Good + Faithful + Servant
Have you noticed that you can be functioning on high octane, thriving in your calling, killin' it as a momma, loving that husband of yours, and maybe even keeping your laundry in check at home, and then one day, something shifts. Somebody in your family gets sick. An otherwise contented parishioner takes offense to something your husband said in Sunday's message. The schedule gets too furry and you're not connecting as a family as efficiently. And then your previously seamless rhythm gets off-beat.
One interruption threw things out of sync. What now?
You keep going back to what you know the Word reminds you is sufficient:
As we wrap up this blog series for the spring, I hope you're allowing the Holy Spirit to take a deeper survey into your approach to this preacher's wife life. What if you could tweak a few areas of your personal life to enhance your effectiveness as a spiritual leader? Truth is, I'm gleaning as much from this study as I pray you are. Thanks for being here. Let's walk through these remaining directives that we began with from 1 Timothy 3.
7. She should steer clear of alcohol or addictive substances. This could be touchy for some of my ministry wife friends, and I know many who may not agree with my personal conviction on this subject. However, regardless if you are tolerant of alcoholic substances, or prohibitive altogether, I believe we can all agree that Paul was instructing Timothy to not open up his life to something that could take the place of comfort and support through the Holy Spirit and the foundational truths of God’s Word. Anything that takes the place of the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives can become an idol. All substances of any kind—alcohol, drugs, caffeine, food, exercise, sleep, adrenaline rushes—can distract us from total dependence on the Holy Spirit. Therefore, naturally, or supernaturally, this leads others astray.
Anything that takes the place of the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives can become an idol.
8. She must control her temper. Have you noticed that everybody is angry right now? When it comes to expressing and modeling spiritual growth and the love of Christ, we must be patient. “Love is patient.” Patience is the antithesis of anger. Anger is modeled through the way we control our temper. And let’s face it, sometimes even the people of God can test our patience! Just read about Moses’s experience as he attempted to lead a highly stubborn people group through exceedingly challenging circumstances. In Exodus, Moses and God went back and forth, calling the Israelites "your people", "no they’re Your people". At one point or another, both of them wanted to call down fire from heaven and consume those complainers!
Gratefully, neither of them felt that way at the same time. When you feel the urge to blow up on those precious souls on social media, or text all the things you wish they would hear but then have to delete most of it, take a deep breath and remind yourself: spiritual leaders must control their tempers. The seeds sown in peace shall return a harvest of peace.
9. She should be gentle, not prone to arguing. Girls, can I be honest? Among the countless amazing ministry wives I have met through the years, I’ve also met a few cranky ones. Some of them are brash and you can see her church family tense up as she walks through the doors of the church. I’m all about strong women, but Scripture reminds us of the character trait that should not only be embodied by female, but also male, leaders and that is gentleness. “That’s not my personality,” you may be tempted to argue. Perhaps, not in the natural realm. But when your personality is governed by the Holy Spirit, you cannot lead effectively without moving toward gentleness.
This is modeled for us often as we watch parents with their children. Teachers will tell you that if they have a student who is prone to causing dissension in the classroom, oft times the mother or father is a little grouchy or argumentative in nature. So it shall be with those you lead. If you allow yourself to give in to anger, easily roused or offended, your flock will follow suite. Paul wrote in Romans, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”
Do you struggle with gentleness, one of the fruits of the Spirit? Two things: First, spend more time with the Holy Spirit and in memorization of His Word. He is truly gentle and can prompt you when you need to cast off frustration and trade it for peace and gentleness. He will remind you: having the last word doesn’t mean you won. It may mean you lost bigger than that moment. You lost trust, respect, and relationship potential in a matter of a few moments. Second, spend more time with gentle people. My husband and I have helped each other in growth over the many years of doing life together. Where he needed to grow in being more direct, undoubtedly I have been the beneficiary of his naturally gentle spirit. His approach is slow, loaded with mercy, and unmistakably gentle.
10. She should manage her household well. I have often said that few professions require a successful home like politicians and preachers. It seems the glass house is always requiring the lady of the house to pull out that Windex and roll of towels again, polishing away the smudges from the messy menagerie of day-to-day family management. I recall when our first child was born and I was gradually easing my way back into ministry on the road alongside my husband Chresten. It took some time for Chresten to acclimate to the fact that I was not exclusively accessible to every single need he had on the platform, in the altars, or even after the service. What I quickly learned was that, if my littles were cranky, they required my immediate attention. Many times they were cranky because I was expecting too much of them. Perhaps I was expecting them to sit perfectly in the pew when their itchy two-year-old bodies just couldn't handle one more minute of being still. Other times I had them up at all hours of the night so we could "fellowship" with the church people we had just met. And then other times they just wanted their parents' attention.
I know a lot of preachers' kids that get a bad rap--not because they are brats or rebellious at heart, but because they are tired of living at the church. They become the tow-package for the ministry momma and daddy. Little ones have a hard time putting these things into words but older ones learn their words don't mean anything. It's just their lot in life and they must learn to accept it.
I know a lot of preachers' kids that get a bad rap--not because they are brats or rebellious at heart, but because they are tired of living at the church.
Raising children to love the Lord and respect the God-ordained guardians over their lives, their parents, should be a given. But let me encourage you to manage your household well from a different vantage point and that is this: Momma, you can provide support to the ministry but your first ministry is in discipleship of your children. Keep them involved in the work of the Lord, bring them in on the thrill that is doing the will of God and pleasing Him, but safeguard your time together as a family, as well. Find ways to pare down the amount of time your kids spend in doing ministry versus receiving ministry.
I'm going to merge these final two because, in so many ways, they should function en tandem.
11. + 12. She needs to have spiritual maturity, and the community should speak well of her. Why are these partnered together? Because spiritual maturity will always stand out in a culture of vultures. All that we have discussed throughout this series leads to these two results: spiritual maturity and a well-respected name among those she is endeavoring to reach and lead. As I shared early on, in an effort to become more relatable to those we are leading we've become far too complacent and lowered standards that Scripture simply does not support. Why? Because growth does not happen without a standard toward which we strive.
Perhaps you recall being a child, hearing your parent or teacher barking about expectations of you, and all the while you thought to yourself, "You don't even do that. Why should I?" Discipleship requires modeled behavior. And as spiritual leaders, my dear preacher's wife, you and I must continually endeavor to grow spiritually, one pace ahead of those we are leading. "Imitate me as I imitate Christ", Paul said often in his letters to the believers. No, you and I won't be perfect. But those we lead should be able to say of us, "She owns when she makes mistakes and gives us grace when we do. But we know she truly desires to do the right thing."
So, my preacher's wife friend--there is a lot to this lane of life, right? A lot of expectations, a lot of high's and low's, and a lot of commentary from the cheap seats. But I'm looking for the atta-girl from the Heavens. I am hungry for that "good job, well-done, My faithful servant" from the Grandest of them all, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And like Paul, I'm looking at you, love, and reminding you with a grin on my face, "Imitate me, as I imitate Christ".
Bridgette Tomlin, founder of Sanctuary, and her husband, Chresten, have been married and in full-time ministry for 25 years. 24 of the 25 years have been spent in evangelistic work, both stateside and overseas. The couple has two beautiful blonde babies--ages 18 and 13--and base out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Like many ministry wives Bridgette often feels like a red flag on the tug-of-war rope with the children on one end and her husband and the ministry on the other end! When she finds time for personal hobbies, Bridgette enjoys entertaining, blogging, singing, browsing the local antique shops, and sipping on a cup of hot tea for a few precious quiet moments. Her heart is to lead others to the authentic presence of God--through worship, through Word, and through one-on-one connection.