10 Choices You Will Never Regret Making as a Pastor’s Wife

ChoicesYouWillNeverRegretPastorsWife

1.You will never regret choosing to give grace.

The very essence of the wonder of grace is that it is bestowed on undeserving recipients! God gave us abundant grace while we were yet sinners, and He still does lavish us with undeserved, daily grace. In order to give grace, we must first know how to receive it. It is possible to be a believer and not know how to utilize daily grace from God and others. We have to humble ourselves, admit our need and dependence on God, and then that grace springs into action in our lives! It is only as we receive grace that we can in turn give grace to those in our lives and ministries. For many of us, a big part of ministry is extending grace to those who have hurt and betrayed, accused and attacked us. Underneath the exterior of terror that a person may try to impose, there is a fearful and hurting heart in desperate need of grace. If you have received grace from God, then you can give it to them. The enemy wants you to think it’s impossible and that you will regret it. But, oh, there are rich blessings on the other side of grace-giving. Not ever regretting it is just one of them.

2.You will never regret choosing to forgive.

Choosing to forgive is, in a way, recognizing that you hold the key to your own freedom. Forgiveness itself is a work of God; yet we must submit the Holy Spirit to do that work of grace in us. When we refuse to make that choice, we lock ourselves up and become tangled in the same bitterness and anger of the people who hurt us. Getting a glimpse of God’s immense forgiveness to us makes the choice rather easy. “God, through Your grace I will forgive this person.” And He begins His amazing work! He enables us to repeatedly reach out and love the very person who caused us pain. Often, relationships are not necessarily healed just because we choose to forgive and love. Painful words still linger and hurtful actions still cause damage. But our relationship with God is continually made deeper and stronger. That’s the most important one, anyway. You say you’ve been terribly hurt, but you also want to live free and peaceful? Then you must choose to forgive. You will never regret it. God will make sure of it.

3.You will never regret choosing to be transparent.

Transparency and vulnerability are two different things. When you are transparent, you’re open and real with everyone you meet. When you’re vulnerable, you are sharing the deepest, most personal parts of your heart. I have to say, from experience as a pastor’s wife- I do regret some of the people with whom I was vulnerable. Some churches provide a safe atmosphere for that, and some don’t. In learning this the hard way, I found grace to be transparent {my real, open self just the way God made me} with each person I came in contact with. But God gave me the wisdom to be vulnerable with only a few, trusted friends. Two women in particular became a safe place for me to bare my soul to, and they continue to hold my heart in safety and genuine love. For we pastors’ wives, it is not uncommon to have no one within the church with whom you can be vulnerable. But you can be transparent with everyone. Many people live with a facade; you can be a breath of fresh air to hearts who are thirsty for a real, authentic relationship. You may still get hurt, but you won’t ever regret being transparent. The only other option is to be fake and live with walls up.

4.You will never regret choosing to support your husband.

I have stood with my husband through some very difficult times- times that put our whole life and ministry on the line and out of our control- all for the sake of defending what was right. The fall out from those times was painfully ugly and long lasting for both of us. Yet I have not once regretted supporting my husband through that. We know that we did what God was leading us to do! There is something about following God’s orders to do hard things that strengthens marriage relationships. Is your husband walking a difficult road right now- one that is practically dragging you along for the ride emotionally? If he’s seeking the Lord and living in obedience to Him, you may well face some devastating fall out. But you will never regret standing by your husband through those times because God is faithful to His Word and will uphold, defend, comfort, heal, keep, and provide for you.

5.You will never regret choosing to take risks.

Ministry for us has never been “safe.” But I remember well when God began impressing on my heart that I needed to go deeper with people and take even more risks. I had found myself in a rather “stuck” place and had begun asking God “What can I do to reach further, to touch hearts? What can I do beyond running the nursery and playing the piano every week?” He clearly showed me some ways to do this. I started approaching women and asking if I could pray with them. Was it awkward? Sometimes very much so! It was risky, especially in our Canadian culture of spiritual privacy. But no one ever said ‘no.’ It was worth the risk in so many ways. The joy in my own heart told me it was worth it! Other areas of risk include hospitality to strangers, introducing people to each other within the church, intentional mentoring, and delegating responsibilities. There are many ways to take risks in ministry. Ask God to show you a risk you can take for Him, and then watch Him give you grace to follow through. You won’t regret it.

6. You will never regret choosing to hold your tongue.

The discipline of holding our tongues is perhaps more difficult for some than others. I’m one of those who goes blank in impromptu conversation, and can rarely form words to make sense if I don’t plan them out ahead of time. Interestingly, this facet of my personality began to irritate me when we got into ministry. I frequently found myself in unpleasant situations where my husband and I were on the other side of a firing squad, with no words to offer. Often I felt frustrated that AFTER the fact, I could think of the perfect response; but words seemed to elude me in the moment when I thought needed them most. Yet, the longer I’ve been a pastor’s wife, the more I see this as a blessing. Not being able to come up with a wordful response to someone means I have little or nothing to regret saying afterwards. It is far better to say nothing at all than to bear the weight of regret from a torrent of words that can’t ever be taken back.

7. You will never regret choosing to let God define your role.

I once had a very agitated woman say to me “Just because you’re the pastor’s wife doesn’t make you different than any of us.” I replied “I couldn’t agree more!” Then, not five minutes later, she burst out with “But you’re the pastor’s wife! You should be doing this, this and this.” I remember chuckling inside at the contradiction she had just uttered. I certainly could not fulfill her expectations, nor was I even trying to. The fact is this: every person in the pews has a different idea of what the pastor’s wife should do, say, and be. They have an opinion on what she should wear, how her kids behave, and who makes the chili for the next event. They have opinions on everything about us. And we will drive ourselves to pure insanity if we listen to all of those voices of expectation and try to measure up to them. Only one person defines our role- God Himself. If you truly live that way- listening to His voice only- you will never regret what He asks you to do. And you’ll only have one plate to spin!

8. You will never regret choosing to be hospitable.

Hospitality, by very definition, is opening up our hearts and homes to strangers. Christ Himself was the perfect example of this in the Gospel accounts in Scripture. He was always reaching out to and eating with the unlikely, the unsaved, the unknown, the unkind. This type of hospitality comes with risk and even fear, but it is always worth it! Some of the most special times in our ministry years were the instances when we made last minute decisions to host strangers in our home or reach out to them. God has blessed us in those times and some really neat connections have been born as a result. It’s scary when the refrigerator is empty and the house is a mess and our hearts are unsettled. But God just wants our “yes” when He prompts us, and then He steps in and provides the food, the grace, the time, the relationship. It’s something you never regret doing; and strangely, you might even start to look forward to it!

9. You will never regret choosing to put your family’s needs first.

I don’t really like the term “balance” when it comes to the issue of priorities. If we balance something, it means that everything is spread around to equal weight or value. If we do this in life, we end up dabbling in a lot of areas, but not really doing anything well. We end up juggling a lot of plates. Do some areas deserve more weight of time and value of relationship than others? Absolutely. Ministry opportunities are everywhere and churches who need pastors are plentiful {and becoming more so all the time}. But for me, only one husband, one son, and one daughter have been gifted to me for this time of my life. For that reason I will say ‘no’ to the church more often than I say ‘yes’; and I will say ‘yes’ to my family more often than I say ‘no.’  You, too, will never regret adding more weight and value to your family than you do to your church. Yes, it’s your husband’s livelihood. I get that, believe me. I know what it’s like to feel stuck. But no church on the planet is worth the weight and value that belongs to your family.

10. You will never regret choosing to let God defend you.

This is one of those things that has to be learned by each one of us. We are human, and we face temptations to retaliate, to set things right. Some of us have a heightened sense of justice {ahem} and we like to see things absolved quickly.  But one of the most valuable gifts in ministry is when God enables us to wait on Him for our defense. My husband and I have seen God defend us time and time again- sometimes it was in a matter of hours, sometimes days or weeks, sometimes months or years. Many times, God “comes back around” and confirms and affirms us in the most precious and God-ordained ways. These times leave us in awe as we look at each other and say “He saw. He knew. He made it right.” Some things won’t be set right until eternity. But if we trust our good and sovereign God, we can rest all of the un-righted wrongs in His hands. You may well regret trying to defend yourself in the midst of accusation or attack, but you will never regret letting God defend you. Whether in this life or in eternity, He does it so much better than you or I ever could!

***

Did you notice? Each one of those choices carry a measure of difficulty, thanks to our sin nature. Dear pastor’s wife, take heart! We’re in this together. We know we’ll never get it right 100% of the time. But God has abundant grace waiting for us! And we can take steps to live in a regret free ministry zone by living in submission to the prompting and leading of the Holy Spirit. And, when we do have regrets? There’s forgiveness for that. And  more grace.

XOXO,

A Kindred Spirit

Let’s Chat: What are your thoughts on the topic of regrets in ministry? What would you add to my list? Do you have a story of regret- something you learned the hard way, but you are now better for it? Do you have a story of when you made a {difficult} choice, but you know you did the right thing, and God blessed you for it? Feel free to share!

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About Leah {Embracing Grace}

Leah Highfill accepted Christ as her Saviour and became a child of God at the age of 18. Originally from the USA, she and her husband moved to the mission field of Canada in 2005, where she served in full time ministry as a pastor's wife for 10 years. During their tenure there, they became dual citizens. Leah and her family recently returned to NC and are currently enjoying a much needed sabbatical for the year of 2015. She homeschools her children {Small Son is 9 and Tiny Daughter is 7} and teaches private piano lessons on the side. She can be found reading, writing/blogging, playing the piano and violin, or ice skating. A friend to ministry wives everywhere, Leah has a passion to inspire hope and to encourage women in their walk with God. Her first book, Expecting Grace, was published in 2013. Expecting Grace is the story of Leah's experience and survival of a life threatening pregnancy, and of many medical and financial miracles along the way. Her second book is currently in process. Join her grace-filled journey right here at Embracing Grace!

24 thoughts on “10 Choices You Will Never Regret Making as a Pastor’s Wife

  1. I’ve been a pastors wife for 29 years, and I can relate to all these points. The choice that took the longest for me to ever make was letting God (with my husband’s help) define my role (which evoles and changes in different seasons). I actually have a folder of my writings called “making peace with the pastor’s wife” where I just really gave myself permission to not be able to be everything to everyone. Also – I believed I was the only one struggling with this and therefore, felt lonely and guilty. Thanks for your transparency and wisdom.

    1. Yes, I agree that letting God define our role is one of the hardest! This is likely because our role is always changing and may look different in different seasons of life and/or different ministries and locations. Lots of factors there. I’m glad you now know that you aren’t alone! It is so important to have community! Thank you for your kind and insightful words, Lois!
      Leah {Embracing Grace} recently posted..Sabbatical Stirrings {10 Month Report}My Profile

  2. This was so encouraging to me! I love your thoughts on balance. You’re so right, it’s not all going to be evenly spread out. 🙂 I have 3 kids and teach piano as well.
    Thank you for this article.

    1. Nice to meet another fellow piano teacher! 🙂 Balance….yes, it took me awhile to get off of that roller coaster…to figure out that balance was impossible and not really what God wanted in the area of priorities. Stepping away from the pressures during our sabbatical has also been valuable in helping me learn from the past. Blessings to you today!
      Leah {Embracing Grace} recently posted..Sabbatical Stirrings {10 Month Report}My Profile

  3. All the points you listed are great ones! I can really identify with so many of them, and they also serve as a great reminder of how loving, faithful, good, and wonderful our God is. Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. Oh my goodness Leah, I so needed this! I respond in tears because we are in our 11th year of ministry and we have some difficult moments. This post is just what I needed today as pray to show grace and forgiveness to those who have wronged my husband recently. I am so humbled by God’s ggrace for me and I must extend it to others

  5. I’m sooooo happy I found your site. There are not a lot of resources out there for us. Thank you. I really like the one about “allowing God to define our role”. That’s so important. I belong to a church that had very pre-conceived notions about how I should dress, act and behave. I found such liberty in casting all that aside and just being me. Besides, I’m in a African-American Baptist church and I’m not a hat person. 🙂 I’m so glad I can just be myself and walk in the liberty Christ has given me.

    Great blog, Leah! I’m so glad I found you. I’m going to add a link from my personal blog (Married to a pastor. com).

  6. Hi Leah

    My name is Lynne and I reside in Cape Town, SA. We are pastoring a church as well.
    I love your writings and the fun style of your website. Just to say that I share your sentiments. I had a senior intercessor lady congratulate me on the day of my husband’s ordination, and I politely said thankyou to her. She looked me up and down and pointed at me with her fingers and said: AND YOU, OH YOU ARE JUST HERE! My goodness was I offended and slightly knocked off my feet. She actually asked me if she could pray for me, afterwards, it hurt me so much to have said no thankyou. But what I have learnt from that was, what is wrong with what she said? If God sent me and my husband to be
    JUST HERE!, so what? I WILL BE THE BEST JUST HERE FOR GOD!

    BE BLESSED AND CONTINUE TO DO WHAT GOD HAS CALLED YOU TO DO JUST HERE!

    1. Hi Lynne. We were just in Cape Town, SA in May and absolutely loved your city!! It quickly rose to the top of our list of favorite cities. 🙂
      You are so right about being “just here.” Simple faithfulness is all God asks of us. I remember in our first ministry, one lady told me “I don’t need you for anything. I just like knowing you’re up on that hill!” At first I felt insulted. But really, all I was called to do was be faithful “up on that hill.” We do tend to make it harder than it is at times. 🙂

  7. Leah, I was totally agreeing with you until I read number 10. It’s not that I don’t agree, but I just started crying! I forgot that God will defend me. God will define my honor. God knows the truth even when those around me are critical and unkind. Thank you for the reminder to sit at Jesus feet and allow Him to be my defender and strong tower!

  8. This is spot on! Thanks for imparting your wisdom and lessons learned to others! Can’t wait to meet you at the next pastor’s wives retreat.

  9. Thank you so much for this post- and for your blog as a whole! I will become a pastor’s wife when my fiancé and I marry in May, and I want to be the best helpmate to him and our church as God needs me to be… but it can be overwhelming at times! Such a blessing to know that we are not alone and to have these reminders to rely on God’s timing and purposes, not our own– have a blessed day, Leah! 🙂

  10. Wonderful article Leah. I was a pastor’s wife for 36 wonderful years. We had our first church at 19. I knew when I was 10 years old God was calling me into missionary service or pastor’s wife. Sure enough, every boy I dated either was in ministry or ended up in ministry. I used to tell my husband I was destined or doomed .😊 The Lord called him home several years ago and I am trusting He has a plan for me as I continue to serve as pianist and minister in the school system. The ministry is a special calling and God always give grace in times of need. God bless as you pray and encourage other ministers wives. It is a wonderful life to be helpmate and encourage one who brings God’s message.

    1. Destined or doomed….that made me smile. I’m sorry you’ve lost your husband, but glad to hear that your ministry continues. And yes, God does give SO much grace, doesn’t He?! Ministry would be impossible without it.

  11. This was an excellent and very encouraging read! I especially loved your take and perception on “balance”.

    I thought of something…we have been church planting missionaries inthe DR for the last 16 years,- and therefore my role has also been “pastor’s wife”. If I were to title another to add to ur list it might read “You will nevwr regret chosing NOT to make a desicion when you are desperate” – or, dont ever regret thwarting the thought that “if I make this decision, everything will crumble, or, it will be disastrous”. Let me explain, It was about 5 minutes before childrens church was about to begin, and it was packed out with tons of energetic kids. A fellow teacher showed me a pic that had been posted the night before of the teacher who was about to teach all these kids…..in 4 minutes time! The picture was very disappointing. I asked to speak with the teacher. Long story short: i was up against desperation…..”just this one class- what would we do without him??? We dont have time to make changes now!!!”, but I could NOT. I could not give in to desperation and have that lead me. I had to have that teacher sit out, and unfortunately he was asked to leave the teaching team, and you know what…..we all survived. It was not easy for me – the temptation of such desperation, but I will never forget what my Faithful God taught me thru all that.

  12. I’ve been doing this since 1976 & you pretty much nailed each part! Loneliness at times overwhelmed me, learning that God called both of us not just him, not being able to spend time with each of our families when they expected us just to drop our duties n cancel activities we had planned etc, learning that no one’s perfect, having to watch as dear people we learned to love as family pass away so many other things but in the end it will be worth it all! God Bless you!

    1. Yes, there are many sacrifices! I’m grateful for God’s grace. Without it, most if not all of us would probably quit at times! But we are laboring for eternity, and you are so right that it will be worth it! God bless you, too!

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