Shocked and frustrated I left the office of my senior pastor. I had just poured out my heart, explaining to him a bundle of the pressures and challenges I was facing in my first year as a team pastor’s wife. I was looking for sympathy, comfort, understanding, advice.
He looked blankly back at me across the desk, then these words came from his lips, ‘Well, you must be doing something right, you sound just like my wife.’ Full stop. That was it. Goodbye. Next please. He didn’t even offer to pray for me.
I was a team pastor’s wife for ten years, then transitioned into senior pastor’s wife and then into co-pastor alongside my husband.
The life of a team pastor’s wife is an interesting one, a perplexing one, an out of the ordinary one. You have been invited onto the team to be a vital part in fulfilling the vision God has given the senior pastor couple. Their vision becomes your vision. You implement their vision and ensure it is outworked in the areas or departments you have been trusted with the responsibility of.
1 Sam 14:1-23 unfolds for us the story of Jonathan and his armour bearer. Israel was locked in war with the Philistines. Jonathon and his armour bearer instigated contact with the enemy, God responded to their initiative with an earthquake and a mighty victory was won.
Armour bearer is not a term we tend to use today. It basically means one who serves to support another; one who stands alongside another to enable achievement and success.
Jonathan’s armour bearer gives us three captivating insights into how to be an exemplary team member.
A team pastor’s wife is:
Vs 7 The armour bearer responds to Jonathon’s giant step of faith with, ‘Do all that is in your heart. Go then: here I am with you, according to your heart.’
A team pastor couple are invited by the senior couple to join the leadership team. Your senior couple have recognized your gifting, potential, possibility and call of God upon your life. They saw within you a heart of ‘I am with you.’
You accepted their invitation to serve and be part of that which belongs to another. To wholeheartedly embrace their vision, make it your own, and give your all to see it become a reality.
- Loyal in support.
As a team pastor you lay aside your own agenda to serve and support. The areas or departments you are responsible for are not ‘my’ department to do with as you please and implement your own vision into. Every area of the church is firstly directed towards the fulfillment of the senior couple’s vision and is outworked in a way which is applicable in your area.
An example would be – during your missions fundraising month every department in the church, including small groups, youth and children, are talking about, focused on and doing activities to promote giving to missions.
- Loyal in attitude, commitment, reliability, dependableness, trustworthiness and confidentiality.
- Loyal when the going gets tough.
In the heat of the battle, when the going was unbelievably tough; when they were experiencing the onslaught of the enemy, the armour bearer didn’t turn and run. He didn’t say, ‘You’re own your own mate, I’m out of here.’ He held his ground alongside his leader. The armour bearer didn’t turn on Jonathan. He didn’t raise his knife and take the opportunity to stab him in the back.
A team pastor protectively covers the back of their senior couple. They will not agree with any criticism, disapproval or reproach verbalized to them by people about the senior couple. They still stop any gossip and not be a participant in negativity against their senior couple. People will tell a team pastor their grievances rather than expressing them directly to the senior couple.
- Loyal to ensure success:
A team pastor will:
… Do everything within their power to ensure their senior couple are a success.
… Pray for their senior couple. More intensely praying good into their lives when you are put out, annoyed or frustrated with them.
… Give them positive, helpful, encouraging, uplifting feedback rather than dump on them all the things which are not happening or are going badly.
… Be their greatest fan both privately and publicly.
Two questions for you:
On a scale of 1-10, 1 being the lowest and 10 the highest, what is your current loyalty level for your senior pastor couple? What one thing can you do to raise is number?
Vs 1 ‘The young man who carried his armour.’
Nine times this young man is mentioned and remains nameless. An armour bearer is a behind the scenes, out of the spotlight, essential for success and an often not acknowledged or thanked person.
As a team pastor, there are a multitude of times when someone else will get the glory for that which you have done. The senior couple will be thanked for a stupendous conference when it was you and your team who worked countless hours to make it happen. A small group leader will be praised to you for their love and care after doing a hospital visit which you initiated they do. Someone on your team will get the accolades for something you trained them to do.
You will go the extra mile on numerous occasions, knowing that the only one who sees and takes note is God. Matt 6. Your Father sees that which you do in secret.
Being unnamed is all about your character development and it keeps your pride levels under control when others get the credit for something you did.
Vs 13,14 And as he came after him, his armour bearer killed them. The first slaughter which Jonathan and his armour bearer made was about twenty men.
An armour bearer supports by carrying the weapons but is also a personally skilled warrior.
A team pastor will willingly be trained by their senior couple, while at the same time taking personal responsibility to develop their own skill level and expertise.
Areas necessary for a team pastor to upskill in:
… Know and understand yourself. Your temperament, gifting, what energizes you, what exhausts you, your strengths and weaknesses.
… Know and understand your senior couple. The better you know and understand them, the more effectively you will be able to serve them.
… Stepping out of the boat of fear and comfort into every opportunity available or given you to learn and grow.
… Knowledge of the spiritual battle you have entered. Question – If you were the devil, how would you take you out of effective ministry?
… Knowledge of Scripture.
Jonathon and his armour bearer formed a formidable team. Their oneness of heart, mind and purpose brought the presence and power of God into an impossible situation. They became an unbeatable force, saw God move mightily on their behalf and victory was achieved.
When a senior and team couple work together in oneness of heart, vision and purpose they will achieve much in building the church and advancing the kingdom of God. Together you accomplish but ultimately God must be given the glory.
Vs 23 ‘So the Lord saved Israel that day.’