Jul 172017 8 Responses

The Reluctant Pastor’s Wife Turns 40

On our first date, Jenny told me three things she would never do: marry a pastor, marry someone younger than her, and move for a guy. Within two years she had done all three and for that, I’m forever grateful. The last “never” was wise, she just made an exception for me. The second “never” was silly…what’s a few months difference? But the first “never” was a serious sticking point as our relationship became serious.

Jenny grew up in a small Baptist church and she had a front-row seat for the life of a pastor and his family. While she saw many benefits, she was well aware of the drawbacks. As we began to consider marriage, I tried to convince her that being a pastor’s wife differs in many situations. While in her experience, the pastor’s wife played the piano at every service, cooked for every potluck, and was expected to be the perfect housewife, Jenny didn’t want that.

Neither did I. While I appreciate those women who fit that description, I wasn’t interested. Part of the intrigue of Jenny was that she loved Jesus, but didn’t want to be a pastor’s wife. Thankfully I was able to convince her.

I was able to convince her that our lives would be different and I hope for the past 17 years my promises have come true. She became a pastor’s wife reluctantly, but she has played the role well. She’s done it her way–quiet and unseen. She’s herself. She doesn’t put on an act. Nearly everything she does is behind the scenes. She gives her opinion when asked, but never tries to assert herself or her position. She does her part and lives her life. Sometimes someone will call her a pastor’s wife and she’ll have to remember they are talking about her.

While every occupation has its own frustrations, and the pastorate is no different, the church has been a blessing to us. They have loved us well. They have been thoughtful, considerate, and fair. The only real complaint I have is that I tend to get all the credit even though Jenny is doing much of the work. People thank me for being at the hospital, but they forget Jenny is taking care of the kids. They are grateful when I do a funeral, wedding, or weekend meeting, but they don’t see that Jenny is covering for me at home even while she still has all the duties of her own job and life. In most scenarios, I get the easier and more visible part of our partnership. She deserves much more credit.

Today, the reluctant pastor’s wife turns 40. In typical Jenny fashion, she’s unmoved by the event. She’s grateful for her life and sees the round number simply as a number. She’s enjoyed her 30s, but assumes her 40s will be good as well. For me, it’s a birthday full of suspense. Not just because I’m not there yet (see what I did there), but because every decade has been defined by a surprise. In our 20s we were surprised by how good marriage was. We had high expectations, but it exceeded them. In our 30s we were caught off guard by how fun partnership can be. We knew marriage consisted of being friends and lovers (although we didn’t use that word), but we didn’t know the value of a truly meaningful partnership. Someone should write a book about that and Amazon will only charge $9.42 for it. Now, as she enters our 40s (oops, I did it again), I’m intrigued to see the good surprise that lies ahead.

We know there will be tough times; there have been tough times. Each decade, while full of good surprises, have also had their own sorrows. Yet our gratitude always outweighs our grief. We assume the good will outweigh the bad. So I’m excited to see what comes next.

  • What skills will struggle teach us?
  • What unexpected joys will come our way?
  • What disappointments will actually turn out for our good?
  • In what ways will God require faith from us?
  • How will we love each other more tomorrow than today?

So Happy Birthday, Jenny. One of life’s greatest joys is calling you mine…now that you are 40, I’ll just start calling a little louder.

For more about Jenny, see:

A Small Fire, a Can of Gasoline, and a Test of My Manhood

The Preacher’s Wife

A Crush, Cyndi Lauper, and a God Who Never Wastes Anything

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