9Marks Pastors' Wives' Forum
We asked a roundtable of pastors' wives the following question:
What have been one or two of the most unexpected blessings of being a pastor's wife?
- Laurie Alexander
- Danelle Bancroft
- Kimm Harvey
- Cathi Johnson
- Kathy MacDonald
- Pam Noblit
- Shiona Rees
- Jeanine Dell Sanchez
- Jenny Schumacher
As Christians, we are all called to "appreciate those who diligently labor among us, and have charge over us in the Lord and give us instruction, and esteem them very highly in love because of their work" (1 Thes. 5:12-13). As the pastor's wife, I have unique insight into and means of obeying this command!
The apostle Paul also instructs pastors in 1 and 2 Timothy to pursue righteousness, godliness, gentleness, sobriety, the suffering of hardship, kindness, patience in the face of being wronged—just to name a few. Imagine a minister of the gospel married to someone working at odds with these commands.
My call to be my husband's helper means I'm called to help protect his reputation by cultivating my own character. What an unexpected blessing it has been to be held accountable in such a sobering way. This high calling is sobering, yes, but it is also a kindness from the Lord to my sinful heart, because I need the extra accountability! When I meet with other women, I need to be able to say in good conscience how I spend my time and how I'm redeeming the time. It's not only for my reputation, but most importantly for my husband's and the Lord's!
Laurie is the wife of Paul Alexander, pastor of Fox Valley Bible Church in St. Charles, Illinois.
Years before my husband and I were in ministry, I was told that ministry was hard because you lived in a "fish bowl." Everyone would be watching your every move and you had to be on your best behavior. Ironically, it's this expected drawback that has become an unexpected blessing.
The advice people give assumes that you have to be aware of what all kinds of people are thinking about you at all times. But this type of thinking produces a fear of man and not a fear of God. My main concern should be living in a fish bowl before God. I need to let Scripture (not people) teach me what I am to be.
Reflecting on what my Savior has done for me has caused me to be serious about sin and sanctification. I have learned that this is both a painful and glorious process. Titus talks about the pattern of godly women's lives should be such that the Word of God is not reviled (Titus 2:5b). It's freeing knowing that I don't live my Christian life before man, therefore I should not fear man. At the same time, it's very sobering that I am to remember that my life, not because of being a pastor's wife, but because of being a Christian, is to be lived in such a way that God's Word is not thought of lightly. It is God I fear, not man.
My husband and I often think that we should pay the church instead of them paying us. Being in ministry is hard and demanding, but also refining and rewarding. If this is living in a fish bowl, I'm jumping in with two feet! (1 Cor. 15:58)
Danelle is the wife of Eric Bancroft, pastor at Castleview Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Twenty-six years of marriage, 23 as a pastor's wife—who would've guessed? Certainly not me. And the joys are incalculable, so let me pick just one.
I love the fact that my husband's role was never just a ‘daddy-thing' for the family. Each of us were called to something beyond ourselves, something beyond the family. We have the thrill of joyfully releasing Dave to serve in the fields of the Lord. That's never easy, though.
Like most pastor's wives, I adore my husband and would rather have him around more. And it was the same for Dave—our family is his passion, too. But in order for him to do his job well, he had to know we had faith and vision for him to labor hard outside the home. It is a way our family can sacrifice our best for the gospel. And trusting God for his life outside the home bears wonderful fruit within the family.
Our life in ministry is like a favorite book, and we can't wait for the next chapter!
Kimm is the wife of Dave Harvey, pastor of Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.
The most unexpected blessing for me is how satisfied and motivated I am to support my husband. The passion he has to teach God's Word and shepherd our church gives him incredible eternal purpose. I believe in his efforts so completely that it is an honor to be his helpmate.
The privilege to serve the Lord by loving my husband and taking care of his daily needs has been an overwhelming joy. The Lord has been gracious to give me complete contentment to carry out the good work He had planned for me to do. The surprise blessing is the joy.
Cathi is the wife of Bob Johnson, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Roseville, Michigan.
To be clear I love being a pastor's wife. I get a front row seat for all the blessings of God at work in our church and beyond. But the joys I didn't see coming when I signed up to be a pastor's wife are the ones I experience in our marriage and family.
James refuses to get up and preach unless he and I are 100 percent on the same page. While weekends sometimes bring tension and turmoil, it is always short-lived as we rush to work things out so we can serve Christ with a pure heart. As the weekend of ministry approaches, the enemy predictably drops a bomb between us, but we've learned to stop on the spot and sort it out. How wonderful to join hands in prayer, humbling ourselves before each other and God—even in the church parking lot if it comes to that!
In order to speak truth to others you've got to be living it yourself. If you ignore this piece, it will deeply wound your marriage and your desire to serve Christ. God has blessed this weekly commitment with 25 fruitful years of ministry together, and by God's grace we will have 25 more.
Kathy is the wife of James MacDonald, pastor of Harvest Bible Church in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.
On the fifth day of my husband's pastorate, it was revealed that a senior staff member was in dire moral sin. Though the ten year old church had always held to strong Bible preaching, it was pragmatic in practice and had never practiced church discipline. Through that situation, God gave my husband the grace, wisdom, and courage to begin what has become a twenty year pilgrimage of shepherding a church to reform its practices to match its preaching (doctrine). But this journey has taken our family through some very difficult circumstances.
Since we live in a small southern town, our daughters have felt very personally the effects of slander against their father and our church. However, one particular instance stands out. During our oldest daughter's high school years, she was persecuted quite heavily for her uncompromising faith. This did not go unnoticed by one Christian teacher. After observing our daughter being ridiculed and left out, this teacher called her aside and inquired as to how she held up so well. Our daughter replied, "I've seen my father suffer for the faith, why shouldn't I?" What an unexpected blessing!
To the glory of God, our daughters are not bitter. It shames me to say many of the blessings we have experienced were unexpected. Why should they be? Our God is faithful and loves his own. Praise the Lord!
Pam is the wife of Jeff Noblit, pastor of First Baptist Church of Muscle Shoals in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
The one blessing that was expected rather than a surprise was seeing God at work in people's live up close. It is a privilege to watch spiritual changes in the people around you at church. Though this was expected, as I said, it's also surprising to see how God works in different ways in different lives.
Many other surprises have come my way as a result of being married to a pastor. One which I have struggled with is the blessing of living in foreign countries (I am Scottish; we went to seminary in Australia and now work in the United States). Though I have resisted every move, to my shame, I have seen God's hand in moving us around and have grown in resting on the fact that my citizenship is in heaven. Also, he has given me opportunity to meet Christians of different cultures and to find fellowship and see the church in action in different contexts.
Having a husband steeped in the Word is a great blessing, particularly as he talks about what he is learning all the time. I learn second hand as he summarizes everything that he has been reading.
One of the richest blessings that I have found is the refreshment and encouragement from having guests stay in our house. It has been a great privilege to meet ‘up close' many godly people who have been examples to us of a life lived to God's glory.
Shiona is the wife of Paul Rees, pastor of Christ the Redeemer Church in Spokane, Washington.
The dictionary defines blessing as "a favor or gift bestowed by God, thereby bringing happiness, or the invoking of God's favor upon a person." When considering what the blessings are of being a pastor's wife, it might be tempting to look at the gifts bestowed on you because of your husband's position. However, I prefer to look at the blessings received in service.
As a pastor's wife, I am given more opportunities than most to be a blessing and a person of influence. People naturally bring prayer concerns to the pastor's wife. Therefore, I am blessed to pray for these people and see God work. Other women may come for counsel. Once again, I am blessed by another opportunity to point her to the beauty and power of God's Word and to see it transform lives.
Added to these is the joy of hosting people in our home for small group Bible study and meals. I am blessed to have people come into our home, be fed physically, spiritually, and go home refreshed. As a child, I watched my pastor's family live out the gospel in these same ways, and I dreamed of being a pastor's wife myself. They were a blessing to me then; now, the Lord has allowed me to bless others.
Who says dreams don't come true!
Jeanine is the wife of Juan Sanchez, pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas.
The most unexpected blessing of being a pastor's wife has been the peace that comes in knowing that God is not surprised by our trials, but rather that he means good for us through them. Romans 8:28 reminds me that God uses even the most difficult trials to sanctify his people. He does it because he is good and wants what is good for the church. The hymn "What E'er My God Ordains Is Right" has brought me much peace in this area recently. What rich lyrics that say,
What-e'er my God ordains is right:
His holy will abideth;
I will be still what-e'er He doth,
And follow where He guideth.
He is my God, though dark my road,
He holds me that I shall not fall;
Wherefore to Him I leave it all.
God is sovereign, God is good, and God is for us. This means that no matter what difficulties may arise in the church, God is working for our good. Being a pastor's wife involves many trials, but knowing that God will work good through them has given me the peace and strength to stand.
Jenny is the wife of Eric Schumacher, pastor of Northbrook Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.