Myths busted about 'just' being a wife

Di Finkelde challenges roles and expectations in leadership

Being a pastor’s wife can be like living in a fishbowl, writes Di Finkelde on her blog. “People can stand outside looking in, form an opinion and even criticise her without having obtained an understanding of the life she lives.”

Di is a pastor’s wife. She is also a pastor herself, co-leading C3 Church Hepburn Heights (in suburban Perth, Western Australia), with her husband, John – until 2012, when she began a wider ministry specifically for supporting pastor’s wives. She says there are many misconceptions about pastor’s wives that need to be debunked.

“You’re never just a minister’s wife. – Di Finkelde

“One of them is that a ministry wife is only there to support, to be a helper, to be the ‘good woman’ who stands behind the man. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. But she’s so much more. I believe she does more than support the call of God on her husband’s life. A wife has been called, too.”

It may sound simple enough, says Di. But it’s something she hears over and over again: “I’m just the minister’s wife.”

“Often, she’s not even named,” says Di. “She just gets introduced as ‘the pastor’s wife.’ She loses her identity. But you’re never just a minister’s wife. He couldn’t do what he’s doing without you. God has positioned you with this man.”

“A pastor’s wife should be released to serve with her gifts.” – Di Finkelde

The traditional pastor’s wife is often used as a plug, filling gaps in ministry where no one else can be found, or until someone can be trained up to fill requirements. But if she’s not working in her area of gifting and passion, says Di, that’s where thoughts of “just” start coming in for a minister’s wife. “I’m just doing this until someone better comes along.” “I’m just doing this because no one else is available.”

Yet, a lot of a pastor’s wife’s self-worth – as with everyone else in the church – is bound up in the understanding that she is valuable in the eyes of God and has been gifted for a particular purpose. “A pastor’s wife should be released to serve with her gifts,” says Di.

The role of a pastor’s wife is changing…

Di runs a closed Facebook group for pastor’s wives with over 450 from around the world. It’s a confidential space, where wives can ask questions and encourage each other. The role of a pastor’s wife is changing, says Di, and there aren’t enough resources that cater for the shift.

“A lot of the books are from an era where there was a ‘one-size-fits-all’ pastor’s wife. She played the organ. She had the gift of hospitality. She had an open home. She knew everyone’s name. She sat in the front row. But that was then.”

“Now, it’s diverse. Some pastors’ wives are bi-vocational. Some are paid by the church part-time, some are expected to be full-time volunteers. Some co-lead with their husbands. Some have platform ministries (preaching roles); it’s a whole new thing.”

To be part of Di’s Facebook group, search “Conversations With A Pastor’s Wife” in Facebook.

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