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How a Minister’s Wife Determines Her Role in Ministry (Part 2)

How a Minister’s Wife Determines Her Role in Ministry (Part 2)

In light of the three considerations of calling, season and context for ministers’ wives, which could be found here, there are also some considerations to take into account.

Change is constant

Just when you think you’ve found your niche, it may all change! The church is growing and changing, and we also grow and change. Your season will change, and the context of the church will change.

God often calls us to shift where we’re serving to use us in different ways. Expect it! Oftentimes, in church plants and growing churches, leaders need to be identified and developed. Train up leaders then pass off responsibilities to them.

As the church grows, you’ll have to release some responsibilities—you may like that idea, or you may not. Your role in a growing church will change, and it’s important to be flexible.  A former pastor of mine jokingly talked about the Beatitude that Jesus forgot, “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.”

Marriage, family and home are a priority

With the advances of women in leadership roles, this is very important. Your husband and family are your primary ministry. You are the only wife your minister-husband has and the only mother your preacher kids have. I believe that the best thing you can do for your church is to be a great wife to the pastor. The age-old wise advice of keeping priorities still applies today– God, husband, children and then ministry and work!

In The Church Planting Wife, Christine Hoover wisely addresses church planting wives, but her advice applies to all:

“Being the helpmate to a church planter (minister) does not mean that we are helpmates to the church. We are not married to the church. We are not the pastors. We are not on staff. We are not on call for the people of the church. We are not the catchall person for ministries or tasks that need a leader. We are not the ones who meet every need or fulfill every responsibility. Our attention goes first to our relationship with God and then to our husbands, children, homes and then to ministry and work outside the home…if we become a helpmate to the entire church, we will not be available to our husbands and children—the people who need us most. Being the helpmate to the church planter (minister) does not mean that we are as equally responsible for the church’s success or well-being as our husbands… our burden should be for the spiritual, physical and emotional health of our husband as he carries the burden for the spiritual, physical and emotional health of the church.”

What are some things your husband needs that only you can provide? Perhaps listening as a confidential sounding board, providing a home that is a safe haven, building rest and fun into the schedule, helping maintain health or providing intimacy?

Guard against exhaustion

Many ministry wives are exhausted. In an attempt to not be selfish, we run the risk of neglecting to take care of ourselves. While we are called to live sacrificially, the goal is to finish our lives well.

Taking care of ourselves is like stewarding our gifts. Guard against getting physically, emotionally and spiritually depleted. It is wise to take a long-term view. Ministry is a marathon not a sprint.

If exhausted, we run the risk of discouragement, bitterness or burning out. Exhaustion makes us vulnerable to temptation. Don’t let yourself get so busy or tired that you can’t love people, listen and be present.

Can you sustain your current pace and lifestyle for another five years? Ten? What are some things you can do to replenish?

Perhaps guard your quiet time, cultivate dependence on God, schedule some alone time for you and your husband and take care of your health? Encourage your husband to take his day off and take your vacation. Even if it’s a staycation, go visit other local churches.

In light of your calling, context and season of life, how can you make the best contribution in your church right now? Whatever it is,

“…work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:23-24).

How a Minister’s Wife Determines Her Role in Ministry (Part 1)

How a Minister’s Wife Determines Her Role in Ministry (Part 1)

“Megan Minister’s Wife” sits on the front row of her church on Sunday morning, deep in thought. She attempts to worship, yet she can’t help but reflect on her ambiguous role. In spite of giving her all, she is painfully aware of the fact that she is not measuring up to what is expected of her by the congregation and herself.

A minister’s wife finds herself in a unique position. She’s not on staff, but she’s more than a lay person. She’s in leadership, but she has no job description. She’s expected to be competent in a variety of areas of ministry but often with no training. In addition, she must deal with her own expectations and church members’ preconceived ideas of what a minister’s wife should be and do. 

There is a trend toward a new model for ministry wives, especially in church planting circles. Compared to 30 years ago, there is much more freedom for women to pursue their passions, take leadership positions and use their gifts, and many churches are recognizing and embracing that. Women are pursuing seminary degrees and taking theology and leadership courses. If handled Scripturally and with the proper balance, this adds value to the church and their husbands’ ministries.

For centuries, ministers’ wives have had role-related concerns. For years, I have searched for some sort of job description, but it does not exist. There is no biblical model, and thank God for it!

Christine Hoover with Grace Covers Me Ministry speaks of some general principles that can be applied to each unique woman: Calling, Season and Context. As they intersect, ministers’ wives can find freedom to fulfill their unique role and contribution:


What are your spiritual gifts, abilities and personality? What are you drawn to, and what do you like? What do you see within your church that God has you there for? How do you bring value to the ministry? What is the dream God has placed in you? Be yourself—not someone else. You have the gifts you need to do the job God wants you to do.


What season of life are you in? What are the ages of your children? Are you caring for babies? If so, your time will be limited, and that’s OK. You’re right where you need to be. Are the kids in school? Do you homeschool? Are you employed? When do you have blocks of time? All these factors will determine what you do and how much you can do. Remember, seasons are just that—temporary.


What is the current stage and setting of your church? What is your husband’s position, and how can you support him? What does your church need from you within the framework of your calling and season? What’s unique about the city or town in which you live? What circumstances do you deal with in your family? In nearly 35 years of ministry, my husband and I have served in three different pastorates: a church plant in a suburb of New Orleans, a young church in Stillwater, and a traditional church in Oklahoma City. Looking back, my service aligned with my calling, season and context.

There is great freedom when you give yourself permission to be you and rest in your calling, your context and season of life. Don’t be miserable. If you are miserable, your family and church will know it, and it will have a negative effect on your husband.

When we’ve determined and accepted the calling, context and season, it eliminates the temptation to compare ourselves to other women or other churches. God has made you unique. Do not fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others who have a different calling, contextand season. We do ourselves a disservice when we compare ourselves to each other.

Have you thought about your unique calling? What do you see within your church that God has you there for?

To be continued…

About This Obsession with Personality Type

About This Obsession with Personality Type

Listen, I love a good personality test as much or more than the next person. 

Hello, my name is Angela Sanders, orange, choleric, neutral good, type 2 4w, INFJ-T lion-otter combo extraordinaire, otherwise known as Elsa, Yoda, Mr.Darcy, and/or the apostle Paul, depending on which Buzzfeed quiz you happen to be referencing. Pleased to make your acquaintance!

I’m concerned, however, that our culture’s interest in the identification, definition, and categorization of personality may have tripped over into an unhealthy obsession.

What’s the problem?  For the Christian, here are a few:        

1. Personality type can become an excuse.  For inappropriate behavior.  For refusal to grow and mature.  For failure to consider others.  The list goes on and on. 

  • “I’m a turbulent personality.  Sometimes we lose it.  That’s just how I am.”
  • “I’m a two.  We’re generous givers, so I don’t have to learn to manage my money.”  
  • “I’m an introvert.  It’s hard for me to put myself out there to make others feel comfortable or loved, so they should come to me.”

2. Personality type can become a source of pride.

  • “I’m choleric.  Without me, the rest of you would be lost.  I am the reason our team succeeds.” 
  • “I’m intuitive.  I alone know what’s really going on here.”
  • “My personality type is the most rare, making me pretty darn special.”

3. Personality typing can foster prejudice, discourage unity, and hinder individual and group growth. 

  • “He’s an otter through and through, all smiles, but no substance.” 
  • “They’re way too practical to be any fun.  Don’t include them.” 
  • “She’s a melancholy personality.  Of course, she’d detect a problem.  Don’t listen to her.”
  • “Who cares if we accomplish anything?  We birds of a feather are having fun!”

Although it’s definitely a good thing to notice and appreciate the way God made you so you can praise Him for His creativity and wisdom, take inventory of your gifts and strengths so you can put them to work for the advancement of His Kingdom, and make a list of your weaknesses so you can make a conscious effort to overcome them by the power of His Holy Spirit, those of us who belong to God as a result of our faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ are called to do more than become polished versions of our imperfect selves.

We are called to submission, obedience, and transformation into the image of Jesus Himself by the power of the Holy Spirit so others may find salvation in Him and join us in glorifying the Father who deserves nothing less from us than the kind of good only He can bring about.

Narcissism, bad behavior, sour attitudes, immaturity, selfishness, pride, divisiveness, apathy: these are counter-productive at best.

So, go ahead.  Take a quick look in the mirror, but just long enough to get yourself situated on the altar of living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1).  

Remember, we worship the Creator, not His creation (Matt. 4:10).  Only let your gaze linger on Him.      

I Prayed for a Sister: An Open-Letter to My Little Brother

I Prayed for a Sister: An Open-Letter to My Little Brother

Dear Jonathan,

It took me a while, as a five-year-old, to wrap my head around not being the baby of the family once mom’s pregnancy with you was announced. I didn’t know what to expect, except that I would have to share the family’s attention with you. I thought to myself, Well, if we’re going to have another sibling, it better be a girl. Mom said your name would be Esther. So, I thought about Esther.

I thought about her and me, along with our older sister, playing Barbies, sharing clothes, and overpowering our big brothers in arguments. I laughed at the idea of the girls outnumbering the boys in the family. I smiled at the notion of getting to show my little sister the ropes, as my big sister did before me. I prayed for a sister.

But as our patience stretched, not unlike mama’s pregnant tummy, we learned you would be a baby boy. Mom said your name would be Jonathan. So, I thought about Jonathan. I pouted as I thought about the memories we could’ve made as the Three Hanzel Sister Amigas. I thought about the way I could’ve taught you to braid your Barbies’ hair or how to get you to ask dad for things in an irresistible manner… as is the baby girl’s duty.

How could I, at just five years old, have known the memories we would make? How could I have known about the precious hand-holding as you toddled? How could I have known about the stories we would create between your Star Wars action figures and my Polly Pockets? I didn’t even have a clue that you would have my dimples and we would laugh incessantly together. I didn’t foresee you becoming one of my best friends… but you have. I’m grateful the Lord didn’t give me that for which I prayed.

Little brother, as you graduate high school this month, I want you to know a few things:

You are weak. Not what you were expecting to hear? Hang in there. You have weaknesses, fewer than I, but nevertheless, you have weaknesses. Press into those weaknesses, because it is there that you discover God’s strength. J.D. Greear once said, “If dependence is the goal, then weakness is the advantage.” Don’t grow weary from roadblocks or difficulties, because they are all opportunities for you to reflect God’s goodness and strength to others. Depend on Him, little brother, and you will be the strongest man on earth.

You are valuable. When you go to college, people will try to project truths and personas onto you. They’ll tell you that you’re the guy who illustrates exceedingly well, or you’re the guy who has a lot of YouTube followers. They’ll make your interests into your value, and that is simply untrue. Your value is in Christ alone. This is an important truth because your interests will change, but Christ will not. Place your value in that which is unmovable.

You are a gentleman. There are a lot of girls out there, bub (except at the college you picked…). You are not responsible for how they treat people or how they pursue relationships. You are only capable of controlling your own desires and actions. Gentlemen open doors for ladies. Gentlemen treat ladies like ladies… even when they don’t act like ladies. Gentlemen don’t get swept away in inappropriate behavior or speech, but are sensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Gentlemen uphold chivalry as a sign of value equality and mutual respect. Gentlemen do not get consumed with pornography, but seek the good of all and the glory of God. Gentlemen accept the forgiveness of God and, in response, don the full armor of God. You are a gentleman, my baby brother.

You go with God and you go with the Hanzel Tribe name as you enter college and this new season of life. Remember who you are, and remember Whose you are.

P.S. I’m glad you were a boy!

Should Christians support cancelling student loan debt?

Should Christians support cancelling student loan debt?

I can’t believe I’m writing this. This policy idea is totally counter to the way I think things should work. At the same time, I can see how some think a case could be made for it.

What issue am I talking about? It’s the recent plan by Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren to forgive college student debt in America.

Her latest proposal is to have the government pay off up to $50,000 dollars of student debt. Now, before I get into what the Bible says about debt, it is fair to say that the government cannot technically pay off anything. It has no resources to sell, so it can only use the money given in order to buy or pay off debt.

That being said, I think we can set aside the specific proposal about student loan debt, and think about the larger issue of debt, in general, and what the Bible has to say about it.

It’s almost impossible to live without debt today. We have mortgages and car loans that seem to be just a normal part of life. I personally don’t think a home mortgage is sinful, but we do need to wrestle with verses like Rom. 13:8 which says, Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love on another.”

Although this verse does not outright declare all debt bad, the Book of Proverbs does tell us that debt is a form of slavery. Prov. 22:7 says, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” So we can see that the Bible does not speak highly of debt. Yet it also tells us how we should behave when we loan people money.

Matt. 5:22 speaks on this subject and reads, “Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” Also there is this incredible verse from Prov. 28:8 which states, “Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.” This states that those who make money off of high interest loans that keep people poor will lose their money, and it will be given back to the poor.

There are countless other verses that talk about how we should deal with this subject. We are told we should be generous and loan without expecting anything in return. However, these are not the main place to make our argument for loan forgiveness. For that we would need to turn to the Old Testament.

In Leviticus 25-26 God describes what can be called a total economic restart every seven years. All debt was to be forgiven. Every 49 years was the year of Jubilee when all debt was forgiven, and the land was allowed to reset itself as well. In both cases, debt forgiveness was foundational to the societal structure. .

It’s hard to simply take this idea and graft it into our modern society. The Jewish people knew that every seven years their debt would be forgiven, so loans had limits.

For example, if you borrowed to buy some land, a portion of your crops would be given to the loaner for seven years at a rate that was sufficient to pay off that loan in that amount of time. This meant that the borrower would celebrate the debt cancelation but not because they got away with free money, but because they had faithfully paid off their debt. These restrictions kept people from giving out loans that had payments spread out over a long period of time.

The number of years you can stretch out the life of your car and home loan continues to increase. This means you are likely to be upside down in your loan especially when it comes to a vehicle. Yes, you might not be able to buy as nice of a house or drive the newest car if you went with a shorter term, but you would not be a slave to your lender. If you have ever had to spend years paying off a student loan or credit card debt, you know the weight and stress that comes with it. God does not want us to carry such unnecessary burdens.

I think the Bible makes a good argument for debt forgiveness, but it also makes a strong case for loan limitations. The burden may be on the person who took out the loan, but the guilt is also on the one who makes money off the ignorance and desperation of others.

If you have a child who is about to enter into college, allow me to make a suggestion that could save you in the long run. Community colleges are a great place of learning and are a fraction of the cost of major universities.

Begin to teach your children about finances long before they enter into college and educate them on the other possibilities such as a trade school or online degree programs. Not only will they get a good education but they will also be free of the yoke of debt that is crushing so many people right now.

Game of Phones

Game of Phones

If your family is anything like mine, your children are counting down the days until summer break. With visions of swimming, summer trips and sleeping in, my children simply cannot wait until that final school bell rings.

According to a new study, though, the main activity for most kids this summer will be time spent, not at the swimming pool, but staring at a screen.

A new study reported on by CBS News said “Kids and teens age 8 to 18 spend an average of more than seven hours a day looking at screens.”

From viewing YouTube videos to playing video games, all this screen time adds up to habits that are anything but healthy. The American Heart Association went so far as to issue a “new warning” about the phenomenon, recommending that “parents limit screen time for kids to a maximum of just two hours per day.”

I will be the first to admit, that’s easier said than done, especially as the summer days turn to blazing hot temperatures outside. At the same time, each of us can probably do better in trying to limit screen time than we now are, with simply some intentional effort.

To that end, here are some ideas we are considering that you may also want to consider, not just for your kids, but for yourself, to limit screen time:

  • Go outside and enjoy nature
  • Read a book (on paper!)
  • Take part in church events like VBS or camps
  • Exercise or participate in sports
  • Visit or phone a friend
  • Go play outside
  • Do yardwork
  • Help a neighbor with yardwork
  • Volunteer at a local ministry
  • Take a family trip, even locally

These are just a few ideas. So this summer, when you or your kids feel bored, instead of playing games on a screen, we can try to redeem the times with something positive, something besides screen time.

Who knows? These alternatives to screen time might be more satisfying this summer than games on phones.