Please welcome today’s Guest Blogger, Rochelle Palmer. Rochelle is a social worker, mother, Bible class teacher, generally awesome woman and a pastor’s wife. Yes, in fact, she is my wife. As the wife and daughter of a Senior Minister, Rochelle knows ministry inside and out. She particularly knows the pressures and privileges of ministry life. You can follow Rochelle on Twitter here.
For years I was a reluctant leader. I resisted the idea that my husband’s vocation was anything more than the result of a choice he made to pursue a particular area of education. As a preacher’s kid, I was well-versed in the inner workings of church life and I determined I would not be a “sweet, lil’ preacher’s wife” who baked endless brownies and casseroles for every gathering and delighted in the giftedness of my husband while balancing umpteen babies on my hip as I rearranged the church kitchen and smiled as women around me offered “advice” on my marriage and role. Interesting, I have never actually met a preacher’s wife like that – but I fear that she exists. More, I fear that she is what the people in the pews expect me to be.
But as God is and does, God changed my heart and mind toward this life of vocational ministry – both Sean’s and my own. Through our marriage and service at 3 churches, I have moved from seeing Sean’s position as a “job like any other” to what it really is: A calling. The events in our lives that led us to ministry began in our early adolescence and can be traced throughout our lives, like a dot-to-dot. God has used many years and innumerable persons to open my heart to His dream for my life and to let me know that my place as a leader was HIS choice. I can resist and resent it, but like many others whose stories are recorded in Scripture, I will do what God has called me to do, eventually.
I received what I call the final “push” from God to embrace my calling through participation in a group for Pastors’ wives and women in ministry, Leading and Loving It! Started by a group of ministers’ wives who felt desperate for support and connection and knew they were not alone in their needs. Leading and Loving It (L&LI) provides opportunities for those in this unique life to connect with one another for the purpose of friendship, prayer and mentoring.
C. S. Lewis says that real friendship begins when you listen to someone share her story and find yourself responding “What? Me, too!” At this point, you pull away from the herd and your relationship becomes something greater. Leading and Loving It is full of “Me, too” moments.
I attended the L&LI pastors’ Wives retreat last year in Nashville. This is what I heard and shared with 139 other wives:
“My husband is held responsible for things over which he has no control. . . My husband takes criticism for his sermons and it gets personal…Someone in our church is gossiping about my children…People criticize every parenting decision I make…I am expected to listen to everyone else’s stories about their kids, but no one asks about mine…People in my church are interested in what I can do for them, but no one is interested in me…My husband seems to have increasing responsibilities but not an increasing salary…Sometimes I resent the church because my husband misses social and family gahterings because he has to tend to a family in our church…There is a woman at our church who dresses provocatively and flirts with my husband (That’s right, ladies, we see you.)…Sometimes I listen to my husband preach and I resent that he sounds so holy when I know his sin-side…I have trouble finding friends…Sometimes I wish we were not in ministry…I am so lonely…I feel like I am doing life alone.”
If you had stood center stage and said all of these same things, you would have heard 139 sisters gasp and cry out in reply, “What? Me, too!”
If you have experienced any or all of the above, know that it isn’t you and it isn’t your denomination. . . it’s ministry! All pastors’ wives have been there and you do not have to go it alone.
If you’re a church member, please send the pastor’s wife to check out Leading and Loving It! Encourage her to join a Virtual Community Group that will meet monthly via Google+ for sharing and prayer. Tell her about the JustONE Conference, a virtual conference that airs one hour a week and brings messages from ministers’ wives across the country. And it is happening this month! Tell her to check out the Local Events section to find local gatherings of ministers’ wives in her area. Give her a gift and send her to Road Trip, the 2012 L&LI Retreat happening in Oklahoma City in September. Our churches and our pastors’ families will be better for it.
And she’ll get a really cool t-shirt. 🙂
— Rochelle S. Palmer