Pastors Wives: A Unique Calling
by Amy Gordon
“So, you’re the pastor’s wife?” The question seemed rather pointed as I picked up my toddler from the church nursery that Sunday morning. I looked up quickly to see from whom the question was coming, and, as I did, I heard my girlfriend who was standing beside me give a little snicker under her breath.
That question still surprises me. It frequently catches me off guard, even though I have been a pastor’s wife for more than a decade, and at the same church for the majority of those years. On this particular Sunday, the question was coming from a relatively newcomer to our church. I had met this woman and talked with her for a few Sundays prior to this one. We had waited together at the nursery door. I gave a quick glance at my girlfriend, and with a little laugh and a smile on my face, I said, “Well, yes, I am, but I don’t usually wear the label.” Her response to me? “Well, maybe you should.”
I have thought much about this exchange and have wondered how to take it. I generally have thought of the “position” of being a pastor’s wife as a positive one. However, there has definitely been moments, even days, when I would have willingly traded it all for something else – anything else. Along my journey to fufill what I believe to be my calling in life, as a ministry wife, I have learned (and am continuing to learn!) to take the bad with the good, the criticism with the praise, the failures with the successes. Although I know that every woman’s experience is different in her own roles and responsibilities, I do believe that if you are a ministry wife, then God has called you and placed that purpose upon your life for a reason. You can beg and petition to be taken out of that responsibility, but until God’s purposes are accomplished for your life and for His good, you need to accept and excel in your individual place of ministry.
A Unique Calling
Ever since I was a little girl, I knew that God was calling me into the ministry of the church. I knew that I wanted to marry a pastor and raise my family immersed in the workings of God. Having grown up as a PK, this was somewhat surprising for some people! Yet, I knew that God had gifted me in certain areas, and had placed specific passions on my heart that would allow me to serve Him in ministry alongside the husband that He had chosen for me. So when I went to Bible College and started to date Andrew, who also happened to be the youth pastor working with my dad. My future was sealed. We were married just after Andrew graduated from seminary, and we have enjoyed working and serving together ever since.
Whether you have felt the same call on your life or whether you just “happened” to fall in love and marry a man who wanted to be in ministry, God has placed you in your unique situation for a unique purpose. When things are rough, it’s difficult to see that; we often find ourselves questioning God’s purposes and plans for our lives, our husbands’ lives, and our ministry. Psalm 139 verses 2-3 & 16 have been a great encouragement for me as I live out the call to serve alongside my husband in ministry, “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
It doesn’t matter if you felt this call of God from an early age. God knew you would be the wife your husband needs. He knew before you were born that your days were ordained to be sacrificed, shared, opened, praised, shredded, filtered, molded, broken, lifted, sifted, and blessed. You might dread living in the “fishbowl” of the pastor’s family. You might cringe at being referred to by your husband’s position and not your “real” name. You may feel the depth of loneliness at having a lack of close friendships within your congregation. You might feel the pain of hearing trusted people tear apart your husband and the work he is trying so hard to accomplish. You might feel the burden of raising your children under the critical eyes of so many onlookers. The intensity of those emotions is very real. The depth of those struggles is overwhelming. But the blessing of those situations is very humbling – if we allow God to work in us and through us.
A Unique Blessing
For many ministry wives the blessings of the role seem few and far between. Maybe just being able to sleep at night and put food on the table seem like the only blessings to be found. However, I believe that for all the sacrifices you make for your family, for the church, and ultimately for your Heavenly Father, He will bless you over and over again. You may not see it at first, you may have to look really hard for it, but those blessings will come. They will be there in your life in many little ways.
One of the greatest blessings I have found in ministry has been the privilege of seeing God at work firsthand. As ministry wives, we have the privilege of witnessing the hand of God move in peoples’ lives and in their hearts in ways that the average person in our churches may not. I feel honored and blessed to release my husband to go and do work that God has called him to do. I know there are people out there who will abuse the availability of the pastor, but for the most part, it has been a blessing for me to watch God use my husband in so many special, unique, and even miraculous ways.
Being witness to the miraculous encourages us to pray differently, too. Every time my husband goes out the door to a ministry situation, I am praying for him as well as for the others involved. Whether I am praying for protection, wisdom, discernment, truth, or just that my husband will come home soon, I have petitioned my Heavenly Father and interceded to the Holy Spirit for His work to be accomplished. This in itself is a blessing beyond compare.
The blessings also exist for my family. Although other ministry families may not, my husband and I have chosen to weave our family life into the life of the church. My children get to know people they might not otherwise know ? good, godly, and wise people that can speak truth into their young lives. They are witnesses to both the good and the bad, and learn that life doesn’t come so easily to some people. Yet, they also learn that God loves each and every person, and that when we serve others we are ultimately serving Him.
Let’s face it; there are precious few of us ministry wives compared to the number of women out there! God could have called any of them ? but He called you. He has empowered you, gifted you, supported you, and loved you through His Holy Spirit. And when you truly do your service unto the Lord, the blessings in return are indescribable and incomprehensible – the evidence of a gracious and generous God.
Try this Gratitude Exercise!
Think about the things you have to be thankful for as a woman in ministry. Write out a list of those things, spend some time meditating on what God has done through you and your ministry this past year, and spend some moments thanking God for the unique calling and blessings He has given to you.