you ain’t just the wife.
(Article by “got worship?” contributor M.A. Dalton)
Back in the day (or whenever people didn’t have cell phones and our grandma’s made bread from scratch), pastor’s wives were nothing more than an accessory. Every respectable man married a respectable women. She had babies and made bread (from scratch).
This I say in theory. As one myself, there is no possibility of pastor’s wives being a mere accessory because everyone knows that behind a great man is an even greater woman (and though paradoxical, vice-versa too!).
The dearth of respect given to minister’s wives is that in itself, the damage is done by simply calling it “being a minister’s wife.” Being married to a minister isn’t just that, it is, however, being a wife in ministry.
There is a widely acknowledged story that John Steinbeck was once told by a professor of his that he would be successful as a writer when “pigs could fly.” As laughable as that may seem today, Steinbeck actually left it at that. His only reference to the matter is the “Ad astra per alia porci!” (Latin for “to the stars on the wings of a pig”) insignia printed in every book that bears, or has bore, his name. The man who would become legend looked past whatever he was being told and believed in the worth of his work, knowing that if his recognition and success would only materialize when pigs could fly, well then one day soon pigs would.
Being married is the greatest blessing in the world; nevertheless, it’s HARD. Marrying a minister is a challenge in its own due to one unfair advantage, God is the boss. As wives of doctors and lawyers face their own unique set of challenges, so do we. Oftentimes a mix of a busy life and a husband that is always at church results in the “you’re so and so’s wife” dilemma. Without addressing the crudeness of this comment, I will say that the perfect antidote to such a remark is to coyly smile and say, “ah, and you’re so and so’s wife/husband” back. Childish? Not a chance.
My mom is the most independent woman I know. She not only plays pillar to my dad’s ministry, she has her own. (To those archaic enough to believe women belong in a pew, surprise it’s the 21st c.!) My mom has suffered and still suffers from the “so and so’s wife” syndrome. She answers just as I described above. It’s a common courtesy extended to minister’s wives’ across America and she simply extends it back; that’s all it is to her. She never lets it be more than it should because she knows she isn’t “just the minister’s wife.”
There will always be those ignorant and close-eyed; what should matter is the realization that we are wives in ministry. We’re the helping hands to our husbands and pillars to their ministries. Our ministry is to help fuel their ministries so that they can be the best men in God they can be. This doesn’t, nor should it, limit our ambitions or capabilities. On that note, if you can be a great wife AND make bread from scratch, power to you. If you have your own business and still make time to attend your hubby’s worship rehearsal, go you.
Maybe we won’t get ordained just yet for our service to the Kingdom by nurturing our husbands, but just as Steinbeck knew better, and knew he was greater than what he was being classified by an ignorant professor as, so too, as wives we should see our worth beyond some barely descriptive words. We aren’t just “the Mrs.”, we are all different–with careers, families, business, whatever. Our ministry may not be behind a pulpit or baptizing crowds, but we’re 21st century girls with our own ministries as wives, and people need to learn that being a wife, ain’t “just that.” ‘Cause as Steinbeck proved, pigs can too fly.