The following is a response that I wrote for a Pastoral forum that I belong to. I hope it blesses some of the Pastor's wives that read this blog.
I have been a Pastor's wife for nearly 25 years. I never felt called to the ministry. The Lord slipped this gig in on me after I was already committed to the marriage. I thought I married a dairy farmer. I LOVE cows! I loved the quietness of the barn in the morning, the calm, serene look on a cow's face as it chewed it's cud, the simplicity and routine of farm life.
When my husband first told me that he was called to ministry, I laughed. No, my name is not Sarah, but it could be! I had my reasons, but I shouldn't have laughed.
Then when I figured out for sure that he really was called and anointed of God to do this, I honestly expected God to kill me off so that the right woman could come along. You see, we weren't Christians when we married. We met in a bar. When I did get saved there were two things that I thought I could never do. I hadn't yet read "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me". In my immaturity and lack of knowledge of all that salvation provides I had the firm belief that (1) I could never go to Africa and live in a grass hut and (2) I could never be a Pastor's wife.
You see, I am NOTHING, let me re-iterate, NOTHING like any Pastor's wife I have ever known or been around and I knew there was no chance of me ever being that way! And through the years I have had a boatload, no, a Mercy ship load of comments such as "YOU????...are a Pastor's wife?" "You sure broke the mold." "You're not the "typical" Pastor's wife." "I can't believe that you are a Pastor's wife."
But God didn't kill me off, as you can see! But He did speak to me one day so clearly that it's something I never forgot. He said to me "Cyndi, I made you the way you are because that is the way I'm going to use you." What a relief that was!
Through the years, I have not struggled much with feeling that I have to be someone that I'm not. There was a period of a couple of years where all of that became confused because of some negative influences from a former staff member, but in a time of consecrated seeking, the Lord finally freed me to just be myself. I think that because I'm just a "real" and genuine person, that has opened many doors for me to develop trusting relationships with others.
I have also been fortunate to be able to function in the church body according to my spiritual giftings and not forced to do things that I don't feel equipped to do. I have occaisionally done those things, but more in the name of being a helpmate to my husband than anything and for short periods of time until someone gifted could be found.
I find that the women in our church do view me with the same respect that they would if I had the title "Pastor" and I often function in that way with them, but more in the context of encouragement, occaisional wisdom, etc. I do not and never have thought of "Pastor's wife" as a position or a calling. I can't see that in scripture. I am just a helpmate who happens to be married to a Pastor. Because I am submitted to him as my husband AND as my Pastor, and I am, as his helpmate, forming my life around his as a service to the Lord, I sometimes do things more ministry oriented. I think the most important thing I have learned is to be able to look at my husband as my husband and as my Pastor seperately. So when he does need to speak to me as my Pastor, I can receive things from him that I need to recieve without it affecting my marriage relationship.
It also helps in the area of respect because we all know that no one knows all the quirks and faults of our Pastors the way we do! But I view him as one gifted and anointed by God to lead and guide me in my Christian walk and as the gift scripture says that he is. But then other times, he's just my husband and my very closest friend. Being able to know the difference and to know that one does not affect the other has been invaluable to our marriage and ministry!
The other really valuable thing I learned through the years is that I HAVE to depend on the Lord for EVERYTHING I need, be it physical, spiritual, or emotional. When I depended on people, they always let me down. People that I trusted and thought would never betray us did and it was ugly. Had I not been looking to God to provide all my emotional needs, I could not have supported my husband adequately through it, nor would I still be unafraid to be real and vulnerable with others while fully knowing that it could happen again. I just assume that all people are going to fail me from time to time, some on purpose, others by accident, but because I am not depending on them for anything that I need, it doesn't destroy me. It still hurts, but the pain is relatively short lived.
I've learned to see myself as a conduit through which God flows from Him to another person. It's not about me, it's about what if flowing through me to others. He takes care of me as I help Him by serving others.
I think successful ministry requires that we have a certain amount of vulnerability with others in order to build a bridge of trust with them. If others percieve that I am holding back or hiding something, then they certainly will too.
This has also been way, way, way, valuable in my marriage as well. Granted, 99% of the time, God uses my hubby to meet a lot of my needs, but in those times of the 1%, if hubby is not the delivery driver, I don't get mad or think that he's not doing what he's supposed to. I just look to God to meet the needs in some other way and He's never failed me, not once. This frees my hubby. He doesn't feel pressured to meet needs that he's not adequate to meet in my life. It also allows him to offer love to me in ways that make sense to him.
I may wish that his expressions were offered in other ways, but because God meets all my needs, the things he does to express his love for me bless me. He shows his love sometimes in ways only men would think of--like buying me ammunition for my target pistol for my 50th birthday instead of flowers. I can accept that from him and appreciate the thought he put into it because it's just extra icing on the cake that God has already baked. (And I do love to shoot my pistol!) This makes my husband happy too because he's doing something that obviously pleases me and he feels as if his mission was accomplished. It really is the thought that counts.
I don't always feel comfortable in all the places being a Pastor's wife leads me, but I know that God is not unaware of where I am. I trust that He will lead and guide me every step of the way. Sure, I stick my foot in my mouth all too often. I have my moments when I just want to move back to the farm. But the call of God that was placed on my husband is obvious and to do anything else would be disobedience. And since I'm still around, I know that God fully knew and understood what He was doing when he called us as a couple into the ministry, even though I went kicking and screaming.
There's only one thing left for me...........is that Africa calling?