Posted in: Leadership
10K Run with my Wife
Tuesday, Nov. 11, my wife Jeannie and I completed a 10K Run. This run is not really what you would expect, but it has been a race nonetheless. We have been married 10,000 days! (not that I am counting.) It has been 27 years, 4 months, 16 days. She knew nothing of the 10,000 day anniversary, so I surprised her with a new wedding ring since her original one expired and started losing diamonds. When I gave it to her, it took her breath away and then she asked cautiously, "Is it real?" Apparently my giving expensive or thoughtful or unexpected gifts to her has not been the norm.
Now, in case you are trying to figure out how old my wife is, you have to realize that she was 7 when we got married. It was awkward because I had to drive her to elementary school although she was the only girl in 2nd grade with a wedding ring for Show-and-Tell!
Jeannie and I grew up in the same city; in fact, the same neighborhood. Our parents still live within 4 blocks of each other. I didn't have a car, so I had to date girls within walking distance. I dated (sorry, Josh Harris) seven girls in the neighborhood before I found the best one to marry. She graduated from high school in May and we were married in June. That was 1,428 weeks ago (I'm really not counting). Then I moved this only child away from her parents in August to go back to college. I don't think they have forgiven me to this day. I don't blame them now that I have a son who just moved out to go to college. Pause for my brief therapy session...
I am not writing this to be a proverbial slideshow of my life, but rather to talk about the qualities of a good pastor's wife. I have lived with a good one for over 14 million minutes (that sounds like a long time) Jeannie struggled in our first few years as a pastor's wife because of unrealistic expectations imposed on her typically by other pastors' wives who were "walking wounded."
I think pastor's wives have an identity crisis. Every person in the church expects something unique (and often unrealistic). They don't put her on a pedestal, but they do often expect her to be almost perfect. They expect her to be their best friend, associate pastor, piano player, nursery coordinator, women's ministry leader, secretary, hostess, fellowship planner, counselor, confidant, babysitter, cook and first lady (whatever that means). Unrealistic.
If a pastor's wife tries to fulfill all or many of these preconceived roles, she will fail. So, what does a pastor's wife do? I offer a few qualities below with apologies that I am offering these through the example of my wife, who has been my bride for over 240,000 hours (I know it seems like I'm counting).
Qualities of a Good Pastor's Wife
1. She is a faithful Christian
This is the expectation of all church members and whatever that looks like in your context, that is all that is expected, not Super Christian or Virgin Mary-esque. She must have a personal devotion to Jesus that is growing, vibrant and exercising the gospel in every area of her life.
2. She is a faithful wife
Titus 2:4 talks about the younger wives' primary role are to love her husband. That is the greatest, first and sometimes only ministry for the pastor's wife. Being the wife and lover of the pastor is a role that cannot be delegated to others. If a snooty woman asks you in a condescending tone what ministry you serve in the church, tell her that you help the pastor field test the Song of Solomon.
3. She is homeward-focused
The Titus 2 woman's attention is to care for the needs of her home (c.f. Proverbs 31). Her first ministry is the well-being of her home and if she has time and energy, secondarily the church. If she has children, she is to love them, adore them, invest in them spiritually, emotionally, physically, socially, and educationally with the joy that comes with fulfilling an honorable calling. She should desire to be with her family more than in any other relationship. "Working at home" does not preclude a wife from working outside of the home, but her desire and responsibility should be to serve her family as an expression of her love in the manner that the church (bride) serves Jesus (the bridegroom).
4. She is caring for the lives of others
Just as any Christian is expected to care for one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, etc., so the pastor's wife should be demonstrating those traits as she ministers to the body. Her care should not be expected because she is a pastor's wife, but rather, because she is a fellow believer.
5. She is adaptable
It's not listed in Proverbs 31, but it should be: A pastor's wife is adaptable to the unexpected twists and turns of her husband's weird schedules, working on the weekends, late night and early morning meetings and trips out of town. And, if she is doubly blessed with adaptability, she will possess the grace to move to a new city in response to a call.
6. She is hospitable
A pastor's wife is a gracious host to those who need a place to rest, a home to enjoy, a location to laugh and an opportunity to pray. An elder's characteristic is to be hospitable to strangers. A pastor's wife who serves the mission with a hospitable spirit is a blessing to others. My wife loves to have people in our home -- teenage boys and pastors alike. We have different people sleeping in our basement about 6 months out of the year. We usually have teenage boys in our house playing ping-pong, playing Wii and eating mass amounts of food. And my wife loves every minute of it.
7. She is trustworthy
A pastor's wife must be a safe place for information to be shared by her husband and others. She is privy to a lot of information and must be a trustworthy, safe place for the pastor to vent his frustration.
8. She is fun-loving
Lastly, a pastor's wife must learn to laugh. She can't take things too personally and she needs to learn that people will sin against her. Jeannie's laugh can change the entire mood of the room. It is innocent and expressive.
I am blessed to have spent the last 10,000 days with Jeannie as my wife, the wife of a pastor. I pray I have another 10,000 days with her. I'll be counting.