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MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP) — While speaking for a leadership training event at a church near a military base, I spoke with a woman who described herself as a “Navy wife.”

When I commented on how tough that life must be, she replied, “Not at all. It’s a great life. My husband is protecting America and stomping out evil around the world. His family is his support team and we are proud to serve.”

She then detailed what that meant to her and her children — bringing tears to my eyes that she has stood strong for more than 20 years, helping her husband do this job by patriotically doing hers and teaching their children to shoulder the load.

Another man, in a similar situation, apologized to his girlfriend for time away to serve his country. She told him, “I don’t mind being second to the mission of protecting freedom.”

Women — not just the men they love — care passionately about defending freedom and protecting the weak. It’s a privilege to know people like this who truly believe “the mission matters most.”

These women reminded me of the significant sacrifices and support ministry wives provide their husbands. When young women at our seminary hear the story of Ann moving with me to plant a church — with children ages 6 weeks, 2 years and 5 years — they often marvel that she did it. But I can also see in their eyes a steely determination. They are ready to do the same and more for their generation to hear the Gospel.

When God calls us to serve others — whether in the military or ministry — the most important missions often come with the least recognition and remuneration. A man who responds to these callings and who has a wife who sacrificially stands with him experiences a special gift from God — the blessing of selfless partnership.

Thank God for women and children who believe “the mission matters most” and free those of us called to leadership to serve wholeheartedly. They are the unsung heroes, serving the mission and sacrificing in a thousand quiet ways.

Navy wife, ministry wife — lots of similarities and both a special blessing from God!