I am not a fan of cookie cutter houses. You know, those houses that all look the same, have the same beige colors, and have the same house plan or maybe a couple of variations of the same blueprint. Give me a unique quirky house that seems to match my personality, and I am much more at home. Interesting nooks and crannies, a surprize built-in feature, or an unusual window. I want to hang colorful paintings, and lay down bright carpets.
I recently attended a conference for Pastor’s Wives. It was a lovely conference, great speakers, and time to interact with other women married to pastors. What struck me most was how often I heard this phrase, “I know I am not the usual cookie cutter PW.” The women would then describe how they felt they were unusual, unique or just did not fit the usual “cookie cutter pastor’s wife” description.
Do we have in our own heads a vision of what we think a PW should look like or act like? Or maybe what we think our church expects us to be? But we don’t want to be seen that way! We want to be unique, an individual, don’t we?
Perhaps in your church you think they expect you to do one particular ministry like playing piano because the previous PW did that, even if you know God has called you to serve in another area, like editing video or serving on the Tech Team. Or you think they want you to be a fabulous hostess, serving up great meals for whoever drops by, offering soup to the sick, and prayers for the weary. But you really love reaching out to young moms from your neighborhood or working with pregnant teens. Your church’s view of a PW is likely a compilation of all the PW’s they have ever had, and they are trying to figure out where you, as an individual, fit in.
None of us want to be just another boring cookie cutter PW, serving soup, playing the piano, or teaching Sunday school. Yet to follow God’s directives, there are two things we need: 1) to be the woman that God wants us to be; and 2) to be the support our husband needs as he pastors the church.
Then how do we reconcile this uniqueness that we feel as individuals, with the expectations that our churches, and even our husbands (our Pastor), seem to have of us while doing what God wants from us? God did make each of us in His image. We all come with our own personalities, our own set of past experiences, our own journeys of life and faith.
Regardless of our history, here are a few hard questions we have to ask ourselves:
1. Can I slow down enough to listen to the Holy Spirit, growing in my relationship with God, so that He can show me where He is working and where He wants me to join Him?
2. What gifts has He given me to use to further His kingdom while meeting the needs of hurting people? Am I using those gifts for God’s glory?
3. Is my commitment first of all to follow God’s will for me, and His plan for my life? Am I willing to say ‘Yes, God’ to whatever He asks of me, even if it different than what the church expects of me? Or what I would prefer? Or where I think my gifting is?
4. Instead of trying to “do everything” at the church just because “someone needs to do it”, can I ensure that my marriage, our children and our home will be put first, so that husband, children or home are not neglected?
5. Am I willing to honor God and respect my husband?
6. Is our home a place we can find sanctuary from the stresses that church leadership can bring?
You, as an individual, are unique, but you are also in a role that shares many similarities to the position held by many, many other women. You are married to a man who has listened to the call of God to pastor, to shepherd, to disciple a group of people in a specific community that meet together to worship God. So are all the other Pastors’ wives. Each church assignment is going to be slightly different, but we all have similar concerns, desires, goals, and expectations.
Let’s not worry so much about not being a “cookie cutter” PW. Instead, let’s focus on becoming God’s woman, being the best person that God created us to be, a unique individual who loves God, loves people, and is committed to spreading the Good News. A woman who is a strong Jesus follower, growing in her faith, and just happens to be married to a pastor. Perhaps we could support each other in our role as PWs better that way.
Beige happens, but we can be as colorful and as unique an instrument in the house of God as He wants us to be. Without being a cookie cutter. Without being boring. With an understanding of the unique sisterhood we have with other women, who are also married to pastors. Go for it, girl! Be the best cookie you can be!