Make your children a top priority. Give yourself permission to place your responsibilities as a mother before your responsibilities at church. Understand that being a great mom is an extremely important ministry. Don't feel like you have to take a one-size-fit-all approach to parenting; realize that each child is unique. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you should parent each of your children. Protect your kids from the burden of unrealistic expectations other people might place on them because they're pastor's kids. Don't expect them to be perfect; allow them to go through the natural process of making mistakes and learning from them. Don't force certain types of behaviors on them at church just so they'll look good to others. Instead, be concerned with how they're doing in their quests to genuinely get to know and love God. Strive to model an authentic faith for them by living honestly and openly yourself.

Enjoy friendships with other women. Realize that you need friends to become the woman God wants you to be. Don't distance yourself from the women in your own congregation and limit yourself to friendships with other pastors' wives. Develop friendships with women in your same church family who share your life and purpose. Don't worry about appearing to show favoritism by forming friendships with some women in your church and not others; know that it's natural to be drawn to some people over others. Just be sure to be friendly to everyone, regardless of how close you are to them.

Lead with grace. Recognize that you have great influence as a pastor's wife, and how you use that influence can positively or negatively affect your church. Know that your leadership will be received most effectively if you are gracious and kind in the way you relate to people. Strive to use your influence for the good of others, and to strengthen and support your husband's ministry. Gain the respect and love of people in your church by treating them as you would like to be treated. Don't live behind a façade of perfection; be willing to let people see your weaknesses so they can also see how God's strength is working in your life and be inspired to seek Him themselves. Set healthy boundaries on how much you can do and be honest about those limits with other people rather than trying to attend every wedding, funeral, and baby shower in your church, sing in the choir, lead the women's Bible study, receive phone calls at home at all hours, or anything else that's unreasonable for you.

Adapted from A Life Embraced: A Hopeful Guide for the Pastor's Wife, copyright 2004 by Gayle Haggard. Published by WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, Co., a division of Random House, Inc.,

Gayle Haggard has been married for 26 years to Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals and pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Since the time their church was founded in 1985 with just a few people meeting in their basement, through its growth into a megachurch of 11,000 people, Gayle has worked alongside her husband in building the ministry. As director of women's ministries at New Life, Gayle oversees more than 100 women's small groups. In recent years, she has coordinated the National Day of Prayer event in Colorado Springs, helping to make it into one of the largest annual celebrations in the nation. She and Ted are the parents of five children, including one who is disabled.