Shari and John Thomas
When I was five years old, I became a philosopher, although of course I didn’t know the term at the time. We were driving to a bible study amidst political turmoil in the Dominican Republic. When bullets started hitting our car, my mom turned from the front seat yelling to my sister and me to duck down. Dad swerved but kept driving, only faster.

If God takes care of me why can’t I watch the gun fire instead of hiding? If God can do anything, why doesn’t he save people without us staying here when all other missionaries have left? If God made us to be like him, shouldn’t God be called a ‘she’ as well as a ‘he’? And how come I wear only panties when I play in rainstorms in the tropics but I have to wear clothes during rainstorms I’m in the United States?

I didn’t outgrow my questions with childhood.

If God’s call on a person is as valid for a man as for a woman, why do ministry wives often settle for following their husband’s calling rather than discovering their own? Why, as research bares out, if wives are the key to a pastors longevity in ministry, does so little funding go toward their care and education?

I never dreamed my questions would eventually lead me to research, to develop church planting assessment tools, and culminate in founding and leading a ministry that comes alongside church planting wives.

I feel I’ve been in the business long enough to have a Ph.D. in the inner workings of the church planting family. I have discovered vicariously and from experience what mistakes not to make. I have acquired a life long education in the consequences of placing too high a premium on the success of spouse, children and church.

Yet with time, I’ve also learned to breath deeply, play more, laugh with my children, and not take people’s criticism so seriously. But most importantly, I’ve come to see that my identity is not based on what others think of me, what I accomplish, or making a name for myself. My identity comes from Christ who has given me his verdict, the one that really counts. I have his righteousness! What more do I need?

Problems that arrive on my doorstep have long been in the making and won’t be solved by me putting everything else on hold.

Mary Phifer in comparing therapist and writers says, “(we) are constantly discovering that we simply aren’t capable of changing human beings. Both jobs are demanding frustrating, and fraught with emotional peril. And they are the best jobs around. Quoting William Stafford she concludes, “ It’s really fun if you can stand it.”

I would say the same is true for the pastoral couple.

I won’t pretend being married to a church planting pastor means I’m a church member like everyone else. I’m not. The tools of our trade include intuition, flexibility, warmth, compassion, (did I say flexibility) and belief in a God who cares more deeply about us, our families, and our congregants, than we do.