What Will They Think?
If you’re caught up with this series, you may be thinking, “Bridgette, I thought this was going to be more therapeutic in nature. I thought you were going to sympathize with the frustrating lane of life that comes with being the preacher’s wife”. Believe me, friend, no one sympathizes or empathizes with you more than I do. You may know that I was raised in a preacher’s home. In my youngest years, my parents served as full-time youth pastors in smaller communities, which meant they did a little bit of everything. When I started school, our family moved to a tiny town in Oklahoma and they served as lead pastors there for a few years. But the greater part of my experience in the preacher’s home was from the vantage point of the district office where my dad served as the District Youth Director for the Assemblies of God in Oklahoma. We met many pastors and their families in our travels across the state, and then I sat in small groups with many of those preachers' kids at the district’s annual PK Retreat. I admit, my brother Andy and I had our own share of glass-house experiences with the onlooking eyes of thousands across the district. No doubt, many expected the District Youth Director’s kids to be model children. But so many of the pastors' kids I met had a much tougher road than I had encountered, to be honest.
And now, with more than two decades in the ministry as an adult, I know the load you bear, dear friend. I have sat at countless lunch tables, looking into the eyes of the pastor’s wife: eyes that were often void of any hope that life was going to get better or that anyone truly cared about where she was at. Her pastor-husband would share of the turmoil they had been undergoing at the merciless hands of supposedly God-loving people. Thoughts were exchanged without words, the question lingering, “How can we keep doing this?”
Wherever you’re at today, thriving or surviving, you are seen. We get it. And the bonus of a community like Sanctuary is that among us is someone who sits where you’re at today, or once sat there and has found a more contented season on the other side of the valley. It won’t always feel this way. And at the core of this series is a knowing: when you’re called of God, you have His grace to see you through. And His Word to guide in the meantime.
...these directives are valuable in the mountaintops of peace, but they are crucial when you’re trudging through the muck and mire of the valley.
You recall that last week we began the journey through Paul’s directives for spiritual leadership as he championed his protégé Timothy. It’s important to recognize that these directives are valuable in the mountaintops of peace, but they are crucial when you’re trudging through the muck and mire of the valley.
So, heads up, friend. Let’s talk about a few more of these foundational requirements for spiritual leadership.
3. She must exercise self-control (with her money, her food, her words, her lifestyle). Ewww. SELF-control. Just talking about managing my own diet makes me cranky! But remember that punch-in-the-gut statement we’ve encountered repeatedly these past few weeks? What a leader does in moderation, her followers do in excess.
So, what does that look like when it comes to self-control? We live in a culture that spits in the face of this idea. With a do-what-you-want chant reverberating throughout social media, reality TV, and in our day-to-day, it can be easy to join the masses. Which is why we tend to do it. It’s easy. It’s easier than discipline. But couldn’t it be said that the leader who chooses to exercise discipline in her spending, her food choices, the words she says (or chooses to keep to herself), and the way she lives would stand out among the masses?
If you struggle with discipline in more than one of these areas, don’t dive in with ambitions to tie up all the loose ends all at once.
How do we do that? We make small, daily decisions, tackling one area at a time. Ask the Holy Spirit where you need a tune-up of discipline. If you struggle with discipline in more than one of these areas, don’t dive in with ambitions to tie up all the loose ends all at once. That’s a guarantee for disaster. You won’t be able to tame all those lanes, even with the best of intentions and the full backing of the Holy Spirit! But if you give all of them to Him in surrendered prayer, and ask for His guidance, with Spirit-empowered courage you and He can partner to conquer, He will be pleased, you will be blessed, and you will see exponential growth in your personal lift and your ability to lead.
4. She must live wisely and have a good reputation. In short, it does actually matter what others think. Why? Because their assessment of who you are and what you believe determines whether or not they will follow you. Why did Jesus have success in leading some while alienating, and even infuriating, others? His reputation preceded Him. Word got out that He had a standard of living. He chose wisdom over popularity. Our Savior managed His daily schedule and taught those close by Him how to live better. You and I, as leaders, don’t get the same privileges as those who don’t lead spiritually because we are called by God to raise the standard of daily living. This means you do have to consider how your daily routine, schedule, and lifestyle appear to others. You may have heard it said, “You don’t have to be wrong; you just have to be accused.” Avoiding the very appearance of evil has become a lost art as many ministers have lowered their standards to “be real” or “be approachable”. Being real should mean, “Follow me as I follow Christ”. It should mean that our choices, while not always perfect, give off the vibe that we are pressing forward, attempting to do the right thing.
5. She must enjoy having guests in her home. Some of you girls are doing far more than our friend June Cleaver did back in the day, especially outside of the home. Many of you are working 40+ hours each week at a secular job, managing the kids, filling in the gaps at the church, and trying to keep your marriage alive and kickin’.
So how does a spiritual leader in the 21st century enjoy having guests in her home? And why is that so important? Having guests into your home is giving them access to your safest space, your haven. Whether you love to entertain or not, enjoying having guests may require being a little creative. And it may mean you have to let go of the desire for the house to be Pinterest-perfect before you issue the invite. If you’re anything like me, the scheduling is the greatest challenge. With a husband who is continually on the road, carving out space to entertain can be complicated, to say the least. But it’s so worth it, if nothing else for other families to see the dynamic between you, your spouse, and your children, and for others to see that it’s possible for a family home to have the peace of God dwelling in it. Looking for a few tips on hosting in your home? Click here.
6. She must be able to teach (whether that is formally or in her day-to-day). This doesn’t mean you have to be a pulpiteer or be crafting your own version of Priscilla Shirer Bible studies. Titus talks about this teaching dynamic from a more organic perspective in chapter two of his letter. “Older women similarly are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor addicted to much wine, teaching what is right and good, so that they may encourage the young women to tenderly love their husbands and their children, to be sensible, pure, makers of a home [where God is honored], good-natured, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” (Titus 2:3-5 AMP)
What is he saying? He’s reminding each of us that we are responsible for intentionally connecting to a generation (or two, or three) behind us. What does this look like for you? Are you reaching out to meet up with the young woman who recently acknowledged a call to the ministry? How about your church staff’s wives? If you’re waiting for the schedule to magically open up for these encounters to happen, you’ll miss your opportunity. And you’ll lose the window you had to gently, but intentionally, impact a generation that needs your investment. Maybe it’s time to put a monthly date on your schedule to fill with young women who need your lessons learned and gems of wisdom.
Girls, I'm beyond honored you are taking time to walk through this Preacher's Wife Manual, of sorts, with me this month. Will you come back for just a bit more next week? We've got some tricky, sticky topics just ahead. But I believe we will all be better for it. You're the best, did you know that? ❤
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.