“Write something for pastors’ wives,” she said. “Make it funny,” she said. Funny things do happen. Most often they are at our own expense. If we don’t learn to laugh at ourselves and some of the situations in which we find ourselves, we will never survive. As ministers’ wives, much of the time we are called upon to minister to people in the midst of crisis. It is during times of tears and not laughter. What keeps you going when the going is toughest? Where do you find the wisdom and strength to meet the demands of ministry in our fallen world?
Most of us did not attend seminary. Many of us worked full time while our husbands went to school and worked part time. Although our seminaries offer excellent classes to help prepare seminary wives for their upcoming position, a class can never train us in all the varied roles churches anticipate we will fill. Nor can they fully prepare us for the difficult roads we will have to walk with those to whom we minister. In our first pastorate, I found myself sitting with a couple whose son was found dead. Waiting with them for the coroner to arrive, we wept together and prayed. The only One who can grant wisdom and strength in those dire moments is Jesus.
In Acts 4, Peter and John were arrested for healing a lame man and preaching and teaching in the name of Jesus. When the two disciples were ushered in to appear before the scribes and high priests, those accomplished religious officials were amazed at Peter and John’s confidence since they were uneducated and untrained. Astonished by what they saw and heard, they began to recognize them as having been with Jesus (Acts 4:13, NASB). These two fishermen, like most pastors’ wives, had not received any formal instruction, but their time with Jesus had fully prepared them for the work they were called to do. Likewise, the only way we will be equipped to minister alongside our husbands is to make time with Christ our top priority.
Dear pastor’s wife, our only hope and our greatest pleasure comes from spending time with Jesus, allowing His words to become our joy and the delight of our hearts (Jeremiah 15:16). Jesus alone satisfies, grants purpose, and fills us with joy. He is the One who sustains us when the shrill ring of the phone in the middle of the night brings news of a death, a horrific car accident, another life cut short. He is the One who gives us the words to say to a couple who have just received a terminal prognosis from the doctor and need to tell their children. He is our Abba when our marriage is hemorrhaging or our children are rebelling. He gives us words of wisdom when our husbands are teetering on the brink of persevering in the pastorate or resigning from the ministry altogether. On those difficult and challenging days, where do we go and what do we do? We run to Jesus!
I am convinced that one of the enemy’s primary tactics is to keep us away from our time with the Lord. With ruthless intentionality and determination we must spend time every day in God’s Word, in prayer, and in building spiritual disciplines into our lives. As we spend time with Him, we learn to hear His voice. As you read God’s Word and study it, seeking Him in its pages, He will reveal Himself to you. There can be no compromise in these areas!
Another maneuver the enemy uses is to convince us that we can’t have friends in the ministry. Loneliness leads to despair. God created us for relationship in community. If the enemy can isolate us, often he can defeat us.
Several years ago, I became disturbed by the number of ministers’ wives who were leaving the ministry, many of them abandoning their husbands as well. After praying about the pressure and loneliness that so many women in ministry face, I sought wisdom from several fellow pastors’ wives. We decided to provide a place of encouragement and connection by creating a Pastors’ Wives Session during the Pastor’s Conference at the Southern Baptist Convention.
For the past twelve years, hundreds of pastors’ wives have gathered on the Monday morning of the SBC Pastors’ Conference. I want to encourage you to join us. You will hear from other ministers’ wives, worship our Lord, and connect through guided discussion and prayer around a table with other women in your same role. There is just something about hearing from someone who understands the God-given call on your life!
Friend, don’t run the race alone. Join hands and hearts with other ministers’ wives. Together, we can stand firm against the schemes of the enemy and be encouraged to stay faithful to Christ. Be known as a woman who has been with Jesus. Choose to not just stay in the race, but to run with all your might for the finish line. Run to win!
Donna Gaines is an author, a frequent speaker at women’s events, and is the wife of Steve Gaines, SBC president and pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee.