just for pw #11

>> December 5, 2011

Joy continues the "Just for Pastors' Wives" series. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. 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.

Dear Pastor’s Wife,

Have you noticed that every church provides a different culture for their pastor’s wife? Some have long standing traditional expectations. Play the piano. Teach children’s church. Dress very conservatively. Others have expectations that were set by the involvement (or lack thereof) of the previous pastor’s wives. Still other churches are large enough, or progressive enough, to try and avoid expectations of us altogether. Yet, this is not always realistic or helpful, for there are always expectations, voiced or otherwise. If not from the congregation or leadership, then certainly placed upon ourselves.

Each of us is unique. Our giftings, personalities, passions, experiences, training, calling, community, and even our husbands and their specific positions, play a big role in finding a niche that brings us joy within our faith families. However, finding that niche is up to us. We must be proactive and deliberate in determining how the Spirit of God would have us to minister and serve. Then, we must rise up into that role with Godly confidence and grace, lovingly communicating and living out that to which God is calling us.

Have you ever written out your own job description? What role do you want to take on as a pastor’s wife? How do you want to be remembered? How do you want to be defined? Of all the things that you could concern yourself about within the church, what is most important to you? What is your gift mix and how has He shaped you? How can you be a helper to your husband in ministry? Where is the need that perhaps only you can fill? After much prayer, self-examination, and discussion with your husband, on what specific things will you focus?

Writing it down brings clarity, both to you and to those with whom you serve.

May I share mine with you as an example?

1. I am a pastor to the pastor. There are some things that only a pastor’s wife can do for her pastor husband. Whereas pastors spend much of their time ministering to the needs of his congregation, as his wife, I want to spend much of my time ministering to his needs. This includes taking care of various household responsibilities so he doesn’t have to. It means that I forego many personal opportunities to make sure that our children do not feel neglected within the ministry. It means that I (try) to look after his health needs, including monitoring stress and creating balance. I spend much time in prayer over him since I know when it is that he is feeling the most discouraged, vulnerable, or needy. I carve out time to comfort, listen, process, or just be with him.

2. I am a shepherd to the feminine half of the church. I truly want to be Joel’s counterpart both at home and in ministry. This means that I represent him and his ministry/vision to my own gender. I can reach into areas of our faith family in ways that as a man, he cannot. This doesn’t mean that I need to lead the women’s ministry, but I do feel responsible for keeping a pulse on it and for loving on the women in our church. I take every opportunity I can to listen, pray for, and speak into their lives. I want to encourage them to rise up into leadership and see their great potential for influence. I want to exhort them in their specific needs and roles as wives, mothers, and women. I want to fan the flame of love for Christ in whatever way I can. This ministry begins with the staff wives, elder’s wives, and female staff as they allow, and as we build relationships over time (read…priority). It is also manifested as I use my teaching gifts to clarify the truths of Scripture, or my gift of exhortation to verbally encourage women.

3. I am a culture-shaper. I don’t always have a specific ministry, but I can be a voice that speaks into several different areas. Again, I know my husband’s vision and can help to forge the way in the various ministries in which I may be present. I can also be eyes and ears amongst our church to provide feedback to my husband regarding things that I see happening, for the purposes of meeting needs.

4. I am an esteemer of mentorship and discipleship within the church. I am passionate about the Biblical mandate of making disciples, and this can be done through a variety of ways: teaching, writing, one-on-one, leading a small group, or by modeling it. It is my heart that there be many, many women within our church who take up this same mantle as they are given confidence and tools, and that this would simply be the DNA of our culture.

Your role description will probably look different than mine. In fact, I hope it does, reflecting the distinct beauty of who you are. However as a pastor’s wife, only you can really define it clearly, for the glory of God and the benefit of the church. May you rise up into your exquisite God-given role.

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Kathy December 7, 2011 at 8:32 AM  

This is a great post and way to focus in on who we are as pastor's wives and NOT what anyone else wants us to be (based on tradition or not). We all know our strengths and it is best to "stay in our lane" and do what we do best so that God will get the MOST glory. Being a "pastor to the pastor" is a great way to support our husbands. I have been a pastor's wife (first lady) for six years now and I don't oversee a specific ministry BUT I agree that my ministry is to support and encourage the pastor's vision within the church in general. In 2012, I am prayful that I am lead to step in the forefront more so that I can support the women of our church in a deeper way. BUT I am always mindful to "stay in my lane" because just because I want to do that doesn't mean that it is what GOD wants me to do at this point. I am praying for clarity!

Veronica Brown December 7, 2011 at 1:01 PM  

I love you say "stay in your lane" because we use that EXACT phrase in our ministry too. Thanks Kathy, I agree, Joy did a great post!

Tanya December 8, 2011 at 10:57 PM  

Great food for thought.

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