3 Surprising Positives on Being the Pastor's Wife

When I tossed out a question to a few fellow pastors’ wives, asking what surprised them about their role in ministry, I admit that I was a bit afraid of what they might throw back. I learned a long time ago that not all surprises are good. I could write a book about all the unexpected and unpleasant shocks I faced as a young ministry wife. I suspect most ministry wives are like me, and they could fill page after page with the details of how they’ve been hurt. The negative is loud. But what about the positive?

When I was feeling particularly down in our early ministry years, a friend (who is not in vocational ministry) shared her observations on the perks of being a ministry family. Her family was young and pinching pennies. So was her pastor’s family. She and her husband were involved and invested in their church family, and they received generous encouragement and help from the congregation. But the pastor’s family received much more merely because their needs were more visible. A kitchen company renovated their kitchen at a discount. Generous friends outfitted their kids for special events. My friend didn’t begrudge this generosity toward her pastor’s family. She wasn’t jealous. She loved them and wanted good things for them. She merely pointed out to me, who felt sour and disadvantaged, that our life comes with hardships and blessings. It was a correction I needed to hear.

There is a positive, beautiful, and unexpected side to serving the Lord that speaks at a lower volume than the negative voices.

Not all ministry perks are materialistic (although our family has received much practical help). Some advantages are softer. Quieter. They arrive with less flash but encourage just as powerfully. There is a positive, beautiful, and unexpected side to serving the Lord that speaks at a lower volume than the negative voices. I had to train my ear to listen for it because most of my pre-ministry prep was getting ready for the hard. That preparation was valid and needed; however, there is a time to raise the volume on the good. There is a time not just to acknowledge the blessings that come from our unique role in our churches but emphasize them to encourage others.

You’ve seen over and over that God’s grace is sufficient for you.

We weren’t too long in our first church before we realized just how inadequate we were for the task God had called us to do. We feel this weight in a way few others ever do. “Being confronted with sin in God’s people is hard,” shares one wife, “and we often felt utterly lacking.” But a second surprise hitched to that feeling of inability materialized.  God’s grace is sufficient . “Every time we feel unable to meet a challenge, we have learned the hard lesson of going to Him. He always supplies the need—always gives where we are lacking.”

Oh, how we need to remember this! God’s faithfulness to His ministry will knit us, our husbands, and children together in ways we cannot imagine. The most challenging things we face are blessings that can draw us closer together and closer to the Lord.

You’ve seen God work through broken people.

One ministry wife admits feeling unprepared for how hard it would be to manage the weight of ministry, expectations on her time, or how her husband would struggle to balance work and family. But she also sees the beauty of serving the Lord in the unique role He has assigned her, caring for the imperfect people God placed in her life.

Her church is not perfect, she admits freely with a laugh. But despite the brokenness that exists, it does a beautiful job caring for them. The care is not solely focused on her husband but extends to the family, ensuring he isn’t neglecting his home. His salary includes a budget for a date night, and if not for that wonderful surprise, their dates would be non-existent.

Yes, broken people fill our churches, but God is working through them just as He is working through you.

When another ministry family moved to a new small town, their realtor let the church members into their house, and they filled the pantry as a surprise. Moving is so stressful this pastor’s wife cried happy tears when she saw the tangible expression of love and welcome.

Yes, broken people fill our churches, but God is working through them just as He is working through you.

You have a front row seat to the Lord’s work.

One pastor’s wife confessed that my question about ministry surprises plagued her. She wrestled with the question for days before responding with the following story. “When we moved away for seminary with five kids, God provided abundantly more than we could have asked for or imagined.” Looking back on that season fills her with awe. “And as we look ahead to another big ministry change, I’ve asked those closest to me to “stand in awe” with me at what God will do.” There are mountains of details in front of them, but as she reminds herself and the kids to “stand in awe” together, they will see God use this move for His greater purposes.

I love that. Decide before the outcome to stand in awe of God.

Decide before the outcome to stand in awe of God.

Yes, ministry is hard. Yes, people are difficult. Yes, opinions are strong. But we are in a unique position. We get to hear how God is good. We get to hear how God works in the lives of our church family. We get to hear about God’s unexpected generosity toward others and experience it ourselves.

We need only to turn up the volume.

Featured image credit .

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