I am a pastor. And, surprisingly, I rather enjoy it! I very much enjoy the opportunities that I have to speak to our congregation. I enjoy working with the staff at the church. I enjoy the privilege it affords me of being able to be a part of helping to cast vision for what I feel the Lord is doing or saying. And, I even enjoy connecting with the congregation. Yet, when I introduce myself, I don’t introduce myself as “Pastor Nicole”. Instead, I proudly proclaim that I am “Pastor Jamey’s wife”. Why is that?
I will be the first to admit that I still have some unease at the role of pastor. However, that has nothing to do with the title I choose as my main identity. I actually am pretty comfortable and confident in who I am–at least, usually. (And, I am growing more and more so all the time.) While there is a lot that I am still learning about myself, I think God did a pretty decent job when He made me, if you don’t mind me saying so. But, there is nothing I am more proud of then being “Pastor Jamey’s wife”. Without any hesitation at all, I think it is the best thing about me. (Being a mom is a close second.)
Admitting the pride I feel in being a wife comes with a lot of baggage in this day and age. Most people assume that it must mean I have low self-esteem, or I don’t understand the value of who I am. Many would say that it is degrading or sexist to find my identity in my marriage. I am certainly displaying old-fashioned (often seen as outdated!) values. In fact, I have had more then one person talk to me about how I introduce myself. They assume that I choose “Pastor Jamey’s wife” over “Pastor Nicole” because of something I lack–confidence, encouragement into really embracing the role of pastor, honor, etc. They don’t see that I have chosen to identify that way because of what I have–a husband who is good, honorable and my best friend. A husband who has made me a better person and in the process truly become a part of me. You see, I don’t think of myself without considering Jamey. Actually, that would be impossible. Is this a weakness? I want to suggest that it is actually the opposite.
Why do I think this? Because of the example my Father has set out for me. Hear me out. God has many names. For example: El Shaddai. Jehovah. Elohim. He is the great I AM. I could go on and on. Why does He have so many different names? Because each name represents an aspect of who He is. And He is a big God–He needs a lot of names to try to catch even a small portion of the reality of who He is!
And, when Jesus came to earth, He came to represent the Father. Everything He did pointed at God. Everything He said reflected the Father’s heart. And what name did He come representing? Father. Jesus came to connect us to our Father. Not God the Creator. Not the God who provides for us. Not the Holy One. God is certainly all those things. Every name He has been given is true. Yet, the one that He wanted us to most identify Him with was the name “Father”. (The same is true of Jesus. There are many aspects of His identity. He has many names. Yet, His main identity is from His role as Son.)
Identifying yourself in relation to your role with others is not a weakness. My Father taught me that. When He identifies Himself as Father, it doesn’t make any of the other aspects of His identity less. It doesn’t change or dishonor His other names. In fact, I think it enhances them! The same is true for me. The fact that I am a wife does not make my life less. It makes it so much more! Covenant relationship is something that has its roots in heavenly places. It is the greatest joy that I have had a privilege of joining in. Learning to love my husband–really love him–has been the greatest joy, challenge and honor of my life. There is nothing else I will ever do that will be so amazing, life-changing or difficult. There is also nothing else that holds such great reward and promise. Being a spouse isn’t something you do, it is something you are.
That is why, if you visit our church and hear me speak, you will probably hear me introduce myself as “Pastor Jamey’s wife”. It is more then a role I fulfill, it is a part of who I am. So, instead of clucking and shaking your head, I hope you will join me in celebrating it.