Dear (youth) pastor‘s wife: If you were sitting at my table these are some of the things I would tell you about my journey:
I was 20, engaged and about to move to California to marry my best friend, who had just taken on the full-time role of being a youth pastor and Elder at our church. He is and was a brilliant man of God with incredible calling on His life to pastor. I had finished my AA in Theology and as I was preparing to be a woman in ministry; I began to dream of pastoring, preaching, leading worship and ministering to the hurting. So here I was about to embark on the greatest adventure ever with my husband. I was ready to minister along side my husband.. … BUT I was not exactly prepared to be “the wife” of the pastor in ministry… and in my case a youth pastor’s wife. My journey was so fun, and yet at times challenging because I struggled at times to figure out my role. I felt called to minister and pastor but how could I do that while my own personal giftings were not the ones that had been “brought on staff”.
This began the careful balance of finding my personal calling and place in ministry while serving and honoring the man by my side. I spent hours praying trying to figure my role out, Trying to find my own identity apart from my man but yet together as a team with him ….
So here are a few things that I learned on my journey.
Don’t worry if you are reading this and your journey doesn’t look like mine….These basic points will work for anyone in ministry- male, female, married or single… just focus on the highlighted stuff )
Go grab a cup of coffee and learn from my journey )
A few things God taught me as “the youth pastor’s wife”:
1- GO IN YOUR OWN ARMOR…. AND Be yourself! In the bible David was asked to approach his destiny in Saul’s armor. It didn’t work for David and it won’t work for us.
Starting off as a newlywed I worked at the church in an administrative role so I was able to serve alongside my husband in ministry that way. I LOVED being involved and was present at every event and in the lives of our youth. But after I went to work outside the church I struggled a lot with feeling like an outsider in ministry – I became “just the youth pastor’s wife”. I struggled trying to figure out what I was “supposed to do”. There was no handbook for how to function as the wife of a youth pastor in 1996. Believe me, i looked for it! Some women were happy just being a wife, but i had a strong stirring to be actively involved in ministry too. But what did that look like…. God always brought me back to “just be yourself”. I realized I didn’t know how to serve without a specific role. The former youth pastors wives were amazing; well-loved, very cool and super fun - Feeling like I needed to measure up to them & even measure up to my own husband was a barrier I had to tear down! Somewhere along the way I began to feel I was “doing nothing” significant in ministry – and I began to give up my dreams for ministry and hide behind the fact that I wasn’t actually the pastor…. God told me…. “stop sulking and just go be yourself – be who I have called you to be” As we started to have kids my ability to actively minister had to be recalibrated each time. Again and again I realized that I was just didn’t know how to balance both ministry and parenting… with confidence. I had to fight the feeling of insignificance in ministry & at home….. I remember actually wondering If it would have been easier to be called into ministry while being a single woman so that just my own gifts would be seen instead of or outside of being a wife and mother to the kids of the pastor. (BTW – Being a single woman in ministry is a whole notha blog that I will write later- I highly admire those who are…. their road has a whole set of challenging situations as well)
So I looked for the handbook again- surely there was a book for being a youth pastors wife while having kids…. lol – I didn’t find it. God told me THE ONLY WAY TO BE YOURSELF IS TO TRULY CONTINUE TO PURSUE & KNOW THE ONE WHO CREATED YOU. In other words: LOVE GOD & then a Confidence to serve from the place of “just being yourself” will begin to be formed in your character.
God showed me fulfillment regardless of position or title in “being myself” was found in HIS joy & embracing each season of life. There was no handbook because we are all uniquely fashioned by God to serve him, and we have to stop comparing ourselves and trying to” be just like” someone we admire. Go in your own armor. YOU WERE MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE- HE HAS EQUIPPED YOU TO DO WHATEVER HE IS PUTTING IN FRONT OF YOU.
This became my best “ministry tool.” If I could tell you anything: It’s to LOVE people.
I realized that God’s desire for me was simply to step in each service and love- no matter what my season. As I focused on loving others I stopped being so worried about my role, title, how much I was doing in ministry and whether I was good enough. When I focused on loving people It became easy to step out in my own God given giftings. By God’s grace, Through the years i ended being given the honor of not only being my husband’s wife, but being considered a youth pastor myself along side him. I was given the beautiful opportunities of teaching, preaching, pastoring, leading worship, mentoring, administrating, pastoring, designing and dreaming in every department of youth… and eventually I was ordained as a pastor myself. Things I may not have done if I had tried to measure up to someone else. I’m glad I never found that handbook.
3- A strong Home life IS FOUNDATIONAL to all of ministry: Be God strong, not head strong.😍 take time to work on you, take care of yourself. Go to God first and get “God Confident”! Your FIRST ministry is your home , your husband and your children. As for disagreements in marriage: “Pray- Don’t Say” in a lot of (most) situations; Let God filter your mouth and Let HIM work in your hubby, your job is NOT to be the Holy Spirit to Him, let the Holy Spirit do His own job- lol. Be His wife, love him & choose a “1cor.13 kind of love” in each situation, have lots of sex and stop “getting a headache” – that’s a worldly way of dealing with life, yes, I did just say that!
4 Be Vulnerable and accountable to a mentor- My role as pastor’s wife was undefinable for a long time. I stood beside my man and loved our youth the best way I knew how. I wondered many times how to deal with issues… I wish I would have called the ladies who went before me for advice… But I was too insecure and “shy” or maybe proud…. to ask their thoughts. I had to learn it all the hard way.
My advice – Find a real person, a Godly mature woman who has been in ministry and ask questions. It would be great if you found a (youth) pastor’s wife – there is so much joy in knowing you are not alone! Someone safe to be real with, someone you can go to if you have a marriage or life problem. (never go sideways to friends with issues, always go up, it’s the only way to see lasting Godly change) So much wisdom can be found by those who have walked in your shoes. While I didn’t have a former youth pastors wife to mentor me, I did find some older, more mature in God women to speak into my life. God brought me many actually. They were all there for different reasons. Don’t walk alone! Your mentor will hopefully challenge you to GROW, in life, love, speech, & purity. Someone needs to know where you hide when you are insecure or how you try to cover up sin if it arises. Someone needs to have permission to be real with you and call you out. TO PASTOR you!!!!
Online mentors you don’t know will not take the place of a real person. That said, gleaning from online ministry women is a huge resource you should take advantage of : My huge bonus was finding women in ministry online to model my life after -We have Sooo many resources to turn to now from books to blogs & livestream conferences . Some of my favorites are: Jeanne Mayo (best youth pastor’s mentor ever), Gini Smith, Kerri Weems, Christine Caine, Bobbie Houston, and many more … And don’t forget equipping classes. I spent hours listening to Bible college classes like doctrine and Roots of Character.
5- Make Personal “God time” a priority. U can’t give out what you don’t have. You have the privilege of encouraging others, as a pastor “on-call & on duty” all the time…. your husband… and YOU will be asked to minister even when you feel needy yourself. A consistent, personal time with God will give you confidence to give out & grace to allow your husband to spend time ministering… And as you choose to put on a smile, give love & encouragement to others- God will fill your need in the process! Try it!
6- Plan your Time! Communicate with your husband about your life together! Family comes first! It’s ok to say no sometimes to the every night hang outs that youth love. Guard and protect your marriage with pre- agreed upon family time! My husband and i set up weekly ministry & calendar planning meetings that saved our life!!!! Figure out how it works for you and communicate! The number one issue in marriage & ministry is poor communication. We need to develop/create/nurture a culture of open communication in marriage & ministry!! The enemy is itching for ways to destroy your marriage & your ministry… Marriage is a picture of Jesus and the church, satan hates marriage… So be on guard that being in agreement about how time is spent and communicating about it is a key component to keeping the enemy at bay.
HUGE BONUS: Make an active choice to NOT talk about issues in marriage in the car on the way to church- OR JUST BEFORE MINISTRY TIME . See irritation at that time it for what it is: : it’s an attack to divide & conquer you both so that you will not be equipped to minister. Hold your tongue and pray it through.
That said, giving up your time for the ministry is very rewarding and every minute is worth the time invest in young peoples lives. You must find the balance God has called u and your hubby to. Make Pre-decisions. For us it was: after youth service is always youth time… We had fri. Night services and the time we invested in our young peoples’ lives is still bearing fruit to this day! Youth conferences, camps and all nighters were the BEST times of getting into our young ppls lives, befriending them and pastoring. Time management = good fruit in marriage & ministry. you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other.
7- People will not always like you or your husband. What? Lol. You will be misunderstood. People will fail to communicate properly and feelings will get hurt. It is part of ministry. You will hurt people. Hopefully never on purpose. So much of life is led by emotions and you can be the hero in one situation and in the same week be the enemy. You must develop thick God skin. Let it go! Even the leaders under you can easily be frustrated and attacks can come. “Eat the meat and chuck the bone.” usually there is a hint of truth attached to a huge emotion which can be a little out of proportion. Find where you can learn from the situation and leave the rest, the hurt, the personal attacks with God! It’s not actually about you! Ask forgiveness quickly if you were wrong, be humble. Choose to not be easily offended. Love covers… So love in return for the hate. God will defend you. I still occasionally hear about past issues that I didn’t have a clue even happened. I have to leave it with God and pray for healing. Love anyway, love through it- and ask God to give you grace for EVERYONE that HE has placed in your path.
8- Lead anyway! You may not always feel qualified, or enabled or desire to lead, but your LIFE IS leading! And it is a privilege! Every word spoken, dream expressed, hurt revealed, victory shown, love freely given is leading those around you. Speak admirably OF your husband & leaders and lovingly TO your young people. They will notice!
You can do this and God has uniquely called you to first be a wife and then a pastor’s wife fulfilling your own calling alongside your husband!
Youth Pastoring: http://jeannemayo.com/blog/
on finding a mentor: http://www.leadingandlovingit.com/
small groups: http://bayareamomma.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/be-a-disciple-make-a-disciple-small-group-leadership-tips/
Fear: God gives faith. Faith is the opposite of fear. http://leadingandlovingit.com/?s=fear&x=0&y=0
18mo time frame- most youth pastors quit within 18 months. Press on if God has told you to!
dont give up: http://jeannemayo.com/blog/?p=2542
balance: http://kerriweems.com/2012/08/23/leadership/: http://brianandbobbie.com/qa-with-bobbie-2
on Betrayal: http://kerriweems.com/2011/04/26/pastors-wives-the-b-word/