Sunday, July 19, 2009

So You Wanna Be A Minister's Wife

I have thought about teaming up with my mom to write a book by this title. I don't think I'll be able to convince her anytime soon, though she is definitely the source of the bulk of our collaborative wisdom. So for right now, it will suffice to simply post a blog. Before I list a few tidbits about life in the ministry, I want to say that I L-O-V-E being a minister's wife. When I was 17, God made it clear that marrying a minister was going to be a major part of my own ministry, and it's still the only clear direction I have as to my calling. (Well, I thought that we were called to go into missions, but that belief was merely a step to our true direction, at least for now.) Not everything comes directly from my personal experience. Some of it comes from my mom, and some comes from other ministry families that I've talked to.With that in mind, here are a few things that you should know before marrying into the ministry:
  • Many people think that the main task of a minister is what happens during church. The bulk of most minister's time is the stuff that happens between services. Counseling sessions, pastoral care (the term for visiting sick and distraught church members and their relatives), and administrative planning take up a huge part of the time for pastors. Hours are irregular because problems arise without warning. Hubby may have to get out of bed to help a member in need, and still have to get up to go to a breakfast meeting. Things even out over time.
  • People will die right before you're supposed to leave for vacation. It's not like you can ask them to change their plans, and death is a pretty big deal. So guess what gets moved, shortened, or cancelled? The beach can always wait.
  • It doesn't matter how badly you want to see your family on a holiday, there's a good chance that hubby will have some ministry to do, such as a Christmas cantata, or youth ski trip. That's just a part of the game, but you will figure out ways to get a few days with your family. Just be prepared to hurry.
  • People are watching. Sorry, sis. It comes with the territory. People need to see an example of a healthy family and a biblical marriage, so try to embrace the task. Every once in a while, there may be someone who just wants to see if you, your husband, or worst of all, your kids, fail. They're the ones with the problem. (Let me make it really clear that Edwin and I haven't had a problem with this yet. My Dad's current church doesn't have this as an issue, either.)
  • Sometimes a doctor gets a cough. There isn't a perfect church because there aren't perfect people. You may feel like you're getting jaded from being in an ideal church situation, but every church has problems. Some have lots. But healthy people don't need a doctor. (Edwin and I, and my parents, have been blessed tremendously that we have been a part of wonderful churches.)
  • Your best friends may live in other cities, states, or even countries. It can be difficult to have a completely transparent relationship with church members. Keep other ministers' wives on speed dial. They'll get it.
  • It's okay, and necessary, to expect certain things from your children because you're a Christian family, but never have expectations for your children based on being a minister's family. You can't teach them to have genuine faith if your actions are based on what people think instead of what God knows.
  • It's not about you. It's not about your husband being appreciated. It's not about owning all the things that people around you own (like your own home). It's not about your kids being happy all the time. It's about Jesus. And He is always worth it, no matter what "it" is.

Finally, if you're considering marrying into the ministry, talk to a minister's wife. They can give you insight that you could never get otherwise. It's a fantastic calling, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. In fact, Edwin and I are desperately seeking the next place of service for our family. We are considering getting a secular job until a church situation opens, and the thought of being something other than a pastor's wife is the most difficult part for me. I love it, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. It is crucial to remember that being married to a minister is just as much of a calling as paid service. Many people overlook this, both ministers and their wives (or future wives), and the results can be detrimental to the marriage and to the ministry.

Edwin has reminded me to note that there are thousands of other issues. In fact, The Alabama Baptist has an article on the subject this week. It's more detailed than my own. But like I said, I want to write a book about it one day, and I don't want to give away all of my material ;). Have a great day at church, and remember to thank, hug, or otherwise show appreciation to your ministers' wives!


The Carpenter Life said...

Great blog, all so true and I will be first in line to buy yalls book! : )

from your minister's-wife-cousin-in-law!

The Byrd's Nest said...

You should really consider writing a book Hannah. I also loved being a Pastor's wife. We said goodbye to our little church today and it was just as bad as saying goodbye to our family. You just have to love each other through everything. That was my motto. Great post!

Julie said...

Very well spoken Hannah. Beth Moore did a wonderful retreat for pastor's wives that is available from Lifeway for download. I would love to combine your wisdom with that to do a retreat for the pastor's wives around here. God has truly blessed me with your wisdom.