Ministry Wife Life: Appearances VS Authenticity

Married into ministry

We have been married for 13 years this summer.  For all 13 years Denver has been in vocational ministry in one capacity or another.  When we first got married he was a youth minister but quickly changed over to the role of worship pastor.  Since leaving the youth ministry world of camps, lock-ins and attending one million school activities, he has stayed firmly stuck in the lane of worship.  Youth ministry is an 8-days-a-week job.  It is emotionally taxing and physically draining.  (Hug your youth minister and his family, and tell them thank-you.) 

But wearing the hat of “ministry-wife” has become a part of who I am.  Someday’s it’s easier to put on than others.

When “his calling” becomes “our calling”

I love walking beside my husband as he fulfills the calling of his heart, but I would be lying if I led you to believe that this road was nothing but roses.  At times I feel it’s unfair that his calling is “our” calling.  When days are easy, and church politics are smooth putting on a smile and sharing my life with others isn’t so bad.  But, on the days when you’re walking the valley, the smile your wear seems more like prison bars.  (I just broke out into a cold sweat typing that last sentence. These are the things of which we do not speak of….)

Admitting this is difficult.  It is difficult because somewhere in church culture we began to believe a lie that families in ministry must lead “more holy lives” that those of lay people.  In addition to their “more holy lives” they must also love every minute of ministry.  I am here to say that those are lies that Satan has lead the church to believe.  Ministry families are trudging our way through this world too, and it’s hard, and days can be difficult… and sin sucks!


The enemy is constantly working to tear the church apart

Of course the enemy wants us to set an unachievable standard for ourselves, because it ups the stakes in the game of comparison.  Which is the antithesis of grace. I have seen the church body place standards on families, and I have seen ministry families play their game right back.  Sometimes this facade feels comfortable because the pride of knowing other’s are admiring your life is too sweet to give up.

(Again, I must stress that this is all very hard to type.) 

The sweet draw of playing the appearance game

I, too, have fallen victim to this lie, the lie that appearance trumps reality.  When I buy into the belief that I can “keep up appearances”, then I don’t have to be vulnerable and authentic. But, y’all, “keeping up appearances” is a game that contradicts the gospel of Jesus Christ. Do you know who loves to put us in a corner of isolation and aloneness… Satan, that’s who.  This is his check-mate, for you.  He has won when we begin to feel alone and segregated from the body.

Luckily, I can’t live a lie very long.  So, it’s not a game a game I am good at.  (Some people love this about me, and I am sure others hate it, ha!)

Now, this is not permission to air dirty laundry or to roll around in the dirt of our own sin.  But, it is permission to clearly state that “We need Jesus too”!  In our marriage, we need Jesus.  As parents, we need Jesus.  In our relationships, we need Jesus.  In our jobs, we need Jesus.  Even though hours of ministry life is spent in the walls of the church edifying the body of believers, the Holy Spirit does not travel by osmosis into our lives.  We must ask Him in, reaching out our arms in surrender that we cannot do it alone.

Daily we must come to the thrown of the father and ask him to fill us up because what we have to offer is nothing, but what He has to offer is everything.

Leading an authentic life in ministry

Seeking authenticity in ministry life is work, especially for a ministry wife.  The pull to pretend our lives are without struggle is so tempting you can almost taste it’s sweetness.  (I am sure this is true for every believer, and not only to those in ministry.)

1 Corinthians 2:3-5

I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

If Paul can come before the church without putting on airs of wise and persuasive speech, so can we.  We can rest assured knowing that the testimony of the Holy Spirit transforming our lives is more powerful that any facade we can muster.  Sharing how Jesus redeems you is appearance enough! This is all He requires of us.

The pit of appearances is just inches away, so we must fix our eyes on this truth. Freedom exists in vulnerability.  Secrets beget shame, and shame is not of Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:1) Friends, have the courage to resist draw of pride and relish in the redeeming powers of Jesus. This is the only way we can lead other’s to Him, by allowing ourselves to find Him first.

When I wonder from this truth, I find myself caught up once more in the game of the facade.



“Ministry wife life” is something that has been on my heart to write about for a long hard time.  I feel that sometimes this road is lonely, especially when life gets tough. (Which is inevitable, btw.) I have committed to write a weekly installment titled “Ministry Wife Life” on different topical subjects, some of which I have struggled with while assuming my role as a “ministry wife”.  They are in no particular order.  The goal of each post is to draw back the veil of the title of “ministry wife” and examine the heart behind what we do.  What the Bible says and what American church culture requires can sometimes contradict… simply because we are humans and we are fallible.  Join me each Monday for a new post. 



This will be the next installment of #ministrywifelife: On friendships and how they lead to authenticity.

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  • Reply Heather Duncan's #1 Fan

    Fascinating read Heather.

    August 4, 2017 at 2:11 am
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  • Reply Wanda

    This is so good. As the wife of a youth pastor for the past 5 years, it definitely has its good days and bad. I love how you said we need Jesus too! I’m looking forward to reading more…

    July 3, 2017 at 7:01 pm
    • Reply Heather Duncan

      Thank you Wanda. I am just writing what is currently on my heart. Ministry is such a precarious position and navigating the “do”s and “don’t”s can be tiring! I am sure thankful for other ministry wives who have mentored me and spoke encouraging words when the role seemed hard to fill.

      July 5, 2017 at 7:24 pm
  • Reply Debbie Priest

    Heather, your first entry into Ministry Wives Lives was right on encouraging us not to give in to the temptation of keeping up appearances! I loved the example you shared of Paul’s authenticity, too! God help me to be the real deal with everyone, and especially the Lord! He knows anyway, and thankfully, still loves me!!! 🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼❤️ Loveyou dear sister!!!

    July 3, 2017 at 5:55 pm
    • Reply Heather Duncan

      Debbie, you have been such an example to me, in the way you authentically care about everyone. Thank you for being who you are, and letting God use all of you!

      July 5, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    Thoughts welcome, please share.