All ministry starts somewhere. God calls a vast range of people into a life of ministry. At the time of writing this article my husband and I both are at the young age of twenty-six. Most other ministry couples in our life are older than we are. If you’re a young wife of a pastor, then you may wrestle with many things. Maybe feeling inadequate, under-educated, inexperienced, and much too young to be doing this ministry life. If you go back and forth with this “maybe I’m too young” mindset or even a prideful mindset, then you must keep your heart and mind guarded by God’s Word in obedience and humility.
“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
It’s true that being called to be a wife of an elder is a unique and important task. It’s said that the wife is the crown of the husband. And as Nancy Wilson says, “The minister’s crown is highly visible from the pulpit.” This can seem daunting. You may have not asked to be put on a pedestal, but it happens whether we like it or not. People, especially other women in the church, will look to you as an example. However, we must not forget that it’s our husband filling the qualified call of elder and not us. We still are primarily called to help our husbands as they serve the church. We too serve the church, but it looks differently for us than it does for our husbands. Titus 2:3-5 reminds us that our ministry is our home:
“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 self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
It’s just a matter of fact that a young ministry wife will not have gone through the things that an older, experienced ministry wife has. A ministry wife with years on her probably has had the privilege and times of seeing her husband marry many couples, preach week in and week out, serve funerals, pray over families with dying loved ones, work through church conflict, counsel failing marriages, struggle with his own family’s sins and shortcomings, and so much more. It’s true that experience can bring a lot of wisdom and grace to a seasoned pastor and his wife. It’s one reason why we look to these people with much honor and respect. However, as my husband once reminded me in the midst of my own trial, we do not gain wisdom from age and experience, but ultimately from God. Jesus Himself imparts wisdom to us through the scriptures, and He tells us in James that anyone who lacks wisdom simply needs to ask for it.
Young wife, you may not have much to give as far as experience. You do have a whole lot to give as far as the Word is concerned. There’s a whole Bible waiting to be explored and learned from. You don’t have the option of cruising through ministry life. You must rise to the high calling and study to show yourself approved. The Holy Spirit doesn’t only empower older, grey haired women. He empowers all those whom He calls. If you’re a ministry wife reading this, then you’ve been called to a noble task. Find comfort and encouragement in the truth that God completes the good work He starts in us until it is brought to completion at the day of Christ’s return.
Find older women to look to and to mentor you. Preferably women who have walked through the role you’re currently walking. Take it slow. It’s easy to jump and dive in head first with church service. Remember that you are still called to serve your husband and family above the church body. If you’re home life is ailing and failing then the church body won’t be healthy either. The role of elder and pastor can be a tiring and endless job. As a helper to your husband, you have the immense privilege of lightening his load a little and walking by his side through thick and thin. Enjoy the process though it may be hard at times. Finally, my best advice to the young ministry wife is simple: love your God, love your family, and love your church…in that order. And, enjoy this beautiful front row seat at what God is doing in and through His Bride.