>> March 21, 2011
Dear Pastor’s Wife,
Without fail, when someone speaks the term “pastor’s wife”, varying images and ideals are conjured up in the minds of those listening. I would venture to say that those ideals differ from person to person, but there can often be an unspoken expectation inadvertently placed on the pastor’s wife regarding who she should be and what she should do.
You know the typical ones... Piano player. Conservative style. Teaches children’s classes. Bible Study leader. Two-for-one deal. Depending on your church situation, you can receive these messages from members of the congregation, but often times...
...the worst offenders are ourselves.
Perhaps your own pastor’s wife set the model for you. Maybe it came from your seminary experience. Maybe it was set by your pastor-husband. Maybe you were influenced by all the comments that you hear about pastor’s wives, or questions from the members. However, somewhere along the way we can become consumed by the should's and the ought-to's (even subtley) of our identity as pastor’s wives instead of the get-to's of who we were made to be in Christ.
That kind of thinking leads us to insecurity. Insecurity leads to funny behavior...like jealousy, and withdrawal, and self-promotion.
God chose us to be pastor’s wives. We will not please everyone. Why are we trying to anyway? He will (and has) equipped us to compliment our husbands and their ministries while enjoying our own... just like every other wife out there.
So my thought for today?
#2... Know who you are and live it out.
Find out your strengths and weaknesses.
Take tests for your personality and spiritual gifts to help you narrow down what you should say "yes" to and what you should leave to the other parts of the church body. Ask your friends what they see as your strengths. Note the areas where you receive positive feedback and confirmation. Play to your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses. Try to make at least 80% of your ministry within your strengths and 20% or less within your weaknesses (stuff still needs to get done, ya'll).
Know what energizes you and what doesn’t.
Usually what energizes you is in your area of strength. However, if you need to do something that doesn't come naturally, make sure to have a plan to refuel later. Make sure you are rested up and prepared for that task. If you are an extrovert and being alone makes you depressed and tired, plan some coffee appointments. If you are an introvert and loving on people all weekend makes you tired, don't plan much for Sunday night or Monday.
If you have creativity coursing through your veins, look for ways to utilize it for the church. Snag a hobby that brings you joy so that you can continue to serve gladly. Whatever you do, pace yourself for the long haul. Don't jump in without counting the cost and planning a course for longevity. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
Recognize (and accept) your stage of life.
If you are working, select ministry that accommodates your schedule and also gives you some downtime. If you have young kids, simplify ministry life so that you can cope with the needs of the home. If you have to take care of aging parents, don't apologize for not being able to make it to everything. If you have active teenagers, figure out ways to do ministry that won't cause them to resent being a PK.
Bottom line: we should never try to fight against our stage of life, or wish for something different. If it is a stage you don't like or that hinders you from your view of how you should do ministry, just know that it is temporary and is preparing you for a future stage. You can still thrive.
Do not try to be someone else or wish you were different.
Although it is good to have role models and to look to others to help sharpen us, we must be very careful about turning our heads to watch what other pastor's wives are doing. That kind of comparison can often lead to feelings of inadequacy and discouragement. I love what I stumbled upon in God's Word recently:
"Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well, and you won't need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct." Galatians 6:4-6.Let's rise up into the role and calling that God has placed on our own lives. If you don't do it, someone else just might. Your role is the role you were intended to fulfill. Do not try to fill anyone else's... their job is already taken.
Let God speak to you each day about who He made you to be and what He wants you to do.
This concept piggybacks on the verse above. The key is to do what you should do... what God has told you to do for the day. So often I feel guilty for not being able to meet the continuous stream of needs that are within our community.
However, if I begin the day asking the Lord what He would want from me and then trust that He will answer that prayer, I can look back on my day and be confident that what I was able to do, or not do, was His plan and idea... not my own.
That daily prayer is a vital one and allows me to live a life that stands strong against comparison and regret. If God has led me to it, then I must do it. If He hasn't, then I am free from that obligation, no matter what others may say.
My pastor's wife's mom gave me this little word to hold onto. I am rather reserved and so just thinking about this as I enter a room really helps me to go out of myself in order to minister.
If that outfit is modest and you feel great in it, wear it without worrying what others may think. If someone makes a funny comment toward you or you feel them whispering behind your back, just continue to smile, deflect the comment, and hold on to your purpose.
If you are feeling tired, allow the joy of the Lord to be your strength. Dwell in the wonderful parts of your personality and live unapologetically in who God created you to be.
In short, we as women in Christ must learn to rest in God. Comparison, pushing your way into ministry, being someone you are not, and trying to meet everyone’s expectations (unspoken or otherwise) is exhausting.
Just relax and be yourself. The people of your church will get used to your style and will love you best as you love them out of a secure and confident heart. The ones who don't, have that prerogative.
So break out those funky shoes if you want. Indulge in that fun hobby of yours. Embrace this stage of your life without hesitation. Stop trying to do everything so “right”. And run with God headlong into serving and loving the way He has created you to do it... with a genuine smile upon your face.
Uniquely designed for His glory,
Growing up in a pastor’s home, Joy Dombrow was molded and shaped by a life of ministry and service. While studying Human Development/Education at a Christian college and then teaching, she partnered with her husband in youth ministry at four different churches, a calling that would continue for 15 years.
Currently, Joy’s husband Joel serves as lead pastor of Willamette Christian Church, where she serves in a wide variety of teaching, serving, counseling and advisory roles. She is passionate about helping women understand and apply the truths in God’s Word and enjoys using speaking opportunities to do so.
In her free time, Joy writes, cheers her kids at sporting events, plays board games, chats with friends, reads five books at any given time, and makes references to her beloved television show Little House on the Prairie... all while sipping on a cup of peppermint tea.
Joy and her husband make their home in the Portland, Oregon area, along with their two school-aged children, Nathan and Elisabeth.
She has graciously shared this series as a guest writer for CLUTCH. You can read more about her life, ministry and family on her personal blog here.
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