Does any woman set out to be a church planter’s wife? Surely some do. But whenever we wives get together and share our stories, I hear the same narrative rehearsed from one to another: “I never thought I’d be a pastor’s wife. But here I am.”
Those were my thoughts 20 years ago when my husband and I were in seminary preparing to move overseas, where he would begin a lifetime of pastoring. All my imaginings as a little girl included the corporate world, a comfortable house, success, and ease. But when God calls, he moves, and his good and perfect will comes to pass—ready or not.
The role of a church planter’s wife is an honor and joy. I think most would tell you that. But when we’re honest and raw, we admit a lot of fear as well.
Here are the top five fears we confess in the quiet.
We worry that our church plants won’t succeed. That our husbands, our core teams, and ourselves will give everything we’ve got, and it won’t be enough. We don’t have a plan B, and a failing plan A sounds excruciating.
A new pastor’s financial stability is directly connected to his church plant’s tithing. That’s scary. We worry that the giving won’t sustain the church’s expenses—including our husband’s salary—thereby not meeting our basic needs.
We know every church member has a different expectation of the role and responsibilities of the pastor’s wife. We wonder if we have what it takes to satisfy our new community.
Church planting is more than full-time work. We know our husbands will be dealing with logistics and people around the clock. We fear our marriage and children will pay too high a price.
We’ve heard stories about gossip, unkindness, and unfair expectations, as well as the isolation many pastor’s wives feel. We fear that we will be lonely and unliked in our new churches.
The role of a church planter’s wife is an honor and joy. But when we’re honest and raw, we admit a lot of fear as well.
These fears can feel overwhelming. It’s crucial that church-planting wives gather from time to time to remember that we are not alone, but also to remind one another of what’s true.
So here are five truths to fight our fears.
1. Success is faithfulness.
In God’s economy, success is not measured in numbers (of people, services, or finances). It’s found in faithfulness. Jesus asks us to love him above all and then to love others well (Matt. 22:36–40). If our church plants are doing that, then they are a wild success. Only God gives growth (1 Cor. 3:6). He’s pleased with our faithfulness, so let’s trust him to produce the fruit he desires.
2. God will provide financially for you.
He really will. In Matthew 6, Jesus exhorts us to store up our treasures in heaven rather than on earth (vv. 19–20), which is precisely what sacrificial church planting is! He reminds us that we cannot serve two masters (v. 24), so it’s good and right for us to serve him over a steady paycheck. We can see how our Father cares for the sparrows and lilies and remember that he cares even more for us (vv. 25–33).
3. God has marked a race just for you.
Our God is the giver of our lives and breath, and all our gifts, resources, and passions. He determined when and where we would live (Acts 17:25–26), so it’s no mistake that he has matched us with the specific church we are planting. May we walk in faithfulness to him who made us and placed us, focusing on abiding in Jesus rather than pleasing people.
4. God will meet your relational needs.
When Peter reminds Jesus that the disciples left everything to follow him, Jesus responds that no one who has left family or home for his sake or for the sake of the gospel will go without in this lifetime or the next. He says we who follow him will even receive a hundredfold (Mark 10:28–31). The body of Christ is equipped to be family—aunties, grandparents, and dear friends—who will meet our needs in our new communities. Let’s embrace God’s faithfulness through his people.
5. Seek counsel.
While we pastor’s wives have a unique role in our communities, we aren’t meant to live out those roles in isolation. The Proverbs admonish us to seek counsel: a wise man listens to advice (12:15), and in an abundance of counselors there is safety (11:14). It’s imperative for our well-being—as well as the health of our marriages, families, and churches—that we seek an abundance of wise friends and mentors who are persevering in their faith. To plant a church without counsel is reckless; let’s readily receive the input of others.
Yes, the role of church planter’s wife can be fearful, but our God is faithful.
Fellow church-planting wives, when we gather, let’s share and let’s remember. Let’s share our burdens, sorrows, and frustrations. Let’s share all the sweet evidences of God’s work and the joys that come with it. But most importantly, let’s recount God’s goodness and his sovereignty to each other. Yes, the role of church planter’s wife can be fearful, but our God is faithful.