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

1.  Don’t go to a church potluck dinner with something that is not homemade. The church ladies will spot a Stouffer’s lasagna in a New-York minute. They will know at once you can’t cook. Find five never-fail recipes and let your mother make them. If all else fails, bring a salad or rolls.

2.  Don’t be fake. Don’t 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 doesn’t 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.   Don’t trade ministry for spirituality. The Bible is not just a book to help you teach, it’s to make you spiritual. If every time you open your Bible, it’s 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.   Don’t expect your children to be perfect. They aren’t. 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 pastor’s 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 leader will 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, don’t push the envelope by wearing mini-skirts, leopard-skin 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. Don’t 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 I’ve been cruelly hurt by a church member, I can’t stay mad if I pray for them, repay their meanness with kindness, and wait for God’s 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 couldn’t have lived without it!).