Soon after my husband and I married, we stepped out in faith with my parents to plant a church in our neighboring town s. It's been 22 years since then and today, my husband and I continue to serve as the senior pastors.
Like any significant congregation, it's almost impossible to know everyone's name and story. However, we love standing outside the church doors every Sunday greeting, praying and loving on people. I enjoy hearing the incredible stories of how God has changed their lives. Honestly, these stories, what we often call testimonies, have been our encouragement during the hardest times of our lives – the fuel that keeps the flame lit in our hearts.
My life as a pastor’s wife isn't all about what happens on Sunday, running the women’s ministry, singing songs or helping people. What about Monday through Saturday? What happens when the lights are out and the church doors are closed for the day? Believe it or not, life happens. I’m faced with the challenges that most marriages face, the task of keeping up with four teenagers and the responsibility of household duties.
I often find it to be true that most people look at a pastor's wife and say, “Wow! Look at her. She's got it all together. She's married to the man of God. She is so blessed.” Indeed, I am blessed and yes, I am married to the pastor, but this girl ain't got it all together. Sometimes fear and doubt get the best of me. I've disrespected my husband more than once, I've missed important moments in the lives of my children, and sometimes I lack faith. I'm an ordinary person with a not so ordinary role.
For too long, the role of a pastor's wife has been misunderstood. Most people believe that a pastor's wife should be able to sing or maybe play the piano. Her credentials should include the ability to speak in front of an audience. Not forgetting that her children should be the best behaved in the church. She should always be dressed appropriately and regardless of her schedule, she should attend every church gathering and function.
For the record, not every pastor's wife can sing or play an instrument. Most pastor's’ wives are not at all comfortable about speaking in front of people. Our children are usually not the best behaved, we don't always wear the right clothes, and we usually don't have the energy to attend every function.
Like so many women, I relate with the biblical story of Esther. Her parents had died and she was raised by a family member. Her story begins with the banishing of the present queen (Vashti). The king is persuaded by his servants to gather all the young virgins to search for a new queen, so that the young woman who pleased the king would become be queen, replacing Vashti. The king thought it was a brilliant idea. These women would be taken to the palace and undergo 12 months of beauty treatments before they were allowed to be seen by the king.
I'm sure Esther was full of self-doubt when she was going through this preparation. Why would the king want to choose me? Am I really ready for this position? When the turn came for Esther to go before the king, the Bible says that she found favor in his sight and gained his approval more than any of the other virgins. Everyone, especially the king, was mesmerized by her beauty. The Bible says that she was both lovely and beautiful.
So he set a royal crown on her head and made her the new queen. In other words, she won the beauty pageant and she got to marry the king. What an amazing story! I'm sure that her family and friends were so happy for her, and as one would imagine, her name became great in that kingdom and is still spoken of today.
Everyone was amazed at her apparent success and her new position, but only Esther knew the pain and the loss she had experienced as a child. No one truly knew her story and all she had been through. Behind all the glitz and glamour, there was a young and inexperienced woman stepping into an unknown world. Even after Esther was royalty, she would soon discover that she had a real enemy who would threaten her life and that of her family.
Like Esther, I sometimes have thoughts of doubt and insecurities. Why me, God? I don't know that I can handle the pressure of this position. Will I ever be ready for this? Am I ‘pastor's wife’ material? Through the years, God has assured me that I can certainly handle the pressure, and that there really isn't a pattern or a mold for a pastor's wife. I am not what the world says I am or what I should be, and I am satisfied with my portion.
We are all God's unique design. Gifted in many ways. Strong enough to conquer giants, yet sometimes too weak to go to battle. Like many, we make mistakes, but we learn from them. Just like Esther, we fight for our family, our marriage, and our children. We may face many threats but remember we have been called to the Kingdom for such a time as this.
Be confident in the gifts God has given you. Some gifts will flourish in God's time. Don't be afraid to step out and attempt the impossible. God makes himself great when we dare to do all that he called us to do. Be an Esther in whatever arena you've been placed - education, medicine, religion, and especially in your home. Our family thrives in our strength.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Remembering always that we were chosen by the King himself, and through him, we will do great things.
Rose Mary Loya, along with her husband, Jaime, are the co-founders and senior pastors of Cross Church in San Benito, Texas. She is also a song writer, recording artist, and the mother of four children.
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