by Tamie Bixler Lung
“I thought being a pastor’s wife looked different than this!” That was the embarrassing thought I had rolling around in my head before Covid hit and changed the way many churches ministered, including ours. We only had a small congregation, and the people were friendly. Yet this church of over eighty years had somehow gotten lost among the community. Its congregation had decreased over the years. We were in hopes of implementing programs and reaching out to the community in various ways. Due to the aging congregation and the declining health of the previous pastor, there had not been much happening in that way.
The people seemed to enjoy our new way of doing things. However, there wasn’t a lot of outward support or appreciation shown for events. Was I wrong to feel discouraged or disillusioned? Was my perception of being in ministry flawed? Did other pastors’ wives in smaller churches struggle with these same thoughts?
When we became officially recognized as the new pastors, only two of our members came to the special service. Luckily, our family members came to support us that day. Honestly, I was hurt and embarrassed. In a small church, it’s more noticeable when several are missing. Was I being easily offended? I just wanted to be the best pastor’s wife and be an asset to my husband’s call as the pastor. Was I expecting too much?
Like the ebbs and flows of any ministry, ours was beginning to become like an unnavigated river of uncharted waters. Did they not see all our efforts to minister to them effectively? Did they not realize how many hours Tim studied to prepare the sermons? Did they not see the time I put into preparing the children’s church lessons or the time I took to study and prepare the Adult Sunday School lesson? I guess they didn’t think about the time I spend helping prepare the worship or notice the special meals I prepared and organized for our holiday lunches, Tuesday night ministry, and the donuts and coffee provided every Sunday morning.
It’s not that our people were mean, but I was expecting more of an outward appreciation for our efforts and the new vision God had given us as pastors. This was my gauge in how well I thought we were doing as leaders. I would hear of all the niceties from other friends and family in ministry on how different parishioners in their congregation would bless them in special ways, not to mention showing up for special services or acknowledge them on their birthdays or anniversaries. I began allowing the enemy to reside at my table of thinking and started feeling inferior. He would say things like: “You’re not good enough!” “Why did you think you could make a difference?” or “What made you think you could be a good pastor’s wife?”
One day while venting to the Lord, I was reminded of Matthew 25:40 NIV “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” God was reminding me that he saw what we were doing and regardless of outward appreciation from others, he was pleased at our obedience and servant’s heart to love on these people.
I truly wanted to please the Lord and have the right attitude. I loved these families and wanted to make a difference. We wanted to be light in the darkness.
Like many small rural congregations, we navigated through Covid. We began broadcasting on FB Live and God has grown our congregation in a different way. Tim and I team preach on Sunday’s and Wednesdays. Rarely do the people come in person but watch on-line. Being a pastor’s wife looks different for me, and yet I’m finding it exciting to still be cultivating relationships with our people and seeing how God is helping us navigate this aged ministry into a new chapter of revitalization. In the spring, we had a business meeting where we all agreed to sell the building. The plan was to relocate the ministry to be more effective, and presently, we are working with the SOMO District to do that. I look forward to one day growing the church physically again, and with the help from the Lord, he’s allowed me to see his acknowledgement of our efforts and his approval are what really matter.
Tamie and her husband own a gourmet seasonings company called Crawdad’s Classics which was purchased from Tamie’s father in 2009. Having owned multiple businesses, their entrepreneurial endeavors brought them back to Tamie’s roots of Southwest Missouri in 2016 where her husband became a licensed minister and they took their first pastorate with Mt. Sinai A/G, a small, rural church in Rogersville, Mo. Tamie is not only a business owner, but an inspirational speaker and author. Her most recent book, This Life We Live, is a 31-day devotional with inspiring stories of challenges and triumphs that we all can face. Her six grandchildren are very close to her heart and she can be found many times during the week entertaining them and finding new adventures.
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