As a pastor’s wife, I think to myself much too often, “I’m not doing enough.” The needs and opportunities in our church are many and varied, so much so that I can get overwhelmed and confused with how best to give my time and energy outside the home.
But it’s not just the number of needs and opportunities available and it’s not that I’m looking for more to add to my plate. It’s that I so easily revert to performance in regards to this role. If my calendar is full, if I am having people in our home for meals, if I’m serving in tangible and measurable ways, I feel pretty good about the way I’m filling up this role I’ve inherited by way of my husband. But when I am unable to meet with someone who has asked, I disappoint someone, or my service to-do list is thin, that nagging feeling rises to the surface: “I’m not doing enough.”
I know that this is because, if I am not meditating on the gospel each day, I tend to live by works, performing for myself (and others) and trying to author my own righteousness and good works. And I recognize that I do a poor job of both apart from the Spirit. So why do I still try? Why can I not hold fast to the freedom I’ve been given in Christ? How can I do this pastor’s wife thing by faith and through grace?
When I put the Perfect Pastor’s Wife checklist down and back away slowly, when I turn my heart back toward the gospel, what I’m left with is the authorship of God. How is He leading me? What gifts has He given me and how does He want me to use them?
Ephesians 2:10 describes God’s authorship with a beautiful word picture: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works...” The original language says, “We are God’s poem.” God is not just the author of my salvation and good works; He is a poet who, if I stop striving and attempting to work in my own strength, creates a work of art in my heart and through my hands.
Not coincidentally, this imagery follows Paul’s adamant declaration that our salvation and anything that follows that salvation have occurred entirely because of God’s grace. Just as God is the author of my newness in Christ, He is the author of everything that has and will follow. By my efforts, I author a powerless tale of fruitlessness. But when I allow God to author my life and good works, He writes a poem with my life--an unexpected, beautiful, and specific-to-me poem.
As I apply this truth to my ministry as a pastor’s wife, I recognize that I need God’s sanctifying work just as much as the next woman in the pew and that He is making me new every day. When I look to this grace that flows freely from His hand, I hear His voice and am able to follow His clear leading. I also see a natural outflow of service being authored in my life that is joyfully compelled by His love.
Grace is a gift and the ministry that comes after is a gift. Instead of a checklist, it is a poem. With grace, there is no thought of “I’m not doing enough.” It is simply, “I can’t get enough.” Of Him.