The Balancing Act

Shirley Gould, author and ministry veteran, has been involved in many areas of ministry over the course of her life. In this interview, she discusses the importance of being yourself while also remaining teachable.

None of us are perfect, but God designed each of us perfectly. While we always have room to grow, it’s important that we choose not to give in to the pressure to change who we are at our core.

Ultimately, God is the only One whose opinion truly matters, but sometimes He places people in our lives to help us become the person He wants us to be.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”


Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

Becoming more like Jesus – both in our personal lives and in ministry – should be our number one goal. Check out The Balancing Act interview to hear Shirley’s practical advice on the subject.

Don’t forget that most of our interviews do not require you to actively watch them, so if it works better for you to listen in while you do other things, you won’t miss a thing.

You can find other helpful and inspiring interviews on our Silently Bleeding YouTube Channel.

If you are a pastor’s wife or a female pastor, feel free to search for our Silently Bleeding support group on Facebook. We’d love to have you join us!

What are some practical ways you’ve been able to grow while staying true to the woman God created you to be? Weigh in on this topic in the comments below!

When You Don’t Know What to Say

I recently lost my parents to COVID and experienced a whole new level of grief. It’s been hard, but I am so grateful that my parents did not have to suffer for very long.

Grief is a strange thing – some days it’s overwhelming, while others it’s a dull, quiet pain that hovers beneath the surface of “normal.”

As ministers, we prepare the best we can to help others through the circumstances of life. More often than we would like, this involves dealing with devastating loss.

I don’t know about you, but no one ever taught me how to grieve. No one ever taught me how to minister to others who are grieving. And although I’ve always done my best, I didn’t realize how much I still had to learn until I walked this road myself.

Even with the things I have learned, I still don’t have all the answers. What works for me may not work for others and vice versa. However, there are a few things that we can all do differently to be more effective in loving others through their pain.

In this video, I discuss some things that have been said to me that were not helpful, as well as some things that were. I also make a few suggestions of things we can say or do when walking through grief with someone.

The most important thing to remember is that we all grieve differently. Not only are our personalities different, but no two situations are exactly the same. I lost my parents after they had had a long, full life together. Some lose parents when they are much younger. Sometimes parents lose children. Even when situations seem the same, there is always something different. Sometimes dealing with loss will be easier, but it is never easy.

As we journey through heartache with others, the best thing we can do is give them the gift of presence. After all, it’s not about making ourselves feel better about their grief – it’s about loving them and being there for them in whatever capacity they need.

Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (ESV) There is our answer. Presence.

They Said I Was Crazy

Anxiety has become quite the buzz word lately, and with good reason. People are standing up and sharing their stories in hopes that mental health will cease to be a taboo topic. As Christians and ministers, we need to do our part to help remove the shame around such a sensitive topic.

But what happens when anxiety masks a deeper problem? Madai McCain was diagnosed with anxiety, but she knew in her spirit that the panic attacks, depression, anger, and fear were more than just clinical anxiety. Even after being told she was crazy, Madai kept looking for answers. Find out what happened in this interview on Silently Bleeding.

*Anxiety is a real problem for many, and while many others may have similar experiences to Madai’s, we here at Silently Bleeding are not saying that this is the norm. Anxiety can be caused by many things, and we believe God inspires doctors for a reason. However, doctors are still human and fallible, and sometimes we need another opinion. Above all, God is in control and we can trust Him to get us through every trial.

When Sheep Bite

All of us have been on the receiving end of harsh words. But what happens when those harsh words come from people that are a part of your ministry? And how do you heal from wounds caused by people who should know better?

In When Sheep Bite, Stacy Hockenbury shares how devastating it can be when church members verbally attack.

Even if you have never found yourself in a similar situation, Stacy’s transparency regarding dealing with emotional wounds is encouraging and inspiring. You can find this interview and more on the Silently Bleeding YouTube channel.

When God Calls

We are excited and honored to have Susan Pippin, writer and Presbyter for Credentialed Ladies for Pen FL, share this guest post with us today.

Ladies, did you know that God has created a specific purpose for your life? The calling He has placed on each one of us is unique and vital, and it is our responsibility to follow where that calling leads.

God’s plan for our lives and our ministries will not always be easy.

“If I say, ‘I will not mention Him, or speak any more in His name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.”

Jeremiah 20:9 ESV

Sometimes we may be tempted to give up – just like Jeremiah was in the above passage – but God’s call on our life can give us the strength we need to keep pressing on.

According to Acts 2:17, we are all called – male and female, old and young. We may be tempted to think that as pastors’ wives and female pastors that we have a lesser call, but it is important for us to understand the equality of the call. God designed it so that we can work hand in hand with our male counterparts – whether that be our husband or other pastors on our ministry team.

And ladies, we are pursuing that call! The number of female pastors in our mainline denominations has doubled over the past ten years.

Yes, ladies, we have been given an inheritance and we must fulfill that call.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 2:10 ESV

God has given each one of us women unique abilities for ministry in His kingdom work, and your voice matters!

What is God calling you to today?

Following A Legend

In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus shared the importance of being faithful in the little things. He showed us that when we are obedient to follow God’s leading in situations that seem unimportant, He rewards that by bringing us to bigger responsibilities and blessings.

In Following A Legend, Dr. Teresa Conlon shares how God brought her and her husband from a small church in Canada to Times Square Church in New York City. She explains what it was like working with a legend like Pastor David Wilkerson (author of The Cross and the Switchblade) and his wife Gwen, and revealed how God opened doors of opportunity for herself and her husband as they walked in obedience to God’s will.

I am so grateful for Teresa’s transparency in this interview, as well as her ability to display so clearly how God works in and through us, all while maintaining an attitude of humility. This woman is the real deal.

You can find the interview with Dr. Teresa Conlon here. Remember that you can listen to the interviews on Silently Bleeding while you cook, clean, drive, etc.

Time to Hit Refresh

In yesterday’s post, Goal Setting 2021, we discussed setting goals that are realistic and measurable. This is an important part of living life with intention, but sometimes we already have goals in place that need a little attention.

Have you ever been looking at a webpage and it didn’t load correctly? What did you do to fix it? Most likely you hit the refresh button in the browser’s toolbar.

Sometimes we need to “hit the refresh button” on our goals.

This time of year is the perfect time to examine the goals we already have in place, assess what worked and what didn’t, and decide how and when those goals need to change.

In this video, I share how I am refreshing my goals as we head into the new year.

Do you need to hit refresh on your goals? What does that look like for you?

Goal Setting 2021

Hello, my friend!

This crazy year is finally drawing to a close. And even though a new one won’t bring change on its own, there is something motivating about a fresh start.

Many people set New Year’s Resolutions each year, but those have a tendency to fizzle and die within a few weeks.

Years ago, I was one of those people. I came up with resolutions because it was the popular thing to do, but rarely did I stick with them.

It may seem an issue of semantics, but while I don’t set New Year’s Resolutions, I do set goals. So what’s the difference?

Goals that are well-crafted are more likely to succeed because they are realistic and measurable. I don’t mean don’t pursue your dreams – reaching for the stars is important too.

Realistic, measurable goals allow us to take the time we need to complete them. Like they say with losing weight, “you didn’t put it on overnight, you won’t lose it overnight.”

It’s important to keep track of progress – all progress. Even the things that seem unimportant or silly. Write these things down or save them in a note on your phone. Not only does this solidify what you’ve already done, but you can also go back to these things for motivation when you’re struggling.

Good goals are not set in stone. They grow with us. Allow for necessary adjustments.

Humans fail sometimes. That’s okay. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going. True failure only comes when you give up. Leaving room for mistakes is not justifying making a poor decision – it’s acknowledging that messing up is not failure. Realizing that you can take a breath, and then start again.

Stay the course. Keep making progress toward your goals – even if you are taking baby steps. Sustainability is key here. Set a pace you can keep up with. You can always speed it up later.

Finally, write your goals down. This is part of them being measurable. Keep them where you can see them – on the fridge, on your mirror, next to your bed, wherever is best for you.

As we step into 2021, what goals are you setting?

Inadequate

Have you ever asked, “Why me, God?” Most of us, if not all, have asked Him this when we’ve faced hard times in our lives. But what about in other areas?

Maybe God placed you in a ministry that felt a little like playing dress up in someone else’s clothes – exciting and fun, but also intimidating because you have big shoes to fill.

I love being in ministry. Preaching and teaching from God’s Word gives me great joy. Speaking into the lives of others – especially women – thrills me to no end, but it can be challenging too.

So many times I have been preparing to speak for a conference or retreat – or even a single service – and I find myself asking, “Why me, God?” I don’t have my husband’s education. He has a Masters of Divinity in Christian Education and Biblical Languages! I have only one year of Bible college, a few correspondence courses, and my personal studies in God’s Word. How can I even begin to compare?

We know that women all over the world struggle with feeling enough. We are bombarded daily with messages telling us we need to be more. And when you add the high calling of God, it can be overwhelming at times to feel like we measure up. We feel inadequate.

If you are struggling with this today, please know, sweet woman of God, that you are not alone. We have all faced this struggle from time to time. Even Dr. Jodi Detrick, renowned author and speaker, has struggled with feelings of inferiority. She shares about this (and more) in the video below.

Bi-Vocational Ministry

Do you find bi-vocational ministry challenging? You are not alone my friend. There are many pastors and wives that have purposely chosen this route because the church can’t afford to pay them, or because they have chosen not to accept pay.

My husband and I have never served as bi-vocational pastors but after talking with a couple of friends who have and doing research, these are some thoughts I’ll share.

Balancing family, work, and church life seems to be the most common issue among bi-vocational ministers. God called you to your family first. You must be intentional about taking time with your spouse and children if you want them to be happy, healthy, and whole. In Mark 8:36 Jesus says, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” In a similar way, what if you reach a community for Jesus but lose your family? I would suggest that you put date nights and family time on the calendar. Stick to it unless a dire emergency comes up, and when that happens, reschedule your date night or family time immediately. Your spouse and children deserve to know they are your priority.

One person recommends that you teach your congregation to take responsibility in the ministry. Encourage them to get involved. Let them know you are in this together. You can’t and shouldn’t do it alone.

One of the joys of bi-vocational ministry is working among people that might never darken the doors of your church. You have the possibility of reaching them through your secular job. My sister said that while her husband sold insurance as a way to help provide for their family, he never missed an opportunity to share Jesus. Some of his clients became born again church members over time.

My friend Rodna shared that her husband Greg had many witnessing opportunities while working a secular job. This also gave him a better understanding of the working man. Before Greg worked outside of the church he didn’t understand what it was like to clock out at 5:00 and then need to be at church at 7:00 on a Wednesday night, or get involved in an outreach ministry on a Saturday, possibly his only day off.

In the video below, Rodna shares how she and Greg went through six years of bi-vocational ministry. She talks about things they learned and what they would do different if they could go back in time.

What are some tips you have for other bi-vocational pastors/wives?