A Day in the Life of a Female Pastor’s Husband

Jacob Gaines

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pastors-husband

female pastor husband

The Junia Project recently published an article written by my wife entitled, A Day in the Life of a Female Pastor.

The unfortunate reality for my wife and many other women who live with a burning passion for and calling to ministry, is that they have been told by some (mostly men) that the Bible frowns upon or even forbids women to serve as pastors/clergy.

The point of this post is not to address all of those issues, which have been batted around and debated for years. Personally, I still can’t believe that with all the pain, brokenness, disillusionment and despair in the world, there are people who think it’s a good and biblical idea to prevent one half of humanity from serving and giving themselves to its healing and wholeness.

But I digress.

So let me just share with you what my wife, a female pastor, did on the day her post was published and let that speak for itself. 

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We boarded a plane around 1:30 pm for a long weekend trip back to the Midwest.

With three excited kids in tow we settled in for the first of two legs that would eventually land us in the Detroit area.  About an hour into the flight the flight attendants made an announcement over the intercom that there was a medical emergency and anyone with medical expertise was needed immediately. I looked up and saw people starting to move about.

Then I saw a man sitting a few rows ahead of us in seat 22A slouched against the window as people around him tried to wake him up.

I looked again and there in the aisle was who I assumed must be his wife staring horrified and helpless at what was unfolding at 35,000 ft. With tears in her eyes she watched as flight attendants scrambled to set up an AED and a nurse on board ran to help out. Things were going from bad to worse quickly and panic was setting in. I saw the nurse start doing chest compressions. 

That’s when my wife, the Lead Pastor of our church, took the lead.

She stood up and said to me, “Jacob, they need a pastor.”  At first I thought she was implying something. Like I should get up and go help out. But before I could move she was halfway down the aisle. So I stayed with the kids and she went and wrapped her arms around the dying man’s wife and began to do what a pastor should do. 

She was present in perhaps the most frightening and chaotic moment of this unknown woman’s life.  She was near, she was loving and she was praying.  She later told me that when she got to his row the man had no pulse, no heartbeat, and was totally unresponsive.  And yet, as soon as she began to pray for him (all the while holding his terrified wife in her arms) he opened his eyes!  I know…another day, another post on that one. Long story short, about an hour later we got off the plane and walked past a team of paramedics and medical personnel all huddled around this man. Thank God, it looked like he was going to make it! 

When they needed a pastor, she answered the call.

She loved tenderly and compassionately. She ministered healing and wholeness. She took the lead and I can honestly say that as a pastor’s husband, I have never been more proud.  I could tell the man sitting across the aisle from me sat stunned and a bit shaken by what he had just witnessed.  He glanced over and our eyes met. I told him she was a pastor and he leaned over and whispered, “She’s the real deal!”

For those who struggle with that…

For those who don’t want her and so many others like her to be the real deal…

For those who feel they have to safeguard select Scriptures and patriarchal structures for the integrity of the Church…

For those who know the world is in utter turmoil but still choose to exclude half of humanity from fully giving themselves its healing…

For those who resist female leadership in ministry because it threatens the very foundation upon which you have built your own church…

For those who just want her to be a director or assistant or support staff…

I wish you had been sitting next to me on the plane that afternoon. You would have seen a pastor in action.

You would have seen the real deal. You would have seen a pastor answering the call. You would have seen her daughter begging me to go pray alongside her. You would have seen, “A Day in the Life of a Female Pastor” and experienced, “A Day in the Life of a Female Pastor’s Husband”.

And maybe like the man in seat 22A, your eyes would be open too!

Jacob Gaines

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13 Comments

  • Thank you for sharing this! As a pastor’s spouse myself I could resonate with what you felt during the situation. Thank you for allowing us to witness it through your family’s eyes. She has a great support in you as her spouse and clearly, your children recognize that ministry happens everywhere, not just at the church. Your daughter’s desire to go pray speaks volumes. I will be praying for your family.

  • I quite agree that this is what any Christian could and should do after all we are a community of priests. Without demeaning her husband it is important that she responded and was seen in the role of pastor. I suspect that it was also part of the crowd effect no one acts because everyone expects the other to respond, and perhaps her husband was likewise immobile. Hopefully he was supporting in prayer.

  • I don’t mean to diminish the importance of your wife and her work, which was very commendable, but what she did is not the exclusive work of a pastor but what should be expected of every Christian. Even the most strident complementarian would allow a woman to pray for and provide comfort to a person who is suffering. Rather than show the need for expanded roles for women this example shows how we can put pastors (elders, bishops, overseers, shepherds) on a pedestal and set them apart from other Christians.

    • I totally agree that this should be the work of all Christians, and in no way is exclusive. However, in some circumstances (e.g. crisis situation, hospital, etc) like the one I detailed, identifying yourself as a pastor/clergy gives you access or permission to be with people especially in a crowd of strangers. On a plane, in a chaotic situation with flight attendants asking people to stay in their seats, this identification is not about a pedestal, but about opening a door to be available to people. I’m glad she was able to identify as such walk through that door. Hope that provides some context and clarification 🙂

  • Don’t know if what she needed was a pastor. She did need a compassionate help to come along side to pray and comfort. Any one who believes in Jesus can and should do that. It was very commendable indeed but it wasn’t that she needed to be a pastor to do what she did. We all should do that!

    • Your comment is yours, but, it resonates with what the writer was trying to tell us. It is the pat answer that.disallows 50% of the world’s people from being able to do and be. It disqualifies the passion, vision and abilities that God stirs within women who choose to live and serve in their obedience to God; as servant leaders.

  • This was so touching, Jacob! Thanks for sharing it with us. I think many of us leading women feel like we constantly need to open our mouths and defend our rights to our roles. I love that your wife just lived who she is and her ministry defended itself. A needed reminder for me. Thank you again!

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