The pastor's wife is not just a role to play; she has a vital relationship with Jesus Christ. This book not only tells the journey of one pastor's wife, but it also provides many practical examples of how to thrive as a woman of God. Author Judith Hylton openly shares her joys and challenges, to encourage other women. Topics like loss, change, marriage, prayer, parenting, and spiritual disciplines are all discussed in order to sustain the faith of the pastor's wife.
Nobody wants to live a life that amounts to nothing. There has to be more to life than just eat, sleep, work, play, retire and then die. Ever since I was a little girl, I possessed this burning, inner desire to make my life count for something meaningful. I didn’t know what that “thing” was but the desire, like a birth mark, never left me.
During my late teen years I became a Christian and my vision of living a meaningful life focused around a desire to share my life and my gifts with others and to share my testimony of Christ’s love for me through music. I was not always sure how this would happen, but I knew deep inside God wanted to use me in the lives of others.
Before moving from Jamaica to America, I served the Lord as a high school teacher where I had many opportunities to interact with students. I sang in my church and also toured the island of Jamaica with a music team. Those were amazing years watching God embrace hundreds of teens and young adults into his love and mercy and listening to these young people confess Christ as Lord and Savior.
When Ray and I were married in 1983 things seemed to slow down. I moved to America and left behind my family, close friends and all my activities. I came to America in 1985 to join my husband in his first call as pastor of a small congregation in Indiana. At that time I had no idea what I was getting into. I knew he was the pastor and I would pray for him and support him in every possible way. The idea of being a pastor’s wife was completely outside the realm of my experience. For almost nine years my husband faithfully served this congregation. During that time, I gave birth to two of our three children. By this time I was identifying myself as a wife and mother of two and still did not have any sense of identity as the pastor’s wife.
I don’t remember who the pastor’s wife was who preceded me at this church, but after a while, people began creating expectations for me. Members of the church wanted to know if I played a musical instrument. Possibly, the former pastor’s wife was a musician and therefore, I would do the same.“Can you cook?” Someone asked me. “Are you good in the kitchen?People were comparing me to the former pastor’s wife. Was this their unspoken expectation that I would fit a similar role?I was very upset, bewildered and pressured because I knew they hired my husband to serve the church; I was not hired to serve the congregation’s preconceived expectations.
Yet despite the many spoken and unspoken expectations, those early years of ministry were some of the happiest days of my life and some of the most challenging years. I was learning how to serve along side my husband without abdicating my sense of passion, giftedness or identity. I was learning in those early years how to glorify God and avoid being squished into the congregation’s expectations of what I should be doing. I was also learning how to be a healthy family in an environment where congregations assume that the pastor’s family flirts with perfection. I wanted to create a wholesome home environment for our children and our relatively young marriage. Finally, I was learning how to say no to all the urgencies that congregations foist on the pastor, his wife and his children.
Purpose of the book
This is the central theme in Faith of the pastor's wife: after 28 years of marriage, with almost twenty-seven of those years spent serving four different congregations, I want to share some of the lessons I have learned as the wife of a pastor. Yes. I am a pastor’s wife and I fully recognize that there are other ways to talk about the relationship between the pastor and spouse. Some pastors are women yet I believe that much of what I have to say still relates to female pastors and their husbands. My aim is not to enter the debate about women’s ordination. My aim is to write out of my experience as a pastor’s wife.
Ministry in congregations can be hard on the minister’s family. This is not a gripe session. I am not a burnt-out, beat-up pastor’s wife who wants to run as far as possible from the church. I love God’s people and I love the local church. As Bill Hybels says, “The local church is the hope of the world,”# and I believe this with all my heart.