As we approach February, our family approaches the first anniversary of my husband leading our local church. I never expected to be a pastor's wife – and if someone had told me twenty years ago, just before we married, that I would become one I probably would have run a mile! God certainly has a sense of humour…
I married my childhood sweetheart – the boy I had grown up with during my teenage years in our church youth group. But far from the idyllic life I had naively dreamed about, the reality was so much harder. I spent my twenties struggling with Steve's choice of career – record producer – as it meant we barely saw each other. So when it became apparent that God was calling him to become a pastor, I struggled immensely.
Initially my rebellious nature came out, then self-pity, fears about my identity, and lack of self-esteem overwhelmed me. But, ever so slowly, I began to realise that all the difficulties we had faced early on in our marriage had been preparing us for this enormous change.
I know that some women feel called into church leadership – I do not (at least not being the lead pastor/vicar). I am very aware of the calling I have in the area I work in and am grateful for the way God has been developing it. But I've also begun to realise that Steve's calling impacts mine in a way I hadn't envisaged.
Yes, I do believe that marriage partners should support one another and stand by each other in everything – including career paths. And Steve's choice now impacts everything we do and the way that we live. So it has been a monumental shift in focus. But that doesn't mean I quietly accept every change and reorganise my family's life without expressing my opinion. If only you had a chance to meet me – you would know that I'm not the meek and mild type!
But what I have noticed recently is how God has nudged me forwards to do things I would never have contemplated in the past. Not just to be next to Steve (trying to look decorative!) but to fulfil the potential He placed in me as I was growing and developing many years ago.
For example, I can look back now at the period where I was heavily involved in church while Steve was always in the recording studio working. I hosted and co-led a small group, I started playing and singing in the worship band, and helped organise outreach events. Now, I head up the whole worship team, lead worship, am part of the wider leadership team, do marriage preparation and MOT courses alongside Steve and head up the team that organises events for the women in our church. I've also spoken/preached a few times in the past year and believe that this is an area I will be developing.
Those are all things my shy self would never have dreamed of doing. I was gripped by fear every time I played keyboards initially, so would certainly never have spoken up the front but, these days, I totally believe my place is beside my husband, helping to facilitate Sunday morning meetings and sharing things I feel God has laid on my heart.
One of those things I feel God has particularly called me to share is to urge Christians to drop our 'I'm fine' masks and learn to be open and honest with each other (and be supportive rather than judgemental when we are). I've often felt God nudge me to share things from my own life in order to encourage others to do the same. It's been uncomfortable at times, which you'll no doubt discover as I continue writing this column! But I hope you will see that I'm just an ordinary woman, with the same frustrations, hang ups, hopes, dream etc as the next one. As I write I'm sure there will some amusing anecdotes as well as lessons God's teaching me day by day. So please come and visit my column as often as you can. It will be appearing bi-weekly, at least for now, and I'd love to see you here regularly – please feel free to leave a comment or start a discussion :)
Claire is a freelance writer and editor, mum to two gorgeous young children, pastor's wife, worship leader and school governor. Claire's desire is to help others draw closer to God through her writing, which focuses on marriage, parenting, worship, discipleship, issues facing women today etc. To find out more about her, please visit www.clairemusters.com and @CMusters on Twitter