Written By: Karen Friday
Friend requests. We all receive them.
As a pastor’s wife, joy and blessings have befriended me on the journey. However, the path’s also ladened with hard places. Discouragement, resentment, and their tag-along sidekicks wanted to be my trusted companions.
My husband, Mike, is currently the lead pastor at Believers Church in East Tennessee. We’ve served in eight churches over the last thirty years. I’ve learned valuable lessons about ministry and characteristics to avoid as BFF’s (best friends forever).
But what God taught me in class about church. Priceless.
6 Confessions and Lessons:
Confession #1: I’m a rebel of the typical-pastor-wife ideology. Trying to conform in my younger years, I fell prey to notions such a woman exists. Is there a pastor’s wife who exemplifies “typical?” I wondered who attempted the job description or definition for Wikipedia. Lesson learned: God alone defines me. I’m not typical. I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14.) The bottom line: I’ll claim my cue about who I am from the great I AM.
Confession #2: I am oppressed by people’s expectations. I’ll never measure up to everyone’s ideal. Neither will my husband. I’m not the pastor’s wife from your former church or like another pastor’s wife you know or highly regard. Lesson learned: Seek to please God, not people. (Galatians 1:10.) Striving to please God will bring a correct perspective as I lay expectations at the feet of Jesus. The bottom line: Ministry is not about me. It’s about the One who said, “Follow me.”
Confession #3: I resent when the church becomes about busyness. The pastor has great spiritual responsibility as shepherd. Ministry can become side-tracked with fillers. When this happens, a pastor’s family will often be neglected. Lesson learned: Be about The Father’s business. (Luke 2:49.) Spreading the gospel and making disciples are first priority. Don’t misunderstand. Fun events are good. Yet, we can fill church calendars with no thought to our number one mission of sharing Christ. The bottom line: Programs that fill empty spaces will never fill empty hearts.
Confession #4: I am wounded when people in the church are fault-finders. Being approachable and extending freedom of expression are ways pastors and their wives make themselves available. However, it leaves us open to attack from critics who prey on the opportunity to implement personal agendas. It hurts when those inside church walls criticize my husband, family members, or me. Mean people lurk in every area of life. This includes the church. The capacity for mean is within each of us. We must guard against it. I hope to never write the article, Confessions of a Mean Pastor’s Wife. Lesson learned: Weigh criticism against identity in Christ. The scales will always tip toward “in Christ” where I am a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17.) The bottom line: We can always improve, but sift everything with the truth of knowing Christ transforms us. People do not.
Confession #5: I dislike being under the microscope. I heard this line from a movie, “She hated being a pastor’s wife, it made her feel like a bug under a microscope.” While I’ve not loved everything about this role, I enjoy being a pastor’s wife. Loving the man I married and choosing to be in ministry partnership with him. Pastors and their wives are being watched and followed as leaders and examples in the body of Christ. But. We. Fail. Don’t put us on a religious-built pedestal made from idol-worship of men. Lesson learned: Scriptures do the best job of dissecting my life. (2 Timothy 3:16.) Delighting in God’s Word causes holiness to rise up in us. We won’t get it right all the time—we’re not Jesus. The bottom line: Holiness took our place for mercy’s sake.
Confession #6: I’m discouraged when the pastor is discouraged. Pastors aren’t shielded from mental and emotional down-times—pastor blues. Instead, they are susceptible to this attack from the enemy. Church attendance is low. There’s a lack of volunteers for a mission event. Unity is scarce. People grumble and leave. All factors weighing heavy on a pastor’s heart, thus his wife’s heart. Lesson learned: Encourage my husband’s heart as Christ shepherds my heart. God is the strength of my heart. (Psalm 73:26.) The bottom line: God is good, full of mercy, and steadfast in love—no matter what happens in our lives or ministry.
I pray my lessons learned will encourage pastors and their wives.
Do you have a pastor and wife, and associate pastors and wives? You should because it’s biblical. I pray these words give you insight of the burdens carried by those who shepherd the flocks.
And not for knowledge alone, it would spur you to:
- Love in action. Find practical ways to come along side your pastor and serve.
- Pray for their teaching, anointing, intimacy with God, and against the magnitude of attack from the enemy.
- Be unified for a gospel purpose. Don’t squabble about petty things. Drama and whining show our true character.
- Encourage your pastor. The forces of darkness come against him. If you don’t realize the depth of spiritual battle your pastor is fighting, then get your head out of the sand. It’s happening daily! We must fight darkness with the light of Jesus.
I prefer friend requests from love, joy, peace, compassion, and kindness. I’m learning to ignore the other requests. Won’t you join me?
Karen Friday is a pastor’s wife and lover of words through writing, blogging, and speaking. She has published a number of articles and devotions in both print and online media. Her writing connects family experiences, Christian ministry, and real life scenarios to the timeless truths of scripture. Karen earned a communications degree and has marketing experience in a broad spectrum of business services where she is frequently referred to as Girl Friday. Karen and her husband have two grown children. The entire family is fond of the expression, “TGIF: Thank God it’s Friday!” They owe Monday an apology. Website: karengirlfriday.com