Lee became a pastor of his first church less than a year after we got married. We moved from what I thought was the perfect starter home just minutes away from the seminary we were attending, to a parsonage in a town so small it didn’t have a stop light. No grocery store. No where to eat out (well, except for what you could buy at the one gas station). That was ten years ago.
I haven’t learned everything there is to know about being a pastor’s wife in those ten years, but I do have some encouragement for those just starting out in ministry with their husbands.
- Know that God called you to this place. No matter what brought you here (graduation, job opportunity, lack of a job opportunity), it was God who called you to be where you are. Trust that He has a purpose for you while you live where you live.
- Invest in others, no matter how long or short you plan to be there. It’s not always easy to make friends or love your neighbors, but it’s worth it. Open yourself up. Say yes when invited places and do your own inviting. Make connections over coffee, at the play ground, or in the car pool line.
- Don’t say yes to any ministry obligations for the first few months (some pastors’ wives recommend waiting a full year). I believe the pastor’s wife’s calling is no different from any other church member. She is to use her gifts to build up the church and grow in godliness. She doesn’t have to be at every event, meeting, or party. Take time to get to know the ministries of the church before you commit to the ones where you can be most effective. Don’t say yes to something you don’t enjoy just because the previous pastor’s wife did it or because no one else will volunteer.
- Be careful rushing into best-friendships with those who seem especially eager. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but it’s true in most places–there will be women who want to be your friend because they think that will make them more popular or give them more power. They usually come on fast and strong. I know you are eager to make friends, but guard your heart and take your time building relationships that will last.
- Remember that you answer to God, not every member of the congregation. Wanting to appear to be perfect is not new for me, it’s a battle I’ve fought since childhood. When we moved to our current church, I turned up the pressure on myself, especially since I was a mom to two little boys. I left like I was under the microscope all the time. But then our son was diagnosed with autism and his “imperfection” freed me. Part of that freeing was to realize I was putting pressure on myself that wasn’t healthy and wasn’t from God. He helped me remember that a relationship with Him brings freedom, not burden. I do my best to model Christ-likeness and ask for forgiveness from Him and others when I fail, but I remember I am ultimately called by Him to be faithful, not called by everyone else to appear perfect.
I have a lot of fun stories and precious memories from our last ten years in ministry. I wouldn’t trade the relationships, experiences, or even challenges for another calling. My view from the front pew allows me to see God move in His people by His grace, rewarding my husband’s hard work and his love for our people. I’m praying that you will enjoy the same view in your years as a pastor’s wife!