When I was asked by a hospital system to manage one of their outpatient clinics, I thought it would be a challenging adventure. I was not to be disappointed. I soon found out that it was a struggling, troubled agency in which my predecessor had been fired. As the weeks passed, I practiced all my minuscule skills to bring some unity to the staff and help the clinic stabilize. Our agency began to grow. We became a program with a reputation for being a strong, helpful resource in the community.
When my hospital director praised me in front of a group for getting the agency back on track, I made a comment "Everything I know I learned from being a pastor's wife." It became so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. I think they thought the clinic experience had taken its toll on my sanity.
Being a pastor's wife taught me:
1. Flexibility. Pastors' wives may need to drop everything when schedules change or people don't fulfill their obligations.
2. Conduct yourself well in meetings. We may fantasize about standing on a table in the middle of the room and telling the church members what is good for them, but most pastors' wives attempt to cultivate teamwork among committee members and do more listening than talking.
3. Making decisions. A pastor's wife must go forward even when she is unsure and make her best decision (usually because her husband is in a hurry). It is more important to learn from a mistake than to make one.
4. Treat everyone as though helshe is important. It is tempting to hang out with our best friends at church and shun others, but pastors' wives are very aware of how to make each church member feel like a significant person. We need everyone to make an effort or program successful.
5. Always took your best. Pastors' wives never know when an uninvited guest may arrive on the doorstep (especially at the parsonage next to the church). Meeting someone in a bathrobe at the front door or not brushing our teeth before we rush to church meetings may leave a lasting, unshakable impression.
6. Show confidence in others' abilities. Pastors' wives encourage folks to step out and try new tasks, promising to give them moral support (and silently cheering because they were able to give away one of their numerous church jobs).
7. Plan potlucks. Eating together allows people to let their hair down, make friendships, experience good feelings and create happy, satisfied memories (of how you ruined your diet). A potluck also inspires meat eaters to sample vegetarian dishes.
8. Write thank-you notes. Pastors' wives are excellent writers because they have so many opportunities to write words of appreciation for gifts, dinners and helping hands offered to complete various tasks and duties.
9. Always do your best. No matter what the task, a pastor's wife does her best for she thinks of the Creator as her boss. She sets an example for others to model.
10. Greet everyone, Pastors' wives are adept at greeting everyone they pass so they will not offend or hurt someone's feelings.
11. Forgive. Pastors' wives usually have many opportunities to practice forgiveness and admit their mistakes. Too bad our church members are no more perfect than we are.
12. Avoid gossip. Pastors' wives usually have been in a small church or two and realize that the person they shared gossip about usually turns out to be the conversant's relative. Caution becomes a habit. They have usually learned, "I Love to Tell the Story" is not about gossip, but about sharing the gospel with others.
13. Give God the praise. Pastors' wives often learn that they fall on their faces when operating in their own power (and the pug-nosed look is not in style). All good things come from God, and we are His vessels.
14. Laugh. Christianity is a joyful experience and one may be tempted to crack if she forgets to find humor in everyday occurrences in her church districts.
Yes, being a pastor's wife does build skills that we can use in the marketplace. But, heartfelt lessons learned in the pastorate will also develop characters that will last an eternity.