If you had asked me at the beginning of our pastoral ministry how to spiritually grow into the role of a pastor’s wife, I probably would have rattled off a very practical list of how-to’s: 1) Read books on the subject. 2) Connect with a seasoned minister’s wife and learn by example. 3) Develop a strategic plan for growth. While all of these ideas are noble pursuits and, ones I currently value and participate in, another step continues to speak to my soul: Return to the Gospel. Around half a dozen years ago, my husband Jared preached through a series titled, “The Marks of a Disciple.” I found myself needing, wanting to repent, to be restored as I listened to the messages. He then preached a similar series a few years ago and I found myself in the same place of repentance and restoration. Recently, when I began contemplating about and praying for growth as a minister’s wife, I knew my first step would be to return to the Gospel.
Have you ever found yourself giving biblical counsel to someone in an area you are miserably failing yourself? I have. And the feeling is devastating. At times, God has allowed me to share some of my own shortcomings with my sisters in Christ who came to me for help, but other times, I have chosen to suffer the hypocrisy privately. Recently, I read a book proposing my hypocrisy and my need to hide my sin are because I have lost my anchor in the truth of the gospel. The Gospel-Centered Life by Thune and Walker writes we “shrink the cross” by either pretending (pretending we are better than we are) or performing (trying to earn God’s approval through our performance). “When we are not firmly rooted in the gospel, we rely on these false sources of righteousness to build our reputation and give us a sense of worth and value.” More than books on the position and role of a pastor’s wife, more than developing a mentoring relationship, and more than a well-formed plan for growth, I want…I need to be rooted firmly in the Gospel. I need to know that my sin, however small in terms of tangible consequences, has left me condemned under the Law. As my husband says, Jesus is the curve-breaker. He is the standard to which we are measured. And more importantly, I am justified through the redemption found in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:24). I can be freed from a dutiful ministerial performance and from the anti-“glass house” pretending. When I am restored in Christ, and recognize the weight of forgiveness extended, I find myself loving others and desiring to minister in a pure way.
So if you have found yourself in the desert, return to the Gospel. Simply knowing we have a duty to minister will not drive us to complete the task. No, “the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:14-15). This, my friend, is the Gospel. Let us return to the Gospel.
“Church of Jesus, let us please be men and women who understand the difference between moralism and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s be careful to preach the dos and don’ts of Scripture in the shadow of the cross’s ‘Done!’”
Thune, Robert H. and Will Walker. The Gospel-Centered Life. Greensboro, NC.: World Harvest Mission, 2009, 21.
Chandler, Matt and Jared C. Wilson. The Explicit Gospel. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2012, 221.