Lessons from a First-Year Pastor’s Wife

One year ago yesterday, we closed on our house in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. One year ago tomorrow, our church laid hands upon us, and my husband became a pastor—and I became a pastor’s wife.

This year has flown by, and it’s been one of the best yet. I thought my career as a musician was over when we left Arizona, but I’ve found more work than I can take on. I am even set to go to Carnegie Hall this year with Chorale Midwest, which is one of the most phenomenal ensembles I’ve ever accompanied. (Funny how God does that…just when you think everything is over, He provides more bountifully than you could imagine!)

It’s been a whirlwind year. We’ve eaten more fabulous dinners than we can count, thanks to the hospitality of our church. I’ve been able to explore new hobbies such as sourdough baking and gardening. I’ve loved living through four distinct seasons, learning the truth of Jesus’ many parables on gardening from experience. I’ve also became something I never thought I’d be: a cat person.

How could I not be a cat person? I mean, look at her!

As I reflect on this past year, I wanted to share a few insights I’ve gleaned as a first-year pastor’s wife:

  1. Family and friends, you need to be in a local church body as well. You are welcome to join us virtually as frequently as you want, and we love that you can live stream our services. But please don’t do so at the expense of attending and serving your own local church. Please don’t deprive your local church of your gifts or miss out on essential fellowship and communion. Continue to watch with us but not if it means forsaking the assembly of the saints.
  2. My role is distinct from that of a pastor but equally dignified. I’ve had several men tell me that I could be a pastor, but I’m content in my role. I could pursue a career as a solo pianist, but I am far happier being an accompanist. In the same way, I could try to become a pastor, but I am far happier (and more effective) in my God-given role as a pastor’s wife. It strikes me as ironic when men insist that I should be a pastor because I’m good at explaining why I shouldn’t be. (Beyond complementarian/egalitarian debates, I personally am not called to be a pastor and feel valued when people accept my role as worthwhile in itself.)
  3. “Different members, different gifts” applies to pastors’ wives too. Before marrying Billy, I was worried that I wouldn’t be a suitable pastor’s wife. Yes, I’m aware that sentence makes me sound like a character in a classic novel. It turns out, though, that I can be a good pastor’s wife by hosting our life group as well as by helping to outline sermons. I can fulfill my vocation equally by attending a women’s conference as by writing an exegetical book on worship. Although I’ve had to grow in areas such as hospitality, my unique passions have been put to use. The wife of our senior pastor is one of the most radiantly kind people I’ve known. We have very different giftings, just as our husbands have different giftings. But I’m learning that this is a blessing—to us, our marriages, and our church.
  4. Internet trolls just have no idea. One time, when our church posted my husband’s sermon on Facebook, a stranger commented, “He’s just in it for the money.” At first, I was furious. As I calmed down, I realized: This guy has no clue. He’s never seen our cars, which we call “the above-reproach-mobiles” as they are clearly past their prime. He’s never attended our services, where we don’t pass an offering plate. He’s never been to our house, which I’ve updated through thriftiness and sweat. He’s definitely never asked to see our church financial records, which are open to anyone. So I am learning to let comments like this go. People just don’t know, but God does.
  5. My husband is on staff, not me. When Billy was hired as associate pastor, our church boards were careful to assure me that I am not expected to be an unpaid staff member as pastors’ wives so often are. I have the freedom to serve (or not serve) according to my callings. Knowing my passion for traditional worship, our church graciously allows me to serve another church as well as ours. Although I will eventually be exclusively at our church, this has been tremendously liberating for the time being. I am constantly seeking to care for my husband and our church, but to use my gifts at another godly church without feeling undue guilt has been a blessing that I don’t take for granted.
  6. Being a pastor’s wife is a vocation in itself. Even if I am not on staff, I have a specific, vocational role—-and I love it. I love discussing doctrine, brainstorming ideas for the future, and getting to know our congregants. Marvelously, my role as a pastor’s wife combines all of my passions: theology, editing, planning, entrepreneurship, worship, study, discipleship, the church, etc. When my husband and I met, I was interviewing to serve in student ministries. I had no idea that I was actually interviewing for a lifetime of ministry that would account for my unique giftings and interests.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s