just for pastor's wives (3)

>> March 28, 2011

Dear Pastor's Wife,

Perhaps it is because we don't want to make ourselves so vulnerable that our hearts get hurt. Or maybe it is because our personalities don't like the limelight. Or maybe we are unsure how to go about it. Or perhaps we are simply unaware of the importance of our presence.

Whatever the case may be, some pastor's wives simply aren't visible. I believe that, in our own way and in our own style, we must make it a priority to be a presence in our church families.

I personally do not like to have eyes on me. My reserved and retiring personality feels awkward at unscripted social functions. I would rather stay home and read a book all day than to be traipsing around a room full of people. However, being amongst those to whom God has called me to serve is an uncontested given, or so it would seem.

For legitimate reasons, I'm sure, the previous pastor's wife at our church wasn't around for her last 7 years in this ministry. When I arrived on the scene, I heard many people say that they didn't even know who she was, and I am sad to think of what the ministry lacked as a result.

I think it is important that a pastor's wife be a vital part of the church family where her husband has been called. I don't always do this perfectly. Sometimes I would rather just hang out with my girlfriends at church. Many times I must tend to my children (but I caution against socially hiding behind them, if you know what I mean). Other times I just want to keep a low profile because I am tired and weary. But I try not to let it be my norm.

Regardless of your husband's pastoral position, for the sake of his ministry, your ministry, (and even your marriage), make every effort to be visible.

Hear me now. This does not mean that I believe that a pastor's wife should be at every church function, or that she must always lead a ministry. Dear me, No! However, for as many events that we can attend, we should do so, and do so in a way that is visible. Here are things to consider:

1. Go to strategic events at church. Some events are weightier than others. If there is a funeral of a dearly loved, long-time member of your church, that would be one to attend. Community group invitations, baby showers of staff wives, kick-off events, women's Bible Study, and elder's wives gatherings are others that would top my list. These are opportunties to minister to a lot of people or to be involved in fellowship with key leaders of the church.

2. Position yourself well.
When attending a church function, we can maximize the opportunity by placing ourselves in visible locations. For me, because my husband is the preaching pastor, it makes sense for me to sit up front not only so others can see that I am present, but so my husband can sit with me at times and the congregation can see us together.

It makes little sense for me to serve in the nursery right now because I would not be visible there, but certainly the wife of a children's pastor could do so. Sometimes, it may be best to stand near the back as people enter or exit so you can greet as many as possible. Other times, it may be helpful to mingle with others in the lobby, or pass out bulletins, or serve in another active and visible role.

3. Take opportunities to be up front.
This goes no matter what ministry role your PH has. I don't mean literally from the main stage. But you might take a quick up-front role at choir practice, or at youth group, or in women's ministry. Don't force the issue, but if given the opportunity, go for it and try not to shy away. Pray when you're asked. Give an announcement. Share a story. Be in an accessible location after services to those within your husband's sphere of ministry.

4. Have groups of people over to your house.
One-on-one can be fun, but it's exhausting to get to know a lot of people in this way, especially if you are new to a church. Go for casual pot-luck parties with your husband's ministry team. Have a SuperBowl party. Invite the staff or elders' wives over. People appreciate getting to be in your home and knowing you in a more casual setting.

5. Develop your own ministry where you can reach many people. Perhaps you like to write notes to people. If so, make it a priority to write 5 or more each week to people in the congregation. If you like to counsel, let it be known among the church staff so that they can send people your way. Maybe you will have opportunities to speak, or write in a newsletter, or blog. It is cathartic and refreshing to not just be "the pastor's wife", but to have a ministry in your own right.

6. Stand by your man. Literally. Your presence by his side makes a strong statement to those that are watching. It lets people know that you are a team. You have strengths that can compliment your husbands and as you talk to others together it will be noticed. Plus, you are able to interact with the same people and help each other remember names ;-). It also keeps unhealthy admiration by other women in check. Ahem... hint, hint.

Whatever you choose to do must be in the context of your own personality and your relationship with your pastor-husband. The only exhortation is to make sure that you have a presence within your church...that people know who you are and feel that you love them and are approachable. How you do that is uniquely defined by you. God will give you the wisdom and grace to get out there and lead well. You can always go home after church and take a little nap :).

Rising up into my role and calling with you,
~ Joy

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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Jeni March 28, 2011 at 5:39 PM  

Thank you for this. My husband and I are new to our church (6 months in). Our previous pastorate was highly dysfunctional, abusive, etc. I am just getting to the point of trying to figure out what it is I should be doing in THIS church. At our last church any of my involvement was viewed as "taking over," and other such ridiculous things. ANYWAY! This post was encouraging to me and also very challenging to me. I shall keep praying and seeking and figuring out where it is I can be of service in this new (and healthy!) church!

Joy Dombrow April 4, 2011 at 11:41 AM  

Jeni, I am so glad that you are in a safe place of ministry. May God cause your service to Him to flourish and blossom in this new place. Loves!

Joy Dombrow April 6, 2011 at 7:58 PM  


I am so sorry for the hurt that you experienced in your previous church. I can imagine how that experience would color God's current place for you. I pray that you would have godly confidence to move forward to do the things that He is calling you to do.

Bless you, sister friend.

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