When I was growing up, I dreamed of being a teacher. Never, in my wildest dreams, could I have imagined becoming a pastor’s wife! It took me several years in ministry before I became comfortable with my place beside my husband.
We had an older gentleman in our church that always referred to me as ‘the first lady’. At first, I chuckled at his comment, but then I gained some perspective because of it. I don’t think there is any other occupation where a spouse is so defined by her husband’s job, except that of the president! Simply being ‘the pastor’s wife’ conjures up a multitude of expectations from the congregation.
I have found that there are several ways to view the position of pastor’s wife. I have seen some pastor’s wives that are disconnected from the ministry altogether, believing that only her husband was hired. On the other end of the spectrum, there are pastor’s wives that become co-pastors with their husbands; attending meetings, have voting privileges, and involved in all aspects of the ministry. I see my role as falling somewhere in the middle. As a vocation, ministry is my first priority. I stand by my husband, offering support and encouragement, and I’m involved in the ministry wherever my gifts and talents fit.
The Bible does not specifically address the subject, but there are principles in Scripture that can provide some guidance. Ephesians 5 tells us that we are to ‘submit to our own husbands as to the Lord.’ When I think about what submitting looks like, I think of being loyal, supportive and respectful. This is lived out as I help my pastor-husband bear burdens, deal with frustrations and overcome setbacks.
I also think about Ecclesiastes 4 which says, ‘a three-fold cord is not easily broken.’ If my husband were to be alone, he might easily be broken. And if I were not totally supportive and committed, there might be times when he would come ‘unraveled’. So I see my husband’s ministry as a three-fold cord – him, me and the Lord. As a team, with God at our center, we have His strength to do His work for His glory.