Recently I was speaking at a big Baptist Church in Atlanta. I'd just shared a story where Rebekah had a starring role. I was a few sentences into the next anecdote when I stopped for a moment and re-directed.
"I suppose you're wondering why my wife's name keeps coming up?" I asked, rhetorically. "Well she often asks the same question. Why, she says, do you use so many stories about about me when you're speaking, blogging, or writing a column for the newspaper?
"That's easy," I tell her. "I'll stop writing about you in the newspaper the day you stop talking about me in the pulpit."
I think we all know the answer to that.
SUNDAY MORNING: Ah, Sunday morning worship, the time when those of us married to "The Preacher" wonder what exactly our spouse is going to say about us during the sermon!
Yesterday was classic. Rebekah offered a detailed illustration featuring the fact that I have yet to return the Christmas tree to its hibernation spot in the attic (it's currently occupying a large piece of garage floor). She was in rare form and much spontaneous mirth resounded around the sanctuary.
After church someone said something about what a mutually respectful relationship Rebekah and I have (true), and how great it is that Rebekah always asks my permission before she uses me in a sermon (occasionally true).
"To ask permission first," The Preacher responded, "I'd have to have actually known ahead of time that I would be using that story."
And to think I was one of the people who encouraged her when she made the switch to a more extemporaneous preaching style!
Like it or not, there is a real, unavoidable "public figure" dimension to being the preacher's spouse. And it's more than the ubiquitous "Last two seats at the remote end of the head table" thing or "Derek, would you lead us in the blessing?"
I'm still wondering (and I really hope you're listening, seminary presidents) about classes/workshops/seminars for the spouses of those going into ministry. Preacher's wives, preacher's husbands, the preachers themselves - we're all in the same boat. I wouldn't mind standing up to tell you all a story or two.....
Love and blessings - DEREK