When my husband and I married, we were packed and ready for seminary. I felt prepared to be a pastor’s wife. But then, just like a newlywed, I ran face first into this role all gangly and awkward.
In our (almost) seven years of marriage and ministry together, we have experienced a lot in the spectrum of church ministry. Thankfully, by God’s grace, we are in a blessed season of ministry that has given me some great perspective.
One of the best blessings from our time of training in seminary was the relationships we created. Now, after graduation, we stay in touch with these long distance friends and share the perils and joys of ministry in the safe space of understanding. Walking with, and sharing stories with, other pastor wives who are new to the game has made me think “there should have been a class for this.”
So, here are my tips for you pastor wives out there. Here are the things you might not have learned in seminary.
There is no 9-to-5 in this life.
Ministry is about people, not tasks. This may seem obvious, but it is something I remind myself often. Unlike tasks that can be checked off and scheduled, people show up, knock on the door and need help around the clock. Emergencies don’t wait for dinner to be over. When our family time is interrupted, or seems lacking, I remind myself we are living for people, and it is a beautiful thing to get to be the people who are called when someone needs something.
In light of this reality, you have to have some boundaries. My husband and I have tried to set some (flexible) guidelines of family time. Now, things still happen and these times are not always fully protected but, if I see my husband making an honest effort to set time with us, undistracted, then I feel loved.
Confession: Bitterness can easily creep in during the really busy seasons, and, sometimes, there is a feeling of family being forgotten. However, if we go back to guarding time as best we can and remember that we are spending our lives for people, then the Spirit gives grace for that bitterness and it slowly fades where gratefulness takes over.
The sin of perfectionism will be a battle.
It is embarrassing to admit it didn’t take long for self-righteousness to show its ugliness in my life when we began serving in ministry. The desire to prove to people that we were fit for the job and to hold my husband and our relationship up on a pedestal so people would admire us, was so strong. I had convinced myself we needed to be perceived just right or no one would come to us for help and leadership. This sin, like all sin, was insanity. No one can maintain a façade for long, and no relationship can withstand that type of pressure. This is not what anyone expects from you, especially the Father. Perfection is never in the job description for a pastor or his wife. Thankfully, the Lord is faithful to show me just how much I miss the mark and that the gospel is not about my performance or anyone else’s.
Keep big picture, eternal perspective in mind always.
The day to day of ministry can become very weary. My husband likes to joke that he wishes he could drive a bread truck. That way, at the end of every day, he can check off that the bread was delivered and his job is done.
Ministry is investing with sometimes no evidence of maturity or return. Ministry is the long haul with someone. The only remedy for not getting bogged down in what feels like swamp speed progression is remembering the eternal perspective to which we are all striving. Our lives are a vapor, and we labor for what lays ahead—not the world we toil in today. When people in our lives seem to end up in the same place over and over despite our pushing for more, I become equipped for another day only when I remember the glory for which we strive for.
Published September 5, 2016