I need to preface this post by saying a few things. I am in no way complaining about the calling that God has placed on my family’s hearts. Serving in this way is a huge honor, and that is not lost on me. I just felt incredibly unprepared for what was coming for ME, as the wife.
These are some of the things that I wish I had known, or advice that I would have found useful BEFORE entering ministry. Another youth pastor wife and I were talking about how they need to teach a class on this in Bible College.
1. You will have to share your husband. Ministry takes your husband away from you. A lot. He will receive phone calls at all hours. Some of them will require him to go visit someone in the hospital. Some will just require a little bit of his time and ear. If he is in youth ministry and you don’t live near family, he will be gone for camps, all-nighters, etc. while you hold down the fort at home. If you live on church property, people will come to your door whenever they please. Try to set some boundaries early on to avoid this. Emergencies will come up though, and you have to accept that.
2. Guard your family. MANY people expect ministry to come before family. THAT IS NOT THE CASE. Your personal relationship with God comes first. Family is second. Ministry is third. You both have to protect that. If you and your husband don’t stand up for your family, no one else will.I have many ministry kid friends who ran away from the church once they were old enough to. They resented it and it took a long time for them to return. I asked them what caused those feelings in their hearts. EVERY. SINGLE ONE. said that it was because their father loved the church more than their family. It always came first. I refuse to let my children’s hearts be broken
3. Your children are your ministry. I struggled a lot right after having my first child. I had a new baby, and did not live near family. I missed a lot of our youth outings, and I struggled with feeling guilty. Every baby we have had was born with a heart and a soul. They need nurtured and led to Jesus. God gave these children to us to care for and teach about Jesus. They are my ministry.
4. People say stupid things. Shocking, right? Because of the position your family is in, the congregation will feel like they have the right to tear you apart. I have been told that I needed to stop having children. When Harper’s fingertip was cut off, I was told “That’s what you get for having a million kids.” I have people who will ask me what I think of my husband’s sermon, as if I would ever speak ill of him to anyone. If you don’t let these stupid things roll off your back, it will fester in your soul and make you bitter. Channel Elsa. Let it go.
5. You will be known as “Pastor ‘so-and-so’s wife”. I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked “what is your name again?” or introduced as “Scott’s wife”. I always respond with “Hi, I’m Ashley.” Maybe one day people will remember that I have an identity of my own. But, I am proud of the man that I married, so I can deal with it. Just, know that it is inevitable.
6. Your children will be held to a higher standard. Never mind that your children are still HUMAN. They will be expected to act like perfect little angels who do not have emotions of their own. If they have a bad day, expect to hear it from every Sunday school teacher that works with them. Just prepare for it.
7. You have the ability to make or break your husband’s ministry. Ministry is hard. It is not easy to always have a sunshine and rainbows attitude. But, if you have a toxic ‘tude all of the time, you will tear down his ministry brick by brick. If your attitude is really bad, it can be as damaging as a wrecking ball. Be careful. Always be in prayer for your own attitude. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary.
8. Your life will become a fishbowl. People will be watching your every move. Yes, some of them are watching to see you mess up, because some people are just cruel. But, some of them are looking for an example. As a teenager, I always observed our Pastor’s wife. She was gracious, gentle, and kind. I wanted so much to be like her, because I could see that she was being like Christ. She was a bell-sheep following the shepherd as closely as she could. You will be an example to other women. Your marriage will be an example for other couples. Your family life.. you see where I am going.
9. Always support your Pastor. Your husband needs your support. This goes along with #7. You have to support him. This goes for ALL wives. You are your husband’s biggest cheerleader. If he doesn’t feel like he has your support, he will feel like no one is behind him. Support him. Love him. Pray for him.
10. Prayer and The Word are your greatest weapons. Satan is wanting to DESTROY your family. He will do whatever he can to tear you apart. You HAVE to be in prayer for your ministry, your marriage, your children, yourself, etc. You cannot combat him in your own strength. Attacks will come from every direction. The more you are on your knees and in the word, the more unsuccessful his attacks will be. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Psalm 119:11
I am curious, fellow ministry wives, what else would you add to this list? Anything that you would take away?