When a young pastor’s wife enters the ministry along side her husband, it is common for her to ask, “Will I live up to expectation?” Unfortunately, there can be pressure from the church body for us to conform to who they expect us to be and what they expect us to do in the life of the church. It is important for us to understand where we find our identity, how we can aid the church, and the importance of setting expectations of our role as the pastor’s wife from the beginning.
Where we find our identity
The most important thing for a young pastor’s wife when entering the ministry is to be grounded in the knowledge of where she finds her identity. It can be tempting for us to find our worth in how much the congregation likes us or how many women in the church view us as a spiritual mentor. Where then do we find our identity? As a Christian, we find it in the word of God.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:1-2
God has given us a new identity in Christ. Our worth comes from the love that God showed when he sacrificed his perfect son on the cross as the atonement of our sins. We are valuable in the eyes of our creator and nothing can change that! Praise God!
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
We must remember that our husbands and ourselves have not been called into the ministry to please people. We have been called solely to represent Christ and proclaim his redemptive message.
How we can aid the church
It is beneficial for us to realize how we have been gifted to help the church. God did not conjure up a mold for the “perfect” pastor’s wife. Each pastor’s wife is unique. Some of us are more soft spoken, some are more outgoing. Some have been gifted to cook and serve a four course meal or, like my mother would say, others “are very religious and send up burnt offerings when they cook.” The bible helps us out when it recognizes and identifies these gifts.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
How can we know what our spiritual gifts are? I think the easiest way to find out is to take a spiritual gift assessment online. There are many websites that offer free testing and results, like this one.
God has designed us to feel purpose when exercising our spiritual gifts. When we try to serve in areas that God hasn’t gifted us, it can be a struggle and unsatisfying. By recognizing our gifts we are better equipped to effectively bless our church body.
It is true that the pastor’s wife has an irreplaceable role in the life of the church. But all too often we can get caught up in church services and events that we view it as our primary call in life. We must acknowledge that God has given us a special role to fulfill as a wife and most often that does not include attending every committee meeting known to man.
You are not the pastor- he is. God has called him to lead and shepherd the flock. The church affirmed this when they hired him. They did not hire you. You do not need to feel the obligation to carry the same responsibility as your husband. In fact, it would be better if you didn’t. If you allow your husband to take the leadership role that God intends for a pastor, he will be encouraged and validated in his ministry.
“Many times church members assume that because you are a pastor’s wife, you know EVERYTHING that there is to know about church planning and events, and that you have very nearly met the requirements for being a pastor yourself! I have often resorted to this humorous line when asked a question that I either honestly don’t know, or feel I shouldn’t be put in the position to answer: “I don’t know, I’m just the pastor’s wife!” Dawn (Great Commission Churches)
You are his helpmate-he needs you. Your priorities should be the same as before you and your husband entered the ministry. First, to God, then to your husband, your family and home, followed by the church and the lost. Overall, God has called us to be good wives for our husbands.
“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18
“Urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” Titus 2:4-5
God has designed the primary ministry of the wife to be her husband and her family. If the wife focuses on this she will bless her husband in more ways than she can count, the church will reap benefit because of it, and God will be glorified in her endeavor.
However, this does not mean that the she should be disengaged from the ministry of the church. It is up to the pastor and his wife to establish her desires and the degree of her involvement in the church, evaluate how it will effect their family, and be upfront with the church during the interview process of the expectations of her role as the pastor’s wife.
God has given pastor’s wives a very important role in the ministry. Without knowing where we receive our purpose and identity and how we can best serve the body, our impact in the life of the church may not reach it’s full potential.