A little while back, Nicki's husband Colin had a series on his blog called "10 Questions for Expositors". We have unashamedly stolen his idea and have sent a set of questions to a number of pastors' wives. The aim of this is to inspire and encourage women who are married to a pastor or to a seminary student. Also we want to give other women an insight into the challenges that pastors' wives face so we can better encourage and pray for those in leadership.
So let's start things off with our first pastor's wife! My dear friend Melissa ministers along side her husband Mike, who is Associate Pastor at Uptown Church, Charlotte, NC. Here are her responses:
1. What do you think is your most important responsibility as a pastor's wife?
Truthfully, my most important responsibility is to abide in Christ, keeping Him always first in my heart.
2. Is there anything that you think is not part of your role that others may assume is?
Hopefully, they don’t want me to sing! : ) The reality is that I can never be all things to all people. Whenever people expect you to fill all their needs (what can only be done in Christ), ultimately you will fail. That has been a tough lesson for me – letting go of what other people think I should be doing and do what Christ has called me to do. Also, learning to value people’s insight, but let go of their opinions.
3. What boundaries have you established in order to protect your marriage and family life?
The first: daily time with the Lord. If this boundary is established, I really believe all the other boundaries will fall into place.
The second boundary: all commitments should be done for God’s glory, not man’s approval. There is always more ministry to be done. We should labor with all diligence, but for God’s glory, not our own.
4. How do you apply Galatians 6:2 ("Carry each other's burdens") when facing difficulties or frustrations in ministry?
My husband is my best friend. When I’m frustrated, he listens. When he’s frustrated, I listen. Also, in the listening trying to speak the truth lovingly. Giving calm advice to one another that encourages peace within the body.
5. Where do you and your husband find your own pastoral care?
This has been difficult for us at times. What I can say with all truthfulness is that God provides the care we need, just when we need it. It has come from people in our church, books we have read, sermons on line… He provides in a variety of ways.
6. How do you deal with criticism of you or your husband?
I attempt to deal with it patiently and lovingly. Many criticisms are misunderstandings, so I try to listen to what they are saying. For other criticisms, it is always good to be open to our need to change, as well as the fact that our husbands are not perfect.
7. What is the greatest blessing and what the greatest burden of being a pastor's wife?
Greatest blessing – getting to spend our lives building Christ’s kingdom. It really is an honor to get to do the work of the gospel full time.
Greatest challenge – loneliness… not from being with people, but from being understood by people. It is a very different life from most of my friends, so at times I feel the loneliness of that.
8. Are there any books you would recommend that you've found particularly helpful as a pastor’s wife?
True Woman, Susan Hunt; When Life & Belief Collide, Carolyn James; Anything by Elisabeth Elliot; Suffering & the Sovereignty of God, Various Authors, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor.
9. What one piece of advice would you pass on to a new pastor's wife?
You can only minister to others what you know to be true yourself. Know the Lord.
10. How can the other women in a congregation best support you practically and in prayer?
Praying for our marriage and children. Praying that the Lord would keep us from temptation and allow us to live lives set apart that bring Him glory. Pray that He would keep us faithful in all things with what He has entrusted to us.