As I read Tricia Reyes’ excellent article, “The Pastor’s Wife: The Forgotten Church Member,” I kept thinking: “Ah yes, but there’s more to this story.”
By God’s grace, I have been a pastor’s wife for over 52 years (and yes, it has required much grace!). I have discovered, as has Tricia, that not much has been written or taught on the subject of pastors’ wives. In fact, a number of years ago I taught a pastors’ wives seminar on: “Things no one ever told me.”
In speaking to numerous wives of pastors and leaders, I have found two categories of women emerging: Those who view themselves in a supportive role, and those who view themselves as ministry partners with their husbands. Let me hasten to say that both are valid and both roles are to be appreciated and applauded.
Years ago, the wife of a national leader, in addressing pastors’ and leaders’ wives, said her greatest joy and call was to be her husband’s lead intercessor. She was not a public person, but she carried much influence in the “secret place” on her husband’s behalf. What a high calling for every pastor’s and leader’s wife!
Then there are those of us who become ignited and excited about being team partners with our husbands. We find deep fulfillment in teaching and preaching with them. (My experience is that a pastor must be very secure in his own identity and ministry to not be threatened by his wife’s gifting and anointing.) Though it’s often expected, I do not play the piano, but I do enjoy addressing the needs of women and their families.
Regardless of temperament, gifting or personality, being a pastor’s wife is a rich calling and a profound privilege, but there are enormous challenges to the job! These are some essentials I have discovered:
- Know your priorities – cultivate a deep love relationship with the Lord through daily meditation in His Word, in prayer and in praise. (Matthew 6:33)
- Invite Him to reveal any unhealed wounding, insecurity or offenses in your heart/soul. (Ponder Psalm 139)
- Continuously receive from Him a fresh baptism of His love in your personal life, and then let this love overflow to your husband and children and congregation. (I John 3:11)
- Learn not to take your husband’s offenses. (Criticism seems to be part of the job, and often a pastor moves on, but his wife still holds the hurt and offense. If this is the case, ask the Lord for a wise counselor who can pray and give counsel so you don’t get stuck in offense). (Luke 7:18-23)
- Continue to discover your own unique gifts and callings. (Refrain from comparing yourself to others.) Enjoy who God has made you to be! (I Corinthians 12-14)
- Learn to enjoy providing a nurturing atmosphere of love, forgiveness, honesty, transparency, fun and laughter in your home. (This will spill over into your congregation.) (Proverbs 17:22)
In the 1970s when my husband and I were deeply involved in pastoring among the “Jesus People,” my 4-year-old daughter asked me a life-altering question: “Mommy, who do you love more, Jesus or me?” Her question pierced my heart. I could feel her painful confusion regarding Daddy and Mommy being so involved in the “Lord’s work.” Thankfully, the gifts of the Spirit are available to us at all times and for all occasions. I sent an immediate cry to the Lord for help! As I held my precious daughter close to my heart, out of my mouth came these words: “Sweetheart, the more I love Jesus, the more I love you.” In the stillness of that profound moment, I heard His quiet voice: “Now daughter, change your priorities so she feels this love.”Today, this same daughter is one of the lead pastors in our congregation.
So, pastors’ and leaders’ wives, whether you are a private, quiet person or a public, outgoing one, you are set free to be all God has uniquely created you to be. Daily enjoy His lavish, extravagant love for you, and then give that love away to all those around you.