When Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, had a seizure on Thanksgiving Day 2009 and it was discovered that he had a brain tumor, the Christian community fervently prayed. As I followed his progress, my thoughts often turned to his wife, Lauren.
I briefly met Lauren Chandler a few years ago at a college women’s conference. She was everything you hope she’d be: beautiful, gracious and instantly likeable. At the time, The Village Church was on the cusp of its growth explosion and Matt was becoming a sought-after communicator. As a minister’s wife myself, I wondered what her world was like and how she was handling the limelight.
I recently asked Lauren if she would answer a few questions about her experience as a pastor’s wife, and she graciously accepted. I was encouraged by her answers and I hope you will be too. I will be posting them over the next several days.
What advice would you give to church-planting wives who are in the beginning stages of church planting?
Lauren: Remember that your first ministry is in your home: to your husband and, if applicable, to your children. No matter what demands are placed on you because of the church, do not attend to them at the expense of your home. Also, keep careful watch over your own heart and soul. If needed, see a professional, biblical counselor. There is no shame in that.
There was a season early in our life at The Village when I desperately needed that kind of help. I probably could have seen the counselor sooner but fell into the trap of thinking I’d just try harder: read my Bible more faithfully, pray more earnestly and just be less self-centered. Of course, that never worked because I was more set on perfecting the flesh than dealing with the deep roots of pride in my heart.
In those first two years, what were the most difficult aspects of (re)planting for you and how did you work through those struggles?
Lauren: When we came to The Village (at the time it was known as Highland Village First Baptist Church), I was eight months pregnant with our first child. It’s hard to know if the “growing pains” I experienced were as a result of becoming a pastor’s wife and replanting a church or of becoming a mother. Motherhood rocked me. I no longer had the “luxury” of being self-focused. It cost more than in marriage. On the flip side, motherhood protected me from the unfair demands and expectations that sometimes come with planting/replanting.
Matt did a great job protecting me too. I was given the chance to speak in front of the core congregation (about 60) and state my intention of putting my home first. If ministry poured from that, I would pursue it. In other words, I kept first things first and let others who were in a more appropriate season of life carry the weight of ministry at The Village. I didn’t have the demand or expectation of leading worship, teaching Sunday school, organizing the children’s ministry or women’s ministry, etc. I know that is not everyone else’s experience.
Sometimes you just have to do what is necessary. However, if it comes at the expense of your home and the health of your soul (as long as your heart is rooted in the Lord and not simply subversive), have a conversation with your husband. Join together in asking the Lord to fill spots that you currently fill but at the expense of your home.