Back in college, I remember meeting girls who said that they were called to be pastor’s wives. They sincerely and honestly believed that it was God’s calling for their lives to be married to men in ministry, and they planned accordingly.
Honestly? I thought they were probably setting themselves up for some major disappointment, thinking that their motivations for finding suitable marriage partners were a little misguided. Because if you covenant yourself to a man based on what he does and is called to… well, what are you left with when God changes that call? (Or when your man just abandons it in a down season?)
I’ve long wrestled with this issue of “calling.” My backstory is simple. I became a believer at fifteen, and I fell in love with Jesus, wholly and completely. And by the time I arrived at college, I thought there would be no greater ambition or purpose in life than to be spent entirely for His purposes in vocational ministry. Because I had occasion to be around so many who were “called” to ministry in some highly emotional moments, I figured I wasn’t called likewise because I hadn’t had one of those moments. But I desperately WANTED to be called.
Hoping that service would lead to a call, I volunteered for any and every opportunity to serve Christ during college. As graduation drew near without an emotional “call,” I concluded that even still, I had availability and the means to spend two years overseas as a missionary. Not that I felt like I had been vocationally called as I understood it then, but frankly, there was nothing else I wanted to do. So I did it. Called or not!
It was at the end of my time there that my wonderful pastor and his wife asked me just what it was that I thought I would do with the rest of my life. Seminary was a given, as I had hopes to return to the mission field for a longer stay, and as we discussed the kind of degree I would get there and the skills that I already had, I told them that I intended to be a foreign missionary. And they said to me, in their wonderfully delightful way, “Shame, perhaps the Lord means for you to be a pastor’s wife instead.” Which seemed like a rather stupid idea since I hadn’t dated anyone in the two years I had been there and since I had no prospects on the horizon.
Fast forward just a few months to seminary and my new job as the children’s minister of an amazing church… where I felt hopelessly inadequate and tragically homesick for my seaside African life. I remember being in an evangelism class, near tears, and asking the professor, as all around me confident young men talked about calling and the certainty of what they were doing, “How do you know what God is calling you to?” There were no easy answers, but there were plenty of tears on plenty of occasions, as my ineptitude in traditional ministry began to show itself stateside. In my finest moment ever in vocational ministry (lol!), I sat in my associate pastor’s office weeping about how I never should have left Namibia and how I didn’t even know WHY I was in seminary because I had no idea what I was doing at my job, when he stopped me, affirmed what I was doing, and said, quite simply, “Maybe God intends for you to be a pastor’s wife.”
Because hysterical women who can’t make sense of what continent they’re on make excellent supporting players in pastoral ministry. Obviously.
I felt, in many ways, that this was totally undesirable. I was around so many eligible ministry men at seminary, and sitting under any of their arrogant teaching seemed like a really hard pill to swallow. And I was around many, many young women who came to seminary to “catch a man,” and I certainly didn’t want to be one of them. So, I trudged on, assuming that no word from God on the issue of calling meant that I was called to… well, to just keep on trudging on with what I was doing.
In time and in His wonderfully creative way, God brought me right to a very sweet, very humble, compassionate man who was just right for me. And as He moved us along and moved us together, I found that the only calling certain at this point was that I was called to be Mrs. Wesley Faulk.
So, we wrestled together with calling — what his calling was, what my calling was, and what it all meant now that we were called together. And what we’ve found is that calling is less about a vocation and what we find to do and who to be and more about being called to live entirely for Christ, in whatever season and situation we find ourselves in.
And I say that now, sitting right where two pastors who knew me and cared about me, speculated that I would be — living life as a pastor’s wife.
Maybe one day, God will call us to another ministry. Maybe He’ll call us to another place. Maybe He’ll call us to something we’ve never imagined before.
I’m more and more convinced as time goes on, though, in this particular calling, that being “called” is less about an emotional, one-time, definitive how, where, and when… and more about a daily, changing, transforming call to “follow Me.”
So glad that in Christ, I can be certain of being called in this way.