On our Facebook group, Sheila Wray Gregoire’s Speaker Training, where people can come and talk and ask for help, one of the more popular discussion threads is all about family-why they don’t think we should do any marketing, or why they resent the time away. What do we do?
First, let’s talk about a few principles. I believe that when it comes to ministry, God calls the family, not the individual. If you feel called, but your husband does not feel that you are called to be away, or your children are suffering, then perhaps you’re not being called right now. Maybe God wants you to wait awhile. If you do feel that you’re being called right now, and perhaps your husband is being stubborn, I’d still say leave it for a while. Speaking is hard enough as it is. When we don’t have our spouse’s backing, it’s terrible. And I don’t think we can go and speak and tell people to listen to God and to do things God’s way if we ourselves are working against the good of our marriages.
Take some time instead to pray that God will show you what doors you should go through, and work on building your friendship with your spouse. When we’re at cross-purposes with our spouses, frequently it’s because we haven’t been communicating well lately, and we don’t have the level of intimacy that we should. So work on just having fun with him for a few months, and then raise the topic again. Show him love, let him see that you’re serious about the marriage and the family first, and then perhaps God will change his mind. And if God doesn’t? God will still honour your desire to teach and serve, and will find other outlets for you to do so.
While children should not be permitted to stop a speaking ministry, since you’re the adult and they’re the child, I still think consideration should be made to their needs. I’ve decided, for instance, to only accept 1-2 speaking engagements per year that require me to fly somewhere, since that usually means I’m gone for three days at a time. Local engagements usually take much less time. And when you fly, it takes longer to prepare, and so you’re stressed for longer beforehand. My children will be out of the house in six years, and I’ll have plenty of time to take those large engagements then!
Be smart as a mom. Most speakers are asked to speak because they’re already highly effective people: their families are healthy, they practice godly principles in their lives, and as such their lives are doing well. Keep it that way! If you start speaking too much and you concentrate so much on your speaking ministry that you lose your family, then something is wrong.
I also make sure that I’m never gone for their important engagements. I’ve spoken on my own birthday twice, but I’ve never spoken on their birthdays, or recitals, or anything like that! My first priorities always have to stay my first priorities, and if the kids see that, it makes it much easier to leave when we do speak.
That said, speaking is often a lonely business. Few speakers have families that pray earnestly, support them 100%, and try to help them market their wares and their services. Most speakers have families who are wondering who is going to cook dinner if you’re gone all weekend?
There is no point in trying to change this. In time, many families do come around and are very supportive and helpful. When my daughters reached the age where they could start attending some of my outreach evening events they had a wonderful time, and enjoyed hearing me speak. That made all the difference. But in the beginning, it’s just something that takes you away from family.
Perhaps you don’t have children at home any more, and so you don’t have to worry about them resenting your time on the road. Nevertheless, it’s only human to want our families’ support-to want them to pray, to ask how they can pray, to ask what we’re speaking about, and to volunteer to be a sounding board. If you have that, it’s a wonderful thing. Cherish it. Most speakers do not.
It is easier to accept that than it is to try to change it. Your family is there to be your family, not to be your business partners, and if they don’t want to be part of it, you have to let them step back. Find others to support you in prayer. Join our Facebook page where you can enter your prayer requests and get great advice and support! If you need to, keep your speaking and your family separate.
One woman, though, asked recently what to do when your husband doesn’t think you should do any marketing. He doesn’t mind you speaking, but creating a website or paying for business cards seems like too much. God should be opening the doors, and if you make business cards, then you’re stepping outside of His will.
That’s a tough one, isn’t it? We are to honor our husbands, but speaking is a strange ministry. Most people don’t understand what goes into it. I would respond by saying, “I believe God is opening the door, but people aren’t going to be able to find the door unless I make a way for them. People can’t phone us without a phone book, and they can’t email me or find me again without a business card. I’m not forcing people to do anything, or even advertising myself. I’m simply giving people the opportunity to find me if they were blessed by my ministry.”
Hopefully that will have some effect! But in the meantime, if your family isn’t excited about your ministry, take heart. They love you for being you, and that means a lot. If they don’t love the speaking side of you, it’s only because they love the other sides more, and that’s where they want to spend their attention. Love your family the best you can. Make them your first priority. And then, if your husband supports you, take steps to grow your ministry. Let him know what you’re doing, but don’t demand that he spend a lot of time helping you build your business. That’s not his role. Let him be your husband, and find others online who can support you. You’ll find that cuts down on a lot of bitterness, unrealistic expectations, and stress!