Adaptability: a necessity for pastors’ wives​

Are you, or have you ever been, a youth minister’s wife? I have. What about a rural church pastor’s wife? I’ve been there, too. Or an urban church planter’s wife? Count me in, also. So many moments in life, I felt like an outlier. Five times at the hands of the elderly widow’s class I received verbal tongue-lashings. Once, I was the oldest female in our congregation. Four times I’ve relocated my family. I’ve served down old country roads; I’ve also served right off of I-65. I’ve been in ministry through health, pregnancy and illness. I’ve lived below the poverty line, and I’ve lived in the middle class. And in all things, Lord may call us to move again.

Pastors’ wives, can you relate to my personal version of Paul’s life (found in 2 Corinthians 11)?

Being a pastor’s wife is definitely not characterized by stability or predictability. We serve a Savior who once said, “The wind blows were it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).

That’s the God we serve—One who moves as mysteriously as the wind He created.

We often use the phrases “surrendered my life to the ministry” or “gave my life to Christ.” This surrendering is not just a one-time giving of ourselves, is it? No, it’s an everyday mentality of “this life is not my own, I will live as Christ sees fit.”

Adaptability is a necessity for pastors’ wives and is likely a quality you’ve already had to cultivate. Tom Rainer says the average pastor changes churches every three to four years. This adaptability we’ve instilled over the years can be a powerful tool in our ministries. Check out the definition of adaptability.

Adaptability (noun): The quality of being able to adjust to new conditions; the capacity to be modified for a new use or purpose.

What a powerful quality to possess! If we are going to reach unreached people groups and create change in peoples’ hearts, we’ll likely need to be “modified for a new use or purpose.” After all, as Craig Grochel said, “If we’re going to reach people we’ve never reached, then we must do things we’ve never done.”

One day, you may look around and think, “I’m starting to get the hang of this. Hosting community group is feeling less like a chore, the lady I’m discipling is finally opening up and the food pantry I started is beginning to reap fruit … “

But then the Spirit’s mysterious wind may blow. Maybe it will come to your attention that the subdivision down the road is full of Pakistani immigrants. Maybe, after praying over and over for God to raise someone to reach out to these neighbors, you realize that someone is you. Maybe you’ll suddenly feel overwhelmed by the research, time, vulnerability, humility and bravery it would take to share the gospel with your neighbors. Anxiety may certainly pass over you as you contemplate others who can carry that torch. But then the Spirit’s wind blows again and without a doubt you know you have what it takes to “adjust to new conditions” and “to be modified for a new use or purpose.”

Consider these biblical truths:

“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

We may already know these verses. We may have quoted or memorized them when moving to a different church or persevering the one we’re currently in, but they apply equally to situations like the one above.

The adaptability we’ve cultivated is not just for reacting and adjusting to change. You and I have the capacity to look for ministry opportunities that may require many modifications. We can adapt for the sake of the gospel; we are tough. Imagine the gospel sharing possibilities we could grab hold of if we applied that knowledge to more “creative” or “unusual” mission opportunities.

Stretching beyond what’s comfortable and farther than our own experience creates a dependency upon Christ that is a recipe for glory and for good. Others can see and testify such work is done through God alone.

Let’s stretch those adaptability muscles we’ve developed over years of ministry. Instead of passively responding to what the Lord brings our way, let’s lead and lean into the Spirit’s “new use or purpose” for us.

Read More: Habits of Adaptable People

Published August 28, 2017