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The top dozen lessons I've learned regarding what not to do in over 35 years as a pastor's wife... 1.

Dont go to a church potluck dinner with something that is not homemade. The church ladies will spot a Stouffers lasagna in a New-York minute. They will know at once you cant cook. Find five never-fail recipes and let your mother make them. If all else fails, bring a salad or rolls. 2. Dont be fake. Dont wear the "church face." Fighting like rabid dogs on the way to church and popping out of the car with your happy Praise the Lord grins doesnt fool anyone. It will teach everyone in your family to be superficial, defensive and hypocritical. The more real and vulnerable you are, the better the congregants identify with you and respect you for being honest. 3. Dont trade ministry for spirituality. The Bible is not just a book to help you teach, its to make you spiritual. If every time you open your Bible, its for a sermon outline or teaching lesson, God can never change YOU. Let His life in you transform you into a powerful, anointed leader. 4. Dont expect your children to be perfect. They arent. Get over it. They are normal kids. If you fill their lives with unrealistic expectations (your own and those of every nosey church member), you will just make them mad, hurt or rebellious. When I failed to protect my older, more sensitive daughter from unwarranted criticism, she became wounded and withdrew. When my youngest daughter felt pastor kid pressure she refused to conform and wore her bunny slippers to church for a year. Fortunately, we learned to comfort them, befriend them and help them filter which expectations were appropriate and which should be ignored. Every pastors kid needs support, comfort, acceptance and affirmation. You want them to grow up and be launched into the world-loving church, not leaving church. 5. Never be surprised when the worship leader has an affair (just kidding.) But some high-profile church leaderwill fall into sin. Wait for it.waaaiiit for it. When a front-line, up-front guy or gal succumbs to temptation and devastates, disappoints and disillusions the unsuspecting congregation, you can recover. Remember, Satan is creative. He is always going to go after the big guns. At this point, the pastor has two choices: to cover it up, which is stupid, unscriptural and destructive, or to deal with the situation honestly and openly, using biblical wisdom and church discipline while dealing compassionately with the couple through counseling, patience and forgiveness. That does not mean that the church and the individuals will not suffer consequences. We live in a sinful world. But God has given us spiritual weapons to wage spiritual war. 6. On a lighter note, dont push the envelope by wearing mini-skirts, leopardskin pants or thigh-high boots, no matter how cute they are. Yes, I was in the

church rock band and it was tempting. Bad idea. Be modest. Dont wear clothes that are too sexy, too casual, or too expensive. Let the congregation notice your beautiful, godly inside first (a little lipstick never hurt, especially if you have chapped lips). 7. NEVER, Never, no never take up an offense for your husband. That is ministry suicide. Bitterness will destroy you. You are not helping him. If you get mad, he gets madder. Your hubby needs comfort, love and a safe place at home. Every time Ive been cruelly hurt by a church member, I cant stay mad if I pray for them, repay their meanness with kindness, and wait for Gods time to heal the hurt. (This principle is the heaping coals principle and it has never failed me. In 36 years of ministry at the same church, I couldnt have lived without it!). When you or your husband screws up, (and you will, often - remember, you are not Jesus) admit it. Own it. Dont explain it away. The best advice we ever heard in this regard is from a dear friend and associate pastor in our church. He said, Roger, its just about this time that a pastor will be tempted to do something really stupid. Dont run away, resign, or defend yourself from the pulpit. Learn from your mistakes. Listen to honest criticism. Be humble. Dont run away from trouble. 9. Dont be nave. Expect the unexpected. Satan is relentless and creative. One valuable principle weve learned is that we must ALWAYS be prepared for hassle, interference and obstacles before God is getting ready to do something amazing. The worse the ammo, the greater the blessing that will follow. So dont give up. Be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove, and pray your guts out. 10. Dont try do ministry alone. You really need to depend on Jesus. But you really need other people too. Every pastor and wife needs a support system. We have counseled thousands of pastors and wives, and they are some of the loneliest people we know because they are self-reliant and have never learned to receive. You cant give what you havent received. Youll be tapped out pretty quickly. Find a godly, mature, safe friend or family member that you can be honest with and that will comfort, affirm and support you. God created all of us to be relational. 11.Don't miss the opportunity to have some family fun. Learn to laugh. Dont let your pastor-family become exhausted, dull, bitter or cynical. Set boundaries and plan to celebrate and recuperate. Life is too short, and your kids will love you for it. 12. And finally, don't forget that God is God and you are not. Every time I fear, falter or freak out about what's going on in my family and my flock, I remember that both belong to God. I am just His servant, and He is truly trustworthy.