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I imagine my scene is not unlike many other pastors’ wives. I come to church early with my crew of children and set into work mode. Whether my work is coffee maker, running a quick vacuum or even setting up for my turn in kids church, the work mode has clicked on and is immediately going full speed ahead. My kids, who feel as if church is now just an extension of home, have abandoned  their shoes somewhere, their coats somewhere else (of course nowhere near each other, nor where they belong), and they are now running laps through the sanctuary, up the stairs, down the hall and into secret hiding places.

Then mid task I look at my watch to realize I should already be at my post greeting people. My “work-mode” is immediately unplugged and my “pastor-wife-mode” switches into gear, all while I plaster a smile on my face and whisper scream each of my children’s names and a quick “WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES AND SOCKS!!!??”

For most of us our true desire is to be 100% present and focused on each soul that walks in our church and it’s unfortunate that our smile has become an act and our mind is really all on that we didn’t get done, still need to get done, and of course we wonder where the missing sock is to the sockless wonder-child. All of this before church even starts. That’s not even taking into consideration the grand task of getting children ready at home! Don’t get me started with itchy sweaters, outgrown favorite dresses, and meltdowns over cereal choices before you even leave your house!

Service starts and suddenly you’re thrust into the worship scene without notice. And if I ask for a raise of hands for those of us who feel “work-mode”, “greeter-mode”, and “pastor-wife-mode” are all still on, even with eyes closed, hands raised, and mouth singing, my bet would be many of you would be sitting there right now with your hands waving around in the air.

After one particular Sunday, where “Mom-mode” was the dominant mode, I walked into service on the last worship song. My strong-willed child, who had required all of my pre-service time, sat beside me and I cried. Hard! I begged God for a better routine, a better plan, better service . . . For me.

I no longer want to be absent in my worship to my king. I no longer want to be so easily distracted by every sound or movement. I no longer want to participate as a worker but rather as a true worshipper. Are you with me? So after prayer and searching and upping my organization game I’ve settled on a few things to aid in my ongoing goal of a worshipper.

Prepare before Sunday

  • Lay clothing out the night before (have kids try it on!). Even the mismatched socks! Stick to what is laid out. Make it a rule that you can not change your mind in the morning.
  • Prepare the church before Sunday. Have the lesson plans laid out and ready. Vacuum if you need to. Get all the materials you need to make the coffee right at your fingertips for an easy task Sunday morning. Basically, walk through the chaotic Sunday morning routine sometime BEFORE Sunday and line things up to be easier.
  • Prepare your heart and mind for a time of worship. Whether you are the worship leader, the kids church leader, the nursery worker or the greeter, or all of the above, ask God to penetrate through the hats you wear on Sundays and reach into your inner soul… BEFORE Sunday service. This way you can be prepared to fully worship keeping your focus on the Lord who desires our worship.

Get plenty of rest

  • Block off Saturday nights for prep, relaxation, and SLEEP!
  • Go to bed at a decent hour on Saturday night. It’s amazing how hard things are when we are physically and mentally tired. Sleep is your friend.

Be disciplined

  • Discipline yourself to focus on God during worship and not the million of other things vying for your attention. The clock does not have to be glanced at when late-comers arrive… as tempting as that is! Once worship starts, discipline yourself to give God that time. We do not teach our congregation to worship God by allowing them to interrupt us with chit chat, questions, concerns, or a demand to be greeted. Once worship starts, tell others you’ll talk to them after service. This isn’t easy when people are so demanding (and chit-chatty, and “concerned”) so often. But, protect your time and choose worship.
  • With your husband’s (or the pastor’s) consent, decide on a specified time where greeters can stop greeting and join worship. Don’t miss all of that intimate time with God (15-20) greeting those who choose not to come in time for worship. That only sends the message that coming late, and missing worship is no big deal.
  • Train your children to enter into worship as well. If they are with you in the worship portion of service teach them to worship, too. Do not allow them to tug at your skirt, or dig in your purse for snacks, or any other disruptive acts. Use quiet bags if need be, but do not let your children steal your worship time.
  • Ultimately, discipline yourself to tune out others and tune in to God.

Worship is important. And although we all know it’s not always possible for the pastor’s wife to be carefree during this time, if we make it a top priority we’ll get to participate rather than work. This is not an easy job, but worship is our reprieve. Without it, we can easily fall under the pressure. Take the steps necessary to protect your worship time.  Even if it means that sockless wonder child of yours remains sockless for another hour!

Stevie Ciske

Stevie lives in Minnesota, the lead (and only) pastor's wife in a rural town in the south central part of the state. She has been invovled in ministry for the past 22 years, and doing ministry with husband for 19 years. She has served as children's church director, and as youth pastor wife, associate pastor wife, and now we do ministry together in the most loving church, Crossroads Church in St. James. She homeschools her 4 children and believe it or not still loves being around them... even the teenager!