Called Out: The Voice

The Voice

By Christine Hoover

Sometimes when I’m sharing one of my many issues with my husband he breaks out his Preacher Voice on me. He will do his best Loving Husband with his masterful listening, nodding and reflecting and then, seemingly out of nowhere, his day job sneaks up on me. He throws out a reference to Scripture or, like a super-spiritual WWF wrestler, does a thinly veiled pastoral counseling move on me.

Ah, the Preacher Voice, you know it too? The deep, soothing, melodic speech that comes from a preacher when he is not in the pulpit, but feels compelled to “be the preacher” or have all the right answers. The prayers and exclamations filled with “Praise Jesus!” and “It’s a God thing” and “hedge of protection.”  The accompanying soft pat on the shoulder, head tilt and empathetic nod.

Now before you think I’m anti-preacher or anti-hedge of protection or anything, let me tell you one thing worse than Preacher Voice: the Pastor’s Wife Voice.

My own, to be exact.

Pastor’s Wife Voice is less about the spoken word and head-tilts and more about the demanding voice inside my head.  You might be familiar with Pastor’s Wife Voice:

I shouldn’t do that because I’m the pastor’s wife.

I should say that because I’m the pastor’s wife.

I have to do that because I’m the pastor’s wife.

People expect that of me because I’m the pastor’s wife.

I should never let people know that about me because I’m the pastor’s wife.

It seems that the moment my husband stepped behind the pulpit, someone installed a recording in my head that always ends with “because I’m the pastor’s wife.”  The Pastor’s Wife Voice replays an endless and impossible standard of a role I must play. Funny, I often attribute that Voice to other people and what they must expect of me. Funny too, the Voice completely lacks any inkling of grace or freedom.

If I let it, Pastor’s Wife Voice makes me into a Stepford Pastor’s Wife, void of any personality or authenticity. It keeps me from connecting with other women on a meaningful level or in mutually edifying relationships. It keeps me caged in and makes me insanely bitter.

Thankfully, there is a third Voice calling my name. It’s just a whisper, really, and I must shove aside the blaring Pastor’s Wife Voice to hear Him, the Holy Spirit. He says things that contradict my Pastor’s Wife Voice, things that free me from perfection or pleasing people. He says things full of grace and truth. He reassures me that I am not playing a role with scripts and blemish-covering makeup, but that I am a woman who has been given an incredible opportunity to bring others to Him so He can quiet the graceless voices playing in their heads too.

I’m listening to one Voice these days, or at least I’m trying to. His is a lot like a non-annoying Preacher Voice, only He really does have all the answers.

Christine lives in Charlottesville, VA with her church-planting pastor husband and their three boys. When not breaking up spontaneous wrestling matches, she enjoys writing. You can catch up with her on her blog for ministry-minded women at Grace Covers Me.

*Are you interested in writing an article for Called Out?  Do you know someone who might?  Be sure to check out our submission guidelines.  If you have any questions or are ready to submit your article, please email us at submissions@apreacherswife.com.  We’ve loved what we’ve received, so please keep them coming!  Look for our next Called Out article on November 11.

Called Out: You Can’t Fill Another Woman’s Shoes

You Can’t Fill Another Woman’s Shoes

By Patsy Evans

On Friday, I went shoe shopping in a store with over 100,000 pairs of shoes. I need this store because I wear a size 12, which is not widely available. This foot frustration made me think about filling the shoes of the women who preceded me in ministry.

I’ve followed two very different women. It was easier to follow the first one because she was not a regular church attendee (I was), and I had a two-month-old child (I was needed at home.)  I had much less life experience than the predecessor in our second church. This Senior Citizen grew up in a pastor’s family, attended seminary, relished theological debates and counted Francis Schaeffer as a close friend. She was gracious to me.

What have I learned? You can’t fill another woman’s shoes. You shouldn’t try. There are some things you can do, though.

You should be as honestly transparent as possible when applying (or, your husband is applying) for your next church or ministry assignment. Churches can be very different in their expectations. According to a song I heard about ministry marriages, some churches think they are getting “two people for the price of one.” Other churches do not want to hear from the wife because the call is for the husband only. In my opinion, both of these are unbalanced approaches. You need to tell the church as much as possible about yourself so that they won’t expect a clone of your predecessor. They need to tell you about themselves so that you know what to expect, as well. “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” (Luke 6:31)

When you get to a new place, realize that you are equipped for the ministry God gives you. He uses experiences from your past as well as what you are learning from Him today. In fact, as His children, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.”(II Peter 1:3) These are the ultimate resources for doing what He calls us to do in our lives and ministry.

We can’t work outside the biblical framework God gives, but we can use our minds to evaluate how to minister in His name. Think about the church’s needs and how to match that with the spiritual gifts and graces God has given you. It is quite possible that you have exactly what the church needs at this time. This might be a unique quality that was lacking in the predecessor. “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:.” (I Peter 4:10)

I have come to terms with my big feet. It is wishful thinking that I could squeeze into a size 10. I don’t even try. In the same way, I am usually content with the way God made me and with the gifts He has given me. I don’t even try to be the woman who went before me. Her shoes wouldn’t fit me anyway.

As well as being a pastor’s wife for over thirty years, Patsy Evans is the mother of both a pastor’s wife and a pastor. Her ministry of serving the Lord is not of the “sings in the choir and teaches Sunday school” variety. Patsy blogs for women in ministry with her daughter, Megan at Sunday Women.

*Are you interested in writing an article for Called Out?  Do you know someone who might?  Be sure to check out our submission guidelines.  If you have any questions or are ready to submit your article, please email us at submissions@apreacherswife.com.  We’ve loved what we’ve received, so please keep them coming!  Look for our next Called Out article on October 14.

Called Out: Church Families

Church Families

By Alyson Sandlin

 Church families can be wonderful, messy things.  I have deeply loved all 6 church families of which I have been a part.  The down side to loving something deeply is that you can be hurt deeply.  It’s the risk of living in community and it happens.  There have been a few moments in my life when it has taken all my strength and courage to walk back into church, to smile at people, to continue to love people. I always do, though (and not just because my husband’s job depends on it).  I always walk back in because the hurt and the risk are worth it.  As part of the body of Christ I’m not sure I could walk away now even if I wanted to.

In August of 2003 my husband and I lost our first baby.  I immediately went back to work, but church was a different story.  I wasn’t really mad at God – I never expected to be exempt from suffering – but I didn’t necessarily feel like worshiping Him either.  And then the thought of facing all those people who loved me and hurt for me – I couldn’t do it.  So the first Sunday after the miscarriage my husband went alone to church and I stayed curled up in my bed all morning.  By the second Sunday I knew I had to face it.

I don’t remember much about that Sunday, but I do remember standing in the sanctuary during the worship service unable to do anything but weep.  All around me my brothers and sisters were singing, but my tears were all I could offer God.  It felt good though, as if I could somehow rely on those around me to offer what I couldn’t in that moment.  Over the years my husband and I have reflected on that day and realized what a sacred moment that was.  It is a picture of what the body of Christ truly is when we step in and even worship for one another – offer praises when others can’t.

Yesterday was another similar moment, but this time I was the one who was able to sing.  Yesterday more brave souls gathered up their broken hearts and stepped into church to face the family and the God who loves them.  Yesterday I stood on the front row and sang to God about how He was good and merciful.  Maybe they were able to offer these praises to God, but my guess is that tears were all they had to offer. I offered my praises to my God, but also on their behalf.

It’s a good reminder for those days when I wonder what God was thinking when he set up this crazy thing called church.  It’s not perfect, it can be painful, but it’s good and it’s worth it.

 Alyson is a preschool teacher and preacher’s wife in Texas where they raise their 2 kids.  She blogs at Sophie Sue and John Curtis, Too!

*Are you interested in writing an article for Called Out?  Do you know someone who might?  Be sure to check out our submission guidelines.  If you have any questions or are ready to submit your article, please email us at submissions@apreacherswife.com.  We’ve loved what we’ve received, so please keep them coming!  Look for our next Called Out article on September 30.

Next Page »