Thursday, February 12, 2009

I Am a Pastor's Wife...

I've been a pastor's wife for all of three years, so my knowledge is limited to say the least. I'm hardly one that's been around long enough to have a whole lot of wisdom for anyone, but since ya'll asked I can at least give you my take on it all ;)
Becoming a pastor was always an option for Ben. It was that, or a veterinarian. I thought the veterinarian option was a good choice, after all, he could still serve in a church...and I could be a normal wife. Deep down, I knew that if God called him to ministry that it meant He called me too. I was positive Ben would make a great pastor, and I was also positive that I had a good chance of ruining it for him...just by being myself.
Looking back, I think I was right. Left to myself, I would totally ruin it.
What I didn't foresee all those years ago, was that God would take me...my personality, my quirks...and He would tweak them to make them useful in ministry. I am talking about a lot of tweaking.
I could be honest without being harsh. Speak truth, covered in love. Be real without jeopardizing privacy. Love a tiny town. Have a burden for people I don't even know. The list goes on and on...all stuff that I never thought possible, because I never considered the fact that if this is what He called me to, then He would go above and beyond equipping me. He knows my faults and weaknesses better than me, of course He knew what He was getting into!

Here's the questions...

What's been the biggest struggle so far as a pastor's wife? Oddly enough my biggest struggle has always been this. Becoming a pastor's wife didn't fix it or magically make it easier, if anything it made it blatantly more obvious to me how absolutely essential it is for me to be in His word. Without it I have no hope of making a positive difference in anyone's life, especially those in my church.


How do you stay connected to women in your church? It's important to me that the women in our church know me. If I'm not sharing my heart with them, then they're likely to make assumptions on my motives and actions. If I can share with them my struggles and my hopes and they can see that I want God to use me and to change me, I think it makes it easier for them to be gracious and give me the benefit of the doubt. For me, I need them to know that I am one of them. I have the same struggles and issues that each of them have.
On the flip side of that, I do sort of have my own personal "hedge" of protection regarding close friendships with ladies in my church. Many of these girlies in my church are wonderful friends of mine and we can share the day to day stuff of life. They are trustworthy friends, however, for their protection and mine I choose to have my closest confidants be outside of our congregation. This way neither of us is put into a position that is going to become complicated. This is a hedge we placed before even beginning our ministry here.

If I could go back, 10 years ago to when Ben started seminary I'd tell myself this...
  • I know you don't feel like you fit the "mold" of a pastor's wife. You're not the only one...turns out there's a lot like you.
  • Be friendlier. Your first church is gonna be in a tiny town and God's gonna change you into a person that learns to reach out to people first, and it turns out, it's not so bad and you're gonna wish you'd allowed Him to change you so much sooner.
  • You're gonna come upon lots of situations that you feel completely inadequate to deal with. And frankly, your ARE inadequate to deal with them, don't be scared of that...it's in those times He will show Himself strongest.
  • Just love people. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Take a good look at the condition of your own heart before you attempt to judge the actions or motives of anyone else. Remember the enormous amount of grace that's been offered to you, and extend that same grace.
  • Smile... a lot. Admit your ignorance. Laugh...at everything. For real. Find the joy.
  • Let Him show you who you are, don't tell Him who you think you are. You're gonna end up doing some ministries that you're pretty sure you don't wanna do...turns out you're wrong.
  • You're gonna be blown away watching your husband shepherd a church. That 17 year old boy you fell in love with is gonna be a great pastor.
  • and you're never gonna get used to people calling him pastor ;) and you're not gonna like being introduced at the pastor's wife, but you'll get over it...sort of ;)
  • Don't believe every ones horror stories of parsonages and bad pastoring experiences. Their stories are probably true, but God is writing your story...go to Him for the details.
  • Believe Him for big things.
Wow, welcome to my longest post ever ;) For those in ministry who might want to read more, you can click on the left side of my blog under the "ministry" label, I've written several things previously about my experience as a pastor's wife.

19 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing agian Sarah. I really enjoyed hearing this. You know what I briefly thought about what it WOULD be like being a Pastors wife. ALthough I couldn't see Rob preaching to a group of people, he's more one on one. But I can get up and talk...
    But as you said, there would need to be a LOT of tweaking for that to happen. Not that I'd ever thought about being a pastor, but doing something in ministry would be nice.

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  2. "Their stories are probably true, but God is writing your story... go to Him for the details." Wow. What a good point for everyone to remember, regardless of professions. Thanks for so often making me think.

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  3. yuck!!! I was CRYING by paragraph 4 and 5!! I am such a sap! It is just.... Sarah, God has made such a beautiful and amazing transformation in you since yall took on this church. It has been something that... I am sorry....NEVER would have happened if you were a "vet's wife"!!! I am not saying it makes you more spiritual.... it is just His beautiful plan for you and you embraced it. And we have grown just from watching you.

    Love you.

    the word verification for this comment is: gudarki
    isn't that a fun word!! How could we make it a real word??!!
    Hmmmm.... what the gudarki are you doing?
    how the gudarki are you!?
    I fell on my gudarki!

    Hmmmm...gotta love new made up words!

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  4. Loved this Sarah!! I love the way you articulate what God is doing/has done in your life!!

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  5. In absolutely no sense of the word, am I an authority on being a pastor’s wife (ask my pastor/husband!) …that said:
    You pinpoint the secret:

    ". . . .absolutely essential it is for me to be in His word. Without it I have no hope of making a positive difference in anyone's life, especially those in my church."

    We can NEVER impact anyone or anything without the power and grace and love that is available only get through knowing God through is WORD.

    Wonderful Post. . .
    I do check in periodically – just don’t comment much. . . .
    But I do laugh and cry with you!
    Have a great weekend!
    ~esthermay @The Heart of a Pastor's Wife

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  6. I love you. Thank you for being so real. I love your list of things you would tell yourself 10 years ago.

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  7. Thanks for sharing your heart. I'm sure you are as blessed to have your church as they are to have you.
    -FringeGirl

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  8. How cool...I never really thought about how pastor's wives must feel being in that situation. Your husband is lucky to have you! =)

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  9. Thanks for sharing Sarah! I too am a pastor's wife (8 years) and enjoy reading your blog because it makes me feel like a "normal" wife.

    I just wanted to say "amen" to your comments on connecting with women--I have also found that the key is to let them know and see the real me. That is easier said than done as whenever you are vulnerable you are taking a risk that someone will take advantage of that and subsequently you will be hurt. But if you don't take that risk you will never connect with anyone.

    I also really, really agree with laughing--you definitely have to keep your sense of humor. Actually that is one of the goals that my hubby & I have made for this year...to laugh a lot more.

    Thanks again for sharing Sarah!

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  10. As to your questions... my answer is the same for each... my struggle with postpartum depression has basically been in the spotlight due to the fact that I am the pastor's wife. It's in sharing that struggle with others that I've been able to connect so much with women. My first postpartum baby is now in 2nd grade, it's so much easier to share since more time has passed. I certainly wouldn't have been able to live "openly" during those first few years... as I'm sure someone would have gotten hurt! Another struggle I have though involves the kids. It's hard to see them in the spotlight. I wish they could just be normal kids at our school. But, they aren't, they are "the pastor's kids" and everyone knows it. I'm trying to get over it!

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  11. Sarah- I have been a pastor's wife for almost 19 years. You wrote your post beautifully. I had to laugh about being introduced as the pastor's wife. I too get that alot!!! Do you ever wonder - does the lady down the street get introduced as the garbage man's wife or the mailman, banker etc....
    I do think part of it is that the majority of people in churches love their pastors and at least I think they feel a little closer to their pastor through his wife. Does that make sense???
    I have enjoyed Joel's ministry and the three congregations he has served in. And I am proud to be by his side supporting him 110%. As the same way you do with Ben.
    Thank you for your thoughts.
    It reminded me of many things I should think about more too!

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  12. This was an awesome post!

    My very best friend is the wife of a Pastor; in fact, she is the wife of my former Pastor. Because of this, I have such an appreciation for how difficult that can be. Being her friend, at times, has been extremely difficult not because of her but because of other people. It is very hard for the Pastor and his wife to have friends in the church....very, very hard.

    As I know that you already are...be yourself and never count on your own abilities for anything. Just be the helpmate to your husband that you've been called to be and allow God to work through you.

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  13. Beautiful post! I wish I had laughed more when I was a pastors wife, there certainly was a lot of things to laugh at & about! I worried too much about being the perfect PW. Silly thing to do!

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  14. How many times can I comment {YOU ROCK}?!

    Love this {REAL} post that has Jesus written all over it!

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  15. One of the best posts about being a PW I've read in a while. I agree with you 100%.

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  16. I've been a pw for 3 years too!
    Great advice! Loved this post!

    oh and I'm not a typical pw either, I'm realizing their is no such thing!!!

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  17. We are infinately blessed to have you and Pastor Ben!

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  18. I'm loving this post! So many of the things on your list are on mine... I just wish that I could have realized the importance of being myself earlier in our ministry.

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  19. As a pastor's daughter, I really enjoyed this post. Since I've grown up in a pastor's home and have seen first-hand what my parents have BOTH gone through, I've always said I would NEVER marry a pastor! :D My mother always reminds me that she didn't marry one either. My dad was in the Marines when they were married, and then a few years later he quit running from God and submitted to His will--to go to Bible College and serve Him as a pastor. It could happen to me, and I would feel so inadequate as well. Anyway, loved this post and I'll be adding you to my Google Reader!

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