Question: It used to be that pastors’ wives did everything in the church. That’s changed. How do we handle that? How do we explain the pastor’s wife role to people who still think we should be superwoman?
A PK friend was cleaning out his dad’s study and uncovered a book called: The Perfect Pastor’s Wife. Interesting that the book was hidden under three dead moths, five books on church growth and a moldy coffee mug. Obviously no one had been reading it any time in this century.
I opened it with much trepidation ready to admit failure in my spiritual calling and turn in my bleach and disinfection (oh, wait, I don’t do the kitchen stuff, do I?) Not too worry. By the time I had skimmed through to the last chapter, I was weeping – not in guilt or anguish, but in laughter. The book explained that the pastor’s wife must fill the pulpit whenever the pastor was sick or away. Seriously. The author was not just a pastor of any, tucked away country church, either. He was an itinerant pastor who traveled from town to town. In mile by mile detail, this pastor explained how his wife tramped through snow and slushed through rain to be a true helpmeet and share a quickly-prepared message with the waiting congregants.
We put the book back under the moths, the church-growth books and the moldy coffee cup. Let someone else unearth it 100 years from now.
I go back to the gifts.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. (Romans 12:6)
Not only can’t we do everything, we shouldn’t do everything because that’s beyond our capability. That’s not the way God made us.
Here were my rules
1. I would not be president of anything, nor would anyone have to move out of the ministry she was doing so that I could step in.
2. I would attend any regularly-scheduled service of the church: Sunday school, Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night.
Five reasons I did the church-attending thing:
a. How could Ken expect others to show up if his own family didn’t care?
b. We wanted to be good examples to our kids. (We always told our kids, you’re not attending church BECAUSE you’re the preacher’s kids, but BECAUSE you’re our kids.)
c. Ken liked me to hear him preach because then he could bounce things off of me later: Did that sound ok? Did you follow me? Do you think they got it? (Of course, I always said, “yes, yes, yes.”)
d. I sincerely enjoyed listening to Ken preach.
e. The Bible says we should get together to study God’s Word.
3. I would get involved in areas where I could best use my gifts of writing and teaching.
When people challenge you on what you do and why you don’t do more, don’t defend yourself. You could smile and ask, “What do you think I should be doing?” (If you really want to know what she thinks, but you probably don’t.)
The best response is, “I believe working with the primaries is the best way I can use the gifts God has given me. My husband and I have talked this over and he agrees.” (Hopefully, you HAVE talked it over with your husband. Be open about that. This shows that you stand as a team.)
4. If there was a spontaneous need and I could help out, I would – even in the kitchen. I remember one Christmas tea when the ladies did that table-hostess-bring-your-own-china thing. After the meal, everyone went upstairs for the program and one lady was left with all the dishes (which had to be washed so the ladies could take them home). And so I helped her. I’m not sure we got the whole soap, bleach, disinfectant mixture right – but they at least looked clean – and were ready in time.
These are my rules. Write down your own – and then stick to them.
(Then if someone asks you why you don’t do something, you can say “Sorry, it’s the rule.”)
The Lord wants to use us. He wants us to do the best job possible. We can’t do that if we’re stressed out, worn out and emotionally wrung out.
So, choose what to do and then do it well.