Yesterday, we talked about God’s gift of grace being foundational in our roles as pastor’s wives.
(If you missed that post and want to check it out, here it is: How to Be a Pastor’s Wife.)
Today, I want to talk about our “duties” as pastor’s wives… and more specifically, how grace shapes our hearts in those duties.
Grace can form (and transform) the relationships with people in our lives-
- our husband
- our children
- our church family
- other minister’s wives
A quick reminder: I’m talking about “grace” in the context of a favor or benefit bestowed upon another with no expectations.
Giving without strings attached.
Without keeping a ledger.
Without feeling like you deserve more.
Without closing up your heart because you’ve been wounded in the past.
Without building walls and facades.
We have some exciting ground to cover, so let’s jump right in! Here are four grace-full duties of a pastor’s wife:
Duty #1: Give your husband grace.
Your man looks so close-to-perfect in front of everyone at church, but you live with him. You know his faults, irritating habits, his insecurities. You know him better than anyone else, and that’s why it’s so important for you to give him this gift.
To support and honor him without expectations. Without withholding love, approval, or affirmation.
How does this translate to real life?
The parsonage yard needs mowed, but your husband is so busy with church work (including mowing the church lawn) that he has to put it off for at least a few more days.
A friend mentions in passing that her husband is going on another missions trip with a group of pastors, and that their church is financing his trip. You wish your husband would consider a foreign missions trip. It just seems so spiritual.
Your husband is exhausted and over committed all the time, mainly because he has to work a full time job in order to supplement the small salary he receives from the church. He rarely has time to spend with you or your kids, since he’s always working or at the church. This is not what you envisioned “ministry” would look like.
A deacon informs you after church that this is the third service in a row your husband has started Sunday School five minutes late. You inwardly cringe at the criticism, since you’re constantly frustrated over the same issue at home.
It sounds petty, but these kinds of harmless little scenarios have the power to destroy your respect for your husband and damage your marriage, if you let them.
Learn to let go of expectations regarding your husband’s ministry, the size of your church, his salary, his personality, and whatever else you find yourself dealing with as the wife of a pastor.
Let go and give grace. Choose to honor him.
It just might be the best thing you ever do for your marriage.
Duty #2: Give your children grace.
Growing up, I always hating hearing the “typical preacher’s kid” comments. I didn’t even know that a “typical” preacher’s kid acted like, but it seemed pretty awful!
As the mother of preacher’s kids, give your children the gift of unconditional love, grace, and affirmation.
I’m not talking about letting them act like undisciplined heathens. But you be their biggest fan, not their biggest critic.
A Sunday School teacher complains about your preschool daughter’s behavior in class, and you react out of embarrassment instead of dealing with the issue in the privacy of your home after church.
You can’t help noticing that Sister So-and-So’s kids are super talented and have great personalities, which kind of makes your kids look bad.
It’s tempting to care more about what people think of your family than to take your kids’ feelings, preferences, and personalities into consideration.
You really hadn’t planned on weaning or potty training just yet, but someone criticized the fact that your toddler is still nursing or not potty trained.
The scenarios are endless, and I’m sure you’re thinking of some of your own right now!
The truth is, you and I have got to be secure in who we are as women- and who and what our families are- if we’re going to let people’s expectations, criticisms, and plain old harmless comments leave us unshaken.
It takes a lot of inner security to be the mother of preacher’s kids.
I want to raise children who are confident, gracious, and who love people and love serving in God’s kingdom. To do that, I know it’s going to take a lot of grace-giving.
Duty #3: Give your church family grace.
Over the years, I’ve met a number of preacher’s wives who have been hurt and basically “burned out” on building relationships with people.
As a younger woman, I used to wonder why these ladies “had such a bad attitude” about ministry. After being in ministry with my husband for ten years, I understand at least a little why it’s possible to get to that point.
Burn out is a natural response to feeling like you’ve given your all and not been loved or appreciated in return.
Years ago, I read the following quote from a passage in Oswald Chambers book, My Utmost for His Highest:
“The mainspring of Paul’s service is not love for men, but love for Jesus Christ. If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall soon be crushed and broken-hearted, for we shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog; but if our motive is love to God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow men.”
You were up half the night with a new baby and still had to make it to Sunday School with a van full of kids… Frankly, you’re plain tired of always being the one who never misses, never sits out.
You feel like you’ve been more than friendly and hospitable to the women in your church, but they seem so moody and self-absorbed. You’re starting to think, What’s the use?
If you have to go to the trouble to play the piano at another funeral for someone who didn’t even attend your church, you just might scream!
You always listen to HER problems and try to remember to pray for her. Why can’t she ever ask you how you’re doing instead of always complaining about her own problems?
Loving people must be an overflow of our love for Christ.
Human love gives up, wears out, falls short and expects something in return.
Duty #4: Give other minister’s wives grace.
I never really understood the pecking order that can exist among minister’s wives until I became one.
Her husband is a full time evangelist.
Her man pastors a mega church and wears name brand suits.
Sister So-and-So plays the piano, sings, and looks like a million bucks!
Beneath the walls, masks, and fronts, every single one of us is a vulnerable person who craves acceptance, affirmation, and friendship.
You can give that to other minister’s wives, but only if you’ve accepted the liberating gift of grace and wholeness for yourself.
Love and affirm freely. Reach out.
When the evangelist’s wife is more out-going, skinny, or talented than you are, reach out anyway.
When the church across town is three times as big as your husband’s struggling congregation, be friendly and chat with the pastor’s wife when you see her in the grocery store anyway.
Don’t hide inside a painful shell of pride and insecurity.
Embrace grace, then give it away to someone else. I guarantee she needs it as much as you do.
Next week I’ll be sharing about our family’s struggles (and solutions) to finding a balance in ministry, family life, and homeschooling.
On Tuesday, October 7, I’ll also be sharing during an online conference “Why I Quit Trying to be the Perfect Homeschool Mom”. You can get more details about the conference at HomemakingFromScratch.com.
What grace-full ” duty” would you add to this list?