Embraced or Ensnared?

The title, pastor’s wife can be very controversial depending on who you talk to. Some women even bristle with antagonism at the thought of being introduced with a title and not with their given name. Titles, however, are just that – a title. They are words that help to identify an individual.

Just this past Sunday, I was introduced to a sister of a church attender as the pastor’s wife. From the beaming smile on her face, it was obvious that this introduction was meant to honor me as well as a means to help identify me with my husband, the pastor. With instant recognition – through this relationship connection – this sweet lady spoke of my husband’s glowing qualities and how much he was loved by her. What a blessing! Every wife wants her husband to be well thought of. Proverbs 31:23 even speaks to this desire when it states that Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.” It is healthy for those in our churches and communities to respect their pastors. It is also a good thing for a wife to respect her husband and to not be ashamed or frustrated that others may identify her through him.
Titles are used daily in our society in order to describe those we interact with. It is not unusual for someone to reference an individual as their doctor, lawyer, teacher, nurse, banker, mechanic and so on. These titles simply help to identify the person that is being referred to. Other common word descriptions used to identify people include titles such as gossip, felon, drug addict, alcoholic, cheater and liar. These types of titles are nothing to aspire toward, but we’ve all been worthy of carrying one of these types of titles at some point in life. Whether positive or negative titles, neither type actually defines us. They merely identify one aspect of our lives or activities that we can be associated with.
Probably the funniest pastor’s wife moment I have had – or rather a situation of mistaken identity - was during a Discipleship Class years ago. This small group of ladies had been meeting for about three months when they started letting down their guards and really started sharing their thoughts and emotions freely. One night, I had to stifle a giggle when an older lady – a real straight shooter – said to me,  “I didn’t know what to think of you before this class. But, I like you now that I know you!” Obviously, what was implied was that she didn’t think too much of her pastor’s wife when our interactions were only from a distance. Prior to this class, I would have introduced her as Mrs. Graham, and she would have likely introduced me as her pastor’s wife. Neither titles were wrong and neither were offensive, but it was so nice to now be at the next stage of our relationship.
When we allow titles to define us, we often have to resist feelings of resentment as we begin to feel invisible. Sensing a loss of identity can quickly develop into a form of ensnarement if we are not careful. However, if our identity rests in Christ, we will not allow titles to tangle us up or create awkward conversations with well-intentioned church members and friends. As relationships grow, the heart or essence of the individual overshadows their activities and associations in life, and titles become meaningless. When a title simply helps to identify an individual or a person it can be embraced in a healthy manner - like the sweet moments when I am introduced as grandma!   

So, the next time you want to cringe when someone introduces you as ‘the pastor’s wife,’ don’t allow the title to ensnare you into feeling invisible. Instead, smile sweetly, embrace who God made you and consider the moment an opportunity to possibly build a new relationship. Over time you may even find yourself saying, “I like you,” to this new friend – one who may even hold a title of their own!


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