When you stop being the minister’s wife

What challenging and unexpected times we live in. We have all had to adapt and change in ways we did not predict. In addition to the pandemic, I’ve had to try to cope with what’s felt like a fair amount of change in recent years. We’ve moved house, one child has left for University, another one is about to move out for work, I’ve passed a significant birthday and on two occasions, I’ve stopped being the Minister’s wife.

Let me explain. After many years serving in a church plant, Richard took on a broader role within Co-Mission, our church planting network and stepped away from being the Senior Minister at Christ Church Balham. It was entirely right to move on when the new senior minister started. Richard was no longer the minister but that meant I was no longer the minister’s wife.

A year or so later we were part of a launch team trying to establish a multicultural church plant in Peckham. Amongst other factors, COVID proved too much for our fledgling church. Sadly some 3 years later we met for the last time. Once again my husband was no longer one of the senior leadership team and again, I was no longer the minister’s wife. 

On both occasions we were hugely blessed by integrating into another established church family. We have been taught, discipled and cared for in a time of refreshment.  

I don’t know whether you’ve had lots of change or whether you feel stuck in a rut. Maybe you too have had to change your role because your husband’s role has changed. Maybe he has become unwell and can no longer work. Or perhaps you have even been widowed. There are lots of reasons we may stop being a minister’s wife. I think I have been surprised by how challenging I have found it to adapt to the change. At times, it has felt a little like a bereavement. 

Here are six things that I am (still!) learning:

  1. It is Jesus’s church in which I serve – not mine to invest in. I think I have been in danger of becoming quietly possessive of the church family. I too easily forget that I am in service – God brings growth in people and numbers as he choses. I can become too invested and assume too much responsibility. None of us is indispensible. When we are no longer there, He will look after His own.

 “I will build my church“ Jesus says in Matt 16:18

  1. My identity is not in being the minister’s wife – it lies primarily in being a loved and chosen child of God. It wasn’t until I was no longer the minister’s wife that I could begin to get an objective view about that. I have been greatly helped by a book called “Identity Theft” by Melissa Kruger, published by The Gospel Coalition.

”To those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” John 1:12

  1. I am not the sum of what I do – all too easily I can gain value not only from my status but from my activities – the Bible study; the Marriage prep evenings. We know that these things provide a wonderful chance to serve if we have ability and opportunity. However the Lord is much more interested in our character and hearts inclination.

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire” Psalm 40:6

  1. The Lord’s plans are not mine – our second church plant initiative was gospel centred, carefully planned and prayed for. It seemed bold, inclusive, and missional. It was just getting established and there were people coming to faith and growing in love for the Lord. Closing down a church never seems like progress. And yet this was what the Lord had planned. I need to trust Him. 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” Isaiah 55:8

  1. There are seasons of life – it is ok to rest and refresh sometimes. I just need to be wary of getting too comfortable and to prayerfully be open to the next area of service God may have for me – unexpected as it may be.

  ”There is a time for everything , and a season for every activity under heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1

  1. I need to live for Him day to day – the Lord is sovereign over every detail of our lives – where we live, which church  we are involved in, what opportunities for service are available to us. We should use the life he has given us in that service. We should rejoice in the blessings we have received from Him.

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13

Rosslyn Perkins is a member of Christ Church Mayfair. She married to Richard who works as the Director of Church Planting for Co-Mission. They have three children. She works part time as a GP and medical educator.