A week ago my husband attended a conference where a pastor and his wife spoke about life after being asked/forced to step away from their church. The wife had been very active in several areas of ministry and was quite passionate about her calling. Yet, when her husband was asked to resign from the pulpit, her ministry in that church was instantly over as well.
I’ve been thinking about that. How many women with a passion to serve the Body of Christ have their platform taken away because their husbands have chosen to resign their church positions due to retirement, burnout, moral failure, or some other reason?
If a pastor retires, is his wife also expected to retire from her area of ministry? Probably. In most cases, the retired pastor and his wife stop attending their former church in order to make way for the new pastor and his wife to establish themselves. It makes sense. But what if the former pastor’s wife still has a passion to serve? Some may happily turn their attention to nurturing gardens and grandkids. But what if that isn’t enough? Is there a place for her in the church? Is there an organization that will welcome her and help connect her with younger women who would benefit from her vast knowledge and experience in a Titus 2* kind of way?
What about the pastor that leaves the church due to burnout? We can’t assume that his wife is equally as burned out and no longer has a desire to serve God’s people. Is she expected to find a new church, perhaps in a new city, and start all over again? Is it possible for her to take what she has learned from her life experiences and encourage and support another wife that finds herself in the same position? Is there a platform out there for her that will help her accomplish that?
One of the hardest of all is the wife whose husband was forced to resign due to a moral failure (usually read in non-PC terms: adulterous affair). The husband is now in disgrace. His wife, though innocent of the sinful act in question, is oftentimes tarred by the same brush. While the congregation feels sorry for her, she is no longer welcome among their community because her mere presence is a reminder to one and all of her husband’s actions. The church wants to move forward and hurry past the painful episode. Is her life/ministry no longer of use to the Kingdom of God? Have her husband’s actions disqualified her somehow? Absolutely not!! Not only is this woman qualified to speak into the lives of other women whose husbands have betrayed their marriage vows, but she is also qualified to speak on any other subject of gifting and passion. Her husband’s past actions do not and should not define her future ministry! Where does she turn? What ministry wants to use her gifts and talents?
Tough questions, huh? Sadly, I don’t have a lot of answers. But I do have a desire to help facilitate the discussion. I would love to see city or regional meetings where former, present, and future pastor’s wives get together to talk, laugh, and cry, if necessary, but mostly love and encourage one another. I would love to see these events promote mentoring relationships. I would love for a woman who is feeling lonely and isolated in her church due to her position as the pastor’s wife find friendship and a healthy place to express herself in a safe environment. That’s not asking too much, is it?
At Standing Stone Ministry we’ve been having some of these discussions. We understand the need for healthy mentoring relationships. We’re working on a plan for the retired, semi-retired, and bi-vocational pastors to jump back into the fray and make a significant difference for the Kingdom. Yet, I can’t help but ask the question, “What about their wives?” And so, as usually is the case when one is asking the questions, God is usually directing that individual to work on the answers. Oy vey! I think I’ve got my work cut out for me!
I would love to hear from former, present, and future pastor’s wives. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the type of gathering you would attend; mini-conference, luncheon, dessert, tea or some other format. What topics would you like discussed? If given the opportunity, would you take advantage of the chance to connect with another woman in a mentoring type of way?
I’d also love to hear from some women that currently find themselves in one of the three scenarios above. If you still have a desire to serve, how would you like to accomplish that? Could you see yourselves attending a meeting with the expectation of reaching out to others in order to offer love, encouragement, and support?
Yes, lots of questions. I’m looking forward to exploring the answers. After that, I’m looking forward to putting those answers to good use in real time get-togethers with like-minded women. We can make a difference in the lives of the women in our community. We can be used by God to bring Him glory and to encourage and equip others. Until then……
Soli Deo Gloria!
*Titus 2:3-5, 7-8 – Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. (7-8) In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.