The phrase “church planter’s wife” has different connotations for different people, including the woman experiencing it. It’s a role no one can fully prepare you for, even if they try. Being a church planter’s wife has been one of the most refining, challenging, joyous, sometimes lonely, and yet incredible privileges. It’s a role I had never imagined for myself, but one in which I will forever thank the Lord for blessing me.

As I said, no one can ever fully prepare you for this role, but here are a few important lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Be Solid in Your Faith

I can’t say this enough. There are so many moving parts when it comes to ministry and the different roles you play. People can be difficult. There’s often tension in relationships, and you’ll experience some uncertainty, insecurities, hard conversations with your husband, and children who make you want to hide in a hole from time to time. Finding yourself, your place, your anything—none of these will seem even slightly manageable if you’re not solid in your faith.Embracing my role as a church planter’s wife has brought me closer to the Lord, his people, and my husband. Click To Tweet

And so, you must invest in your relationship with the Lord—make it your priority above all else. Learn to fall in love with Jesus. Sit at his feet, listen to his voice, and obey his call. Let him fill you and be your everything. He’s the one who will never change in all the fluid circumstances and uncertainties.

I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt (as I am sure you are aware), this road isn’t possible without the loving hand of our Father. In all that changes in all seasons, take your relationship with the Lord seriously and contend for it.

I, Too, Am Called

One of the greatest blessings of being in ministry with my husband is seeing us both called together. I’m not in full-time ministry and have a full-time job, but Cameron and I have pursued this as our calling and something that we’re pursuing together. I’ve never felt like I don’t belong or that there’s no place for me.

Instead, I’ve seen myself as an individual carefully created by my Lord and Savior, who has given me gifts and talents. Knowing I‘ve been called to this has given me the confidence to exercise my gifts for the Lord’s purpose and glory. It’s allowed me to support my husband as he leads the church and to continue praying for him as he pursues his calling. It’s allowed me to step back when I need to, to pause when the time comes, and to speak up when there’s a need.

This has given me the freedom and security to know I’m not some extension attached to my husband hovering in the background. But rather, I’ve taken ownership of this journey and know that I, too, have a role to play.

Be Gracious with Yourself

I sometimes cringe thinking of how I handled certain situations and people a few years ago. I cringe even more because some of the people are still here. I then think to myself, it clearly was not that bad because they stayed!Being a church planter’s wife has been one of the most refining, challenging, joyous, sometimes lonely, and yet incredible privileges. Click To Tweet

On a serious note, remember that you also grow as the church grows and the years pass. I’ve learned the art of being gracious and forgiving myself for not behaving as I had hoped. I didn’t know better at the time. But once you’ve forgiven yourself, give yourself room to move and grow. You’ll constantly make mistakes because you’re learning. Apologize when you need to, learn from the incident, and make sure you don’t sit on the problem for too long. You’re only human, and this is part of the journey.

Yes, there have been some difficult times. I’ve cried for days and doubted myself, but I’ve learned how to enjoy the process. Cameron and I are intentional about enjoying this journey of creating, growing, and partnering together—and doing it surrounded by those we love. We’ve prayed for one another, stood in the gap, and created a safe space for each other. In all that happens, invest in a community that is supportive, loving, and prayerful.

Embracing my role as a church planter’s wife has brought me closer to the Lord, his people, and my husband. Like every role given to us, it’s a gift I’m grateful for and learning to steward well. I pray other wives press into this calling and experience deeper intimacy with Christ.

Lelethu Shabangu
Written by: Lelethu Shabangu on December 16, 2022

Lelethu Shabangu is a wife and mother of two. She and her husband Cameron are involved in church planting and partnered in planting RedPost Church in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2017. Lelethu is also a private banker, life coach, facilitator, and speaker. Her greatest passion in life is to see people live their lives knowing who they are in Christ. When she isn’t working, you’ll find her drinking coffee with a friend, at the gym, having sushi, or reading a book.