NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Ministers' wives can fall victim to the aggravations of ministry or they can take hold of freedom by realizing they are called to ministry themselves, Bible study author Beth Moore told a group of ministers' wives March 13-14 at Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn.

Focusing on the Book of Galatians, Moore laid out six pairs of what she called "aggravations" and their "alternatives" associated with being the wife of a minister in today's church. A recent blog entry by her daughter called on people to sum up their lives in six words, so Moore was inspired to state each of her points in six words.

1. Aggravation: Ministry by default. Life-long misfit.

"If you see yourself as being in ministry by default, you will spend the rest of your life feeling like a misfit. I promise you that," Moore said. "We're shooting ourselves in the foot when we get it in our head that 'I wasn't the one called to this ministry. You were.'"

When they don't feel called, such women find themselves in misery. And when misery visits ministry, Moore said, a woman can repress those feelings or rebel -- or a combination of the two.

"Repression will make you sick, and rebellion will make you stupid," she said. "We can't act like we're not the ones who were called."

Alternative: Chosen by God. Have holy fit.

"God is not sorry He chose you," she told the approximately 1,200 women in attendance. "He has good taste. I am chosen by God. I have a holy fit."

2. Aggravation: Seek their approval. Become their slave.

Too often pastors' wives find themselves in a role they can't possibly succeed in, Moore said, especially when they feel like everyone is watching them and they must be good at everything they're asked to do in the church.

Alternative: Seek God's approval. Find your peace.

Believers are never less needy than when they find God sufficient, she said, and women will do well to look to God for approval instead of looking to others. Pastors' wives should discover where God wants them to serve and then let everything else go.

3: Aggravation: Work with people. Expect titanic problems.

"Are we getting cranky? Are we getting short with people, almost in a perpetual bad mood? We need refreshment. Something needs to change," Moore said.

In the trenches of church work, a pastor's wife can easily feel overwhelmed by the burdens of people in the church, Moore said, mostly because a pastor and his wife are expected to be involved in so many lives. And too often, she said, ministers' wives get burned and vow not to trust people again. That leads to isolation.

"Overwhelmingly, the thing that ministers' wives most said troubled them was loneliness," Moore said, referring to responses given on her blog. "I bet that did not surprise anybody in this room."

Alternative: Choose to trust. Not to rust.

"We've got to have some best friends. You have got to have friends. Blogging and Facebook and Twittering will not cut this for you," she said. "Women were made for deep friendships. I love my blog community, but they're not going to force me to change and come in and be what I need in my dark hour. I want somebody to laugh with. I want someone I can look across the table at Starbucks to.

"If we use that stuff as a replacement for real relationships, we will find ourselves depressed because we were made for the real thing. Do not give up on friendships, girls," Moore said. "Take the risk again. Put yourself out there again. Don't protect yourself from your own fellowship, or we will be depressed and we will have despair. Women were made to befriend other women. It's our way. We're miserable without it."

4: Aggravation: Trade your bondage. Keep your chains.

Another problem ministers' wives face is a tendency to trade one stronghold for another, Moore said. For instance, a woman might trade a sexual addiction for a food addiction because the latter is more socially acceptable in the church. But the chains will remain, she said.

A stronghold is a mental preoccupation, Moore said, what the mind wanders to when it's not disciplined by the Spirit. But no stronghold has permission to overcome a believer, she said, and God wants His children to live in freedom.

Alternative: Don't ignore. Get restored, then restore.

"I do not care how much you serve your church. I do not care if your husband is a senior pastor. Listen to me. Get yourself in the Word," she said. "I don't care how busy you are. Let go of something else and get yourself in in-depth Bible study. I'm not talking about whose [Bible study] it is. I'm just talking about get yourself in the Word, and I mean heavy duty because it is only Scripture that's going to tear down those strongholds.

"Do you have 20 Scriptures that live in your head that you could call up at least in paraphrase form at any time? I'm asking you to get 20 Scriptures in your head that you can call up when you are so undone at someone you do not know what to do -- when someone has criticized you or criticized your husband, or when your husband has said something to you," Moore said. "We need to be able in that moment [to say] one right after another.

"The only offensive weapon you have against the devil is the Word of God," Moore added. "That's it. Do not tell me any reason why you cannot be in the Word. You do not have that luxury, girls. You don't have it. I don't either."

5: Aggravation: Sow the flesh. Reap the dregs.

"Before we leave this place today, you and I are going to be called to the high road," she said. "Fight the good fight. We're going to stay up on our feet and we're going to fight clean. We're going to keep the faith. Let other people be ugly without us."

Alternative: Sow the Spirit. Reap the life.

The only way for a believer to change what she reaps after she has sown is to repent and embrace the crucified life, Moore said.

"We really have been called to holy living. We really have. Be somebody else's example. Be their refreshment. You're not going to be perfect. I'm not going to be perfect," she said. "But let them get into the deepest part of our lives and find that we are dang consistent, that we are who we seem to be."

6: Aggravation: Lose what counts. Watch misery mount.

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love, Moore said.

"This is everything I live for, for one woman who has never been in the Word of God to go pick up a Bible and it changes her life," she said. "That's everything to me. To me, that is what counts. Have we lost touch with what counts? When we do, we've had it."

Alternative: Keep the King the Thing: Jesus.

"Let everything else fall away and rediscover 'Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Yes, Jesus loves me,'" Moore said.

Published in Crosswalk Marriage on April 2, 2009.


Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.

Copyright 2009 Baptist Press. Used with permission. All rights reserved.