When Your Wife’s the Preacher

Earlier this month, Christianity Today published “What It’s Like When Your Wife is ‘Christian Famous‘” with brief profiles of the husbands of four well-known women in ministry. When I shared the article on Twitter I added, “I appreciate these glimpses but husbands supporting wives in ministry isn’t only for those who are famous. I’m grateful for my husband’s support throughout my 25 years as a pastor.”

Christianity Today responded, “Absolutely!” and two Twitter friends active in ministry chimed in about their supportive husbands. So I thought it would be fun to post three snapshots using the same format as the original Christianity Today article. Thank you to Katie and Bryan Heid, Sue and Stan Short, and Gary Yamasaki for sharing some of your story here. I hope this will encourage other ministry couples in the dance of working together and navigating the tricky parts!

Bryan Heid

Married to: Katie Heid: Former television reporter, now radio news anchor and member of her church’s speaking team. Katie preaches regularly in addition to serving as her church’s communications and video coordinator. She’s also active on Facebook as “Uncomfortable Grace”, on Twitter @ktheid, and blogs at www.uncomfortablegrace.com. Her passion is loving God, loving people, and shining his light on the dark edges of the world. When she’s not writing or speaking, she’s busy driving the mom taxi for her two sons Nolan (13) and Lucas (8).

Home base: Owosso, Michigan.

Background actors: Supportive parents and mother-in-law, extended family, friends she’d choose as family, and a church family she can’t live without.

His work: Bryan’s worked as a high school math teacher and cross country coach for nearly two decades. Raising kids with Katie is obviously a partnership, but they’ve expanded their home over the years to include the many students and runners they enjoy hosting, feeding, and giving a safe place to land. Says Katie, “I’m proud of who Bryan is as a husband, father, and coach. It’s fun to cheer him on, and I love supporting him in any way I can.”

The dance (how they work together): Katie and Bryan have learned that marriage is not a competition, but rather a team effort. Says Bryan, “We find ways to try to be God’s hands and feet. That can come in so many ways, and it is important to know that someone else is right there with you when you feel a tug.  For instance, when Katie is leading her ministry or giving a sermon, or just meeting a need that arises that day.”

When Katie preaches on Sunday morning, Bryan gives her space in the morning to go over her sermon one more time and gets the boys to church on time so they can all hear her. He’s also very involved at their church, but he declines those responsibilities on days his wife is preaching. Bryan says, “Katie knows that she can focus on her sermon and ministering to the congregation.  We enjoy listening to her speak and are proud of her.” Katie says, “Sometimes writing a sermon comes together with ease. Other times the blank page stares back at me. Bryan is always there to bounce ideas off him. He’s able to give me a different perspective when I’m stuck, or simply say ‘You’re doing great’ when I feel like I’m incapable of the job before me.”

The tricky part: Says Bryan, “Katie loves being with people and needs to process most things by chatting with someone about it. I’m more introverted and need a break from large crowds. We’ve both learned to identify those needs in each other and offer grace when the other person needs space or a listening ear.”

How does she take her coffee?: “Katie drinks her coffee with cream.” Says Katie with a smile, “Bryan does not drink coffee, but I don’t hold that against him.”

 

Stan Short

Married to:  Sue Short: a former English teacher and at-home mother, more recently a newly licensed pastor working toward ordination. Sue serves as 1/3 of the pastoral ministry team of their congregation, alongside two male colleagues. The pastoral team was called to represent a wide diversity of spiritual gifts. Sue appreciates how they function together collaboratively, which makes for a unique work environment. Although each member of the team engages in a variety of pastoral tasks (preaching, pastoral care, administration, visioning, teaching, etc), they also have areas of strength in which they spend additional time. Sue relates to the worship team, and loves planning, visioning, leading, and creating space for the congregation to dwell deeply in God’s presence. Sue is also a part-time seminary student, working toward a Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry.

Home base:  Among the beautiful fields and woods of rural Ohio.

Background actors:  Four awesome young adult children, one amazing son-in-law, and our wonderful church family.

His work:  Stan Short has worked in sales and administration, and he has over 29 years of experience being married to Sue. Stan serves on the sound/video team at church. He has a servant’s heart and can often be found at church before anyone arrives, or after everyone has left, quietly setting up or putting away. He is an amazing, hard-working person to know.

The dance (how they work together):  “Stan willingly helps me with whatever I need,” says Sue. “He has been deeply supportive since I first talked with him about my sense of calling toward ministry. While he doesn’t fully understand my love for ministry, he shows his appreciation for my role by doing everything in his power to encourage me, remind me to care well for myself, and push me to stay on track when I get distracted. In our marriage, he keeps me sane and grounded. I could not have started pastoral ministry or seminary studies at age 49 without his persistent belief in me.” Stan says, “I’m her biggest fan!”

The tricky part:  Stan says, “When I know Sue is weighed down with stresses that she can’t share. It’s tough to know how to support her then. Also, making plans is hard with a pastor’s schedule.”

How does she take her coffee? “Nada. No coffee. Sue drinks herbal tea, ginger or turmeric.”

 

Gary Yamasaki

Married to: April Yamasaki: Ordained minister with 25 years experience as the lead pastor of a multi-staff congregation, now Resident Author with a liturgical worship community and Editor of Purpose, a monthly magazine of everyday inspiration. In addition to preaching regularly at Valley CrossWay Church, she speaks widely in other churches and ministry settings. She writes on spiritual growth and Christian living both online and in print publications, and is the author of several books including Four Gifts: Seeking Self-care for Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength (2018), Christ Is For Us (2016), Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal (2013).

Home base: Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada.

Background actors: Extended family, church family, and friends. Recently said goodbye to their church of 25 years and learning the art of remaining friends while engaging in new ministry and a new congregation.

His work: Gary Yamasaki is a faculty member at Trinity Western University, teaching and supervising graduate students in the Masters of Leadership program; teaches online for Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary; and is the author of Insights from Filmmaking for Analyzing Biblical Narrative (2016) and other books on narrative analysis of the Bible. His other teaching and scholarly interests include New Testament Greek and cultural studies of the New Testament era.

The dance (how they work together): April and Gary see themselves as mutual partners in life and ministry. Says Gary, “When people ask me what I think of April being a pastor, I say ‘she’s the best pastor I’ve ever had’. I fully support her as a pastor and writer, and I know I have her support too.”

“While we’ve both had academic training in the study of the Bible, April tends to be more theological and I’m more exegetically oriented,” he adds. “So when I get caught up in the minutiae of a biblical text she helps me see the big picture, and when she needs expertise in the Greek text I’m happy to be a resource.”

When April speaks in local churches, Gary often drives, looks after the book table, and joins her in meeting people. “I’m her Uber driver,” he says jokingly. “And April often helps me with my blog and email, so she’s like my IT person.”

See also Authors in the House: Husband and Wife and How We Write and Authors in the House 2 Husband and Wife and Two Forthcoming Books.

The tricky part: April enjoys connecting with many people, which Gary often finds overwhelming. “We’re usually among the last to leave any gathering,” he says, “so getting enough downtime afterward and in between is important.”

“Another tricky part is just keeping up with the overall pace of life. April was in Alberta leading a weekend retreat, flew home when the retreat ended on the Sunday, and the next day we were both  heading for Texas. I had been invited to present a paper at a conference, and April wanted to take in the sessions–she said that was her kind of r & r!”

How does she take her coffee?: “April will have the occasional cup of coffee to be sociable or to help deal with a time change when she’s travelling, but at home she normally drinks ginger tea or plain hot water.”

 

Writing/Reflection Prompt: What does the dance of ministry and service look like for you, and how do you navigate the tricky parts?

 

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10 thoughts on “When Your Wife’s the Preacher

  1. I love this. I look forward to reading it to my hubby when he gets home from work today. He is a wonderful supporter of my work as a chaplain and comes whenever I preach. Yesterday was one of those days and I was thankful.

      1. My husband very much enjoyed reading this as well, although more reluctant to share. It is a unique role, especially when my husband is an introvert and I’m more community oriented. Bless you for addressing this and sharing these perspectives.

        1. No pressure at all to share–while I enjoyed CT’s article on “What It’s Like When Your Wife is ‘Christian Famous'” , there are many many more of us not-as-famous couples quietly serving in many different settings. I appreciate you and your husband, and all those who are doing just that.

  2. I loved this perspective! I do not often hear the spouses’ side of the story, marriage and ministry.
    I started out after seminary as a hospital chaplain, and that suited my introvert/senior-editor husband very well. I did most of my ministry “at work,” and when I left the hospital I very rarely took anything home. (I was part of a fantastic chaplaincy staff!)
    However, for the past 5 1/2 years, I have been a pastor-by-surprise. I love being a small church pastor in the Chicago suburbs! Except, my husband just repeated to me yesterday that he needed to be in a support group for pastors’ spouses. (only partially kidding)
    Thanks again for this great perspective piece. Blessings on your ministry.

    1. Blessings on your ministry as well, Eliza – I didn’t realize your husband’s editor experience. Let me know if the two of you might be willing to say more. I’m definitely interested in sharing more profiles of couples–not the same as being in a support group, but stories help remind us that we’re not alone.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Carlene. The pastoral husbands I know also typically have full-time jobs, and the pastoral wives I know are a bit of a mix with some having full-time jobs outside the home and some not. Whatever their situation as a couple, navigating expectations seems to be one of the tricky parts. Different people within a congregation have different expectations, each partner has expectations, and there is often much we expect of ourselves too!

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