I have been asked that question several times over the years. Many women do not know what is even expected of them if their husband is in full-time Christian service. The wife is often told that she has the potential to make or break her husband’s ministry, but there is no formal training for her as a pastor’s wife. A pastor will go to school for 3 or 4 years, and some even longer, but many pastor’s wives have not even had the chance to finish college. Very few have any Bible training at all.
So what can you do to prepare? First, don’t despair. There are many ways to get some training. Of course, the ideal time would be before you get married. But sometimes that is impossible. If your husband is called into the ministry later in your marriage, there are still things you can do to prepare yourself.
Every girl graduating from high school should take advantage of Bible college courses. These courses will give her a well-rounded Biblical education, so she will be prepared if the Lord chooses for her to marry a pastor or a missionary. If she doesn’t, the training will still be valuable. Too many women rely on the preacher or their father or their husband for their knowledge of the Word of God. You need to know what you believe and why you believe it. Learn how to study God’s Word for yourself.
Second, other pastor or missionary wives can be a wealth of information for you. I have several older ladies that are pastor’s wives that I have looked to over the years. When I am facing a difficult situation, I will call them and get their input on the situation. Also, as I have watched how they function in their church and how they relate with people, it has been a tremendous help to me.
Third, start now reading good books and building your library with good Christian books that can be a resource for you. When I was first married, I had no books at all for resource material. I did have the advantage of having grown up in a pastor’s house. But because we were both in school when we were married, all my books were nursing books, nothing spiritual. Over the years I have collected many books, so I have a good library of resources now. But I wish someone had told me when I was younger to start building a good library. It is invaluable, wherever the Lord may lead you in your life.
Don’t waste your time reading romantic novels. They have no substance and only cause wrong thinking. Looks for books that are written by pastor’s wives and that talk about being in the ministry. Read books that will help you be a better wife, mother, and homemaker. Read books that teach you how to be organized, how to relate to people, and how to be an effective public speaker. Read biographies of women in the past who have been used by God. Read books about hospitality and cooking and decorating. If you don’t know where to find good books, our church bookstore has many good books for women. You should start now building your resource library.
Fourth, be involved in your church in every way you can. Take advantage of what your church offers you. At our church, not only do we have the opportunity of learning in Sunday School, Sunday morning and evening services, Wednesday services, but there are also Ladies Missionary groups, Ladies meetings and retreats. We have Tuesday night visitation and opportunities for Bible studies and discipleship. You can also be involved in teaching Junior church or Master Club, being a helper in Sunday School, working in the nursery, Nursing Home ministry, etc. As you serve in these different areas, learn all you can about them. You never know when you might, as a pastor’s wife or a missionary’s wife, be in charge of starting or leading such a ministry.
Fifth, develop a good filing system. Look for articles in magazines or on the internet with ideas and helpful hints on managing a household, or being a better wife, or teaching children, or how to be a good hostess, or ideas on decorating a house—anything that would be of help to you. Purchase a file box and file the articles in alphabetical order. Be sure to keep an index so you will know what you have available.
These are just a few suggestions to get you started. You can probably think of others as you go along. Remember—you are unique and your ministry is unique! Ask God to lead you and to teach you the things you need to support your husband and be a good helpmeet for him.
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.