The year was 1990. It was the month of March, and I had been diagnosed with breast cancer in January. Ronnie and I were attending a conference for pastors and wives, and I had arrived with a broken heart. I knew some of the women by name who were attending, but there was no one in the room I felt like I knew well. But something happened during the conference that began a friendship that has now been going on for twenty-six years.
During the final session for the women only, we were asked to draw the name of another pastor’s wife out of a basket and commit to pray for her for the next year. To be quite honest, I don’t even remember whose name I drew. I was there in body, but not so much in mind and emotion. But the person who drew MY name really did commit to pray for me and kept MY name on her refrigerator for the next year.
Don’t underestimate the value of attending meetings with your husband where you have the opportunity to make and develop relationships with other ministry wives beyond your local staff and church. The friendship that grew from that experience is of great value to me.
That friendship that started twenty-six years ago has been a constant encouragement to my life. We’ve laughed and cried, vented and roared. We’ve experienced the joy of the birth of thirteen grandchildren between us. We’ve walked through seasons of concern with aging parents and prayer needs for our children and grandchildren. She’s heard me in days of personal desperation and in personal exhilaration over seeing God move in my life and the life of our church. Very few people understand the daily path of my life as a wife, minister’s wife, mother, and grandmother!
As I’ve walked the journey of being a minister’s wife, I have come to appreciate and understand the value of friendship among our sisterhood of minister’s wives. No one understands our life like we do. We can honor and validate our joys and struggles like no one else.
Frances J. Roberts writes in Come Away My Beloved, “Surely He has given you ministering angels, who may sometimes come to you in the form of your friends. Accept their help as from God, and your blessings will be doubled. You may also, in turn, be used in similar manner to bless others.” This is certainly true for minister’s wives. I’ve often needed ministering angels in my life and many times that encouragement has come from another ministry wife.
For almost thirty years, I’ve led a monthly luncheon (during the school months) with the purpose of building relationships among our staff wives. We meet for fellowship and encouragement. Through this luncheon, we are able to connect our wives who all lead very busy lives.
We’ve discussed everything from how to make chicken pot pies, to loving our husbands, to how to minister to our congregants in critical times. We are not all best friends, but this luncheon serves to build a camaraderie and spirit of unity among us. It reminds us that we are all on the same team—attempting to carry out the same purpose of sharing the Good News, making disciples, and walking beside our husbands in ministry. We cross over generations, fulfilling Titus 2:3–5 with the older women teaching the younger women. And sometimes vice versa. We get to walk out the passage in 2 Corinthians 1:3–5, challenging us to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Ministry wives come from all backgrounds. Not all come from Christian homes. Many have been saved later in life. Some didn’t plan to be a minister’s wife when they married their husbands. There are many differences and unique circumstances in all our lives. But we have a commonality—our husbands are ministers.
As a minister’s wife for almost forty years, I’ve found myself needing friends who will make me laugh, cry with me, sympathize with me, understand my life, create inside ministry jokes with me, and most importantly, I need relationships that point me to Jesus and His Word.
Allow me to challenge you to be that friend to another minister’s wife. Maybe she’s on your staff team. Maybe she lives in another town, city, or state. Find time to chat with her, email or text her, share your life with her—that same life you are living—the life of a minister’s wife. I’m grateful for the sweet friendship that began in a room full of other minister’s wives whom I did not know very well. I’m grateful God sent that minister’s wife to be my friend in a very hard season in my life. I’m grateful that we got past that very hard time, developed our friendship from afar, and have enjoyed the happiness and sorrows of daily life and ministry life. What a blessing the sisterhood of ministry wives has been for me, and I hope that it can be for you as well!