My husband and I got married when we were both in seminary. He was also a part-time youth pastor. We had a short summer break after our wedding before it was back to the grind of school, work, and ministry. My dad was (and still is) a bi-vocational pastor, so I knew what life was like for a family when dad is often getting home from church just in time for dinner on a Saturday evening only to get up way too early the next morning to finish his sermon. When I was eight my dad went to seminary, so I lived in a family where my dad was working on papers, working full-time, all the while trying to be a husband to one and dad to four young children. I had no illusions about what ministry would look like. I knew it would be hard. I knew it would take time. But knowing and believing are two very different things. When it came time to believe that God knew what he was doing, I had a much harder time accepting that this was going to be my life.
The life of a pastor’s wife in a lot of ways is no different
than any other Christian wife. But there are some key universally held beliefs
that really get tested in the trenches of loving a man in pastoral ministry. These
truths are simply what I have learned in these last three years, and therefore
not necessarily exhaustive or applicable to every situation. But I would
imagine that many wives of pastors probably face some variation of these
struggles at some point. If you fit in that category, I hope my struggle
towards faithfulness is a help to you.
Believing that God’s
Word Changes Lives
If you had asked me four years ago what is the most pressing
need for our churches I would have wholeheartedly said, “the preaching of God’s
word!” I love the Bible. I believe that biblical preaching is needed in our
churches. I believe that when we gather together on Sunday morning we
desperately need to hear from God in his word.
But the real test comes on a Saturday afternoon, when my
husband is immersed in his final sermon preparation. Do I believe that God’s
word preached is the greatest need of his people on Sunday morning? Do I really
believe that the people in our congregation need to hear from God, even if it
means spending Saturday alone?
If a pastor cannot give God’s word faithfully on Sunday
morning, he has very little left to give God’s people. As wives of pastors we
have a unique responsibility to help him in this amazing task. From giving him
a space to work, to refraining from interrupting him until the sermon is
complete (this is hard for me), every ounce of freedom we give him (especially
on those lonely Saturdays) is an opportunity for us to exercise trust in the
never changing power of the word of God.
Believing that Jesus’
Words are True
Of course we believe that when Jesus speaks it is true. When
I was a new Christian I used to boast that I would leave everything for the
sake of the gospel, even my family. And while I lived away from my family long
before I married a pastor, it did not hit me until that move was permanent. We
are settled in ministry. And it’s not near my parents, brothers, or nieces and
nephews. Jesus’ words about leaving family for his sake take on a whole new
meaning when it’s not an idealistic declaration any longer.
Many of us live thousands of miles away from our immediate
families. We miss birthdays, holidays, and important milestones. Our kids miss
precious time with grandparents. When Jesus said we would have to deny our
closest relationships for his glory he meant it. The cost of following Jesus
sometimes implies that we live far away from family. But it also means that we
get to experience a little piece of what he was talking about when he said “who
are my brothers?” In a lot of ways, our church family is our immediate family
now. We are with them at the 4th of July picnic and on Christmas
morning. And we give thanks with them around the table on Thanksgiving. While
we lose memories with our immediate families, we gain new, lifelong memories
with our brothers and sisters in our congregations that are little foretastes
Believing in the
Every sermon preached, every holiday missed, and every trial
endured is an opportunity for a pastor’s wife to exercise faith in the God who can
be trusted. We must daily fight to see that Jesus is better. He is better than having your husband free
all of the time. He is better than
living around the corner from your mom, dad, and siblings. He is better than
stuff. He is better than our dreams for a nice house, extra spending money,
well-behaved children (or any children), and a perfect marriage.
But there is more to the story. Because we are married to
pastors we have a front row seat for all that God does through our husband’s
ministry. We are there for the tears and we are there for the laughter. We are
there for the criticism and are there for the praise. We get to see lives
changed by God’s word. We get to see families restored through the power of the
gospel. Even when it is hard, we can know that the difficulty is not all there
is. Every trial endured, every lonely Saturday, and every missed family
gathering is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
And sometimes, just sometimes, we get to see a little glimpse of it this side