I was recently given the opportunity to share anything on my heart concerning being a pastor's wife. I really enjoyed coming up with the top 10 ten things I would like to pass on to those up and coming.
1. If God is calling your man, He is calling “you” too. If you have looked to the Lord and waited on Him for your Boaz, and the man you are engaged or married to is called to the pastorate, then consider that as an invitation from the Lord extended to you. God equips those He calls! That is true for your husband and that is true for you! Think of Gideon. God called him a mighty warrior, but he didn’t see it yet. Consider that God has used the uniqueness of your personality, your experiences, your talents “and” your weaknesses to match you to your calling. He has shaped you for what He knew you would do someday and He’s known what you would do before the foundations of the earth were set. Ephesians 2:10 encourages us, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Here are some other verses that may encourage you. (Hebrews 13:21, Jeremiah 32:27, Jeremiah 29:11, and Philippians 2:13)
2. Your greatest responsibility is to know, love and pursue Jesus Christ. Everything you will ever do for your husband, children, church family or ministry will stem from your relationship with Jesus Christ. This is your greatest purpose and your greatest priority as a Christian. Philippians 3:10 in the Amplified Bible states it this way, “ [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]11 That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].” Making this your priority will ensure you are living to your fullest potential as a pastor’s wife and in the many other roles you may play in life.
3. Support your husband. This is my second priority next to knowing Jesus. God has already spelled out in the book of Genesis that the wife is to be the helpmate for the husband (Genesis 2:18 NIV). We have a position and proximity in our husbands’ lives unlike anyone else and no one else can have the influence for good or bad that we can. Consider, Who it is that gave us that position. It’s not to be taken lightly. To neglect or abuse our role has grave consequences. When you tied the knot, you became one unit (Mark 1-:7-8) Therefore, whatever you do to build your husband up is not only an investment in him, but also in your own life (Ephesians 5:28b). In the same way, when you tear down your partner, you are tearing down yourself. To be a wife is a gift from God. Take the opportunity to make the most of this gift. Pray for your husband. Pray Scripture over him and lift his strengths and weaknesses to the Lord. Encourage him with your words, and loving actions. If he is stepping into something new, remember it is not your job to point out his faults. Ask God to help you see your husband as God does. God sees all his potential. Find what is good and build him up in those areas. You will never regret this investment. When you do need to speak words that may be hard to hear, pray first, and be mindful of what you hope to be the outcome of the conversation. Do your words align with that goal?
Also, as wives we can set the tone of our home for our husbands. Find out his preferences and needs and set out to make your home a refuge as much as possible. The life of a pastor has a lot of social demands so my husband desires our home to be a comfortable and quiet place. For me, that means our home does not have a revolving door on the front where people are constantly coming and going. If we have people over, it is scheduled. As a mother of young children I allowed them to be in one extra-curricular activity at a time so that our evenings weren’t spent running five different places and eating fast food every night. Discuss with your husband what kind of environment you want your home to be and do your part to help.
4. Be yourself. I remember in my early years of ministry that I lacked confidence that I had what it took to be a ministry wife. I had an image in my mind of what I thought the perfect pastor’s wife was supposed to be. Along the way I discovered that sometimes others in the church had there own idea of what a pastor’s wife should be. Please hear me when I say, trying to be what you or others “think” you should be is a formula for misery! Be honest, genuine and transparent. Don’t try to be the person you wish you were. Let God define you and declare who you are in His Word each day. I like the way Soren Kierkerguard says it, “Now, with God’s help, I shall become myself.” People don’t want to see someone who is perfect and they can see right past our pretense. God is glorified most when humble people give themselves to His purposes and let others see Him at work through their successes and their weaknesses. Do not let others demand of you what God himself does not. It’s his opinion that matters and his yoke that you are to carry.
5. Be able to laugh at yourself. A good sense of humor will go a long way in the ministry. Like it or not, sometimes you may be in the public light a little more than you desire as a PW. Some people’s personalities adapt easier to this reality, but for those of you that find this difficult, remember, God’s chosen you for this platform and He doesn’t make mistakes. He really can make all things work for good. I’ll never forget my first Sunday in a large church near St. Louis. My husband was in Thailand on a mission trip. I braved the service with my five-year-old daughter sitting next to me in the pew. A kind couple nearby gave my daughter a Valentine’s Day sucker to help keep her occupied during the service. It was a very nice thing of them to do as I remember my daughter was particularly wiggly that day. At the end of the service, I felt led to go forward and pray. On the way back, I noticed that the first few pews of the church were filled with youth who seemed to be tickled about something. After making it back to our pew, the youth pastor’s wife came over to me before the service had even finished and whispered these words to me, “There’s uh, something stuck on your, uh dress.” And there it was, the huge, red, heart-shaped sucker that my daughter had taken one power-lick of and laid in the pew, stuck to my left, uh, side. Embarrassing as it was, the sucker incident led to some wonderful relationships, and some very endearing nicknames.
6. Be willing to try on different hats. As Beth Moore says, “An inevitable part of discovering what we’re good at is discovering what we’re not.” Through the years I have played so many different roles. Different churches had different needs. Whenever God brought us to new places, I usually prayed for a couple months asking God to share with me where to contribute. That played out in different ways in different churches at different seasons of my life. When my children were young, I mostly took care of them and did not take on any major ministries. I helped out in the nursery and contributed when I could with my gifts such as helping with VBS or one-time events or ministries with short durations. When my children were in elementary school, we planted a church and I did everything from cleaning toilets, to leading pre-school, to singing in the band to facilitating Bible studies. Further into our church plant other people were wearing some of the hats I first wore and I taught full time as an elementary teacher. Now, my kids are grown and gone and I can participate in ministry like never before with my husband. Through it all, I have figured out what gifts I am most comfortable contributing. If I tried to do it all, others were denied a blessing. If I did nothing, I missed the blessing of being part of the body of Christ. Find a balance that works for your season of life.
7. Date your husband. Prioritize spending time together in a fun and relaxing way. Schedule it if possible. Leave room on your dates for time that allows you to look into each other’s eyes, to talk and to listen uninterrupted. Take a hike, enjoy nature or converse over coffee. Just find a way to be “present” with each other. It’s amazing what connections can take place just by paying attention to the little things. If you can silence your cell phone for a movie, you can do it for your partner. As your ministry and family grow so will the demands on you and your husband’s time. If you are not careful to balance the needs of your husband, family and ministry it can easily pull both of you in two different directions. When this occurs consistently it can wreck havoc in your relationship, leaving each spouse feeling isolated, lonely and vulnerable to temptation.
8. Choose close friends with care. When it comes to finding friends I have learned some lessons the hard way. Prepare yourself that with each move to a new church you may experience a time of loneliness as you get settled. It takes time to get to know people past a surface level and time for them to get to know you. I have learned to see these times as a chance to grow closer to God. I often pray for Him to show me where to serve and to give me wisdom in relationships. It is important to find ways to be socially connected with those in your church community, but that does not mean you cannot have a close inner circle of friends. Jesus did. When selecting your inner circle, choose people who are: spiritually mature, trustworthy, proven over time, on mission with Christ and the church, without agenda, supportive and respectful of your husband, and who have the capacity to relate to you, pray for you and encourage you emotionally as a person and in Christ. Lori Frank has written an excellent blog with great advice in this area titled, “What I Wish I’d Known About Friendship.” I wish I had read it on the front end.
9. Keep a mental file. As you serve throughout the years take note of those around you in ministry. Who is miserable and unhappy? Why? What works well in ministry? What doesn’t? Some of the greatest lessons I have learned about being a pastor’s wife have been gleaned from others. One of the happiest pastor’s wives I’ve ever been around was extremely comfortable with herself and had a great sense of humor. In fact, remember the sucker story? After church was over that morning and I was waking up to my embarrassing reality she gave me a hug and said, “You’re one of us now!” I’ll never forget it.
10. Ministry is dynamic. This isn’t profound, but it’s true. Your husband may begin as a worship pastor, or youth pastor and later shift to lead pastor. He may be called to the mission field or to plant a church. God is not concerned with degrees and titles so much. He’s all about doing what works with those whose hearts are turned towards him. I’m am not an adventurous person by nature, but following God and serving with my husband has been an absolute adventure! I wouldn’t trade even the most difficult or uncertain moments for the thrill of what I have learned about God on the way.