Being a Pastor’s wife might seem like a glamorous job to those on the outside. Sometimes I feel like a fish in a bowl, with everyone staring in at me and I can’t communicate with them. I receive criticism, praise and critiques on a weekly basis. Some people question our motives, some people question our words, and some people question our tactics and our outreach methods. Sometimes I want to scream at people to mind their own business. Sometimes I want to hug strangers for understanding the struggles I go through. Sometimes I want to bust at the seams about something that I know that someone else doesn’t know. But I have to daily choose to follow God’s leading, and the call of God’s ministry on my husband’s life as well as mine. Accepting and living in the calling God has for my husband is one aspect that I’ve struggled with recently.
My husband, oh my lovely husband. When we met, he knew within a few weeks that we were going to be married. It took me a little longer to figure it out. When we were dating, he let me know he was called into youth ministry full-time.
I won’t lie and tell you that I didn’t dream of being a pastor’s wife. That might not seem like a calling many wish for, but that has been my heart’s desire since I was in high school. My youth pastor’s wife was such an instrumental part of my development, and she and her kids expressed such a love of God that I had never seen before. While my grandfather was a pastor for years and my family was dedicated to God and to church, those people were my family. It was completely different when the love of God came from a complete stranger to my family. My youth pastor and his wife and family loved me, cherished my idiosyncrasies, and truly cared. Yes my family cared, but this was different. Perhaps they were just the right people at the right time, but they changed my life. And ever since I’ve wanted to do that for others. I dreamed of helping others as they had helped me. That was in the mid-2000s.
Fast forward to 2011. We had just moved to New Jersey and started searching for a place to live. We were staying with my in-laws and attending their church. We interviewed with a few churches for youth pastor positions, but nothing was really pulling us one way or another and we hadn’t gotten peace from God in any direction. Cliff went to one of the current leaders of the church we were attending and let him know what our situation was. The man had been a mentor in Cliff’s life since he was young, and Cliff had always dreamed of working under him and serving with him. The leader told Cliff that while he might not have a salary or any form of compensation for us, that the church could really use us and specifically the youth ministry. The youth ministry needed female leaders—DESPERATELY.
The shoe fit, so we accepted our area of ministry at our current church. We accepted the charge of the leadership to help with youth and uphold the arms of the current ministers. While we weren’t exactly ecstatic at first, we were hopeful and we loved the people instantly.
Fast forward to the end of 2011. Cliff dropped the bomb on me sometime during 2011 that he was called into Church Planting. I’m not sure where the disconnect came in, but somewhere it did. My heart was not in plants; neither the leafy kind nor the kind where you strike out on your own with (hopefully) the good graces of your previous church body and establish a new body of believers in their community at their time of need. I wanted to attend conventions, pop out a few kids and learn from those around us. I didn’t dream of being a mid-twenty-year-old senior pastor’s wife. It didn’t fit the little mold I had in my head. It didn’t fit the calling I had established in my soul. But I knew I was supposed to be with Cliff. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t FIGHT him and his calling to plant. I was convinced he just had the wrong timing. “Maybe in a few years,” I said. “We can’t support ourselves AND a church right now,” I said. Luckily God didn’t let my husband’s calling get squelched. His dream kept growing and we served in our ministries. Reluctantly I explored the possibilities of planting.
Fast forward to April 2012, the church leader that asked us to help at our church let us know he would be moving on. With our senior pastor being in his 80s, that meant there would be another shoe that needed filling. At this point, Cliff and I had already been in the church for over a year and we were going full steam: co-speaking youth ministry with the existing team, leading youth Bible study, helping every 6 weeks with the benefit concerts that the youth ministry ran out of the basement of the cathedral, leading as a part of the women’s ministry board, setting up for service and tearing down afterwards(we like food a lot so many of our services have food or desserts), and doing anything else that needed doing. With this news, Cliff was asked to take over the Wednesday night Bible study & potluck for the adults.
Fast forward to August 26th, 2012, Cliff’s first Sunday in what would become a secession of Sunday’s of speaking. After that Sunday, Cliff was asked to be on staff officially. We have been busy-bees ever since. Many times feeling like we were abandoning our pets (and I feel our kitchen is never clean!) It’s hard keeping up with two full-time jobs, a practically full-time position at the church and all of the ministries, our home, laundry and our happy-go-licky pets. (I can only imagine what it’s going to be like when we pop out a kid.)
Even as we are ministering, Cliff still brings up church planting periodically. I know it’s in our future-whether that is 6 months, 6 years or longer, we don’t know. But I do know that ministering at the church we are at is part of God’s plan. Gleaning from life-long ministry workers, and learning from experiences on our crash-course in ministry. We might only be 25 and 26, but we have experienced so much in our time in ministry.
As we are serving, I’m constantly reminded of OUR future calling. It took me a long time to accept that church planting was our calling, and I realize when I tense up as Cliff talks about good ideas for plants, that I still haven’t fully accepted it. But I am working on it. Another church planting wife, Christine Hoover, has recently published a phenomenal book for ministry women, pastor’s wives and church planting wives. Her blog alone has been a HUGE resource for me and has helped me grow in OUR calling to plant a church.
Christine has been an influential part of helping heal and mend my heart and my “dreams” through her blog Grace Covers Me.
I’m linking up with Christine over at Grace Covers Me as she releases her book, The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart, and collects heart stories from church planting and ministry wives. Join us?