly calling, dropping by, and otherwise interrupting without due cause during dinner time, days off, and vacations. Such people are selfish and do not understand that when a shepherd has a little flock of family and a big flock of church, he cannot [AG – AND SHOULD NOT!] give all his time to one sheep who is just lonely. Such sheep need to hang with the other sheep and give the shepherd a break.

My “day off” is consistently the busiest day, other than Sunday, for phone calls, messages and emails. If I allow it, it can creates considerable strain, physically and maritally. If a pastor insists on protecting this time, he is often viewed as selfish, inconsiderate and unresponsive to the needs of his flock. He MUST be available 24×7. Unfortunately that isn’t possible indefinitely and, as many forget, that means the pastor’s wife and family are also 24×7 – WITHOUT the token stipend.

Driscoll continues:

Holidays are also tough times for the pastor’s wife. Unlike most of the women in the church, she cannot enjoy Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and other such holidays by having her family all together and going to church. Why? Because her husband has to work on those days every single year. So, pray for her, thank her, and be sympathetic to the continual sacrifice she makes for the good of the whole church.

Related Article:

The Pastor’s Wife on Sunday’s