Kristie Anyabwile is glad to be a pastor’s wife—but if there’s one thing she’s wary of, it’s being a church’s “first lady.”

Of course, when she married her husband Thabiti after his conversion to Islam in 1991, few prospects could have been further from Kristie’s mind. But then the unexpected happened: After hearing the gospel preached during a visit to the neighborhood church, Kristie and Thabiti both became Christians. By 2005, Thabiti had joined their church’s pastoral staff—and Kristie, who’d never envisioned herself as a pastor’s wife, suddenly became one.

She was understandably apprehensive. In the Baptist churches she attended growing up, ministers’ spouses faced a good deal of pressure themselves. Co-pastors, piano players, and children’s ministry leaders, their place at their husbands’ sides was more than an unpaid support role: It was a second job piled high with expectations and weighed down by scrutiny. “I didn’t want that stereotype,” she says.

Instead of falling prey to labels and pigeonholes, she’s since rooted her identity in her calling as a Christian, wife, mother, and servant of the local church—specifically, she notes, in that order. She now supports Thabiti as he pastors Washington, D.C.’s Anacostia River Church, discipling other women even as she writes and speaks about her own experiences as a wife, mother, and follower of Jesus.

On today’s episode of The Calling, CT managing editor Richard Clark sits down with Kristie to learn more about how she balances the public expectations of supporting her husband with the private demands of raising a family—all while still finding time to stay spiritually nourished herself.

On what it’s like to listen to Thabiti preach: “I’m not trying to critique my husband on the sermon; I’m trying to receive God’s Word through His servant—who happens to be my husband.”

On what “accountability” really means: “For most of my relationships, accountability comes out of sharing. It’s not so much ‘Hey, that sin—don’t do that anymore.’ Most often, we’re exploring our hearts together. We’re trying to get at what’s underneath behavior.”

On remaining faithful to her calling: “My biggest fear is the fear of not being faithful. If I’m not faithful in cultivating relationships and discipling my children, I will see that in the distancing of our fellowship together—and my husband as well….As much as it depends on me, I would like to see consistency in my endeavors.”

On whether she feels called to ministry: “I think every Christian is called to ministry in some capacity. We don’t get to be ‘stand by on the side’ Christians.”

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The Calling is produced by Richard Clark and Jonathan Clauson.

Theme music by Lee Rosevere, used under Creative Commons 4.0.