The year was 1990. It was the month of March, and I had been diagnosed with breast cancer in January. Ronnie and I were attending a conference for pastors and their wives, and I had arrived with a broken heart. I knew some of the women by name who were attending, but there was no one in the room I felt like I knew well. Yet, something happened during the conference. It spurred a friendship that has been going strong for 26 years now.
During the final session for the women only, we were given a basket and asked to draw the name of another pastor’s wife whom we’d commit to pray for over the next year. To be quite honest, I don’t even remember whose name I drew … I was there in body, but not so much in mind and emotion. However, the person who drew my name really did commit to pray for me and kept my name on her refrigerator for the next year.
This friendship that started 26 years ago has been a constant source of encouragement in my life. We’ve laughed and cried, vented and roared. We’ve experienced the joy of the birth of 13 grandchildren between us. We’ve walked through seasons of concern with aging parents and prayer needs for our children and grandchildren. She’s heard me in days of personal desperation and in personal exhilaration over seeing God move in my life and the life of our church. Very few people understand the daily path of my life as a wife, minister’s wife, mother and grandmother!
As I’ve walked the journey of being a minister’s wife, I have come to appreciate and understand the value of friendship among our sisterhood of minister’s wives. No one understands our lives like we do. We can honor and validate our joys and struggles like no one else.
Frances J. Roberts writes in Come Away My Beloved, “Surely He has given you ministering angels, who may sometimes come to you in the form of your friends. Accept their help as from God, and your blessings will be doubled. You may also, in turn, be used in similar manner to bless others.” This is certainly true for minister’s wives. I’ve often needed ministering angels in my life, and many times encouragement has come from another ministry wife.
For almost 30 years, I’ve led a monthly luncheon (during the school months) with the purpose of building relationships among our staff wives. We meet for fellowship and encouragement. Despite our busy lives, this luncheon allows us to connect.
We’ve discussed everything from how to make chicken pot pies to loving our husbands or how to minister to our congregants in critical times of need. We are not all best friends, but this luncheon serves to build a camaraderie and spirit of unity among us. It reminds us that we are all on the same team—attempting to carry out the same purpose of sharing the good news that is salvation through Jesus Christ, as well as making disciples and walking beside our husbands in ministry. During this luncheon, we cross over generations, fulfilling Titus 2:3-5 with the older women teaching the younger women. And, sometimes, vice versa. We get to walk out the passage in 1 Corinthians 1:3-5, challenging us to “share comfort with others in trouble as we have received comfort from God.”
Ministry wives come from all backgrounds. Not all come from Christian homes. Many have been saved later in life. Some didn’t plan to be a minister’s wife when they married their husbands. There are many differences and unique circumstances in all our lives. But we have a commonality—our husbands are ministers.
As a minister’s wife for almost 40 years, I’ve found myself needing friends who will make me laugh or cry with me, sympathize with me and understand my life, create inside ministry jokes with me and, most importantly, point me to Jesus and His Word.
Allow me to challenge you to be that kind of friend to another minister’s wife. Maybe she’s on your staff team. Maybe she lives in another town, city or state. Find time to chat with her, email or text her and share your life with her—the life you are both living, the life of a minister’s wife.
I’m so grateful for the sweet friendship that began in a room full of other minister’s wives whom I did not know very well. I’m so grateful God sent that minister’s wife to be my friend in a very hard season. I’m so grateful that we got past that hard time, developed our friendship from afar and have enjoyed the happiness and sorrows of daily life and ministry life. What a blessing the sisterhood of ministry wives has been for me, and I hope that it can be for you as well!
Published October 20, 2016