“Am I good enough to be a pastor’s spouse?” is a question often asked by spouses (especially females) who are just entering into ministry with their clergy spouse. Though pastors’ spouses are excited about partnering with a person who loves God and wants to serve God and God’s people, many feel they can never measure up to the role they think is expected. Many feel inadequate about things like biblical knowledge, being in the limelight on a regular basis, and knowing church etiquette. They are not sure that God has chosen them as the right person to partner in ministry with their clergy spouse.
However, I believe God knows exactly who God chooses to be the helpmate to all of God’s chosen vessels who will serve the people of God, and it is no accident that you were chosen.
God does not look at our credentials the same way we do. God is not so much concerned about the accomplishments that you bring to ministry as with your good character—how kind, loving, and compassionate you are toward God’s people. God simply wants to know whether you have a willing heart toward ministry, a willingness to learn God’s principles and commands through scripture, and a willingness to serve the One who is in charge of all life. God wants to know that you will make yourself available to God and will support your clergy spouse in the work she or he has been called to do. And if by chance, you as the supportive spouse have skills and talents that you want to contribute to the ministry, it is an extra benefit for the congregation that both you and your clergy spouse will serve.
I want you to know that whatever you think you lack in ability for ministry, God already knows about it, and God will take those deficiencies and work with them, giving you everything you need to do. The Bible tells us in II Corinthians 3:5 (NASB), “Not that we are adequate to think anything of ourselves; but our adequacy is of God.” It is by God ‘s spirit that a plan will come to help you overcome any deficiency, and as you open your heart to the call you have been invited to participate in, God will give you success. As you study the Word of God, pray, meditate, and praise God, putting God central in your life and marriage. The Lord you will allow you to know the information you want, so you can participate however you choose.
Sometimes spouses of pastors put pressure on themselves to participate in ministry, but the truth of the matter is that spouses are not under any obligation to do more church work than any other regular member, unless the congregation has negotiated a special contract. Spouses should not let expectations of the congregation or expectations of themselves coerce them into doing something that they are not ready for or want to do.
My motto is just be yourself (the person God has called) and grow from there, especially in those places that you desire to grow.
Dr. Joyce Scott Thomas is the Associate Director of the Academy of Preaching and Celebration.
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