What does it mean to be the “preacher’s wife?” If you’ve seen the movie with that same title with Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston, maybe you think it means you are a soft spoken, choir singing, dispenser of sage wisdom. If you grew up in an old school baptist church as I did, perhaps you think being a preacher’s wife means you wear big, goofy hats and sit on the front row kissing children. I’ve decided it means none of this! I’ve decided that it really doesn’t have much of a meaning at all. At least not one that can be summed up, put in a bottle, and drank by every woman that holds the title.
What got me thinking about this is a comment left by a guy on my Obama post. He was baffled by some of my thoughts on pastors and scripture. I said that I don’t take what any preacher has to say at face value because I know that we all bring our own bias to the interpretation of scripture. I also said that I didn’t think a comment my husband made was worth throwing scripture at. He was shocked that a “preacher’s wife” doesn’t view every circumstance in life worthy of scriptural recitation. A pastor I know calls people who have a scripture or a “holy word” for everything spiritual space cadets. I think I agree.
But back to my original point. I’ve known since I was a teenager that I would one day be a “pastor’s wife.” Shaun and I were already dating when he gave his first sermon at the age of 17. Everyone in our church knew we would one day get married and that he would one day pastor. So, I set out, right from the beginning, doing the things I thought “pastor’s wives” did. I bought a pretty dress with a matching hat, and a big matching purse. I also attended every service he ever preached. Literally, FOR YEARS, I never missed a sermon. I read books on the subject with such titles as “A Handbook for Minister’s Wives,” and “The Church’s Leading Lady.” I understand quite well what a “preacher’s wife” is SUPPOSED to be.
Let me assure you, however, that I don’t subscribe well to the “supposed” to be’s. I made up my mind a while ago, when Shaun became serious about planting this church that I had to decide (with God’s guidance) who I was as a human and spiritual being, and hold firm to that. What I know for sure is that there is no shortage of church people telling you what you ought to wear, what you ought to say, how you ought to smile, and what you ought to do. I’ve seen my share of unhappy, confused wives of men in ministry who were lost in everyone else’s expectations of them. I declare before God and everyone else-that will not be me!
While I take seriously the call to lead the people of God, and know it carries with it many responsibilities, I know that in the end it only carries with it 4 major obligations for which God will hold me accountable and to which I have devoted my whole soul. These are: to love the Lord my God with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul. To love and support my husband as he endeavors to live out the call that God has set before him (and I think he will tell you that I do this quite well). To nurture my children with all the love I have inside of me, and to raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord. And lastly my responsibility to the world: to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care for the sick and infirmed. That’s my role as a preacher’s wife, AND yours as a Christian.
Any other expectations, you can feel free to stick in your pocket.