by Sally Matheny
I am delighted to share with you an interview with Nan Jones, the author of The Perils of a Pastor’s Wife. I first met Nan at a Christian Devotions writers’ conference in 2012. Immediately, I sensed a beautiful aroma of Christ about her.
Over the years, Nan has experienced sunny days and hailstorms. Through it all, Nan has learned to cling tightly to her spiritual roots in Jesus Christ. She continues to offer a beautiful, fragrant offering to Christ, as she encourages others who are struggling to find God’s presence.
Nan, will you share how you began your speaking and writing ministry?
As a child, I was an avid reader and have always enjoyed the power of story. I am also an artist. Around age 10 or so, I realized that I could put my two passions together and paint with my words. That's when I fell in love with words! I wrote poems and short stories. I made designs with random words. I experimented with rhythms created by different sequences of words. This love of words seemed to ooze out of me. When I was 12, I made a list of my life goals. Writing a book was number one.
Throughout my life writing was a hobby. I used my talent to help with church newsletters. I wrote poems and made cards as gifts. Occasionally I'd write a small piece for publication in an anthology, but writing was still something I did, not something I was.
In 1992, we were living in Tulsa, Oklahoma while my husband attended the seminary at Oral Roberts University. One weekend I attended a ladies' conference. As I stood with hands raised during praise and worship, I felt overwhelmed by the Spirit of God. He quietly prompted me and whispered deep in my spirit, "Nan, look at these ladies surrounding you. Even as they lift their hands in praise to me, many are hurting deep within. You will take my message of love to them. You will teach them of my faithfulness, especially during the struggles of life."
Tears coursed down my cheeks as I considered what the Lord was asking of me. Several minutes later the Lord confirmed what I had heard from Him by speaking it over me through one of the worship leaders who walked to where I was sitting, laid hands on my head, and told me the Lord had called me to minister to His girls who are hurting and struggling with their faith. For eighteen years, I waited. I knew the Lord had spoken to me so I used those eighteen years to develop my faith, to be available for anything He asked of me albeit teaching Bible studies, leading women's ministry, writing and sharing devotions … whatever He asked while I awaited the appointed time.
About five years ago my husband and I went through an extensive period of unemployment. It was at that time that my husband encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing and speaking full-time. And I did. I created my blog, Morning Glory, began networking with other writers and professionals in the industry, and studied the craft of writing diligently. I still do. My son helped me develop my website www.NanJones.com so event planners could find me and God began to open doors for me to speak. He honored me with a scholarship to attend the Christian Communicators Conference at Billy Graham's The Cove last August where I received remarkable instruction and affirmation.
Wow, eighteen years of waiting! I think we sometimes forget the waiting periods are also part of God’s plan. That’s a powerful testimony of how God has brought you to this point. What prompted you to write The Perils of a Pastor's Wife?
I served as a pastor's wife for 31 years. These were some of the most fulfilling and rewarding years of my life. These years were also some of the most trying—not necessarily because of the people, but because of the spiritual battle that raged. Our lives could be turned upside down as quickly as the wind changes in a storm.
A pastor's wife knows what it is to feel completely alone in the middle of a crowd. We are known to have trust issues—wondering who we can really be ourselves with and share our hearts with when we're troubled. Rejection is another deep-seeded hurt that most folks don’t think about when they consider the lives of pastors and their wives. We love our church people like they are family. When we are asked to leave or voted out because of the annual confidence vote (a rural mountain tradition in the Baptist church) it's like going through a divorce. The pain is unbearable. But most people don't think about that. I knew that other pastors' wives needed to know that they were not alone in their struggles and that someone understood what they were going through.
What was the most difficult part in writing the book?
The Perils of a Pastor's Wife is written with raw, authentic emotion because I want the reader to realize that I too, have experienced exactly what she has. Reliving the pain was difficult, but necessary to make a difference in the lives of others.
Serving in any type of ministry is definitely challenging. If you could give three nuggets of wisdom to a man and his wife who are about to begin a ministry, what would they be?
· Always remember that we don't wrestle with flesh and blood, but with principalities of darkness—even though they often come with skin on.
· Never try to do this in your own strength. You must be disciplined in studying the Word and spending time in prayer. Recognize that Satan will throw obstacles in your way, but remember that you cannot be about your Father's business if you're too busy to spend time with your Father.
· Because you are one in your marriage, the wife is called by her husband's side. Her role is just as important and, even though she may not carry the title of pastor, she wears the mantle of pastor as she helps her husband shepherd God's people. Understanding this principle creates a wonderful foundation of teamwork in ministry and guards against resentment.
On your blog, Morning Glory, each title begins with "Finding God's Presence." What impressed you to choose this name?
The title Morning Glory has always been about beginning our day with the glory of God through His Word. About two years ago, the Lord began to hone my brand for me —what was it that people associate me and my message with? The answer is that people expect me to help them realize that God is with them always, even when it feels like they've been abandoned. I knew that many seekers are Christians who are struggling with their faith. I realized the person I want to minister to could very possibly type in "how do I find God's Presence" and the search engine would lead them to Morning Glory.
You're a gifted encourager for Christ. But encouragers aren't excluded from dark valleys, are they? Those who have the spiritual gift of encouraging others, sometimes think they have to always be upbeat, always cheerful. What would you say to those who have difficulty being transparent and sharing their need for encouragement?
This is a question that could easily fit the mold of "do as I say, not as I do." Because of being a pastor's wife for 31 years, I have trust issues, as do many pastors' wives. Some people expect their pastor's wife to be superhuman and not have any weaknesses or imperfections. Having experienced judgment after disclosing imperfections, I tend to naturally withhold information from people. Having said that, I don't have any problem disclosing my struggles in my writing or even in my speaking when I'm behind a microphone. Isn't that weird? I think it's because in those places I feel God's anointing and perhaps I hide behind His wing a little more readily because I know I'm doing His bidding for His people. I know by sharing my personal struggles with them and the tender ways the Lord has pursued me with His love in the midst of my pain—I know it will encourage them and give them strength for the journey. I know in their minds they'll take me off the stage and relate to me as a woman of God and will therefore understand that God is no respecter of persons. I have to confess that in friendships I still struggle with letting people into my personal spaces of difficulty. It doesn't come from pride, but from insecurities. But, as I am faithful to obey the Lord in all things, He is helping me overcome this. Everyone struggles in their faith from time to time. Even our Bible heroes did! I love the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19 where Elijah said to the Lord, "Enough! I've had enough Lord." I smile every time I think of that.
Nan, I love your book and think it is for people serving in any type of ministry. Where can people find your book?
Do you have any ideas swirling around for another book?
I'm working on another non-fiction piece tentatively called SEEING BEYOND THE VEIL: Finding the Nearness of God When You Need Him the Most. It's all about learning to look for the evidence of God in our lives. You know, we tend to think that when we're going through a difficult time God has abandoned us. Through my own sorrows, I've learned deep in my knower that during my darkest moments, that's when the Lord is closest—He is drawn to our pain. But we must open our eyes to see Him. That's the veil I'm referring to, not the veil in the temple that separated God's people from Him—the one that was torn in two when Jesus died. No, I'm referring to the veil that separates our physical world from the spiritual world. The Lord promised to be with us always, but we often fail to see Him, especially when we need Him the most. Seeing Beyond the Veil will teach the reader how to open her eyes to see Him, and in the seeing, the child of God learns the very essence of who He is. I've recently started a facebook community page by the same name, Seeing Beyond the Veil. I get carried away when I speak about this because I love to share lessons learned. There will be a Bible study for small groups by the same name to follow, so stay tuned.
I look forward to it! Thank you, Nan, for sharing your heart with us. May the Lord continue to bless you as you point others to Him.
|The Perils of a Pastor's Wife|
You can read my review of the book on a previous post: "A Book Review of the Perils of a Pastor's Wife."