December 6, 2011

A Good Pastor's Wife

I want to be a good pastor's wife, I really do. But even after 12 years in ministry, I don't always feel like I know what it means to be a pastor's wife, much less a good one.
Four years ago, as we prepared to church plant, my consistent prayer was, “Lord, show me my role in this.” Being a teensy-weensy bit Type-A, I preferred He give me a job description of sorts, neatly typed in bullet points under the heading “How to Be a Perfect Church Planter’s Wife.” I wanted some idea of what I’d be doing and what would be required of me, but He only spoke in generalities: Follow Me. Serve your family. Love people.

Yes, Lord, but what do I do?

At some point in our second year, when our church became a little more real-church-like and less we-hope-we're-going-to-make-it-like, I suddenly realized I had become a pastor's wife. In all those months of support raising, people raising, moving, settling in, starting the church, and reaching out to our community, the thought had honestly never crossed my mind that, when all was said and done, I'd be a pastor's wife. I didn't know how I felt about that label, other than totally panicked.

My prayer was still the same: "Lord, show me my role in this." And His response was also the same: Follow Me. Serve your family. Love people as I bring them into your life. And this time He added: And stop freaking out. The responsibility is on Me and I'm cool with that. 

I try not to freak out, but sometimes I still do. Sometimes I still want to nail down a job description or pound out a bullet-pointed to-do list. Something doable, something complete-able, something controllable, something neat and tidy. Something that will finally tell me that I've reached Good Pastor's Wife status.

God's response is the same, faithful and true. He has even started simplifying it for me, probably because He knows I'm prone to forget or maybe too blockheaded to understand. Now, my job description is down to just one word.


Seek and receive love from Him. Then go and give what I've received to others.

As a pastor's wife, I have a unique opportunity because I have influence. I can serve as a tangible representation of God's love and grace for other women just because of my role. 

Or I can blow that opportunity. I can view my role as a burden or as my husband's opportunity alone. I can feel pressure to portray myself as having it all together or to be a spiritual superwoman. I blow the opportunity to love when I try to fill up the role or fill up on validation from other people rather than filling it all up with Him. I also blow the opportunity when I live from my wounds and insecurities rather than grace and freedom.

As pastors' wives, it's so important for us to know our job description because others will follow our lead. If we drown ourselves in works, they will too. If we avoid loving confrontation because we're scared of losing love, they will too. If we hide our real selves, they will too. 

But if we love, they will too.

If we don't know our job description, others will define it for us. And we'll eventually crumble from exhaustion or criticism. 

Our job is love, both to abide in His and to pour it out on others. Know His love: meditate on it, search for it, acknowledge it, receive it, enjoy it, be ambitious for it. And then articulate it to others through forgiveness, hospitality, touch, word, song, comfort, counsel, and relationship. 

In love, we cannot go wrong.

For all the law is fulfilled in one Galatians 5:14