1. Know who you are.
The world talks all the time about “finding yourself.” Of course, this is not what I mean. What we are speaking about is knowing your identity. Know who God made you to be. Recognize that He made no mistakes in designing you and placing you where He did. Just as He foreknew and called Jeremiah before He was even born, so our omniscient God knew you, designed you, and called you well before you entered the stage on this planet.
You cannot truly know anything about yourself, without knowing the One who made you. Knowing that He is a good Sovereign means that you have what you need for today; that you are just what your husband, children, church family, and community need even when you feel so insignificant and inadequate for what lies before you.
You are valued not because of what you do, how much serve, how well you serve, how much you’ve read, or because of the talents you possess. Nothing you do earns you more love from God; and nothing you do or don’t do subtracts from His great love and acceptance of you.
Live in that truth and live free.
“Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; and before you were born I sanctified you; and I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:4-5
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” John 15:16
2. Understand that your most important ministry will be the ministry of prayer.
One of Satan’s most used tactics is deceptive misdirection. He will do all he can do distract you from fighting the real battle in prayer. The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous woman- a woman following God- means that prayer works. The moment you pray, heavenly forces are moving. Don’t allow your enemy to fill your hands with more service and busyness than your knees can carry in prayer.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16c
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
3. Read the previous chapters of a person’s life when dealing with difficult people.
Life is full of oddities, girls. You’ve got strange trees like those in Africa that appear to be upside down with roots on the top. You’ve got strange animals like the platypus and the Mexican walking fish. And just like in the rest of creation, you’re gonna’ meet some unusual people out there.
When dealing with your husband’s critic or someone who is simply harder to love, ask God to show you their story. I heard a quote once that stated “If you knew their story, you would love them.” I’ve never forgotten it. TV and Movies teach us this all the time. They introduce a despicable character and just when we think we couldn’t despise them any more than we do, they open the backstory. Suddenly as we see that character’s childhood or history, we begin to hurt with them, understand them, defend them, and even root for them.
Ask God to show you the “chapters before.” Put it on your prayer list. It will change your life.
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:” Hebrews 10:24
“…for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” I Samuel 16:7 b
4. Realize that women need women.
Titus 2 tells us this, but somehow we dismiss it. Perhaps it’s because of the setting we grew up in or the insecurity that plagued generations before us. But ladies, the girls need you. That doesn’t mean that you have to add the pressure of teaching a ladies Bible study to your life and schedule if that is not your spiritual giftedness.
Mentoring is so much more than lectures. Mentoring younger women comes in so many forms- teaching them to do something that you know how to do – cooking, cleaning, witnessing, shopping, storytelling, praying together, and just being with them is how relationships are built.
Keep your eyes open for women- especially young women and girls who are watching you. They’re hungry to be known and invested in by you; take those opportunities as you are able.
“The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness….that they may teach the younger women…” Titus 2:3a & 4a
5. Read- read a LOT.
Read books that encourage you. Books that focus on a spiritual truth and have phrases that minister to your heart in such a way that you can hold onto those thoughts during difficult times.
Read books that grow you- books on writing better, understanding communication, leadership, on health, how to decorate better….any thing that grows you as a person, read it.
Read things that teach you how to study the Scriptures. Unfortunately, too many of us ladies are not taught this early on. Somehow in our Bible colleges, churches, and homes we are not schooled in how to do this, not given the tools, or maybe just aren’t listening. Recently in a private facebook group of excellent pastor’s wives, I was shocked to find how many of them wished they had been taught this. I didn’t ask them specifically about this. They all come from different states, attended different Christian colleges, and many of them are some of the best Bible teachers I’ve heard, but somehow they entered the ministry with their husbands, being told to read their Bible but never being truly shown how to study and interpret God’s Word. I hope you will join me in the commitment to learn this and then pass it on to our daughters, and be the change that is needed.
Read books that challenge you. Read doctrine. Don’t shy away from learning what God says about different issues. How else can you know how to live? You daughters and women coming after you will want answers. Know how to direct them in the Word.
“The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.”
“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7
6. Don’t own the wins; and don’t own the losses.
I think as women it’s typically easy for us to chalk the successes in ministry up to God, but we are also much more prone to own the losses. When someone walks away from God— its personal. We believe that we weren’t enough, our counsel wasn’t wise enough, our efforts weren’t consistent enough, or our discipleship wasn’t deep enough.
But God has called you to serve as He has enabled and as He is in the process of sanctifying you. He has not called you to carry the results- good or bad- on your shoulders, so don’t do it. The miraculous thing that is spiritual life in others is not in your power to bring about. You’re simply the tool in the Gardener’s hand.
“So neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”
I Corinthians 3:7
“…my strength is made perfect (complete- covers all we are lacking) in weakness.”
II Corinthians 12:9b
“And he (Abraham) said unto him (the rich man in hades), If they hear not Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.” Luke 16:31
7. Lead your children before you lead anyone else.
No one else can have a greater impact on the precious souls that God places in your care than you and your husband. And as a woman, you are specially designed to see certain needs in their lives. You have just a few fleeting years to disciple them.
They are your inner circle.
Whatever kind of mother you are, use those strengths to build strong followers of Him. If you’re a natural reader, go through an age-appropriate Bible study together. If you’re a party planner, plan fun events for them to express your love and to teach powerful truths they won’t forget. If you have the gift of serving, bring them tottling along with you and make them a part of the ministry. If you are a great chef, pull up a stool for them and talk about the creativity of God as you reflect His image by creating new and exciting dishes together.
“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified…”
I Peter 4:10-11
“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required:” Luke 12:48b
“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”
8. Never stop being your husband’s best friend.
Talk about ministry. Learn about the various forms of church government in the book he’s reading. Listen to the same ministry podcast he does. Watch his favorite sports team (or trick him into watching Alabama football with you! Roll Tide!!) Life gets heavy, so find ways to lift his spirits. Be together, have inside jokes. Send ridiculous gifs to his phone. Never stop it.
Not when life gets busy, children get noisy, and ministry gets ugly. He needs your voice in his life, and even more he needs your laughter in his soul.
“This is my beloved, and this is my friend…” Song of Solomon 5:16b
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
9. Recognize that life- and especially life in ministry- is made up of seasons.
Big truth, little phrase: life is seasons.
Whether it is waiting for the dream God gave you years ago to come to fruition or wishing the nightmare that you are facing right this moment was over, know that soon things will change. And then they’ll change again. Every season of life and every season of ministry, even the hot exhausting ones and the bitterly cold ones, like the actual seasons of life, have beauty in them. Embrace it. Learn the ministry of presence…being completely focused on the season God has you in, with the confidence that the next one will be here before you know it. Learn to keep a loose grip on anything that God places into your hands- even ministry roles, because your role will continually be changing; and that is a good thing.
There are moments when you, the only other church staff member, are spending late nights at the church with your husband printing and gluing the church calendar while your baby plays in the bouncer beside you. Priceless.
When your kids are playing with the other staff children at the church while you meet with the rest of the team and dream dreams of things yet to come. A-mazing.
Or when you get to see younger women step into ministry with willing hearts and open hands. So special. Whatever season you’re in, choose to live in it and love it.
“He hath made everything beautiful in his time:” Ecclesiastes 3:11a
Also see the early lives of David and Joseph for dreams given years in advance.
10. Speak up, because you have something to say.
Again, this is not to add pressure but to help you realize the privilege that you have as a pastor’s wife.
Recently I had the opportunity of praying before a community event. And, of course, I’m not going to pray without saying a few words beforehand. (The eyes of lady who had invited me to pray got this big! I think she was afraid I was going to preach a sermonette before her guest speaker could even get up.)
This was the first time that I had ever been at an event where there is a paid celebrity speaker. The guest speaker basically got up and talked for about half an hour. He shared a joke I had heard Josh tell better on Sunday, then he basically meandered around the message he intended to bring. He shared some words that the group wanted to hear, and the general idea, I think he believed, but overall he delivered a few passionate phrases with no passion or purpose behind them. Disappointing.
I was so, so nervous doing my small part beforehand, but I almost laughed at the absurdity of the situation on the drive home. I hear fantastic speakers all the time. Whether they are teaching the Bible or sharing a testimony about serving in the rescue mission, I hear people with a message. This fellow brought his name, but had nothing to say to bring life change! Fame without fervor. He had nothing to say, and it hit me. We have a message that actually matters.
You have the very presence of the living God dwelling in you! And, Jaime and Lisa, with this role of ministry, He has given you and will give continue you to give you various platforms. Use them for Him always. Don’t be fearful, be willing to speak up. Share your thoughts and ideas with your husband, encourage other women in ministry, send that text, write that blog, be real with people and accept that opportunity, because you have a message that means something.
“But the Lord said unto me, Say not I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee…” Jeremiah 1:7-8a
“Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” John 6:68
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Proverbs 18:21
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Ephesians 3:20