As pastors’ wives, we’re apt to jump into our first church with all kinds of grand ideas for change. It’s great for us to be excited and normal for us to see things we’d like to improve, but we must proceed with care. What we do in those early months can do much good or much harm to our husband’s ministry and to our future relationships with (especially) the women of the church. Instead of running headlong into changes, we must take it slow. Here’s what I mean:
- Participate. For approximately the first year, we should join the women in their regular events—without sharing our big plans for improvement. For example, if I spend my time at the Annual Ladies’ Tea spouting off to my tablemates about how I’m going to make it an Annual Ladies’ Coffee next year, I’ll probably hurt some feelings and raise barriers I never intended to raise. Instead, I should simply sip my Earl Grey and chat about finger sandwiches and china teacups with my new friends.
- Learn. Finding out the church’s history can help us better understand the congregation. For instance, let’s pretend I’m an accountant (for those of you who know me, I’m asking you to suspend your disbelief). Anyway, if I’m an accountant, it’s reasonable for me to think I’d be the perfect chair for next year’s Finance Committee. (I can hear you laughing! Remember…suspend your disbelief!) But what if one of my new friends at the Annual Ladies’ Tea tells me about the pastor’s wife from 1923 that stole an entire year’s worth of mission offerings? Hmmm, maybe it’s best if I stay far, far away from church finances after all (not just because I stink at math).
- Love. As pastor’s wives, we need to build relationships with people and learn to love them as Christ loves them. If I let myself view the women in my church as “projects” or people I can manipulate with sweet words, they’ll want absolutely nothing to do with me (and rightfully so!). Instead, I need to build genuine friendships with people. I need to love and appreciate them for who they are. They’ll benefit, and so will I.
- Trust. We must recognize that God is in charge of His church, not us, and He has His own timetable. As long as I push my own agenda for the church, I’m sure to fail. Instead, I have to trust God to work His perfect will. I have to trust that as my husband faithfully proclaims God’s Word, God is conforming His people into His image. And He’s also conforming me.
In case you missed it, here’s a link to Tip #1.