In conjunction with the theme of this issue of Manna, we decided to conduct an interview with pastorsâ€™ wives. The theme section covers women of the past, so perhaps this interview might provide some insight into todayâ€™s women. So often, we regard pastorsâ€™ wives in a different class from other women because of their husbandsâ€™ work. But what we fail to realize, and what they really want for us to know, is that they are just like any other Christian womanâ€”they share the same struggles and experiences in their faith and their relationships. Across divides, age gaps, and culturally different backgrounds, each of them shares her story with us so that we might benefit from their life journey and ponder about our own faith and relationship with God.
1. Can you share instances of Godâ€™s providence and care?
I see Godâ€™s providential care all the time. I feel that He has been walking with us, sometimes along some difficult stretches, but then the latter has served to remind us to trust in God and to understand that He is in control. He has given us so many blessings over the yearsâ€¦
I have a good husband and two beautiful boys who are very affectionate. I have a job I find rewarding, we have enough to pay the bills, and we have somewhere to live in a beautiful part of Leicestershire. I am grateful. I did not have any expectations of what God would do for us once my husband became a preacher, but what God has given us has surprised me.
During the course of my husbandâ€™s decision to become a preacher, I did tell God that I was a little worried about how we would manage financially since my husband had to give up his secular job. In that prayer, I felt the grace and love of God surrounding me, and I knew God had acknowledged my concerns, and that He would take care of us. Once he came out to be a preacher, I understood why God had to reassure me. It has not been plain sailing, but God never fails to watch over us.
One instance of Godâ€™s providential care concerned our move from London to Leicestershire. For the first eighteen months, no matter how hard I looked I could not find work in my specific area of training. On reflection, I had spent that time wellâ€”dedicating my time to my then baby son. At the end of this period, our finances were somewhat depleted, and very quickly an opening for work came up. I applied and was accepted. Godâ€™s timing is good.
The above is just one example. I see Godâ€™s grace every day. They come in the form of on-going practical help, support with childcare, and occasional phone calls from caring brothers and sisters offering words of encouragement that can make all the difference in a hectic week.
2. What would you say to a sister whose husband was considering becoming a pastor?
Every personâ€™s journey is different, so I would not presume to advise that her experience would be the same as mine. A first and obvious bit of advice is:
â€¢ Pray as a couple about it together
â€¢ Give it some time to be sure itâ€™s not a sudden urge/purely emotional decision (Itâ€™s got to be a decision you make in dialogue with God and with each other).
â€¢ If you have children, talk to your children to see how they feel, as any decision will very much affect them
â€¢ Do your sums to see if you can afford to live on the new income and what contingency plan you have in case of the unexpected, such as losing your job, which you both depend upon to pay the bills
â€¢ Decide and plan how you will manage without your husband around â€”you could have to balance a career, a home, children, and Church work
â€¢ Be sure that you enjoy (or at least can tolerate!) your own company
â€¢ Build up a good network of friends and family around youâ€”ones that can offer you encouragement and remind you of Godâ€™s love and grace
â€¢ Be prepared to take on (at least some) of the tasks that you may have happily delegated to your husband
â€¢ Be prepared for things to be hard and sometimes for Satan to discourage you; actively trust in God and keep watchful. Donâ€™t expect special treatment from God, but believe that He will provide
3. What is your favorite passage from the Bible?
Micah 6:8 is a lovely verse: â€œHe has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?â€
I believe that God does not expect great acts of faith from most of us, just small ones lived out everyday in a consistent manner. Justice, kindness, humility before Godâ€”these are simple things that God expects us to manifest, the qualities of a practicing Christian.
Most important of all, these three things are not just characteristics per se but the guiding principles by which we live with our fellow man and our God. Christianity is an active faith; one where we can show that we care about the people around us as well as the world we live in. It is not a faith to be had in isolation. It is too easy to go to church each week and yet be concerned only with our own affairs. I guess we need to ask, â€œWhen was the last time I stood up for something right, or showed kindness to someone?â€
I am still learning.
1. What are the unique challenges of being a pastorâ€™s wife?
One of the greatest challenges of being a pastorâ€™s wife is that the husband is very often gone for long periods of time. Although this is not unique to a pastorâ€™s wife (i.e. there are also other wives whose husbands are away from home because of their career), it is nevertheless characteristic of her struggles. I say unique because his absence is for the sake of preaching the gospel. It is for that reason that I can bear his being away with a positive attitudeâ€”knowing that God is with us and will help us.
A by-product of my husbandâ€™s long absences is the strain it puts on our relationship. It is difficult for us to grow deeper as husband and wife because the marriage is peppered with long interruptions of him being gone. This leaves us going through much of life alone.
Another challenge is the expectations of others. Some people automatically assume that I must be very strong in faith, in life, and in all things. This is of course not true. And I feel that my relationship with others may tend to lean on formalities because others identify me as a pastorâ€™s wife rather than a regular individual or believer.
People may think that a pastorâ€™s wife is less likely to encounter problems in her faith, or they assume that she can ask her husband any question and can get an immediate answer. This is also not true, for the relationship between a pastor and his spouse is as a man to his wife. There are many everyday-decisions for a couple to make and daily affairs to take care of. So, unfortunately, it is difficult to find great lengths of time to talk about faith or church.
To pray to God and trust that Heâ€™ll aid us is one important way to overcome all the challenges we face. The loving intercession of the church members is another very effective way.
2. Can you share instances of Godâ€™s providence and care?
Every day I thank God for His guidance and blessings. It has always been through Godâ€™s grace and His mercy that Iâ€™m able to manage life as a pastorâ€™s wife. Iâ€™m often weak and at a loss regarding how to go on, but it has been my experience that there is always a way out of a problem when we are under Godâ€™s providential care.
Through the years when all three of my children were still small and could not be left home alone, God provided us with a very trustworthy sister from church who was willing to live together with us. That made things much easier when the pastor was away.
I feel itâ€™s also due to Godâ€™s loving care for our family that the children are healthy and doing well in school. On their level, they understand the importance of faith and they know to observe Sabbath every week. They are even ready to sacrifice some of their friendsâ€™ invitations and activities for the sake of God. Nowadays, with so many worldly temptations, this kind of self-discipline cannot be taken for granted. I thank God for watching over them.
3. What is your favorite passage from the Bible?
I like many verses in the Bible so itâ€™s hard to share just one. But one verse I find worthy of mentioning here is Matt 6:33, â€œBut seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.â€
At different times in life, we need to make important decisions concerning our careers, our marriage, our family, etc. In our daily living, we also have to make small decisions, and all these life-important and small issues can bring us a lot of sorrow about our future.
This verse really helps us focus on the right priorities with the correct perspective. On the one hand, this passage reminds us to set our foot on the right path when we have to make decisions. On the other, it comforts usâ€”assuring us that as long as we strive for the kingdom of God, we will not worry about the future.
1. What are some of the benefits of being a pastorâ€™s wife?
Definitely, the word of God is more abundant in my life because my husband comes home and shares his experiences and lessons. Oftentimes, I would visit members with my husband, and through their testimonies and life stories, I am much edified. And so in this sense I gain more.
Also, the love of the members is ceaseless. After so many years, I still marvel at how much others care about the lifestyle of a pastor and his family. Perhaps to others, our lives may not seem as smooth or as materially stable, but we are very grateful for all their support to us.
I have felt Godâ€™s grace especially with regard to my children. They have also gained much from God Himselfâ€”in learning how to grow as children of God and how to put their trust and reliance on Him.
Whenever we lacked material things or had financial needs, weâ€™d find that God would always find a way for us. My husband would often say, â€œDonâ€™t worry, it will fall from heaven,â€ and Iâ€™d ask, â€œBut where? Why canâ€™t I see it?!â€ But in the end, God always came through.
Another benefit is having the opportunity to open up and communicate with all kinds of people on a deeper level. It helps me grow as a person and teaches me how to receive and ask for the gift of counseling from Godâ€”how to be friendly, to give good advice, and to comfort others. Oftentimes, church sisters may encounter personal problems that are too private to discuss with a pastor, so they would approach me instead. I think it is a great benefit for me because I have the opportunity to serve God by helping others.
2. How has being a pastorâ€™s wife impacted your own faith and relationship with God?
When my husband first went off to theological training I was very happy for him. But when he came back home during breaks, heâ€™d tell me to study the Bible and pray more. Because I was busy with work and had to mind the children, I would get annoyed with him. I did not have his luxury of studying the Bible as a living.
It is a great challenge finding the right balance between our spirituality and worldly cares. In Taiwan, I was a schoolteacher, and my spirituality at the time was a bit lethargic. After we came to the United States, the rigors of a different lifestyle pushed me to rely on God. There were a great number of obstacles that I had to face. There were communication difficulties, cultural differences, and many expectations.
My first job in the U.S. was to be a housewife, and this was when my spirituality began to grow. Because my husband was stationed in our local area, we could treasure the time God gave to our family to grow together in Him. I had more opportunities to cultivate my faith, and to help my children overcome the obstacles they had to encounter. Now that my children are grown and independent, I have more time to devote to Godâ€™s work. I find much fulfillment in my life, and it has greatly improved my faith.
Many times, members would open up to me about their sorrows. But coming to know of their problems doesnâ€™t always mean I have the capability to resolve their issues, because I am human, too. Many troubles are beyond the horizon of man. When at a loss as to how to help, I kneel down and cry out to God, and my comfort comes directly from above. In such instances, the Holy Spirit counsels and brings me peace.
3. Which woman can you most relate to in the Bible?
I donâ€™t know if I can most relate to her, but the woman I truly admire is Ruth. To be a woman, you need to know your position and your place. I feel that Ruth was very aware of herself. She was a very wise woman even though she seemed soft at times. Her strength came from within, and she was clear on what she needed. To be soft and gentle with everyone yet strong and courageous within is not easy for a woman to achieve.
Ruth was going to an unknown place, and she had to take care of a mother-in-law who relied completely upon herâ€”her faith must have been great to do so. Ruth never expected anything from anyone, and she never asked for anything from God. She only submitted to the work she had to do. It is no wonder Godâ€™s grace fell so richly upon her.
You donâ€™t always have to be strong or show yourself capable at all times. You just need to be gentle, and you will grow more beautiful because of it.
4. What is your favorite passage from the Bible?
My favorite passage is Isa 30:15: â€œFor thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: â€˜In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.â€™â€
My husband is a very good spouse. This passage expresses how I strive to grow in Christ with my husband. The longer we serve God, the more our relationship and our love for one another grow, and the more joy we share in our marriage. Even though we are unique individuals, we try our best to walk quietly together with God because He is our confidence and our strength. We come together in the issues we need to face as a team, but we also give each other room to attend to our own matters.
Being a pastorâ€™s wife is just like being any other Christian in the church. We all need to build our foundation upon the Lord Jesus Christ and strive to imitate Him. We donâ€™t need to worry too much about other peopleâ€™s expectations of usâ€”we just need to be ourselves because the Lord is our refuge and our stronghold.