Being the wife of a man in full-time Christian service can be a very fulfilling and satisfying calling. It can also be a very hazardous occupation.
Therefore, there are three things that absolutely must be in place in your life.
First, you need to be aware of the pitfalls that are involved so they don’t catch you by surprise.
Second, you need to be in daily fellowship with God and growing personally in your relationship with the Lord.
Third, you must have an assurance that God has called you into your place of service and you are in His will.
If these three areas are in place, you can overcome the majority of the problems that occur in the ministry.
We have already looked at the issue of loneliness and having limited time with your husband. Now we want to look at some other areas that you will sacrifice in if your husband is in full-time Christian service.
Lack of Privacy
Those in the ministry are always subject to a lack of privacy. Some call it the fish bowl existence. People will naturally be curious about you and your family, your lifestyle, habits, and your home. Because you are in a leadership position, people will be watching your life. They will notice even the smallest details. If you happen to live next to the church, you will have even a greater problem with privacy.
Ways to Deal with Lack of Privcay
* You must develop the attitude that your house and every room in it belongs to God. Dedicate your house to the Lord for Him to use. Surrender your “right to privacy” to Him. In some situations you may have to lock doors or build a fence to give your family some privacy. Having an open house once in a while will satisfy the natural desire of your people to see how you live. Try to entertain a variety of church groups in your home.
* Your husband may need to publicly handle from the pulpit some problems that arise regarding your privacy. When we pastored in PA, our house was right behind the church, but we have never had a problem with people not respecting our privacy. But some churches might be different.
* Try to keep the ‘public’ areas of your home—at least the living room and the bathroom—always ready for company so that you won’t be embarrassed when people drop in unannounced. Usually these would be the first two rooms I would clean in the morning to be sure they were presentable. Then around lunchtime I would do another quick pick-up in these areas to clear out any clutter that had accumulated. This habit helped to keep at least those areas of the house presentable in case someone should stop by.
* Always maintain some private areas for each family member that are off-limits to visitors.
* Even if your husband is not in full-time service, if you are a Christian you need to remember that others are watching your life. Always ask yourself—is what I am doing going to affect others in a good way or a bad way? Is what I am doing pleasing to the Lord? All of us are looked up to in some way by others. Who is looking up to you, and how is your testimony affecting their life for Christ?
High Standards Set for You and Your Children
When you are in the ministry, people expect you to be an example in everything, not only spiritual matters. They sometimes forget that you are only human. They often do not allow you or your family to have any kind of frailties. Sometimes they forget that preacher’s kids are just children.
On the other hand, your people want to see you practice what you preach, and well they should. Your family should set the example. That is why one of the qualifications of a pastor is that he “rules well his own house, and his children are in subjection with all gravity.” People need to see that Bible principles really do work in family life today.
Ways to Deal with High Standards
* Be sure that you have your children under control. Start at an early age with correct, consistent discipline. Make sure that your own life is what it should be and that you are setting a correct example as a mother, a wife, and a Christian.
* Let your family know that you don’t go by other people’s standards, but you go by the standards found in the Word of God. Be sure that your children understand the why of each standard you hold, and what Scriptures you base it on. NEVER set a standard based on what others say or think.
* Never tell your children they must behave a certain way just because they are preacher’s kids, or because people will be upset with their father if they don’t. This will only cause bitterness in your child. Help them to see how they are to behave because it is pleasing to the Lord.
* Teach your children that it is a privilege to be in the service of the Lord. Never tell your children what a sacrifice the ministry is, and what they are having to give up because their father is in the ministry. If you do, your children will grow up and turn away from God, never wanting to serve Him. Make your children feel privileged that God is using your family in His service.
* Learn how to handle criticism of your family by church members. If there is a problem that needs to be fixed, correct it. If it is unjust criticism, forget it.
* Spend enough time with your children so that you can talk over problem areas and sense their burdens. Be sure you find out all the facts and don’t jump to conclusions when someone comes to you about something your child has done.
Beverly is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She and Doug Hammett have been married for over 35 years. Since her father was a pastor and her husband was already a pastor when she married him, she is well acquainted with the blessings as well as the problems of the ministry! Bev’s favorite things to do are read and spend time with her family.
In Autumn of 2010, Doug stepped aside from his position as senior pastor at LVBC to reach and train men in Botswana and South Africa. Beverly continues to write for our ladies publication, giving her unique perspective of life in the ministry, and now life on the mission field. You can read more about their ministry here.