May I begin by saying that it is HOT!!! The only thing to do is sit in the house, shutters closed, windows closed, fans on, bucket of water for my feet and wet washcloth near by so I can soak my face and neck every 5 minutes or so. No relief in site for a few days either. I now understand why the elderly die in this weather. If they are alone, it is hard to move, you get nauseated, headaches, etc. Please pray for them as you read this!
So, I had to read the last post to see where we left off in our 'Foreign Soil' series. I suppose I should have titled it "How Not To Be A Missionary Mom'. Fear not, today I will talk about 'How Not To Be A Pastor's Wife'. There are wonderful books in every Christian bookstore and they talk about people's experiences in ministry, give advice, etc. If I were to write a book it would probably have a title similar to what not to do. I have thought about making my own TV show. They have What Not To Wear and all these reality shows. I pictured a series starring me of course, in different situations in the ministry. Running your household, parenting, wifery, women's ministry, counseling, etc...different scenarios throughout the day and I would be doing and saying what I do and say and then along comes the "princess pastor's wife" and she waves her little magic wand and everything stops in mid air, and she rewinds and makes it like it should be. How would that sound!!!
As we know, real life doesn't have the princess fairy so we do, we pray, we ask forgiveness, we seek guidance and we start all over again. I thought of how we perceive different things in life. The word 'perspective' has been on my mind lately. I have been listening to teachings in 1Peter and the titles have been about Perspective. We were at the Missions Conference and that word kept coming up a lot. I think it is something the Lord wants me to be aware of. He has a way of getting my attention----repetition!! I don't always get it the first 100 times!
Backtracking a little bit, here I was in CA a wife, Mom, involved in women's ministry, lots of good friends and we are called to move to Hungary. Pastor's Wife? Me? What in the world, why in the world, me???? I wasn't dainty, can't sing or play guitar, cannot tell a story, my voice is the worst of most I have ever heard (and others like to tell me too) I can't even pray with a sweet voice. I am loud, clumsy, stubborn, opinionated and probably other adjectives I can't think of at the moment. How in life am I to be a Pastor's wife??? I don't even cry!!! No, I am not making fun of anyone-in all seriousness, I am just trying to say what my perspective of a pastor's wife was and the qualifications I thought you had to have! Call my husband as a pastor-that is ok. He has a kind heart, loves Jesus, loves to study the Word of God, but oh, can't you give him another wife for this position please....well, not really another wife, but you get my point :)
If you have ever church planted, you may have experienced some of the same things I did. If you didn't, you could make it up and say you did so I don't feel dreadfully alone! In most churches, there is a staff of guys, assistant pastors, a board, and people you talk to, get ideas from, pray with, counsel with and other things pastors do. Church planting, mission field life is different. Often times you have only the pastor and his family. There are no deacons, no elders, no nobody. It can be really hard for the pastor to not have anyone to turn to for advice, prayer and even to have accountability.
As a wife, wanting the best for my husband, I wanted to look out for him. Since he was new at pastoring I felt that as a good wife, it was my job to be the one to look after him. I was there for him when he needed someone to talk to, to pray with, to be his cheerleader. Those were the qualities he loves about me. But, being the good, supportive wife that I am, I decided that wasn't enough. I would also be his Nathan. Yep, just call me Nathana! After all, someone had to be there to tell him the things he was doing "wrong" "We need to do this, we should be doing that, why can't you do this, how come you said that, you should talk to so and so, you shouldn't be talking to them, you better not this, blah blah blah!!!" Oh can you imagine he still loves me and calls me his wife?!! Yes, friends, I was like that to him. It wasn't enough that I struggled with me trying to please everyone else in the church-I wanted him to please everyone too. Now, if you know us, you know that we are beyond opposite in this area. Jim is the type that honestly looks to please the Lord before anyone else. Not that he doesn't make mistakes, but he desires to please God, he has an amazing confidence in his relationship with the Lord and who he is in Christ that you rarely find him worrying about what everybody else thinks of him. It's not arrogance, if you know him, you know that! If you don't know him, well, you are missing out :)
Sometimes in the church people don't go to the husband-especially when your church is mostly women. They decide it is best to go to the wife, in this case, me and give all of their advice. Well, I am not one that handles this kind of stuff too well, I am so much better at it now, but in the begining, if someone made a 'suggestion' to me in the church, I would tell it to Jim and practically try to convince him to obey it. He would often times tell me 'No, or that he would pray about about it'. I couldn't understand what there was to pray about-these were good ideas! How was he ever going to be a great pastor if he didn't give in to the 'suggestions' of the congregation, brought so lovingly to him by his wife! Oh the things I have learned through the years! Thankfully, I didn't have the habit of responding to the 'suggestors' other than, "oh, ok, I will speak to him about this". As time went on, and I started understanding what Jim already knew, I began to just direct them to Jim and have them bypass me. If something was that important to them, they could speak to him about it without channeling it through me.
I went through a really rough stage of 'critiquing his sermons'. By critiquing, I don't mean anything of the spiritual kind. How he dressed, how he stood as he spoke, how he delivered the sermon, did he smile enough, was his voice too loud, too soft, you get the picture. I would scan the congregation (all 10 of them at the time) with my eyes while he was teaching. Do they look tired, are they slouching, at what time did they actually slouch-perhaps the sermon was a bit long-better shorten it for next time dear....and of course ...I can't believe you wore that shirt-I told you it doesn't flatter you!!
Oh the joys! In wanting to do well, it is so easy to do what is wrong! It is so easy for me to fall in the 'if only' trap. If only Jim this, if only Jim that, if only, if only....never living for what is and enjoying all that God has for the moment, rather drifting off into a place that isn't reality. I was putting pressure on my husband without really wanting to. In my heart, I really thought I was doing the right thing. I thought I was helping him see things he wasn't seeing or getting him in tune to things he wasn't in tune with. Yes, God uses we wives mightily in our husband's lives but we have to make sure it is actually the Lord and not ourselves! We can bless them, but we can also tear them down. Jim isn't a mincer of words and at one point, he did hint to me that he is hearing my voice more than the voice of the Holy Spirit. Yeah, that went over well :)
Don't get me wrong-we do talk out stuff, we pray, we do go over things together, he loves to ask me my opinion on things-I have just learned not to always offer my thoughts or the thoughts of others on what he should or shouldn't do. I have learned to pray for him and seek the Lord on his behalf. It is amazing the times when there are things on the tip of my tongue, times I have played out to the tee in my head everything I will be saying to him, and then that nudge comes...'Margie, pray'. "oh ok I will" And then, miraculously, my mouth is closed and nothing comes out!! That dear friends, is a miracle!!!! I rejoice in those times because I know it could only be an act of God that kept me from advising my husband once more.
Here's a link to Nancy Leigh DeMoss's site. She has these 30 day challenges and there are some to pray for your husband, pastor, pastor's wife, etc. I think these are great and often we don't know what or how to pray for others and this is a good start.
Being a pastor's wife is not about how sweet our voices are, how talented we are, how many friends we have. Over the past 10 years I realize my most important role as Pastor's wife is that I am a wife to my pastor. He is to be my first ministry, my loyalty is to him, he is the one I desire to please after the Lord. The rest of descriptions come from whatever the Lord has in addition to this. Sunday School teacher, Women's Ministry teacher, counselor, janitor, whatever else you do, make being the wife to your pastor the number one thing! Your marriage will be blessed because of it.
10 years has passed and I still have a squeaky voice, I cannot play an instrument, I cry more than ever in my life, and I love what God has called me to. I love the opportunities He has given me to learn, to grow, to fall on my face and lift me back up again. Most of all, I love being married to my pastor :)
Loving our husbands, respecting our husbands-it is one of the best and most important things the women in our church can learn from us.
Onward Christian soldiers :)