What does a “minister’s wife” look like? Well, they come in all sizes, shapes, and styles. Some are tall, some are short, some are skinny, and some are more round. They also come in all varieties. Some are outgoing and boisterous, others are more reserved. Some are the life of the party, but others enjoy being more in the background. Some are out front leading the troops in the charge, while others work behind the scenes. Some like to wear their hair long; others prefer a more short variety. Some like to wear classy clothes; others tend to like the country look.
You see, since God made us with all varying personalities, gift and abilities, preferences, as well as physical features, you will find no two minister’s wives that are exactly alike! And that is a good thing—because if there was a particular model that was a “perfect minister’s wife” then the rest of us would either live our whole life trying to be like her, or give up in desperation and live a life of defeat.
For the first fifteen years of my husband’s ministry, he was a church planter. So we would go into a new area, start a church, then turn it over to another pastor and move on to a new area. But when we moved to Pennsylvania in 1988, the church was already established. For the first time, I was faced with the “former pastor’s wife” syndrome. Well-meaning people would tell me how the former pastor’s wife did this, and how she always planned this, and how she was a good organizer, and how she was an excellent musician. Before long, I began to feel like I was living in her shadow, and how nothing I was doing matched up to what she had done.
Therefore I began to try to do more things and take on more responsibilities so those people would look up to me, like they had looked up to her. In my pride and insecurities, I created in my mind a lot of agendas and expectations from other people that were not true. I made this former pastor’s wife into the “model of perfection” and thought if I was going to succeed in this new church, I needed to be just like her. Just for the record, I have never met that former pastor’s wife. I hear she was a wonderful lady, and I am sure she was. There was nothing wrong with her—the wrong was with me.
After a few months of this, I came to my senses one day and realized what I was doing to myself. In reality, I was trying to be somebody else—and that never works. I was trying to fit myself into the “former pastor’s wife” mold that I had created in my mind. God did not make me like her—God made me different with different personality, different talents and different abilities, and I just needed to be me!
Since that time I have talked to many women who have faced the same problem. They too have tried to be the “perfect minister’s wife” and they too have faced frustration and defeat. God didn’t make you to be the “perfect minister’s wife” or whatever model you have in your mind. He doesn’t want you to compare yourself with others. In fact, God tells us in Second Corinthians 10:12, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” God made you to be you. God placed you in the place where you are, with the circumstances that you have, and He wants you to serve Him there to the best of your ability.
So my counsel to those who ask me the question, “What is the first thing I need to learn as a minister’s wife?” is always the same. Don’t try to fit into someone else’s mold for you. Don’t try to live up to someone else’s record or accomplishments. Don’t bind yourself by everyone else’s expectations of you. Just be yourself!
Find out what God wants you to do. You need to please only two people—God and husband. God’s expectations of us are reasonable, doable, and productive. He is a loving Father with our best interest in mind. When God is pleased, most other people will be satisfied too. And if they are not—don’t fret yourself about it. Let God deal with them!
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.