C.S. Lewis said “A woman’s heart should be so close to God that a man should have to chase Him to find her.” By God’s Grace my wife is such a woman. Below is the transcript from a recent talk she gave at Emmanuel in Newport for their “Ladies Meeting”.
Being a Pastors’ wife – Harriet Funnell
Nearly two years ago our removal van pulled up to the cottage at Noddfa Abersychan, the place that we now call home.
As I entered a new chapter in my life as “Pastors’ wife”. I had no idea what to expect.
What I did know was my priorities where to be a wife and mother and provide a happy Godly home for the family.
As John and I both entered into this ministry together, I often thought that he had it easier to some extent. John had weekly meetings with Bernard and attended the EMW Training Course, he was being taught how to be a Pastor. John also had two years experience of preaching in different churches, some he grew quite close to, so knew what to expect.
I, on the other hand had none of the above!
Linda (Pastor Bernard Lewis’ wife at Emmanuel) helped where she could and is always on hand when things get tough. But there was nothing formally set up to guide a Pastors Wife.
The bible does teach us how to conduct ourselves as women (Eph 5:22-23) and equip us to go fourth and serve our Lord in marriage. The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Gen 2:18)
It is clear that my role is to keep John in His service to God! To keep him in the pulpit! And this is such an amazing way to serve God!
When I say “keep him in the pulpit” I obviously do not mean to prepare John’s sermons for him or pick the hymns. I mean by helping him behind the scenes like; staying up late with him whilst he does his sermon prep. I may be in the other room watching the TV whilst he does this, but I know how much he appreciates me being close. If he is on his own every night and I’m asleep in bed, he gets quite lonely. Giving John the quiet time needed before a Sunday Service or Prayer meeting (which can be quite challenging with four children in the house, as you can all imagine).
I remember one morning he was in tears in the kitchen, he felt the burden of what he was going to preach and saw himself to be a hypocrite and could not go into the pulpit, but we prayed together and by God’s Grace he gathered himself and followed his calling. (I have learned that this is common in the ministry; it is full of emotional ups and downs).
Practical things like making sure his shirt is ironed or that his tie matches his trousers, or that he’s at least wearing trousers! He is so forgetful this is a real possibility (he has often gone up in his slippers).
Neither of us come from Christian families, we are both relatively recent converts and are still ‘worldly’. When we are seen as Pastor and Pastor’s wife we feel a heavy burden, it does grip our stomach when we know how unworthy we both are for the role. We think of the sins we have committed and the hurt we have even caused each other over the years and often wonder what right we have to help others? But this brings us back to Jesus and His Grace. (1 Cor 15:10)
Because of Jesus I am a better wife, a better mum and our children are privileged enough to grow up in a Christian home. Something neither John and I had.
There is no perfect marriage, it is said that “the secret to a successful marriage is two good forgivers”. It gets tough at times especially having four children with John juggling the ministry with secular work. But we are reminded that God knows our limits and has blessed us with so much already.
Caring and Sharing
Keeping my husband in the pulpit is a great privilege! But sharing him with others is what I have found to be the biggest challenge. Bethan Lloyd-Jones talks about this challenge in the book “Far above rubies” written by Lynette Clark – Highly recommended. (Harriet went on to read sections from the book).
Now I am by no means comparing John or myself to these to wonderful Godly people but I find this such an encouragement that I would like to share with you.
God’s grace has taught me how to accept the challenges of being a Pastors wife, in time I have learnt how to manage the practical side of things like late night callers, random visitors at meal times and even official visits from police and social workers. (I must say, most of which are not from church members but people in the community who have never even been to Noddfa).
Remember! We are in a different situation in Abersychan than to Emmanuel. John is not just the pastor of Noddfa but being the only minister in a village of 10,000 people, we are, by Gods grace, the face of the wider church. We get all sorts knocking our door!
By giving my husband up to God it means that he can do God’s work, it means that we can talk things through; like preaching engagements, evangelistic meetings, like our look up services and holiday clubs and work together on them.
My husband knows that he has my full support within the ministry.Just as he is submissive to God, I am to him, because of the love God has given to me.
Linda Lewis advised me at the start of this journey to learn with John and I have done my best to keep up. After each week of the EMW TTC we have gone through his notes together.John often shares quotes and books that he is reading and we study God’s word and pray together. (This can get annoying, when after a long days I finally get to sit down and relax on the sofa with a cup of tea and John excitingly summons me in to the study to tell me what a particular word means in Greek and how it adds a deeper meaning to the verse he was studying. This can be as boring as it sounds.)
We have such a lovely church family at Noddfa, the children have adopted new aunties and uncles. Everyone supports us as much as they can.I remember coming home once from Mothers and Toddlers and a member had hovered the downstairs and done the dishes for me! I could not believe it! Some help with the school run, or take the kids out during the holidays to give me a break. (You all know who you are – thank you).
Some of these adopted aunties and uncles know more about what our children get up to than myself or John.We often hear about Arthur’s escapades second hand from a member!
It is such a blessing to be of service in the Welsh Valley’s and I pray God keeps and strengthens us to continue his work. We are so grateful to God and we thank you all for your support and prayers and ask if you can continue to pray for us as a family.
If you are reading this as a “Pastor’s Wife” please be aware that the EMW are working hard to provide support and have a conference (that I am really looking forward to) here