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 having limited time with your husband, lack of privacy, and high standards for your children. Now, in our final installment, we want to look at two other areas that you will sacrifice in if your husband is in full-time Christian service.
The pastor’s income is often not proportionate to others in the church, although he may have the most education. If you are starting a church, or you are in a young, struggling church, finances will usually be very limited. And there are always those churches that are neither realistic nor considerate in evaluating the pastor’s needs. You will always have some that think you ought to keep the pastor poor, so he will be humble. Sometimes you may not be able to see how your finances will work out, and it may be hard to set a budget and follow it.
Ways to Deal with Limited Finances
* Remember that your husband is called by the Lord, and God has promised to provide all your needs. He may be hired by the church, but He is commissioned by the Lord, and the Lord takes care of His own.
* Be willing to accept what God provides for you. It may come in many forms, but always accept it with a gracious heart. Sometimes we are so caught up in our daily living, that we don’t even recognize all the ways that God is providing for us. It might be through healthy children (thus avoiding doctor bills). It might be through several bags of clothing given to you by a friend. Maybe it will be through someone sharing the bounty from their garden. God provides in many ways, and we need to be thankful for all He has provided for us.
* Avoid resentment regarding money. Keep a good attitude, and don’t poor mouth the church in front of the children or others. Study First Corinthians 9:7-18. If you sow spiritual blessings, you will reap physical blessings.
* Avoid feeling poor. Poverty is often a state of mind rather than a reality. Reject self-pity. Focus on blessings instead. Remember the promises of God.
* There are several blessings of financial pressures. It motivates you to depend on God. It is exciting to see how the Lord will take care of your needs daily (Philippians 4:19). It allows your children to see firsthand the miraculous provision of God, which will build your faith and theirs.
Financial pressure also does good things for your character. It inspires ingenuity and creativity, as you learn to stretch and use wisely what God has given you. It should make you more diligent and careful about using money, and will help you to become a faithful steward. It helps you relate better to others who have financial pressures.
* Resolve to be content with what you have and not always to be wanting more (Hebrews 13:5-6). Sometimes you will suffer needs. Are you willing to keep on, even in difficult circumstances? Sometimes you will abound. Enjoy it! If God chooses to bless you in that way, there is nothing wrong with that, as long as you keep a right heart and a right attitude (Philippians 4:11-12).
Unrealistic Expectations of Self
Sometimes a pastor’s wife will feel that she has to live up to everyone’s expectations. She may think that she has to do everything that she is asked to do by others. Sometimes she feels that she must do everything the previous pastor’s wife did or the church people will look down on her. She may strive to be perfect in every area, and ends up failing in all. This can lead to discouragement and a feeling of failure. Another temptation of the pastor’s wife is to fall under the tyranny of the urgent and neglect some priority commitments. How do you handle these problems?
Ways to Deal with Unrealistic Expectations
* Don’t try to be a superwoman. You are only one and you can’t do everything. Just aim to be the best you can be, and forget the rest. When we moved to Pennsylvania, I heard many wonderful things about the former pastor’s wife, and all she did, and what a fantastic person she was. For the first few years, I knocked myself out trying to be like her. Finally I realized that I could never be like her. I just needed to be myself, and let people accept me for who I am. It was a great relief to come to that conclusion.
* Learn to say NO. Just because something needs to be done does not mean that you should do it! There are others in the church that can work too. Before taking on any responsibility or task, pray about it and ask your husband what he thinks. He can keep you out of a lot of trouble, if you will listen to him.
* Learn to delegate. Teach others to take responsibility and to assume leadership roles. Don’t think you have to do it all.
* Occasionally you need to review your priorities and then stick to them. Most unrealistic expectations are things that we come up with in our own mind. Others don’t really expect them of us—we just imagine that they do. Usually those expectations come when we are worried what people think about us. Remember that you need to be concerned about pleasing the Lord, not pleasing others.
Sometimes people WILL have unrealistic expectations. Don’t let these run or ruin your life. Don’t let other people’s expectations force you into jobs that are not important to God, to you, to your husband, and to your family.
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.