From A Worship Leader’s Wife

1I’m currently on vacation with my wife (Catherine) and our three little girls, and in the middle of a wonderful interim time between ministry positions (with my next one starting in August). After blogging here for five years, I thought you might like to hear from someone else, so I asked Catherine a few questions. I come off looking awfully good, but I promise I let her answer these however she wanted!

I hope it’s helpful to hear from someone who’s been on the other side of a worship leader’s ministry, in the hopes that this encourages other spouses out there, and worship leaders too.

1. What has it been like being married to someone in worship ministry?
For the most part, its been great.  I grew up in a ministry family so the challenges aren’t new to me and I hoped I could marry someone in the ministry even before I met Jamie.  But I will say that it hasn’t been like it expected it to be. I hoped that I would be able to be in ministry with my husband, volunteer at church etc. In reality, I am able to do LESS on a Sunday morning than some of my non-church-staff peers. They can trade off taking care of kids with their husbands. Sunday morning is the one time when my husband can’t do anything to help out with the kids. Its worth it to me and it is only a season, but its not what I expected. One of the major perks is that I always get to be a part of a church where I know the music will be great (or getting better!) and the worship ministry will be focused on God, not the worship leader.

2. What’s been hard about it?
There are always the challenging times when Jamie has to work a lot. When a CD is being produced or a retreat is being planned, there are definitely days/weeks when he works almost every waking hour…and doesn’t have enough sleeping hours! That obviously brings challenges because I miss him, his company, and his help with the kids and around the house. But that doesn’t happen often, especially when compared with the travel schedules and work hours of others I see in the DC area. I’m thankful that Jamie actively works to avoid travel without us and to keep his work hours manageable. Even when he has to work almost every available minute, I can count on him being around from dinner time to bed time. He very rarely misses singing his little girls to sleep.

The most difficult thing for me has been when people in the congregation or leadership of the church have been unreasonably critical towards Jamie. Its one thing for someone to give constructive criticism that can sting for a time but be effective in the end. But just because its the church doesn’t mean that all the feedback is well-meaning and constructive. Jamie has had his share of cruelty from others in the church. The most difficult thing for me is to hear about the cruelty and then to see those who have so harshly hurt my husband when I go to church. There have been several Sundays when I’ve had to bite my tongue or hide away in Jamie’s office to avoid saying some equally mean things back. I think this is harder for me because I want to be in right relationship with everyone, but in this kind of situation it is just not appropriate for me to approach someone who has hurt my husband and try to work it out with them. In the end I’ve had to remember that, just like us, everyone in the church comes with baggage and weaknesses and sin. Jamie and I hurt people in our sin and brokenness. And we will be hurt by others. If I can remember that, it helps me to forgive.

3. What are some practical/spiritual ways you’ve found effective to support me?
I try to know the people Jamie works with. That has become less possible now that I have kids and am less able to be at everything the worship team does, but I still do what I can to be around. The girls and I make banana bread or cookies and “surprise” Jamie (after texting to find out if its a good time) at work with them. Then we walk around the offices and offer them to the church staff. I sometimes bring the girls to rehearsal and let them dance up and down the aisles of the auditorium.

I also try to be aware of what is going on in Jamie’s work life and respond accordingly. I’m (slowly) learning that, during and after a stressful situation, he needs space to process. When he goes out on to the porch after the girls are in bed, I don’t assume that he wants me to follow him… and I try not to get hurt when he wants to be alone. (Normally after the girls are in bed we would spend that time together.) Basically I try to be aware of how he responds to stress and make room for that when necessary.

I really love what Jamie does. I think he’s good at it. I love that he’s not self-promoting. I’m proud of his wisdom and skill and talent. And I try to tell him that and encourage him in it.

In that same vein, I try to notice at least one positive thing about the music every Sunday. Its not always easy because, honestly, its usually all great so the bad things are the things that stand out. And I have 3 kids under 5 with me, so noticing anything can be challenging. 🙂 After the service I try to avoid criticism and focus on the good. Anything that needs to be corrected either isn’t important or can be talked about on Monday.

4. How can worship leaders support their spouses at home?
One of my favorite things that Jamie does is not exclusive to worship leaders. Throughout the day he texts me 2-3 times to say, “What’s up?” or “How are things?” That’s my opportunity to write back about how the baby has a runny nose and both big girls have been arguing all day. He normally writes back with something like, “I’m sorry”, but he also sometimes has ideas or just encouragements like, “why don’t you turn on some music and dance with them to change the atmosphere?” or “I’ll be home in 2 hours to help”. He also texts me about any major things that happen while he’s at work. That way, when he gets home, we both have a general idea of how each others’ days have gone.

Second, take advantage of any freedom you have with your job. Jamie works many, many hours a week, but a lot of what he does can be done at home (especially if the kids are asleep!) If I’ve had a rough night being up several times with the baby, Jamie will feed the kids breakfast while I sleep a little longer. Sometimes that means that he gets into the office a bit later, but he can make up those hours in the evening. When our first two were very young (19 months and 1 month) and I hadn’t slept through the night even once since the first was born, Jamie would come home at the drop of a hat because I was overwhelmed. He always got his work done, but was able to help me out if needed. There are enough evenings where you have to be gone, nights spent trying to perfect a song list, and Sunday mornings that your spouse spends alone. When you do have flexibility, take advantage of it.

Third, take your vacation time! You and your spouse, your kids, and your church will benefit from it. You will find out that the world doesn’t end even if the music is absolutely terrible for a couple weeks a year. (And it probably won’t be that bad.) Your church will realize that you are human and need time off. And your spouse will enjoy being together for an entire Sunday morning!

5. Anything else you want to say?
I can’t think of anything, and I’m not really an expert in all of this, but I’m open to questions.

11 thoughts on “From A Worship Leader’s Wife

  1. Cheri July 15, 2014 / 1:10 pm

    Thanks for this post. I am a Pastor’s wife and can relate to so many things Catherine says. I am in a very different stage of life, but I love the sweet spirit that shows in her responses. We have lived through many difficult ministry seasons and I know it can be difficult. As I read this, my thoughts turned to my boys. I have two and one is really leaning toward full time ministry. I pray that he can find a wife with this godly perspective and I hope that they will find encouragement from people like you who are walking the path before them!!

  2. joytato July 16, 2014 / 6:45 am

    as someone who hopes to marry a someone that does this sort of something in future (heh) (or the other way round), this be great

  3. Christopher McDougall July 17, 2014 / 11:30 am

    Thank you very much for this post offering a different perspective in the life of a worship leader (or even anyone involved in ministry)! I’m at a very different stage in my life where I am engaged to be married and no longer the worship leader at my church, but I will definitely take a lot of this to heart with my future wife. I am still very much involved in my church and it is a real balancing act with home life and ministry.

  4. Meta Evenbly July 17, 2014 / 12:15 pm

    Very well spoken and thought out, Catherine. You spoke true. You are indeed a godly woman, also a thoughtful one. Knowing you as I do , having seen you grow up from birth, I can vouch for your sweetness, thoughtfulnes and love. Your answers can be an example for other spouses of persons in ministry. I recognise several situations that your mother also went through.

    The perspective of the spouse in ministry would also be helpful. Thank you for posting this. May the Lord bless your family and your ministry life.

  5. Newlywed New-to-Ministry March 1, 2015 / 12:25 am

    Hi. I know this is an older thread but there isn’t much out there specific to worship leaders’ wives. I’m desperate over here. My husband is a creative arts pastor for a large church. This job includes worship leading, branding, marketing, social media, print, production, stage design, creative meetings…the list goes on. I grew up in a Christian home but my parents were not “in” ministry. We have only been married for 2 years and we got pregnant in our 4th month of marriage. I work 1-2 days a week as a nurse. My husband is so busy, all the time, hours and hours a week. I spend most nights alone and can’t go to many church functions as our son is a toddler now and really needs to be in bed by a decent hour. Our parents live out of town so we save paying for a sitter for when we can go out on a date together. Here’s the trouble: I feel so left out. I’m not musical. I don’t design stages or know how to run sound, I’ve never been in ministry. I am very fulfilled as a nurse, it has great reward. At home my life revolves around my son’s sleep schedule and running our home with this newly budding toddler. I feel like my husband and I have totally separate ministries. I have nothing to offer him. He says he feels unsupported, and I honestly don’t know what to do to support him. I say encouraging things about Sunday worship but I don’t know enough about music to have meaningful feedback. I always wanted to do ministry with my husband. I’m not sure what I was expecting it to be like, but boy it wasn’t this. I feel so defeated and not valuable to what he is doing. I run our house and take care of our son, and I know that’s important, but I have nothing to do with anything that goes on at church. Please offer some advice and maybe more specifically some resources for us (maybe you know of a book?). Thank you.

  6. Catherine March 3, 2015 / 11:22 am

    Oh, I definitely hear you on this. This season of raising little ones is full of joy, but its not easy. I am musical and *could* be on the worship team. But the reality is that someone has to chase our kids on Sunday mornings! (Last time I attempted to sing on the team, my then-2 yr old decided to get hysterical in the nursery. She ended up sitting beside me on the stage as I tried to sing and make sure that she didn’t unplug any cords. And lets just say that I was quite thankful she had insisted on wearing pants that day. Her legs were up in the air most of the time! And she talks about it to this day.)

    Its not easy to be a support to your husband when you are feeling drained from chasing a toddler, plus working a fulfilling but exhausting job, plus just trying to keep up with your house, laundry, dishes, etc. And, if you’re anything like me, it can be very difficult to find a way to get involved at church because of bedtimes and nap times.

    So, here are a couple ideas:
    1) It sounds like your husband is super busy…even in the evenings. Since you’re home most days and he should have a little flexibility with his hours, can you capitalize on those daytime hours? How far away is the church from where you live? Would it be possible to meet him at the office once or twice a week for lunch? You could make it fancy or just pack up a couple frozen meals, close his office door so your toddler can’t escape, and eat together. It might feel crazy because your little guy might throw a temper tantrum or run in circles, but it would give you a break and a chance to check in (amid the insanity) and see how your husband is doing. And, if you’ve had a not-so-crazy morning, you can surprise your husband with his favorite lunch.
    2) Another idea would be to meet your husband at the local chick-fil-a or McDonald’s Playplace for a mid-morning break. You can bring him coffee and just chat a bit about crazy nap schedules and the difficult band member while your son plays.
    3) Hm. I think Jamie’s love language must be food because all my ideas have to do with it. 🙂 Next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up his favorite snack and give it to him to keep in his desk drawer.
    4) Ask him. A couple months ago Jamie and I were both feeling a bit alone. He’s been working like crazy with his new job. I’m just chronically sleep-deprived and was adjusting to putting my older two in preschool (which sounds like it would give me more time, but I wasn’t used to having to schedule grocery shopping between nap time and school pick up). We were both running on fumes and pretty much treating life like it was every man for himself. When we finally sat down to talk about it, we both realized that we were feeling unsupported. I honestly couldn’t think of anything that had changed, so I asked! He mentioned that I used to pack up leftovers for him to take to work and a couple other things (that I can’t remember now – hm. Might be time to ask again!) I started making a conscious effort to do those things he had mentioned and it made a big difference for both of us. They were little things, but they made a big difference.
    5) Try to get “in the loop”. Different people’s marriages work differently. Jamie and I try to be extremely open with each other. I read his email when I’m curious what he’s dealing with at work and he reads mine (although I pretty much get junk mail so he always just gets frustrated!) When I read through some of the threads (maybe I’m just nosey!?!) I can start to get a feel for some of the mundane issues that he’s dealing with in his day. Its stuff he wouldn’t necessarily think to tell me about, but I can understand a little of whats going on in the background of his mind.

    Ok, so after all that, here’s the thing. It is nice to be able to comment on specific things about the music, but my guess is that thats not where he needs support anyway. At least if he’s like Jamie. The difficult things in his day are the people who complain about what he’s doing. The conflict between staff and/or parishioners. The politics of life at the office. The people who take out all their daddy issues on the guy up front at church. The band member who shows up late every single time he plays. All of those things are things that you can totally relate to. You’ve dealt with difficult people too! And your support, encouragement, prayer, and love make a huge difference. But the key is to be a place where he can talk about these things. Ask about his day. Text and see how he’s doing. Try to be “on his team”. Figure out his love language and try to speak it to him. All of those things are not easy when you’re also trying to raise a toddler and be a great nurse, but even little things will add up.

  7. Wendy April 3, 2017 / 8:01 am

    Wow!! I know it’s also an old thread but trust me I’ve gained insight reading through the entire thread, right from the interview.. 😊. I’m soon getting in a relationship with a great gentleman who is so passionate about serving God through music ( he plays multiple instruments really well,Glory to God)but my concern is he is getting involved in worldly/secular music performances as well… Initially I dreamt of getting married to a man after God’s own heart and specifically a minister of the Word, like an ordained minister.. Is this still possible even with a man involved in music and who’s now not purely in Christian and Church music only? What do I do? Is he still God’s Will for me? Please advise me. Thanks a lot for giving me your time and may God use you as you guide me. Christ’s blessings..

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