If you are a minister’s wife, you deal with a lot of assumptions and expectations.
Bertha and her husband, Gary, were young and just getting started in the Lord’s work. Gary would sometimes be invited to preach in a church and at other times sing. This particular Sunday, after the service Bertha waited while her young groom stood near the piano talking with one of the women in the church.
The woman’s daughter, perhaps 9 years old, stood nearby staring at Bertha. At length, she spoke up.
“Do you sing?” she asked.
“No, I’m afraid I don’t sing,” said Bertha.
The child was quiet a long moment. Then, “Do you play the piano?”
“No,” Bertha answered. “I don’t play the piano.”
The child stared at her while processing this information. Finally, she blurted out, “Don’t you do anything??”
What a Minister’s Wife Does
Ask any minister’s wife. The expectations on her can be enormous. One would think that it was she who was being employed by the church and not her husband.
(Disclaimer: In our denomination, pastors are male. Other denominations often have women pastors, and I’m personally fine with that. But since I know nothing about their situation, speaking out on it would be presumptuous. So, please forgive me my pronouns.)
In time, Bertha found her “job” in the church. In addition to taking very good care of the pastor (she cut Gary’s hair and shined his shoes on Saturday nights!) and their two children, she became the unofficial greeter in churches they served. On Sundays she roamed the congregation greeting people, hugging the young and old, welcoming newcomers, and ministering to the seniors. She provided a depth of warmth and personalness that a pastor can only dream of having.
To this day, Bertha—my bride of nine months—can be found all over the churches where I preach. As a schoolteacher all her adult life, she has no trouble meeting strangers, and roams up and down the aisles talking to everyone. When the service ends and we are heading for the parking lot, it’s she who gets stopped by everyone and hugged and invited back. They hardly know I’m there.
And I love it.
When Larry and Sandy went to their big church, we were excited for them. Larry was a fine preacher and a solid leader “with his head on straight.” Sandy would play the organ for the church whenever she was there.