I grew up in a preacher’s home, so when I married a preacher, I knew a little bit of what I was getting into. We were married in 1974, and my husband started pastoring his first church that same year. We have been in many different kinds of situations. The Lord has taught us many things. I loved being a pastor’s wife. I felt it was a great privilege. Now my husband is serving as a missionary on a foreign field, so now I have the joy of being a missionary’s wife. But both of these positions hold great responsibility. I am not an expert by any means, but I want to share some of the lessons that the Lord has personally taught me over the years.
You can be content anywhere the Lord leads you.
Many a man’s ministry has been ruined by a wife that has not learned to be content. As a pastor’s wife you must learn the art of contentment. Otherwise, you will never be happy in the ministry. Paul said, “I have learned whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content.” That needs to be your attitude, whether it is in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Arizona, Texas, or even Kansas! Or whether God calls you to a foreign country to live. Each place has its own special challenges, but God is always with you, and you can be content anywhere!
Our first church had only 15 in attendance when we went there. The last church we were at had over 300 in attendance. We have started churches and helped others start churches in several states. At one time we lived in a 15½ foot long travel trailer with 2 kids for 2 years as we traveled from place to place. We also have lived in a 3-story, 6 bedroom home.
For three years my husband taught at a Bible college and we sat under another man’s ministry. We have lived in several different areas of the country. Yet in all these places, I can truly say I was content. We knew we were there by God’s appointment, and we just wanted to serve Him the best we could. Paul said, “I have learned how to be abased, and I have learned how to abound.” Is that your attitude?
Don’t be afraid to follow your husband wherever the Lord may lead him.
Our second church was in Billings, MO. It was a growing church with a nice parsonage for us to live in. They paid us good money. We had both just graduated from college, and we considered ourselves successful in the ministry. Then we got a call from a church in Colorado with about 10 people. They were behind on their building payments, they couldn’t promise us a salary, but they wanted us to come. At first my husband said he wasn’t interested, but when they called again he told them he would come out and preach for them. We went, and they voted to call him as their pastor. As my husband prayed about it, he felt like the Lord wanted him to go.
However, I didn’t feel so sure. I was expecting our first child, and we had no insurance. My parents lived about 15 miles from us. This move would take us 24 hours from them. I thought we were crazy to even think about leaving our comfortable situation to step into such an uncertain situation. My husband called them back and told them that since I could not get peace about coming, we weren’t going to move.
Then I started to do some real soul-searching. “Lord, what if he is right? What if we are supposed to be there? I don’t want to be out of Your will. Lord, please show me Your will.” The Lord answered my prayer, and led me to Ephesians 3:20. God is able to do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” That was the assurance I needed. “OK Lord, I’m ready. Forgive me for holding back.”
Needless to say, the Lord did provide. We moved to Colorado, and we never missed a paycheck. The Lord blessed abundantly. What if I had not gotten right? I could have ruined my husband’s whole ministry. He would have been out of the Lord’s will and it would have been my fault. I have seen it happen many times. A man is ready to serve the Lord but his wife drags her feet, or downright refuses. You need to be cautious and give you in-put. But don’t hold your husband back from serving the Lord for your own selfish reasons. Your husband needs your support. You need to be willing to follow him and trust the Lord to lead him.
Learn the truth of James 1:19
“Be swift to hear, slow to speak.”
A pastor’s wife must learn to guard her tongue. A wife with a tongue out of control can destroy her husband’s ministry. If all you can talk about to others is another’s faults, then something is wrong.
As a pastor’s wife, you will do a lot of talking. You need to constantly evaluate yourself: Should I be saying this? Am I speaking in love? Is this a problem I should even be addressing? Is it my business? Is what I am saying going to cause someone to fall? Your best measure for your words is this test: If Jesus were standing here in person, would I say this? And remember, He IS there, even though you can’t see Him.
You need to be swift to hear. In other words, you need to be a good listener. Be sure you hear the whole story before you jump to conclusions. Make sure you know all the facts. Be sure you talk to the Lord, before you talk to others.
Remember there are also many opportunities for gossip in the ministry. As a pastor’s wife, you will be privy to much information that others don’t have. You must always be on guard and keep your tongue under control. Resist the urge to share what you know with others. Also, teach your children that anything they hear at home is not public information and is not to be shared with their friends. You need to guard the confidences of those you serve.
Don’t let bitterness creep into your heart
This is one you will have to be on guard against continually as a pastor’s wife. And when I say continually, I mean every moment of every day! There will be many opportunities to be offended. There will be the times when church members attack you. They will compare you to the former pastor’s wife, and let you know when you don’t measure up. This is one that I faced when we first moved to Pennsylvania. They will attack your kids and say hurtful things about the way they act, or how you are raising them, or how you dress them. They may make remarks about your wardrobe or your hairstyle.
There will also be times when church members will attack your husband. This is the hardest one to swallow. This is one I really have to watch for. My husband has had many criticisms from church members through the years. They have attacked his preaching (saying he is not preaching the Bible), his abilities (saying he is not capable of pastoring the church), his beliefs (saying our church is a cult), his standards, his convictions, and even the fact that he is from the west!
Whenever this happens, I have to fight the urge to punch them out or call them up and tell them off! Hey, watch out. That’s the man I love!!! I have mentally dictated many nasty letters. But thankfully, I never sent them. What good would it do? What would it accomplish?
My life verse is Psalm 119:165 which says, “Great peace have they which love thy law, and nothing shall offend them.” The secret to keeping bitterness out of your heart is to love the Word of God, and to love its Author. Our former pastor used to always say, “Stay sweet.” That’s good advise. An old song puts it like this: Keep in touch with Jesus. He will keep you sweet.
Watch out for bitterness. Its root goes down deep. The Bible says that many will be defiled. It doesn’t just affect you, but it will also ruin your family, and destroy your husband’s ministry. I have seen too many pastors and their wives who have let bitterness destroy them.
To Be Continued…
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.