Monday, January 30, 2012

I Want To Marry A Pastor

I recently read that twenty-five, Bible college students at a certain college, have become engaged within eight short months. That reminded me of a girl I once knew who told me that she wanted to marry a pastor. I asked her why and she told me that she thought it would be so glamorous. Needless to say she was a very immature girl and many years later still has not married a pastor. While we think this is pretty silly its true and happens all the time. There are girls who specifically choose to go to a Bible college, for their education, just to meet and marry a pastor. And having grown up in church, I can assure you that there are girls sitting in the pews each week thinking dreamily of someday marrying a pastor. 

At one of our first pastorates we had a young man come to see the parsonage for the first time. While he and his parents lived in a multi-level, beautiful home, he still looked around at the trailer we were living in and said "it must be nice to work one day a week and have such a nice home for free." Yup, that hurt a bit. 

There are many misconceptions about what the ministry involves and what it actually is. And no wonder. We see TV evangelists with multiple homes and private jets and a different suit each week and its easy to think that all pastors are as well outfitted, and some are, but let me assure you that they are very much in the minority. I once heard of a pastor in the southern United States who had a personal barber come every Sunday to give him a fresh hair cut before the service. Yikes! I'm sure Jesus wasn't waited on like that. 

For many pastors, and yes I will say, most pastors, real life is not like that. There is nothing glamorous about the ministry if you are doing it for the right reasons. Being in leadership has a huge responsibility. Someday every leader will have to answer to God for what they preached, taught and shown by example. They will have to give account for the people they hurt and turned away from the Kingdom and they will have to give account for those they didn't reach but could have. That's humbling in the least. 

Jesus taught His disciples that leaders must first be servants to those they are leading.  So many, who are in leadership, have that backwards and expect all of the perceived fringe benefits of being in the ministry without any of the work. Yes, a parsonage or a housing allowance is given to a pastor but that is given as a part of his pay package. His take home pay reflects that. A parsonage, while it belongs to the church, should still be the pastor's home. We have always been blessed with congregations who felt the same way: that the parsonage was our home. But I have spoken with many pastors and their wives who have had a very different experience right down to having a yearly inspection by the parsonage committee to count how many nail holes were added to the walls for hanging pictures. 

A pastor does not have set hours, although some have tried. A true pastor is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A pastor has weird hours and he doesn't mind because it is his calling. He wants to be a help to those he is pastoring. No, girls it is not glamorous, but if you still want to marry a pastor there are some tips I can give you to help you along. 

1. be willing to be a servant first to the people you are ministering to.
2. be supportive of your husband and realize that he is your pastor too.
3. be a prayer warrior. If you are not already, get started now.
4. realize the influence you will have. Keep your life pure.
5. life is a fishbowl.
6. you will be compared either to your benefit or detriment to every other pastor's wife.
7. be willing to share your husband's time.
8. realize that you are in this together. Be a team.
9. you will be asked to do all sorts of things you have never done before just because you are 'the pastor's wife'. 
10. be prepared to be lonely. Very, very few pastor's wives have a close friend. 

Having said all that, being a pastor's wife IS wonderful in so many ways. I wouldn't trade it for the world. It is with a humbling knowledge that I see God using me to minister to people. I am grateful that He called me. I am grateful for the husband he gave me. He is my pastor too and he ministers to me. After all these years of being in the ministry I can honestly say that there have been far more good times than bad and I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

But I didn't marry a pastor. My husband became a pastor after we had married. I didn't set out to 'catch' a pastor as a husband. I wasn't looking for leadership but I was looking to serve. If you are still set on marrying a pastor let me encourage you to do four things:

1. pray asking for God's will to be done in your life.
2. get involved in ministry now. Don't wait until your dream guy comes along.
3. have the right motives. Marrying a pastor is not glamorous.
4. wait for God. 

"Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

(Mark 9:35)

1 comment

  1. This is dead on! I was this for almost 30 years and it's true. A good learning curve for those thinking about this life. It's no easy, but the rewards are great. And yes, I recall 'holes in the wall' statement from a member of one of the congregations!