In some languages, the verbs used to indicate "be"and "being" are the same or else seem so similar that they are confused. In English, "I am" is used to express both permanent and temporary situations, both occupation and location. Although some languages use a different word for each, in practice those words are sometimes used interchangeably, be is taken to mean that we are there. Worse yet, we sometimes place greater importance on "being there" even if we are not.
What does this grammatical confusion have to do with the life of a minister's wife? In the first place, a minister's wife is one because of the profession chosen by the person she loves and to whom she is married. She may not have chosen this position. Maybe her husband accepted the call to the ministry after they were married, and she willingly accepted that position ... or she may have just resigned herself to it. Nevertheless, in most cases, she decided to marry her husband, either when he was a theology student or already a pastor, and together they accepted the divine call to become a ministerial couple. Whatever the case, she needs only to be the wife of that loving companion to find herself in that privileged position as a minister's wife. And she is so legitimately, 'whether or not she is able or willing to fulfill the church's or even God's expectation of her ministry.
Most ministers' wives feel that their position is a privileged one. They are proud to belong to the ministerial team that works for the good of the church. They also feel a great responsibility and want to learn how to better serve in that position. For some, however, each day is a real challenge to improve their performance in the roles they must play within that special and unique drama of their existence.
Luckily, there are now many resources available to the minister's wife to help her fulfill her role in a more professional and appropriate manner. Numerous seminars with updated information can serve to enhance her performance. These may be very positive, provided the pastor's wife is not too idealistic in her vision. She must not forget that, although there are certain general expectations of a pastor's wife, every individual is a unique and special version from the Creator, destined for a peculiar service within His great and divine plan. Seminars offering advice and ideas are helpful, but we must keep in mind that every person will apply the information differently.
Some books and articles would have us believe that there is an ideal model for the minister's wife, and that some privileged experts have been able to achieve it successfully. Unfortunately, many ministers' wives feel unfit and insecure, sure that they will never be able to reach that ideal.
Ministers' wives come in all sizes, colors and designs. Yet there is a basic model because the role of a pastor's wifL is part of the entire gospel commission, from which her function stems. But this basic model has little to do with specific techniques for performing her duties. It does not impose a specific personality, a given academic degree, or certain cultural traits. The basic model—and that "standard" which must be reached—is no different from that which any other Christian lady must achieve. The apostle Paul described it as ". . unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13).
This is the basic requirement. With out it, human virtues or skills become worthless. With it come a countless number of other virtues that the Holy Spirit will continue to add and mold in His own good time in order to fulfill His always appropriate and perfect purpose.
What then is the prime requirement for being a good minister's wife? To be a good Christian woman, to harbor the faith of Jesus in her heart. It is to give herself to Him, so that He may use her as an instrument on behalf of not only her own family but also the church family, in the manner and measure that the Holy Spirit equips her. If she has learned to follow the marvelous voice that guides and enlightens, no one will need to complain about being confused or lacking a sense of direction. Not even someone in an isolated area, without access to experienced advice or without the books that educate and facilitate the task, will lack the guidance of the Spirit, who will enable her to fulfill her mission.
If there is one thing which should concern us the most as ministers' wives, it is that we never lack the sweet company of Jesus. We must not become lost in the forest of science or in the voices of the experts. We must never forget that God has special and peculiar counsel and directions adapted to every human, in every personal and social situation.
Do you wish to be a good minister's wife? Then above all, wish to be a good Christian. Struggle within yourself to find those virtues which constitute the flesh and blood of true Christianity: joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and love.... As the apostle declared, "... against such, there is no law" (Galatians 5:22, 23).
We should not be judged, even by ourselves, according to requirements that someone has thought up and stated in a handbook. Although our intellectual level, physical appearance, rules of etiquette, and other things may be good and necessary in themselves, they are not the basis upon which we are judged. Our performance must pass the test of that which is eternal.
With regard to being, to occupy the privileged position of a minister's wife, we are all there, fulfilling the role or not fulfilling it, wishing to be there or wishing we weren't. The fact is that, whether we like it or not, we are all there. In order to really be what God intended for us when He allowed us to unite with His servant—the man who responded to the divine call—we must constantly place His will ahead of our wishes. We must decide in our hearts, struggle fervently on our knees, work diligently with our minds and hands and feet. We must overcome boredom, negligence, indifference, discouragement, temptation and sin. We must take hold of the arm of the Omnipotent and each day walk the path still entwined with flowers and thorns, until that day when we hear the words "Well done, thou good and faithful servant, ... enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" (Matthew 25:21). As pastoral wives, we must be while being. Let no one accept the privileges without being willing to also accept the responsibilities.
Let no one be like the messenger of 2 Samuel 18:19-33, who arrived at his destination breathless, proud of having arrived, but unable to give his message because he had none. He ran the entire obstacle-filled way in order to be there, but he lacked the most important thing—a message, the very reason for such a hurried race to reach that special place.
How terrible it would be to be found lacking the necessary spiritual experience, and perhaps to be filled with selfishness, malice, impatience, intolerance, resentment, envy, doubt, laziness. It would be better not to have arrived at all. A messenger without a message is like the sun without heat or light, like a handful of salt which cannot add flavor. As the Master said, "It is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trodden under the foot of man" (Matthew 5:13).
We must be while being. In fact, whether passively or actively, we are already there. We must be, with good will and courage, and in the way and manner shown to us by divine providence. Let's not shy away from truly being pastors' wives, in every sense of the word. Let us constantly search for that personal and redeeming message, through prayer and supplication, not putting in first place our own choices and ideas about what should be or how it should be done. Instead, like Mary when she received God's call and instructions for fulfilling one of the greatest missions on earth, let us answer, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it [done] unto me according to thy word" (Luke 1:38).