A Message to Ministry Wives

By Tasha Calvert

It was wrong, and the Lord has since forgiven me, but I vowed from an early age not to marry a man in ministry. Almost every man I loved while growing up was in ministry – my father, both my grandfathers and even several uncles. Which means, almost every woman I loved as a child was a ministry wife. And theirs was a life that looked hard. I admired them, but with all due respect, it was a hard pass for me.

If you don’t think God has a sense of humor, you should know that God honored my ill-conceived vow. My husband is an engineer with Microsoft. Me? Well, God didn’t need me to marry a minister; He chose me to be a minister. I have the privilege of serving the women of Prestonwood, and very little in my life is more fulfilling than ministry … or more difficult.

For years now, it has been on my heart to serve our Prestonwood Network wives. Having observed the lives of ministry wives for most of my life, I know the challenges they face. I’ve seen the hats they wear, the sacrifices they make and the loneliness they often feel. I’ve also seen the impact ministry wives make, the encouragement they offer and the stability they provide. It’s my complementarian theology that drives me to the conviction that ministry wives and women in ministry are essential to the health and success of our churches, especially in challenging ministry situations where many of you serve.

Faith leaders with the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board to whom I’ve spoken have affirmed this time and again in our conversations. In fact, it’s estimated by some that 80 to 90 percent of church planters who leave their posts do so because their wives feel overwhelmed and under-supported. We want the wives represented within the Prestonwood Network to know we support them; we see them; we pray for them; and we love them. We are actively looking for ways to resource, encourage, and equip our Network Wives and women in the essential ministry to which they’ve been called.

Kati Matthews, Women’s Ministry Associate at Prestonwood, and a pastor’s wife herself, shares some encouragement for Network Wives in the two-part article below.

Tasha Calvert

Global Director of Women’s Ministry

Prestonwood Baptist Church

Part 1

We don’t know each other’s names or faces, but as pastors’ wives, we do have this unsaid understanding of the obstacles we sometimes face in the calling God has put on our husbands, and therefore, us.

Next week we’ll look at five ways to persevere in the trenches of our unique ministry situations; and not only persevere, but experience peace in the midst of it all.

We have all felt it. The moments where the messiness of ministry strangles the excitement that called you and your husband to it.

I think of Cassie in Vancouver who is a pastor’s wife and working mom attempting to offset the astronomical cost of living in the city where they planted their church. While her husband has opportunities to meet with other church planters to be equipped and encouraged, Cassie focuses on saving any extra time after work for her family. Margin within their budget and her time with family is scarce. She prays the Lord would bring her out of a season of loneliness. That He would allow rich, authentic relationships with a few rather than a multitude of “friendships” lacking depth.

I think of another pastor’s wife, Adriana, a mom of four with one having special needs. She homeschools three of them when she’s not traveling to doctor appointments and therapy visits. While she and her husband would like to see her more involved in their church plant, finding the time or the energy to do so is overwhelming in itself. This tension causes issues within their marriage. She prays that their marriage and parenting would reflect what he so passionately preaches from behind the pulpit.

The list goes on.…

The pastor’s wife who is a young mom. She is saying a silent prayer and asking the Lord to assist her toddler in discontinuing the temper tantrum he is so passionately producing in the midst of a very observant congregation. Regardless of the circumstances within her three-foot radius and her raging toddler, she pushes through with a smile and offers a polite welcome to members and new faces that walk through the doors of the church. She persists in her conversations long enough to check where her church’s people are at spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically.

It’s the pastor’s wife who just came in contact with the disgruntled church member who has just slammed her husband on social media or in a heated phone call, e-mail, or text. She prays for her own husband’s emotional and mental well-being after being treated in a way that would leave us all feeling defeated.

It’s the pastor’s wife who is praying her children would be offered the same amount of grace that would be given to children living in less of a spotlight.

You serve. You lead. You pray. You encourage. You disciple. You contribute to your husband’s good reputation. You share him; his time, his mind, and his energy with the heaviness of those God has called him to shepherd. You rely on God’s goodness in providing immeasurable strength to love your husband, your family and your church. You know this strength is only something He can provide and isn’t of our own doing.

We often are hidden gracefully in our husband’s shadow, lovingly cheering him on while wearing many hats. Some of those hats were beautifully customized by our Creator as He decided what our gifts and talents in ministry would be. Other hats were manufactured by people’s assumptions that you are to wear certain, or possibly all, hats in the church and within your home.

Renowned theologian C.S. Lewis wrote,

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one.

We certainly know that God calls us to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). Therefore, in reverence and obedience to the Lord, C. S. Lewis’s second option is actually not an option for us at all. We are called to love God, our husbands, our children, the church, and those He will add to His family.

Part 2

No other person will influence your husband as much as you do. We hold great power. Our words and actions can encourage him or crumble him. We can provoke him to lead well or push him to defeat. That said, we have much power in the success and the culture we create in our churches.

It’s my prayer that you have the ability to shift the messiness of ministry into a renewed excitement and zeal, believing God is going to do something big in the life of your church by means of your family.

Here are five ways to persevere with peace as a pastor’s wife:

  1. You are entitled to a private life but not private sin.

We, too, are real people with real problems. I encourage you to develop friendships or even be discipled by other pastor’s wives who are beyond you in life and ministry experience.

  1. Narrow the gap.

We have to ensure we do not leave a huge gap between the way we live at home compared to the way we live in public. It’s my fear this gap may attribute to some pastor’s kids’ resentful feelings toward the Church when they become adults. Your first ministry is your family and then the church.

  1. Honor time off.

You cannot leave it to chance to take a day off or date your husband. This takes planning and effort. When you say yes to one activity or event, you say no to something or someone else. We can’t adequately serve and love our family and church if we are constantly running on empty.

  1. Pray

We spend so much time praying for others in their trials and celebrations, sometimes we find it uncomfortable to pray for ourselves. But our family needs to be prayed over just as much as the next. It would be ignorant to think the Enemy does not put a larger target on the backs of families in ministry.

  1. Expectations

It is impossible to please and appease your entire church. If this weren’t apparent before the COVID-19 pandemic, it sure is now. There is a wide spectrum of feelings and opinions on how best to manage the church. From the type of music that is played to the nutritional value of the snack provided to the kids in children’s ministry, opinions and expectations are sailing around every inch of the church. The expectations placed on you and your family may be fair or unfair, good or bad, but we must identify where the source is. Whom are we trying to please? We are called to honor God, serve, make disciples, multiply, and do it all with excellence – not for our glory or to please the masses, but to glorify God and grow His kingdom.

God is working on your church, but He’s also working on you. Don’t lose sight on what He is doing in you as the pastor’s wife.

2 Corinthians 1:3–4 says,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Tasha Calvert is Global Director of Women’s Ministry at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. Kati Matthews is Women’s Ministry Associate and wife of Tim Matthews, Minister to Adults at Prestonwood Baptist Church.