An Elder’s Wife

Until this week, I never gave much thought to the term elder’s wife. I can be a bit oblivious at times. This week my life changed though. This week I became an elder’s wife… dun-dun-dun (sing that to scary music when you read it, it makes it sound cool). When Brian approached me several months ago and asked me what I thought about him becoming an elder, I said sure, sounds great. I always try to encourage him to be part of working in God’s kingdom.

I assumed it would be very similar to many of the other things he is involved in. My role in it would probably be to plan and organize some events and just help out whenever I can. That is who I am, a worker bee. I love to be behind the scenes organizing and planning and then fall behind the scenes. I don’t do well in the spotlight. I don’t get on stage and I don’t like to pray out loud. All of these things give me hot flashes, sweaty hands, shaky voice, a blotchy red chest and stomach pain. I’m a blender.

So, you can imagine my surprise this week when I had people coming up to me congratulating me. The first congratulation took me completely by surprise. I had no idea what they were congratulating me for. Perhaps it was that I had done a good job getting a handle on my acne, perhaps they were congratulating me for a particularly good hair day. I just wasn’t sure, as must have been obvious by the puzzled look on my face, followed by clarification.

The other unexpected surprise was comments from people like “just wait, now that you are an elder’s wife everyone is going to be watching you close”. WHAT???? Then I started looking around at the other elder’s wives. They are so put together and distinguished. Brian is the youngest elder and only elder with elementary age children and a toddler. I’m the one in the fellowship hall who had to rip the piece of chocolate cake out of her two year olds hand, pick her up as she is having a freak out over the loss of cake, only to then get smacked in the face by her, all in week one of the job. Awesome!

There isn’t a book for this sort of a thing, so far the only advice I have received is don’t screw up. Great, that is a perfect job description for me. It seems like I can always find a way to screw up. I’m the person who thinks when the spiritual gifts test was created, the author left out the spiritual gift of sarcasm and cynicism. I think that is a gift, probably because it is one I possess. Don’t judge, I’m still a work in progress.

This new title, made me reflect on all of the people within our lives and our church who we hold unrealistic expectations for. The people I have empathy for are pastor’s kids. Bless your heart. How it must stink for everyone to watch you so they can judge your parents. I’m sorry for that. We have robbed you of the ability to be authentic, we have shut you down. As my friend Beth Moore said in Bible Study today, we shouldn’t give anyone enough power to throw us off course by his or her actions. Everyone is going to mess up. The only person that will never mess up is Jesus.

So, let’s extend grace, all of us at some point in our life will inevitably need to have that grace reciprocated. Be careful not to withhold it. Messing up and failure doesn’t necessarily make those scrutinized under a microscope frauds, they make them HUMAN. Some of the PK’s (pastor’s kids) I know are battling the enemy and winning. They aren’t in the stands rooting for Jesus, they are on the field making plays and I am so proud of them!

So, this is for them. Keep on, keeping on and don’t be scared to be yourself. That is who God made you to be and He doesn’t make mistakes, people do. Will you make mistakes, let’s hope so, it will take some of the pressure off me, but don’t let it stop you. I will be right there along with you, doing my best, but probably having my share of screw ups along the way. Let’s love extravagantly, let’s show grace and mercy, even to those who don’t give it, but most of all, let’s make some big plays together for Jesus. That’s who we are playing for!

Written by Karen Culbertson

Wife, mom and licensed mental health counselor.

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