Dear Young Pastor’s Wife,
I started out young, too. Twenty-three.
I remember the cold winter day when our brand new congregation helped my husband unload our U-Haul and move all of our worldly possessions (we didn’t even own a couch) into the parsonage of our first church.
I guess I was too silly to feel scared, but I did feel a little lonely when my in-laws drove away that weekend and left our tiny family standing on the steps of our new home.
The only thing I remember from our first Sunday service was the ugly little flower “arrangement” on the communion table in front of the pulpit. I mentioned to my husband that maybe I should replace it with something more attractive for the holidays (I was the pastor’s wife now, after all).
My husband suggested that I leave it alone, and that was the beginning of our first decade in ministry.
I’m thirty-three now, and I still notice ugly little flower arrangements on communion tables.
Thankfully, I’ve learned a few things in ten years of ministry with my husband, and the main thing is that I still have a lot to learn!
I have a huge heart for pastor’s wives, particularly young ones. Why?
Well, because there aren’t a whole lot of willing mentors out there for you to learn from. (Sad, but true.)
Another reason: because I know you might be feeling unprepared, maybe a tiny bit scared, and certainly a little lonely out there by yourself.
Let me pour a cup of tea for you and let’s just sit and chat about it for a few minutes. I have a few things to tell you:
1. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you’re young.
You’re a willing vessel and that’s all God is asking, so don’t feel intimidated or ill-equipped.
Yes, you lack experience right now, but every day of your life is ripe with purpose. You’re not too young to reach out, to be somebody’s mentor, to be somebody’s friend.
2. Remember: respect is earned.
It’s true: the older women in your church might think of you as “a kid”, and the younger women will very likely see you as “just a peer”.
That’s okay. You’re going to earn their respect and appreciation over time.
Don’t take offense if people feel free to call you by your first name instead of “Mrs.” or “Sister”, or if they offer lots of unsolicited advice. Take it in stride and just learn all you can about understanding and loving people.
Maybe it sounds a little unfair, but you’re going to have to prove yourself. One of the ways to do that is to…
3. Invest deeply in building relationships with people.
Your biggest “job” as a young pastor’s wife, besides supporting your husband in his role, is to learn how to love people. I mean, really love people.
This doesn’t come naturally or easily for any of us, so just plan right now to make it a life-long project.
Some of the best advice an older pastor’s wife gave me years ago was, “Learn the love language of each of the women in your church.” I’m still working on that project, but it’s made a huge difference in my relationships with the women in our congregation.
4. Be sure you stay in love with Him.
Sometimes, you’re going to show up at church tired, discouraged, or just plain overwhelmed. You’re not always going to feel like a saint on Sunday, my dear!
In those moments when you just have to keep giving when you feel like there’s nothing left to give, you’re going to need a source deeper than humanity from which to draw your strength.
I’m trying to tell you that you need a prayer life.
You need time in God’s Word. You need time in God’s presence.
I’m not talking about the hour you sit in Sunday School every week, or the prayers you whisper in church.
You must cultivate a close and vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. Personally. At home.
The foundation of who you are as a woman — apart from your identity as a wife, a mother, a partner in ministry –– is your relationship with Jesus Christ.
That is going to sustain you when everything else fails, including your strength, determination, and human love.
So here you are: you’re a young pastor’s wife.
Welcome to the sisterhood. You have an exciting and rewarding adventure in front of you!
Embrace it. Learn all you can. Grow all you can.
And, when you just kind of need someone who ”gets it”… I’m here.
I’d love to connect with you, so don’t be afraid to drop by my place and stay for a while.
There’s always plenty of hot tea (or coffee, if you prefer), and a whole lot of grace, understanding, and friendship.
We’re in this together! I hope I’ll see you around…
Yours very truly,
Photography: JenniMarie Photography