Taken From Chapter One of Unsung Heroines - the pastor ( or minister's) wife, truly the Unsung Heroines of ministry.
One day, through a misunderstanding, my husband and I arrived at a pastor's home for dinner. Five minutes later the family arrived home from a two-week holiday at the beach! They would not hear of us leaving, nor would they allow us to order a Pizza or any other fast food item. I must admit I was most impressed by that pastor and his wife.
In hospitality he was everything a pastor should be, she was everything a pastor's wife should be. She not only made us welcome, she cooked a lovely meal while organizing her household, answering the telephone, and attending to her children.
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He unpacked their car, made us coffee, set the table, and entertained us with lively conversation. It was all done seemingly effortlessly. Their names? Richard and Chris Murray of Canberra.
We have been entertained in many homes because of our travelling ministry, and pastors and pastors' wives are always gracious, kind and hospitable. Hospitality is a part of the gifting of God for a pastor and his wife.
But it is not the only part of the unique life of working as a pastor and attending to the flock of God. In recent months psychiatrists and counsellors have been examining the life of the pastor's wife and they have come to some startling conclusions.
Here is one of them! As those in the ministry know, Protestant pastors' wives are unique in the extent to which they are impacted by their spouse's vocation. Clergy marriages are highly visible, closely scrutinized by community members, and frequently looked to as the models for Christian marriage.
RESULTS OF SURVEY
One of the most interesting results of the survey that pastors’ wives have completed for me this year has been the number who have discovered, as I did myself in the first few years of ministry, that it is impossible to please everybody in the church. In fact the more you try the less successful you become! The reason is fairly simple. Everyone wants something different from you and so in trying to please all you finish by annoying everyone.
My conclusion, and that of many others, was to be true to yourself and God's will for your life and leave everyone else to accommodate themselves to that as they are able. In fact the single most frequent answer to the question, "What helpful advice would you give to a new pastor's wife?" was "Be your self!"
The truth is pastors' wives are just the same as all other Christian women, with some strength and some weakness, and the same needs, emotions, trials and responsibilities. Their difference lies in two directions: one is that their congregation expects so much from them, and the other is that their marriage and family are so highly visible.
INVENT AS YOU GO?
This week I read something in our daily paper which caught my attention. It was a description of the life of a Prime Minister's wife. The similarity to the life of a pastor's wife was irresistible. Here is the quote:
It's a job you invent as you go, and all hell breaks loose if you make a mistake. There's no training course, no job description, no pay and relentless public scrutiny. Nobody is ever satisfied: feminists want you to speak out, and traditionalists expect you to act like a 'lady'.
When you have had no training you have to invent as you go, and in this modern age, the rules are changing. Some pastors are expecting their wife to partner them in their ministry far more than when I first began my life as a pastor's wife, but until recently there has been no one to teach or train young women who have been faced with the daunting task of beginning a ministry with their husbands; at least not in most Non-Denominational, Pentecostal or Independent churches.
A congregation may expect each new pastor's wife to conform to the previous pastor's wife, even though she may be a totally different person with her own unique gifts. It is unfair to expect conformity, or uniformity, in each case.
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And He is the Head of the body, the church, who is the Beginning, the First-born from the dead, that He may be pre-eminent in all things. For it pleased the Father that in Him all fullness should dwell. And through Him having made peace through the blood of His cross, it pleased the Father to reconcile all things to Himself through Him, whether the things on earth or the things in Heaven. (Col 1:18-20)