Character Development, Energize Your Ministry, Every Pastor Needs a Sabbatical, God's Power, Life in the Glass House, Live by Grace, Ministry, Pastors' Wives

Ministry Musings: Identity Crisis…Identity Christ


Sabbaticals gift a lot of uncluttered thinking time. And I’ve been thinking a lot on the topic of identity…specifically as it concerns ministry and being a pastor’s wife. Before my husband resigned and we began our sabbatical, I wondered what it would be like to not be an active pastor’s wife for awhile.

I wondered this because in our 10 years of marriage, I have never been simply wife or mom. Always pastor’s wife. Always ministry mom. And I have loved it that way. So what would it be like to simplify my roles? I wondered. Would I be disappointed? Feel empty? Or would I feel relieved to be less busy? Maybe all of those at once?

On the human level, there were pieces of “all the feelings” swirling around in my heart. There were and are the normal adjustments as I wrap my heart around the new life God was giving us. I no longer have “my ladies” and I no longer have responsibilities at church every service {and in between}. While I have felt some sadness, I have also felt relief. I was so tired, so weary from the difficulties.

There were gaps in my heart, to be sure. Tearing yourself away from a church is not easy, even under the best of circumstances. But gradually for me, those gaps from leaving are closing. This really has nothing to do with whether or not I’m an active pastor’s wife.

It has to do with my heart’s identity.

If you’re a pastor’s wife, you know that with the ministry territory comes a bit of an identity conflict. We face it most strongly when we first start out. We go from __________{insert your name here} to pastor’s wife as soon as our husbands take a church. And then we wiggle back and forth between who we know we are and who others think we are. We jostle the roles of “just me” and “she.” Suddenly we wonder what we are really supposed to be doing, and what we should say yes or no to. Suddenly expectations appear that were never there before. Suddenly we’re not just “one of the gals.” Suddenly our husbands are fair game to criticism. Suddenly it matters to people what we wear or what kind of house we have or how we spend our money. Suddenly our kids are under a spotlight.

Suddenly our identity is somewhat wrapped up in being a pastor’s wife. Gradually, whether we like it or not, on the human level, we are defined by our husband’s calling. And it carries a uniqueness that isn’t present in most other occupations.

No one would know better than we do how difficult the world of ministry identity can be at times.

If the conflict of identity was all there was to ministry life, more of us would walk away than already do.

But Christ.

This is the treasure I’m learning to lean in to. I don’t ever need to have an identity crisis because ministry is not my identity. Being a pastor’s wife is not my identity. Being a piano/music teacher is not my identity. Even being a wife or a mother is not my identity.

It’s Christ.

I’m convinced that satan works hard to cause us to find identity in things {roles} other than Christ. And in so doing, we are distracted from the one Identity that would bring us the most joy, peace, and fulfillment.


Paul reminds us in Colossians 3:3 “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”

Such a tiny verse, but oh! There is such profound and life changing truth there! The mom is dead. The teacher is dead. The nurse, the athlete, the missionary, the chef, the secretary, the musician, the accountant, the professional…are all dead.  The ____________{insert your job title here} is dead.

The pastor’s wife is dead.

My own life is hidden,  and is become one with Christ’s life, and that identity is wrapped up in God. Every other identity fades.

What a picture! Mediate on that for awhile, and let it blow your mind.

I know that sometimes we can’t help the identity that others may impose. We may embrace it or we may try to wriggle out of it and just be. Or maybe our role changes and suddenly that thing isn’t our identity anymore. But no matter what identity ‘crisis’ we may face in life and ministry, we can embrace identity Christ. His is always the very best identity to adopt.

Consequently, this is the very best thing about our sabbatical so far. I am digging deeper into my identity in Christ. I am seeing Him love on me while He and I chart this new territory together. I am seeing Him answer prayer and work in amazing ways. I am hearing His voice in my heart as He points out areas that need to change because they show a different identity than Himself. I am resting in the joy of being His cherished daughter.

And it is enough. Identity in Christ is more than enough. It releases us from the expectations of others and from the pressure to be something or someone. It fills every gap of longing and restores hope to the once hopeless places. Because life is no longer about those hopeless places, those painful places, those parts of us that scream to be our identity. Life isn’t even about the hopeful places, the delightful parts of who we are, or the roles that we enjoy.

Life is about Christ.

Let’s live this way, you and me? Reduce our line of vision to only one thing…and let’s hide ourselves in one Person. Let the hidden identity be the first thing people see. If that isn’t a miracle, I don’t know what is.

No more identity crisis…just identity Christ.


A Kindred Spirit

Photo Credit: Serena178

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