My husband felt a call on his life as a teenager, but it was not time for the call to be acted upon. At the age of thirty-four, after attending a Promise Keepers conference, my husband announced to me that he felt called to go into ministry, and we needed to move twelve hours away from home so he could attend seminary.
I know wives who say they knew they were going to marry pastors, and they felt called to that before ever meeting their husbands. I am not one of those women. You see, I did not marry a minister. My husband was very involved in his family’s business, and preparations were being made for him to take over the reins there. So when he came home and told me about his renewed calling, my first thought was “I did not sign up for that.” It took an entire year for me to accept the idea.
Right now, you might be appalled that I just said your wife may not feel called to her position. You see, I came to the realization it is not about whether I feel called to ministry, it is about obedience to God. I decided that if God was calling my husband to go to seminary, we had to follow His plan or we would never be happy otherwise. So, just as God told Abram, “Leave your country. Leave your relatives and your father’s home, and travel to the land I will show you” (Gen. 12:1 The Voice), we sold most of our possessions, packed up our three young children, and moved far away from our entire family and everyone we knew. We became the out-of-town relatives. Immediately, we were thrown into a whole new life—I had become a preacher’s wife, and our children did not have a choice—they were preacher’s kids.
A mentor pastor once told my husband about the pastorate, “If you can do anything else, do it.” I didn’t understand why he said that until we entered the ministry ourselves. After spending twenty years alongside my husband in the pastorate, there are still times when I wonder what in the world we got ourselves into. But on Sundays I get hugs from teenagers who spent their elementary school years in my Wednesday night class, and from younger children in our church who have never had another pastor besides my husband and love us for who we are. Toddlers in the nursery hold their arms out to me to be held. We are a part of their lives. I will sign up for that!
Maleah Bell is a freelance editor and pastor’s wife. She and her husband make their home in Middle Tennessee.