Opening the door: The journey of a new pastor’s wife

By Stephanie Carroll

There hasn’t been a time I felt more judged than during my husband’s candidating process. As congregation members fired off questions and concerns, I couldn’t help feeling inspected and on display. After Sunday services, I would go home exhausted because I was so careful to monitor my every word and facial expression. My first few weeks as a youth pastor’s wife were draining.

I was drained by the experience because I stopped relying on God’s infinite strength and drew from my own puny well. I stopped asking God to guide my words and actions and sat firm in the driver’s seat myself. I had this intense feeling that I had to be my own rock – and more importantly that I needed to be my husband’s rock. I felt that my husband’s ministry would succeed or fail partly due to my own performance as the adequate pastor’s wife. The door of my spirit was shut tight.

So with a determined heart and a persevering mind-set, I launched full-throttle into my husband’s youth ministry work. At meetings, events, and devotions, I was dutifully by his side. I was chipper and upbeat. But despite these times of being “on”, there were quiet moments with the youth where I shared and listened. Then a depth of relationship slowly established between myself and individuals of the youth group. Gradually a deep-seated love for these amazing adolescents began to form and grow and bloom.

Before I knew it, the ministry was no longer as much work as it was my pleasure. Slowly I noticed myself letting go and giving back to God what was already His to begin with. I stopped debriefing with my husband after every meeting and parent conversation. Instead of tweaking my husband’s devotions, I began to trust that the words the Lord had given my husband just might be sufficient. With these realizations, the door opened a crack and a calming peace started to creep in.

Then one day, a girl from the youth group came up to me at church. When I had first met her a couple months previous, she was quiet and held others at an arms length. Straddling the awkward years of early high school, she was guarded – but an intense sincerity of spirit still sneaked out from behind her wall. Over the summer she began to “come out of her shell” – as they say. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that she smashed herself free from the shell and burst forth with exuberance. When she came up to me at church, the conversation somehow curved in such a way that I could compliment her on her newfound spunk. She blankly looked back at me and said, “You know that’s got a whole lot to do with you being my friend, right?” No, I didn’t know. But with one comment, the door flung open so wide it fell off the hinges. And there was God’s love and grace flooding through the open doorway.

Praise God, that He can use even the most stubborn of pastor’s wives.


At the time of publication Stephanie Carroll served alongside her husband, Mark, in the youth ministry at Murrayville Community Church in Langley, BC, and was an associate editor at Focus on the Family Canada.