The first time I was asked if I wanted to be a pastor’s wife was in the fall before we got married. My soon-to-be husband told me he felt God calling him into the ministry. The conversation, or rather the fight, ended in me saying “Never” and storming up the stairs. A couple months later, about a month before our wedding, the conversation came up again, and Mike had an offer to become an assistant pastor at a church in the Valley. It’s hard for me to remember the specifics of how Jesus changed my heart between the “never” and the “I will do this with you,” but it happened. He went on staff as an assistant pastor the week we got back from our honeymoon.
My 22-year-old self could not have imagined the life God had laid out for us—a life so far exclusively lived out in the context of full-time ministry. My 22-year-old self also could not have quite connected the dots that if my husband was a pastor and I was a pastor’s wife, then we would have pastor’s kids. That as we lived the beginning of our adult lives out in the ministry, they would live their childhood as the children of a pastor.
Early on in ministry, I felt pressure to be a “pastor’s wife” as an office of the church. I had no idea what I was shooting for, and the expectations were constantly shifting. One night on my way home, I was praying through this and felt Jesus telling me that I was not to fill an office of the church but simply be married to a pastor. This began something in me that continues today. A cycle where on every downturn of the cycle, I land on my feet and find the ground is a bit more solid. It’s been a process of letting Jesus define who I am and what He has called me to.
This truth has been what I land on when I want to find a different church or when I am deeply engaged in our community, loving and being loved well. It’s what I land on when the church hurts us and their expectations are too high, or when I am living close with Jesus, and His voice is the loudest in my ear.
Mercifully, Jesus taught me on the drive home that night that I am first His, and in His perfection, He has placed me in the perfect role in His church for His glory and my good.
This has been the single most important truth for me to believe as we have raised kids amid ministry.
Most of our ministry has been with Redeemer Burbank, which began as Tribe, then Soma Burbank, then Cross of Christ and FINALLY Redeemer Burbank. It’s a long, great story. When we launched Sunday services in February 2008, our oldest son, Michael was 4, our second son Luke, was 2 ½ and I was pregnant with our third son, Hudson, who was born July 2008. Our littlest, Gracie, wouldn’t come for a few more years.
The last ten years of being a pastor’s family and, more specifically a church planter’s family, has provided ample opportunity for me to trust Jesus and His perfect plan for our life:
- There have been times when I’ve been tempted to feel apologetic for my kids’ presence. Though not quite downtown, our environment is more urban than suburban. There have been many times when my kids were the only kids at an event or in church service. Especially when we first planted, God was bringing a lot of people without children, and I felt as though my kids weren’t welcome. I had to trust that we belong because God placed us here and so I landed on solid ground.
- Los Angeles is a very transient city. It’s expensive, busy and promises a life it often doesn’t deliver. This being the context we planted in, we’ve seen a lot of people come and go. My kids have been the only ones, outside of my husband and I, who’ve said goodbye to every one of them. Some of the losses were heartbreaking, and some less so, but all of them were a loss. I have to trust God with my hurt as we shepherd our kids through tough situations like this, telling them often (sometimes it feels like too often!) that we hold tightly to Jesus only, and then we again land on solid ground.
- Our kids see and feel the brokenness. Although we strive to guard our kids from the hard stuff and have plenty of conversations behind closed doors, they feel it. But, they also have a unique vantage point to restoration and the hope and healing of Jesus. They see the married couple come for counseling as they head up to bed. They hear us pray for the hurts of the church. I’ve recently been grappling with the fact that the kind of brokenness we see in the church happens all over the world, every day, and only in the church do we have the hope of restoration. My kids get to see Jesus come in, make His name great and His place known in the lives of His people. And again, we land on solid ground.
The unique life our kids have been privileged to has its joys and hurts as all lives do. Just like I have had to trust Jesus that being a pastor’s wife is where He wants me for His glory and my good, I must trust and re-trust (and re-trust and re-trust…) Him that being pastor’s kids is the perfect life for my children. They have unique struggles that Jesus is in the midst of, and unique joys that Jesus is the author of. Ultimately, they see Him, His supremacy, love, and grace in our lives as we continue to embrace the role we’ve been given and trust Him as our God and theirs.