October 12, 2010

What Should a Minister's Wife Do?

This post follows my last about dropping the "role" we play of the Perfect Minister's Wife and attempts to answer the question "So what should the minister's wife do?"

When Kyle took his first job as a minister to college students at a church in Texas, I was thrilled. On our first Sunday, we ate lunch with the student leaders, the first baby step of building relationships with those God had called us to serve. I tried enjoying the meal and conversations, but I was inside my head the whole time, questioning everything I said and did. What did they think of me? How could I prove myself as a spiritual leader? Was I capable of fulfilling the task God had given me?

I realized that afternoon that I had observed multiple ministers’ wives over the years, but I didn’t know how to be one myself. And I wanted to know; I wanted to get it right. I searched through Scripture for references to wives in ministry or any verses that spoke to my situation, but, surprisingly, there weren’t any that started “Ministers’ wives should…” I watched other wives whose husbands were on staff at our church, looking for a mold to fit in, but all of them approached ministry very differently. I waited for an experienced pastor’s wife to take me under her wing, but none came to my aid. I felt lost without a checklist or job description.

Looking back, I see that I was looking for the role: costume, script, stage makeup and all. I’ve since learned that there is no checklist or job description, nor should there be.

In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers says, “Your duty in service and ministry is to make sure there is nothing between Jesus and yourself.” My job description as a church planting wife is to abide in Christ and, in the conversation we have together, listen for His love, conviction, and direction. When He says go, it’s my job to go. When He says wait, it’s my job to wait. When He convicts, it’s my job to repent and allow Him to cleanse my heart. When He says no, it’s my job to obey. But I cannot abide in Christ and hear His still, small voice unless I am making physical and mental space to be with Him. My heart must be tuned to Him, rather than myself, and when it’s so, He meets my needs and tunes my heart to those He wants me to serve.

It sounds simple, but, as we all know, it’s not. Making space for the Lord requires constant evaluation of our priorities. To spend time with Him, as a mom with three small children, I must get up early when the house is still. Then, when I’m with Him, it means quieting my heart so that I can hear His love and truth pouring over my life. Abiding in Him requires that I act in obedience, even when He asks difficult things of me. But when we do these things that give life to our souls, we find we can’t be real before God and play the role at the same time; we are free from the lure of the role. Then, as we interact with others, we have the boldness and confidence to be and do what the Lord whispered to us in our intimate times with Him. We have the opportunity, in putting aside the role, to shed inauthenticity, to experience freedom in who God made us to be, and to be intimate with God.