This post is going to cost me, big-time. Murf hates the spotlight. But she’ll get over it, and I need to do this.
October is Pastor Appreciation Month. There are memes about it floating around Facebook, greeting cards are available in Christian bookstores, and thoughtful gestures and encouraging words are coming from all sides. It’s kind, it’s thoughtful, and it’s appreciated.
It’s also incomplete. You see, there is someone intimately connected to pretty much everything that I do, but who remains, by choice, in the background. As a result, no one thanks her for a sermon or Bible Study that I teach. No one celebrates with her the results of a powerful outreach event or missions trip. And no one sends her notes to express their gratitude. But nothing I do would be the same without her.
There is no Pastor’s Wife Appreciation Month. But I have a blog, so in my case, I can fix that.
Murf Gaston has been living with me, putting up with my sometimes-crazy lifestyle, and serving by my side for 31 years (our anniversary is this Wednesday – I remembered!). She is a fairly private woman who finds herself married to a very public man. She handles that dissonance with grace and a good sense of humor, but I know it has had its challenging moments.
My ministry takes place in an office, behind a pulpit, or through a keyboard, and occasionally involves domestic or international travel to important places. Most of my wife’s ministry takes place in the chair you see pictured here. This is her office, her podium, the important place to which she travels. Lingering pain from injuries she suffered in a car crash ten years ago makes her less active in this season of life than we expected. But she is no less significant.
This is where she prays. She prays for our daughters, for our son-in-law, and for our grandson. She prays for our church, for the people we serve, and for the various ministries that we oversee. This is where she spends her Sabbath moments, and this is where she prays for me while I am on my Sabbath hikes. God meets her here.
The items on the table next to the chair reflect her focus. There is a rose from our garden. There is her Bible, and a prayer book called The Valley of Vision. There is a packet of index cards on which she has written the lyrics of her favorite hymns. There is a prayer sheet with the names of the members of our summer mission teams. And there are a couple of good Christian books that she is reading. These constitute the “tools of the trade” of her ministry. She uses them all, regularly. Faithfully.
The time my wife spends in this chair, next to this table, is central to all that we do together. Her role is much less visible than mine, so it tends to go unnoticed. But I notice it, and more importantly, God does. Through this post, I’m glad that you do, too.
We’re not unique. I know there are thousands of pastors, maybe tens of thousands, who could write the kinds of things I’ve written here. And if you take a moment to express thanks to your pastor, I would be glad to see you keep these thoughts in mind, and include thanks for the less-visible member of the team.
Now, please pray that she quickly forgives me for this post. After all, our anniversary is coming up!
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