One of the things Kelli and I have learned in our relatively short time in ministry is that people view the title "pastor's wife" in different ways. To be honest, when we went through our initial training as church planters 6 years ago, the "wives" were often separated off from the "pastors." We initially thought this was going to be invaluable time. However, we were quickly disappointed as we learned more often than not the "wife" time was spent doing stereo-typical things like shopping, manicures, and talking about emotions more than ministry.
Don't get me wrong, there is definitely a need for women to gather for emotional encouragement and relaxation. Also understand that I believe God has set aside the office of elder for men. We're not better, that's just the role God has called us to play. But correct me if I'm wrong, God called all of us Christians, man, woman and child, to be "ministers" of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are all the church. I for one am thankful that my wife has embraced that call.
Prior to entering the world of church planting, Kelli and I always served shoulder to shoulder in ministry. Everything I did, she did, and vice-versa. Then we moved to Tacoma and everything changed. We were graced with not one but two precious babies and they had health problems to boot. The first year of their lives was spent filled with doctor visits and remaining quarantined in the house for the sake of safety. Kelli describes this as the hardest year of her life. Was she really called to be a minister of the gospel or was she called to wipe noses, shop and get an occasional manicure (actually, for those who know Kelli... the manicure never happens!)? Or could wiping noses and being a mom actually be ministry?
You're welcome to email Kelli and ask her for more insights on the lessons she learned during that first year (firstname.lastname@example.org), but I got to see God transform her perspective first-hand. She never once settled for being "just a pastor's wife." She embraced her calling as a minister of the gospel and we both embraced the reality that as "one flesh," her ministry is my ministry and my ministry is her ministry. Her victories are my victories and my victories are hers. And the same goes for our joys and sorrows. Kelli realized that for a season at least, shoulder to shoulder was not the way our ministry would happen. But she began to view our kids as her number one (and two) disciples, and our home as her platform for ministry.
Three years later Kelli's week is filled with women in her home. Mostly single moms coming over to get rest, talk about what it looks like to follow Jesus in the midst of chaos, do laundry or just to pray. Currently the people that frequent our home are more single moms than I can count, a lesbian couple with four kids that God is doing a slow work in, a couple we're discipling together, a college student who lives in our home, a teenager who lives with us and multiple young single ladies who frequent our living room to talk, get advice, prayer and honestly, more than they realize, be an encouragement to Kelli in the process.
As Kelli's ministry ever evolves I'm amazed at the new ways that God uses her. We have a transitional house in our neighborhood for single moms coming off various addictions. Kelli has gotten to know several of these women and discipled a few personally. Several of these ladies have become Kelli's close friends. Kelli felt compelled some time ago to try and minister in a more tangible ways to all of these ladies but because she's a "pastor's wife," and they receive government funding... blah, blah, blah!
We decided to pray and Kelli approached the Director of the house. We shouldn't have been surprised but Kelli's offer was welcomed with open arms. Kelli is starting off by doing the programming for the ladies on Mondays this month. She came home beaming last night. The whole night she got to teach 10+ ladies how to be a mom. She got to share with them what God has taught her. She got to share with them what she has learned from her role models. She got to sit down with them, shoulder to shoulder, and share with them what God has created her to be. Kelli got to continue to be a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And her joy is my joy!
I thank God for my wife and how God has grown her over the last several years. I want to ask you to pray for Kelli as she continues to be the minister of the gospel that God has called her to be. Please pray specifically for the ministry God has given her at this transitional house. I would also encourage all of you who are reading this to know that God has called you to ministry too. You may not be called to be a pastor, but you are most definitely called to ministry. Look at where God has placed you. Look at the people around you and say "yes" to Jesus. If you are willing, he will begin to open doors for you like crazy!