After a bit of a break we have another contribution to our series "Ten Questions for Pastors' Wives". This time the questions are answered by Mae Milton, the wife of Dr Michael Milton who is the President of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte. Mae and Dr Milton have been in pastoral ministry for many years and prior to them coming to Charlotte, Dr Milton was Senior Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
1. What do you think is your most important responsibility as a pastor's wife?
The most important responsibility as a pastor's wife is to be my husband's chief supporter. To make our home a place of respite for him, a place where he can come and leave all the pressures of the pastorate behind. There are practical ways to do this.
2. Is there anything that you think is not part of your role that others may assume is?
Others may assume that they get a "two for one" deal. That is you will teach a Bible study, play the piano, be in the choir, teach the children, lead the women's group. etc... But, none of that may be your role. You are your husband's wife and if you have children, a mother. You don't have to do any of those things. You may be gifted in an area and enjoy doing certain things, but you are a wife and mother first to your family. Do what you enjoy and are good doing. I recommend not being the leader of any group. This sometimes sets you up for unnecessary criticism. In church planting, this may be necessary in the beginning, however.
3. What boundaries have you established in order to protect your marriage and family life?
Protecting your husband's day off is very important. You may have to leave the house on those days or turning the phone to OFF..and not answering for any reason. Some pastors even have a separate line that they give out to only family and close friends to call. Also, people may try to use you to get their message to your husband. Sometimes you can listen and not carry it on to him. Or, you can kindly tell them if they have a suggestion they call the office to make an appointment with him to discuss the matter. That your home is so busy that you don't want to be responsible for church matters. Also, if they call you up trying the same thing, just refer them to the office. Most of the times I never told my husband.
4. How do you apply Galatians 6:2 (“Carry each other's burdens”) when facing difficulties or frustrations in ministry?
If you have a friend in the ministry, you can call them to pray. Even family can pray when difficulties arise.
5. Where do you and your husband find your own pastoral care?
If there are other pastors on staff, you usually have someone with which to talk. Sometimes we have had other pastors in other churches to go talk with. Who have been able to pray with us and for us.
6. How do you deal with criticism of you or your husband?
This is very difficult. Everyone, I think, deals with criticism differently. I personally try to pray through it. If I know I have to see that person, I try to avoid them until I have gotten calmed down, if I am really upset. I usually act as if I know nothing is going on. Just keep smiling. If someone would ask me if I had heard this, that or the other, I would usually smile as say I have no idea what is going on. Most of the time, that is the truth. Or if there is some criticism of myself, I would just say "I will take it to the Lord and see if there is some merit to it and will make adjustment if necessary. Thanks."
7. What is the greatest blessing and what the greatest burden of being a pastor's wife?
People are the greatest blessing. Instant friends, people who love you, people to take care, and support you. They become your family. The greatest burden are also people as some will hurt you, talk about you, use you, take advantage of you and let you down.
9. What one piece of advice would you pass on to a new pastor's wife?
Be yourself. If you love to cook, feed people in your home. If you love children, work with them. Old people, work with them. Use the gifts the Lord has given you. But, your most important mission is to take care of your husband, because if you don't take care of him, he won't be able to take care of his flock.
10. How can the other women in a congregation best support you practically and in prayer?
I think the other women in the church can help you by being your friend. Praying that you would be the kind of wife your husband needs you to be.