I’m Not the “Pastor’s Wife”. I’m the Pastor (Also).
I’ve waited a long time to write this. I want you to know that. The reason I waited so long was because I was on my own journey of forgiveness. A good writer once told me not to write when I’m angry. He said to journal first, and then write. Well in this case, it’s taken me years of journaling, and walking through this thing with Holy Spirit for me to really feel ready to talk about this in a way that it could possibly be received. It took those years of prayer and intimate conversations with God for me to realize that He has already given me all the approval I’ll ever need to be the leader He has called me to be. He healed my heart in that way only He can do, and now I am free. I am writing from a place of peace now.
I’m writing this to anyone who cares to know. Anyone who wants to know. I am not a “pastor’s wife”. Yes, my husband is a pastor. So I guess if you really want to get technical, I technically am a pastor’s wife, because I am married to a pastor. But I too, am a pastor of our church. I am a pastor, and my husband is a pastor. It’s funny that I’ve never heard someone refer to him as the pastor’s husband. I actively disciple people, love and teach our congregation. I also preach, and this is also my church family. I love each and every one of the people of Streams of Life Church. Actually I just love people, in general.
My husband and I are different. He pastors and leads differently than I do. We work as a team, capitalizing on each of our strengths. For example, Rene is a strong visionary. I also am a visionary, but I also see the work and structure that it would take for a vision to become a reality. Both of those things are important. If you only have vision, then who will do the grunt work and planning necessary to cause the vision to come to pass? You see what I mean? We make a great team because we allow each other to lead the way that is most natural to us.
I am not a pastor’s wife. I am also a pastor. I do cringe on the inside (and probably occasionally on the outside) when I hear people honor my husband as the pastor of our church, while I’m standing right there beside him. They may not know how I pastor our church also. They may not know how I pray for, invest in, care for, and love the people of our church. In truth, they may just not know. But on the other hand, they’ll never know if I don’t speak up.
At times I hear it roll right off the tongue, “Let’s honor and welcome Pastor Rene and Amber Picota.” Actually, we’re both pastors, so grammatically, it would be more correct (and honoring) to say Pastors Rene and Amber (if you must use a title… that’s really not important to us). We both equally invest into the church, but in different ways. We are both the pastors of the church, but it’s really easy to only acknowledge my husband as our pastor. Is this because our culture has primed us to think this way? If so, maybe it’s time to undo this way of thinking.
I spent a long time wondering if I should even write this article. The reason I decided to do it is because I’m not just speaking up for myself. I am speaking up for women everywhere, who have been serving and leading alongside their pastor husbands for decades even, without ever receiving equal respect or honor from their congregation. I’m speaking up for my daughters and spiritual daughters who will lead in the future. Yes, I realize that God still honors the work and the sacrifice of these women and myself. Yes, I realize that ultimately we serve God, and are not striving for the praises of man. I do realize all of that, but I also believe that God wants better for His people. I believe He is desiring people to begin to see what’s going on and give honor where honor is due to women leaders along with men leaders. Furthermore, the more exposure women have as leaders in the Church, the more the next generation of women have a role model to follow.
For argument’s sake (more accurately, for the sake of me not having anyone try to argue with me), I fully realize there are women who do not mind being called the “pastor’s wife”. They might even CALL themselves the pastor’s wife. That’s ok, and I honor her as well. I am not attempting to insinuate that she is wrong or that she should “get like me”. I am writing this because there are other women who have been laboring alongside their husband for their entire ministry, also actively functioning in the office of the pastor, yet they were never given the proper honor of a pastor. Maybe she didn’t mind. Maybe it didn’t bother her. For many years it didn’t bother me. But maybe she does mind, and maybe it does make her feel like quitting sometimes. Maybe there are times she goes alone in her room and cries out to God because she feels so disrespected by the people she’s poured into and loved. That is why I decided to go ahead and write this.There are also women, married to pastors, who are not allowed a role of leadership in their church, or will not accept a role of leadership. I get that and it is not my intention to push someone into a role they do not want.
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Rene and I started out in youth ministry as Youth Pastors right after we were married. From the time we began in ministry, Rene put in more hours than I did, but we lead together. I helped out with praise and worship, chaperoned and mentored teens on trips to Acquire the Fire, Winter Jam, and other teen conferences. I loved them, cried with them, discipled them, preached, and taught classes. We pastored at several different churches, and at every one of them, they hired Rene, and I basically served as a pastor right alongside him. At that time it never bothered me that I was called the “youth pastor’s wife”. Maybe God gave me a special grace during that season to handle that without it bugging at me. I’m not sure it would have mattered at the time, even if I didn’t like it. I don’t know if it would have made a difference other than to possibly cause me to be bitter due to spiritual immaturity at the time.
Fast forward many years later, and Rene and I moved to Virginia to plant a church. We both have labored. We have both worked very hard, but we just lead differently. Rene’s preaching style, leadership style, and even writing style is very different than mine… And rightfully so! I honor and appreciate his differences. Oftentimes it’s that he’s strong where I’m weak, but the same applies to me. I do things differently than he does, and often that’s a really good thing because I am strong in areas where he is weak. That’s why it makes so much sense to lead together. There are times he leads me, and times when I lead. He takes notes during my sermons just like I do his! The way my husband and I have grown together as leaders beautifully illustrates the verse in Mark 10:8, “…And the two shall become one flesh..”
If you’ve gotten anything out of this I hope it’s this: Women and men both play integral parts within the Body of Christ. Many times couples will function in the same office together. This is not always the case, though, so you can’t just assume anything. Just like with anything else, it’s good to form a relationship with your pastors and find out where they stand. Ultimately if you know a woman is pastoring with her husband, give her the proper honor of a pastor as well. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to make sure you’re not dishonoring one of them.
I don’t intend to argue whether or not women should be allowed to lead. I believe the Bible itself makes a fantastic case for women in leadership, and that there have been small portions of scripture that have been misunderstood and used out of context. If you care to understand those particular passages of scripture I highly recommend the book Powerful and Free by Danny Silk, and Fashioned to Reign by Kris Valloton. Another one is Normal Christianity by Jonathan Welton.
One last thing. If in the past, you think you possibly were one of the people who referred to us as “Pastor Rene and Amber”…. I do not want you to think I have any hard feelings or unforgiveness towards you. You do not need to apologize to me. I, myself have had strong women pastors in the past that I unknowingly referred to as the “pastor’s wife”. I hope I didn’t hurt them, and I believe that it takes a strong woman to be a pastor/apostle/prophet/evangelist/deacon/leader/teacher/etc. It does take a strong woman, and I’ve decided to be brave enough to speak up. I’m not yelling. I’m not angry. I am simply speaking up. I am not the pastor’s wife. I’m the pastor (also).
Dedication: I dedicate this blog to my husband, Rene Picota, who has supported me throughout this journey of mine. He’s watched me learn and grow and become a better, more mature leader. He’s helped me where he could, and stretched me in ways that no other leader could have the authority to do. I know that we are both better leaders because we have one another.
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