Dear Pastor’s Wife,
My husband has been serving as a pastor for almost three years and I am happily serving alongside him. Before that, he was an associate pastor for many years. I have learned a lot along the way and yet I know there is so much more that I have yet to learn. More than ever, I am leaning on Jesus to navigate me through these waters.
Being in ministry was something I always knew I’d do. As a little girl, my dad was in ministry, so I grew up working in ministry. God placed a desire in my heart to work in ministry and I just had an inner feeling that I would grow up and marry a pastor. That’s exactly what happened. All I saw and experienced as a child had in some ways prepared me for life in the ministry as an adult. If I’m truly honest, I would say that as much as I was able to learn, there is nothing that could have ever prepared me for the journey I am on now. It’s one thing to know of people who have walked this journey and another thing to be the one who carries the weight and responsibility of this calling. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Although I would argue that I feel faint at heart sometimes.
Here are some things I would like you to know….
- In my first year of ministry someone shared some sound advice with me and it has always proven true. This is the MOST important thing that I will tell you today. If you don’t hear anything else, please hear this. Your number one ministry is to your husband. He is going to be ministering to others on a daily basis. Let it be in your heart to be the one who ministers back to him. He carries great responsibility on his shoulders. Walk alongside him and help him with the load. Don’t add another brick to his back. Lift him up and encourage him because he is going to need it. There will be times when he feels like he has failed or hasn’t been good enough. Be the one praying for him and showing him how much you believe in him and the ministry God has called you to. Never say anything bad about your husband in public. Have his back like no one else does. You are his greatest encourager and the one he needs the most. Be the kind of wife that is sensitive to the needs of your husband. I love the book The Power of a Praying Wife. It shows me how I can specifically pray for Nate. I pray these prayers over him everyday.
- Ministry is hard. It just is. It’s a labor of love and a walk of faith. It’s stepping out of your comfort zone and being willing to do whatever the Lord asks you to do for the advancement of His kingdom. Sometimes, it requires much sacrifice. Be prepared to trust in the Lord to supply all of your and your families needs every single day. Ministry requires you to pour out your whole heart in hopes that it will help someone else. It’s not a glamorous life. It’s rolling up your sleeves and getting to work. Some days you will be cleaning toilets and other times God will set you before kings and people of influence. No matter how hard the job, you are equipped. If He has called you, then you are able to do it matter what the job may be. Do not grow weary for in due season you will reap if you don’t faint.
- People are usually well-meaning. However, guard your heart so you will not be offended. Sometimes your feelings will get hurt. I have cried more than once over all kinds of circumstances. Please allow me to say that most people you encounter are loving and kind. However, do not think that you will never run into someone who may upset you or hurt your feelings. People at times may scrutinize everything about you. Your outfit, your hairstyle, your children’s outfit, your response to any given situation and every move you make can be under the microscope. It’s part of the territory. One Sunday morning, around 8 years ago when we were serving as associate pastors, I had been running around the church doing all kinds of things. A lady stopped me in the hall before service and gave me a piece of her mind because my slip had fallen down and was showing around an inch below my skirt hem line. My skirt was longer and below my knee but she made it clear to me and everyone else in the hall that she thought it was inappropriate. I just looked down, smiled and told her how sorry I was to offend her. I walked into the nearest restroom and tried to fix my slip with tears streaming down my face. I was a little embarrassed but the real issue was I had already felt bad about my outfit that day anyway. What was showing wasn’t even a slip. It was the lining of my skirt. The truth is, it was a dry clean only skirt. I did not have the extra finances that week to dry clean so I just washed it instead and let it air dry. The material had shrunk a bit but the lining did not. It was not very noticeable and I didn’t think anyone would pay attention. When someone did, it made me even more self-conscious about my clothes and I will never forget the way it made me feel that day. Sometimes things like this may happen and I want you to be ready for it. I could have been ugly right back to her but what would that have proven? Offenses will come but you can rise right above them. People may give you looks based upon the behavior of your children because preacher’s kids are always expected to be well-behaved. If they do have a melt down like any other child might, they suspect it must be a parenting fail on your part. Do not take offense. Realize you are dealing with imperfect people and show grace anyway. You are imperfect as well so just smile and know how to be gracious with other people (even when they rub your feathers the wrong way). Forgive others just as your Heavenly Father forgives you when you are wrong. Know that God has called you to this position, not man. Therefore, don’t let anybody turn you around.
- Be transparent. You likely do not have it all together and if you do I would really love to shake your hand. Sometimes people may expect you to have it all together but don’t ever try to be something you are not. I have found that most people let out a sigh of relief when they realize that you make mistakes just like they do! Often, I don’t have time for a full face of makeup. I have imperfections, so what? My minivan really needs a cleaning right now. You don’t want to know how many french fries are on the floor of my van. My children will sometimes have food leftover from lunch on their clothes for Wednesday night service because I did not have the time to go home and change them before church. I often wonder if people realize I bathe them daily and try to keep them clean. I would like for them to have perfect outfits on but they are children who play and make messes and get dirty. I just pop out the wipes and my Tide pen, give them a once over and keep trucking on. By the end of most days, my daughter’s hair looks like she just rolled out of bed. Her hair bow is God knows where. She likes to dress herself so her socks never match. I’m okay with that. I’m okay with other people knowing that I don’t always have it together. I have struggles just like everyone else does. Minister to people right where you are. Let them see that you are right there with them in this thing called life. When we are transparent we find that we are on common ground.
- This will be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. We pastor’s wives go through a lot but nothing compares to the joy and fulfillment of being smack in the middle of the will of God for your life. There is something so sweet about this position that you serve in. Let God work it out in you and elevate you to the place He wants you to be. Every mountain climb of faith, every prayer you pray, every toilet you scrub is worth it. It is such a privilege to take care of God’s people and His house. The relationships you build with other sisters in Christ are such a gift. Working alongside each other for the cause of Christ is more rewarding than you can ever imagine.
- Stay humble. It’s a privilege to minister whether it’s to 20 or 20,000. Never forget that you are never above running the vacuum or changing a diaper in the nursery. Your ministry may grow to reach hundreds of thousands, but keep your attitude and your ego in check. Keep Jesus at the center of your heart and life. Never forget humble beginnings and be thankful for where you are now. Be sweet and have a gentle spirit about you. It’s not that you are not confident. It’s fine to be confident but watch out for a haughty spirit. Be a servant leader, always serving others.
- Have fun. There will always be obstacles and hardships along the way but choose joy no matter what. Let that joy spill over into someone else. Never be so super spiritual that you can’t squeeze in a good laugh. You never know how you can brighten someone’s day so, smile! Bare that beautiful soul. What movie is that line from? It’s one of my favs.
- Be creative. You have been given a unique position. Enjoy that position and ask God to give you creative ideas to minister to other people. A good way to do this is to surround yourself with other people. Realize that we are all different and that we all have something to bring to the table. Don’t think you can do it all on your own. Invite others to help you and it will bring some flavor and variety to your events and meetings. God isn’t just using you so encourage others to serve as well.
- Your family comes first. It can get really easy to serve everyone else and put the needs of your own family on the back burner. Don’t get so busy in ministry that you aren’t serving your husband and children. While you love the people in your congregation, God has called you to the needs of your family first. It’s God, family and ministry. In that order.
- The last thing I would say is to be full of the love of the Lord. Love the Lord, love your family and love your tribe (the people God has placed in your life). Help and encourage one another and lift each other up. Bear each other’s burdens and love each other by serving one another. This is my commandment that you love one another that your joy may be full. John 15:11
I see you pastor’s wife and I am praying for you. I understand the joy and I understand the struggle. We are on this journey together.
A Pastor’s Wife