“Yeah, but who cares for you, cares for AB?” I was struck by this question as it is the first time in thirteen years of ministry that I can remember someone asking such a specific question, a question which held such insight, such gentleness and care.
Over the years of being in ministry, I’ve had conversations with other Pastor’s wives about the way they journey through life, normally it’s a hard conversation to pry open to get a heartfelt response, as any person who has walked the ministry path has typically been burnt by multiple people within the church walls, which leaves a battle scar on her heart as a reminder, not to fully trust. To go to a certain stage in a relationship and then play it safe.
For we Pastors wives, seem to be at the brunt of many conversations while women sip coffee and talk about their opinions on how we are performing in our role. It’s not always negative feedback, but regardless, the matter still stands, our name is attached to how we are perceived and words are – with other people’s personal thoughts and perspective of who we are.
It’s like we are a product that can be consumed and passed around for everyone to taste and evaluate.
It can be forgotten that we are girls, with real hearts, real feelings and No we are not bullet proof.
We can be dissected in many ways, by our character, what commitments we have made to ministry roles-over committed or not committed enough, we are too vulnerable or not authentic enough, we should be doing this, instead of doing that, the clothes that we choose to wear, how we spend our money, the way we parent, do marriage…do life.
All because of the man that we chose to marry.
Saying “Yes” to marrying a man who works inside the church is saying “Yes” to a life where a wife lives in a fishbowl where she is automatically scrutinized and judged. I often believe that this is done subconsciously by parishioners and not with ill intention, however she isn’t a possession, she is a person and must be treated so.
If you’re feeling let down by your Pastors wife, then reality is, she hasn’t met your expectations and you feel disappointed, but she too is just like you- a woman on a journey, a wife navigating marriage, possibly a mother raising children. Her life may be filled with other commitments that demand her time, and then the church which I’ve called a vortex at times, places its needs upon her shoulders, which come in many ways which are typically demanding, heavy and often lonely.
So as a friend, a sister, a servant girl, ask the question of how you can serve your Pastors wife(s) as that question is rarely asked.
Allow her to be a woman, on her journey where she can be real, and nut out life the way you are doing. Give her permission to be vulnerable, but treat her honesty with grace and respect like you would any other friend. For she too was built with purpose and intention and maybe, just maybe- children’s ministry isn’t for her!
If she gives you a gift of being transparent, where she takes a risk and lets you in to her life, then you have to guard it with your whole heart. It is very rare to find someone, who understands how to keep conversations completely confidential (and that means not talking to your husband and best friend, about what she has shared with you).
Pastor’s wives, need friends to be vaults and to see them as girls figuring out their life, just as much as anyone else. Their hearts can bruised and battered and in need of nurturing, but sometimes it’s scary to talk about these issues, because they have taken a risk before and been burnt badly by gossip or being judged or they have a knowing within their heart, that they have been placed in a box which is neat and tidy.
And don’t ever put her on a pedestal as she will come crashing off it at some point, because she is human and may disappoint you. Pedestals don’t interest women who love Jesus anyway, as their life is about Him- not accolades.
So friends, don’t be scared in loving the woman who partners with her husband in ministry, give her the gift of being trustworthy, and a mate who sees the best in her, as she will fall over and scrape her knees just like you do.
Give her grace and provide a safe place where she is seen as a person, not married to a man with a title, pick her up and dust her down when she’s fallen over and love her, for she needs that to last the distance.
I HOPE THIS GIVES YOU A GIGGLE– 60 seconds of fun with the Pastor I call Husband. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VWqTicxv
OR Here is my story with my girlfriend on how we got to start Three Rivers http://vimeo.com/107988432