Dear Young Ministry Wife,
You have embarked on an adventure with your husband, serving in Christian ministry side-by-side. Like any adventure, there will be victories, challenges, disappointments, unexpected twists and turns, and no doubt you will both gain wisdom and experience along the way. It’s not a journey for the faint of heart.
You may feel nervous. Excited. Wondering if you will be able to be a “good” ministry wife. Maybe you are dreaming of the possibilities together with your husband, and so happy that God has called you to serve Him in this way.
In 1999, I began this same kind of journey with my husband, Steve. As I write this, eighteen years have come and gone. I think I am starting to learn a few things, and I hope my perspective will be of help to those coming behind. Some of the lessons I will share with you have been learned the hard way (and I will spare you the details)! Other lessons have been learned simply by walking down the ministry road year after year.
The first thing to sort out in your own mind, as a ministry wife, is to know what your main job will be. Areas of service abound, as I’m sure you are seeing. Ministry needs present themselves on all sides. I’m sure you already know what things you enjoy and what things scare you. (For me, it’s food. Anything to do with food in the ministry really scares me. It always has. I’m happy to say that I am now a teeny little bit less scared than I used to be!)
Back to the main job of a ministry wife. Some pastor’s wives make visits to the sick and elderly. Some organize ladies’ ministry events. Some coordinate the church nursery. Some play the piano. Some lead a ladies’ Bible Study. Some sing in the choir, or sing solos. Some serve as church secretary. Some teach Sunday School. The list is basically un-ending. So, how do you know what your main job should be?
Don’t worry. I am here to help. 😃 I will share with you what the main job of a ministry wife is.
Take care of your husband. That’s your job, first and foremost.
If someone had shared this with me back on my “Day 1 as a Ministry Wife”, I would have glossed right over it. I would have said, “Well, I know that, but I also want to…..” But, let us pause. Take care of your husband. I know I am repeating myself. But we need to park here for a little bit. After all, you are a ministry WIFE.
Let’s consider a few things. First, it will likely be an enjoyable job for you. You married this man, so you probably enjoy his company and love meeting his needs. Obviously he’s a big boy, so we’re not talking about mothering him or telling him what to do. But he does have very real needs that he needs you to meet. Needs like coming home to a haven, not a battlefield. Knowing that his children are safe and secure and well-cared for. Needs like having nutritious and delicious meals to eat. (I have learned to enjoy providing food for my husband and hungry kids. It’s just cooking for others that still intimidates me.) Needs like someone to have a listening ear for his thoughts, his plans, his discouragements. Someone to give him honest and loving feedback. Needs like knowing that his sexual needs are understood by his wife and are a priority for her. Like knowing his wife won’t get caught up in drama and that she doesn’t need constant pampering.
Next, consider the fact that you are the only candidate for this job. Is another lady in the church able to teach Children’s Church, host the missionary family, or plan the crafts for VBS? Absolutely, yes. Is another lady in the church able to meet your husband’s needs? Well…. um, yes… but we obviously don’t want that to happen.
Am I saying that you should never fill other roles in the church? No. You will likely find many ways to serve over the years. You will be so blessed as you reach out, serve, and develop your God-given gifts, alongside other ladies in the church who also minister in various ways. And what about those times when it seems like there honestly is no one else to do the other job(s) that need to be done in the ministry? We will talk more about this later. For now let me just say that you will have seasons of being able to do more, and seasons of being able to do less. In some seasons, such as intense mothering seasons, you may find that the ONLY thing you can do to directly contribute to your husband’s ministry is to care for him. During those times, you may not feel like you are outwardly contributing much at all. But what a detrimental effect it will have on the ministry if you neglect your husband’s needs! By caring for him, you are enabling him to care for the ministry. Your impact may not be outwardly visible, but it is real. It is not just necessary; it is vital.
So what I am saying is this: never ever lose sight of your main job. Of all the ladies in the church, you may be the one most likely to over-extend yourself and do more than you can really manage. If you over-extend yourself to the point that your husband gets less than your best, especially over long periods of time, the results will not be good. If you habitually have only a shred of energy left for him every day, prepare to see him become defeated and worn down. He has a big job to do as a ministry leader. Conversely, as you look after him, and as God enables him, prepare to see him blossom and grow in this role. Your heart will be so joyful as you see God’s plan fulfilled!
A man can do great things when his woman gives him her fully-devoted love, time, and attention. I have heard that Nancy Reagan said, “I took care of Ronnie, and Ronnie took care of the Soviet Union.” She also said, “My job is being Mrs. Ronald Reagan.”
Let me encourage you to place the highest of priorities on meeting your husband’s needs. I need to remind myself so often to put my phone down, look into my husband’s eyes and listen to him, don’t commit to running out the door multiple nights every week, and walk by his side as a lifetime friend and companion. Contribute to your home and to your husband before all else.
Case in point— as I write this, we are preparing to have VBS. Steve is in charge of VBS every year. I have helped him with VBS by serving in various roles over the years. I texted Steve last week and asked him about a certain thing that I wanted to do to help in VBS.
He replied, “I don’t want to put too much on you…”
Then I said, “Hey, I don’t even have a job for VBS. Except to love on the director.”
Then came his immediate reply— “THAT’S what’s needed from you!!”
See what I mean, ladies?
So, this is where we must begin as ministry wives. More to come later! Sending you my love!♥