Being an “Older” Pastor’s Wife but still needing Flowers

Whether you are a woman who has just said “yes” to a man who is called to be a pastor, or you are a young mother trying to raise three children in an old parsonage, or the wife of a pastor who has been preaching for any number of years and your children are grown, we all need some Flowers for the Pastor’s Wife. Years ago, I was a young pastor’s wife with young children.  After 17 years in ministry in three different churches in three different geographical locations, my husband’s parents went through a very difficult time. As a result my husband left full-time ministry so that we could move back to Canada and help them and their failing business. I had just been accepted to medical school in southern California, so leaving was very difficult. Back in Canada, my husband preached at a variety of churches to fill-in for other pastors but he was concentrating on a new career in business management. The next 20 years were filled with both of us helping churches, while working full-time and raising two teenagers.

Over the years, to help fill the family coffers, I have worked at a wide variety of jobs. Everything from a long-distance telephone operator (when my children were babies and I could work evenings while my husband was home), to office support in medical clinics, to a hospital admitting department clerk, and a utilization review coordinator for seven clinics. I did all of these while studying for my bachelor’s degree and raising our two children. After getting my first degree, I taught ESL (English as Second Language) English Literature at a local college and attended seminary. (I had been denied entrance to medical school in Canada because I was “too old.”) At this time we were part of a church planting. While my children were teens, I started a girl’s high school in rural Malawi, spending spare time and money to make that effort a success and to hand it over to local trustees after seven years. A year in Zambia, after our kids were grown and on their own, allowed us as Food Relief Coordinators to combine all our experiences to manage a $3 million program to feed 60,000 families during a time of drought in southeast Africa.

After we returned from Zambia, my husband was offered a job in Kentucky, so we spent the next 13 years in Kentucky and Missouri involved in the motorcycle industry. I spent five years as his marketing manager, and then trained to be a Realtor, making a success of that business in a small city in Kentucky.

About three years ago, my husband had a chance to visit the church where he had pastored the longest. He sat in their prayer garden, and asked God, “Would you ever call me back to full-time ministry?” God spoke to him, “What makes you think I ever uncalled you?” That, combined with God bringing into our lives, Nik Ripken, the author of  The Insanity of God, and serendipitously having him do a seminar in our small Kentucky city a few months later, brought us to the point where we said to God, “Anywhere from Alaska to Africa.”

As we prayed, God opened doors. The first one was a call to the town where my husband had taken his senior year of high school in rural Saskatchewan. We grew up in this area, and after we were married, we spent four months in this community, so it was not unfamiliar to either of us. The church has been in this community for over 100 years. Some of the families that attended this church when we lived here, are still here – 44 years later. We said yes to this call, and now my husband is the full-time pastor of a small-town church in rural Saskatchewan. I am the chaplain of two independent senior communities in a city 25 minutes away. I drive to the city two days a week, doing four services, doing hospital visits and hospice care, funerals, and providing spiritual care to over 300 people.

My life verses are 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 (NIV): “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”

At our local church, I have limited my church work to two areas: teaching women’s Bible studies (in a specific format called “Huddles”) and being my husband’s pastor and confidante. I take both very seriously. Having lived as a pastor’s wife in the past where I tried to please everyone and do everything asked of me, I can honestly say that I am now listening to God’s voice instead. At my age, I know myself pretty well; I know my personality, my strengths, my skills, and my giftedness. God can give me any strength or gift if that is needed for the task He has called me to, but I know He has been working in my life for many years (over 50 since I committed my life to Him). He has brought me experiences that allow me to minister to women in similar circumstances or beyond what I feel that I can do in my own strength. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV) “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

If I could encourage younger pastors’ wives, I would say, “Be true to God and to yourself. Love your husband first after God and be his support before you say yes to being a support to the whole church. Spend time in God’s word, and in prayer, and do what God asks you to do, not what others expect the pastor’s wife to do. Being the best wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend you can be is the best way for others to see Jesus in you.”

I don’t have it all together, but I have learned a few things along the way. I know I can trust God and His promises, even when life throws you curveball after curveball. I know my husband will always love me, even when I have wrinkles and some serious health issues. I know that God will walk with me through fire, storm, and pain. I know that after 65 years of life, I can still say every morning “God, I want to know your voice, and no matter what you have in store for me today, I say Yes to you”.

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About "Reno" Ruth Anderson

“Reno” Ruth Anderson is a Canadian author of Bible studies and women’s adventure novels (partly because she has had a few of her own). She’s the wife of a long-distance motorcyclist called The Faster Pastor (who is Lead Pastor at a smallish church in western Canada), and the mother of two adult children (and 7 grandkiddos), but she’s also been a Chaplain, a Photo-journalist, an Advertising Editor, a Realtor, and an International Food Relief Manager – as well as having started a girls’ high school in Malawi. Reno loves to travel, has visited over 40 countries, and lived in the USA, Canada, and Zambia. She is one of Jesus' Fierce Everyday Warriors.