Adventures of Mrs. Pastor: Episode 1

Toby and Me

I have been a pastor’s wife for about 31 days. Some highlights of my month as Mrs. Pastor include an amazing ordination with the best cake in the world (could I get another slice of the carrot cake, please?), signing up to teach Sunday school (no surprise there), being late to every service (that’s not really all that new), needing to untie my eight-year-old’s legs during communion (he had used a skull bandana from his pocket to tie his legs together), scraping my six-year-old’s mood-changing silly putty off the pew (you can guess what my mood was there), and finding opportune moments in each service to wink at the pastor.

A popular question that churchgoers like to ask me is: How does it feel to be a pastor’s wife? I think the first paragraph about sums up how I feel. In other words, not much has changed. I am still chasing kids. I am still married to Toby, but what many may not know is that I’m no rookie when it comes to pastoral ministry.

Pastor Walter Sr. and Pastor Walter Jr. with Baby Reuben

Pastor Walter Sr. and Pastor Walter Jr. with Baby Reuben

I come from a family line of pastors. My dad was a pastor. My grandfather was a pastor. My godfather is a pastor. My sister and I pretended to be pastors (we collected a lot of offerings). And now my husband is a pastor. So you could say, we’re in the family business.

One of the things I told Toby when we were dating, however, was, “Whatever you do, just don’t work for the church.” His first stateside job? A Purdue campus missionary for the church. After a few years into our marriage and life at Purdue, I said, “I don’t mind campus ministry, just don’t ever become a pastor.” His second job? A pastor. Maybe I should have said something like, “Whatever you do, just don’t become a famous novelist who works from home. And definitely don’t use the royalties from your bestselling books to buy me a dairy farm in Vermont with an all-you-can-eat cheese and ice cream bar.”

When I shared this with a friend (who also happened to grow up as a pastor’s kid), he asked, “Why didn’t you want Toby to become a pastor?” I couldn’t really answer the question. It’s not that I didn’t feel God calling us to pastoral ministry. I did. If I hadn’t, I would have fought harder against going to seminary. It’s just that I didn’t like being in a pastor’s family. I didn’t like the attention. I didn’t like the expectations. I didn’t like being called goody-two-shoes. (Kids can be mean.) And I was scared of reliving the ups and downs that are unique to pastoral ministry.


Me (left) and my sister (right)

When I mentioned this to my sister. She laughed and said, “What? I loved being a pastor’s kid!” Her perspective was so different. She reminded me of the love and attention she felt from people. She’s right, you can dwell on the painful downs or you can focus on the sweet ups. Both happen, just your perspective changes.

I am not going to lie though; early on I tried protecting the kids and myself. I was dead set against seminary. I used all my evidence and personal experience to sway Toby from the pastoral ministry path. He listened, but still felt strongly about going. My last ditch effort was to tell Toby that I would not support him until we had both prayed about it for two months. Separately. (I didn’t want to hear his prayers. And I definitely didn’t want him hearing mine. They were pretty raw and honest.)

After two months of praying, I was still dead set against seminary, but God had given me peace and the answer: Go. I no longer had an excuse, and I knew that not going would be rebellion against God. Apprehension is one thing. Rebellion is quite another. (If you don’t believe me, read the book of Jonah.)

Ordination Day

Ordination Day

But there is something amazing about seeking God’s guidance and having His peace. It’s this supernatural power that makes you do things you never thought you could. It carries you through tough moves, financial strain, loneliness, grief, and doubt. And then when you get to the other side, that same peace gently bids you to turn around and see clearly where God has led.

So what’s it like being the new Mrs. Pastor? So far, it’s the same as it has always been. Only I have had the chance to see God’s provision once again. Each time that happens, my trust in Him grows a little bit stronger. So for now, it’s just a new job, a new state, and a new house. The kids are older now and we are making new friends. I am still with Toby. I am still his wife. Only now I get to kiss the pastor.


Pastor Walter Sr. and the original Mrs. Pastor

The newest Pastor and Mrs. Pastor


Filed under Family, Ministry, Miscellaneous thoughts

5 responses to “Adventures of Mrs. Pastor: Episode 1

  1. I have no doubt you are making and will always be a fantastic pastor’s wife. God knows what He is doing. Continue being real and walking in the Light.

  2. I’m sure my “pastor’s wife” would concur! My best and prayers for you all!

  3. Renee

    Rachel, it is a good life with ups and downs, but a real privilege to be a pastor’s wife. Thanks for your honesty and love. My prayers are with you as you grow into this role. To God be the glory!

  4. Mary

    Cute pics! I am always late to church too. I am thankful some of that peace comes from having you for a friend. Love you sister!!

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