The Preacher’s Wife
25 years ago, on the first weekend of 1998, I officially became “the preacher’s wife”. I may have married a 21-year-old young man who had one semester left of college,...but I became the preacher’s wife. In fact, the second weekend of 1998, after a four-day honeymoon and the first two days of our final spring semester, we left town again and headed out on our very first weekend as full-time evangelists. I went from being Bridgette Greene to, nine days later, being called “Sister Tomlin” for the first time. Now, no offense to those who still use the timeless terms of endearment to express honor and respect to the men and women of God, but I never have gotten used to being called Sister Tomlin. That is how we often referred to the elder saints of the church I grew up in; not the barely adult, barely married ministry couple we had just now become.
Do you catch yourself wondering when you’ll grow accustomed to being “the preacher’s wife”? If you grew up in church like I did, these were the incredibly Godly, multi-talented, selfless women who stood beautifully dressed, hair always done, makeup perfected, and high heels. Always high heels and pantyhose. Just the other day I stood in line to buy some NyQuil and the cashier didn’t even bother to check my ID, just assuming I was over 21, and it hit me wrong. Girls, I’m approaching my 47th birthday! And I’m still a little miffed when I get a “ma’am“ over a “miss”.
My point? You may never feel like you’ve come of age. You may never come to terms with the fact that you’re the elder saint in the room. You may never feel like you’ve got it all together, as though you’re the Sister So-and-So that another starry-eyed newbie would or should admire.
Whether you’re 21 and blissfully waving the freshly painted banner of Rev. and Mrs., or you’re feeling a little more battle-worn, trying to remember how you got into this gig, ground yourself in this truth: you can do this. You can still do this. And you don’t have to perfect at it to be perfect for it.
You can still do this. And you don’t have to perfect at it to be perfect for it.
This? This ministry life. It’s a doozy of a journey, but I wouldn’t trade anything for it. Ministry life has been brutally hard, beautifully healing, and blissfully fulfilling. It has required me to deny my own preferences more times than I can count. There have been services I had to attend, church events I had to decorate for, serve at, sing for, and speak at…and smile through the clinched jaws; there were people I have had to love that I didn’t like; and there were even songs I had to lead that embodied a true sacrifice of praise.
But wait. There were, and are, some incredible dividends, as well. One of the greatest blessings has been the front row seat, literally and figuratively, to watch my husband thrive in the calling God has placed on his life. I can see in my mind’s eye the tear-stained faces of men and women who leaned in for prayer, trembling under the stronghold of addiction, who gave it all up and let Jesus deliver them completely, all within a moment’s time. I have been the beneficiary of forging relationships with some of God’s finest, many of them across the table with a pizza between us after an exhilarating evening service.
Time and space will not afford the privilege of recounting all of the off-the-charts experiences that we’ve shared in vocational ministry, and we’re still so young, right?! But my point in sharing this with you in this opening entry of this series is perhaps to encourage you to take a moment to reflect on what God has done, what He is currently doing, and what He has yet in store for your life of service in His Kingdom. Being the preacher’s wife has its more challenging moments, and we will journey through some of those and the lessons I’ve learned over the next few weeks. But for now, stop and ask the Holy Spirit to jog your memory, asking, “Remind me of why I said yes in the first place”. Maybe you’re flying high. Maybe you’re struggling. But your yes can always use a refresher course.
So, Sister _____________, let’s talk about how to carry on as The Preacher’s Wife.
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.