Whose expectations really matter most?

I know my title is a little confusing. All of us, as pastor’s wives, know that God’s expectations of us matter most! The real question is, do my actions reflect that? I must take ownership of my part in buying into Satan’s lies about unobtainable expectations I have allowed myself to believe are truth. If I am not seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance, it’s so easy for me to fall into the thinking that the expectations of the church, congregation, and myself, hold more weight in ministry than the expectations of God.

The first thing I need to do is make a list of expectations I have created for the role of a pastor’s wife. These expectations have been developed over the years by how I observed previous pastors’ wives in my life behave; by how I perceived their behavior. Some of these are a bit ridiculous but are still preconceived notions about what I should be now. According to me, I should be pretty, dress modestly and stylish, wear lipstick, be timid, always be in a good mood, have a prayer request list a mile long and diligently pray daily for those requests, carry my bible with me everywhere, have kids who are always well behaved, and never, I mean ever, be upset with the pastor (a.k.a. my husband)!

Clearly, I have some unobtainable expectations of what a pastor’s wife should look like. How those pastor’s wives fooled me, I have no idea! They must have been either saints or just really good at faking it! Because in reality, I know I am not most of those things. Even if I am some of those things some of the time, I am not some of those things consistently. These are just the expectations I have put on myself; there is a whole other list that the church and congregation have and will put on me throughout my husband’s ministry. But, as we all know, we cannot change others expectations of ourselves until we first change our own.

Matthew 7:3-5 says, “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

As much as I would love to blame the church and congregation for the expectations and the pressure that goes along with those, I cannot. I must ask myself, “What am I doing to destroy those lies that Satan has planted in me?”

  • Am I being authentic with the congregation, or am I only allowing them to see me at my best?

Sometimes we forget that it is okay for us to have a bad day. We struggle to get to church on time because our husbands have to be there hours before service begins and we are left to fight the kids to get ready on our own. Only by the miracle of God, we get ourselves ready and out the door without ruining our mascara with tears (which may or may not have happened on occasion) after yelling at the kids and having to discipline them on such a “holy” day. I don’t know about you, but this is my typical Sunday morning. I try to remember to ask a close friend to pray for me those mornings. Or, I send my husband a text to pray I don’t kill our kids before service starts! Then sometimes, I cry out to God for his help and strength in the midst of my trouble!
Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble!”

  • Do I get embarrassed or frustrated when people see the real me, or am I humble in acknowledging my weaknesses?

For a long time I did get frustrated and embarrassed. Then I realized that being relatable (a.k.a. not perfect) to other women and sharing my weaknesses and struggles builds us all up and makes us all stronger. To know that even the pastor’s wife struggles can be empowering for a group of women to see. I have learned this allows them to be more honest and authentic, not for us to judge one another, but for us to grow in Christ together as a body of believers.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

  • Have I repented of my sins?

Sometimes I am trying so hard not to sin that I overlook the very sin I am committing! I may not curse, do drugs, commit adultery, or steal, but when I ask God to convict my heart of the sins I have committed… BAM! What comes out of the woodwork? Jealousy, bitterness, forgiveness, and yikes, lies! These sins are just as terrible as the sins I have not committed! As God refines us our sins start to look different, but are always there. I usually have to be intentional in finding out what they are before I can repent of them.
Revelation 2:5 “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”

  • Have I been in the word?

In this busy world we live in, it is easy to get bogged down with our daily to-do lists. When you have a two year old like me, it is nearly impossible to do anything that requires concentration. One thing that I have learned is that if I desire something enough, it will take priority in my life. It took me praying for God to give me the desire to be in His word before I actually wanted to! Since then, I haven’t found it as hard to carve out time to be in the word because I look forward to that time each day so much.
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

  • Have I asked for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in my walk today?

I used to think of the Holy Spirit as that weird uncle that you avoid at all costs because I was afraid to be the one who spoke in tongues or passed out on the floor after the pastor rammed his hand on my forehead! Although, after looking through the word, I see Jesus relying on the Holy Spirit while he was in the flesh. He spoke to the disciples about sending the Holy Spirit to them to be their “helper’ and a guide to truth. Now that I don’t see the Holy Spirit as a crazy uncle, I call out to the Holy Spirit in prayer and ask for his help and guidance throughout the day. I have since then been more susceptible to the Holy Spirit’s nudging and have been blessed every time I have acted on the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
John 16:13 “When the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

Well, I must admit I am very convicted by these words as I type this out. I definitely do not want God to remove my lampstand from its place! So, after evaluating myself, and the lies that Satan has planted in my heart, what do I do now?

I think the first, most important thing to do is repent. Pray to God and ask forgiveness for putting myself on the throne instead of Him. That is probably the best place to start. I think the next thing that I need to do is have a good understanding of what God’s expectations are for my life. So, let’s look at scripture that will give us guidance into what His expectations are for women of faith.

Titus 2:3-5 says, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and to train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands that the word of God may not be reviled.”

1 Peter 3:1-4 says, “Likewise wives be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external-the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear- but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

These are just a few of many scriptures that God’s instruction and expectations are made known to us. I think God makes it very clear what he expects from us throughout all scripture. I think he also makes it clear to us that He loves us unconditionally, and that He knows our hearts. So, I think the most important thing we can do in our ministry is to make sure our hearts are right with God. This is not a “one and done” deal, it is only an achievable expectation when maintained daily.

Let us, as pastor’s wives, remember to only adhere to the expectations of God. And throw all else out the window! Now, doesn’t that feel good? Thank God, I hate lipstick!

~Amanda

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