DETROIT, MI – My husband, Eli, entered the ministry after working as an engineer for 20 years. He became the Associate Pastor at First Spanish Baptist Church of Detroit and served in that role for nine years. Recognizing the need to be properly trained, Eli became a full-time seminary student. We believed God was calling him to the ministry, but were uncertain of where and in what capacity. After seeking the Lord and the counsel of others upon graduation, he accepted the call to become the Senior Pastor at First Spanish Baptist. God was calling him back to where he had started!
During the early years of ministry, I was a stay at home mom and homeschooled our two children, Cristina and Daniel, through elementary school. While Eli was in seminary I had gone back to work full time as a nurse and have continued to work full-time. Over the years, my role and level of involvement in ministry has changed depending on my stage of life, our family needs, the needs of the church and how God was leading me to serve Him. Being a Pastor’s wife has been a work in progress for me, and these past 18 years I have learned and continue to learn some valuable lessons. There are times I have to revisit the lessons I thought I had already learned. If nothing else, I’ve learned I must always be learning.
My relationship with God is my number one priority. I must be about growing in my relationship with Him by being in the Word and praying; depend on him for guidance, wisdom and the power to do life, including ministry, all while striving to become more like Jesus. Everything else flows out of my walk and obedience to the Lord. My husband and my children are my next priority. Eli and I have to work at making time for our marriage and our relationship. We try to make time each week to do something together. It may be as simple as taking a walk together or going for coffee. At times we have planned day trips and an occasional weekend get-away.
When our kids were growing up, we had a weekly family day to do something fun together. We took family vacations in the summer. We encouraged and supported our children to participate in outside activities that interested them, both at school and in the community. We wanted them to know that they could be who they were and that Dad’s calling was not what defined them.
I also learned I am not called to do Eli’s work, but to love and support him and use the gifts and abilities that God has given me to blend and harmonize with his calling as pastor. As a pastor’s wife, there are expectations people have of who I should be and what my role should be in the church. I remember some wise advice someone gave me when I started this new role as pastor’s wife, “just be yourself”. These three small words have continued through the years to encourage me and challenge me. God loves me and accepts me so I need to accept myself as God has made me, with a unique personality, gifts and abilities. I believe God uses me just as I am. I don’t have to change who I am or become someone else. God has a plan and purpose to use me just as I am as I serve God’s people where He has placed me.
Be Flexible and Be Open
We can become very comfortable in certain roles in ministry. We find our niche and become very comfortable there. I had worked with children and youth most of my time in ministry, but when I was asked to speak at a Women’s Bible Study I was very unsure of myself. It was a new experience, teaching in this type of ministry. I prayed about it and accepted reluctantly. However, God used me to speak to the women there and God used it as a stretching experience in my life, taking me out of my comfort zone. I learned to allow the new experiences to come, trust God and He will guide the direction of how He wants me to serve in ministry through new challenges and experiences.
In life we each have a calling. Our Creator has made us for a specific, divine purpose, and we should first and foremost be whom He has determined, not others. Seeking to serve God first in all things frees me of worry and struggles with worldly expectations. May you discover this same freedom as you seek to live for the Father, just as He has created you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Diane was born and raised in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She is an LPN and currently works at Beaumont Hospital Dearborn Campus in Dearborn, MI. Diane and her husband, Pastor Eli Garza, were married in 1990 and have two children: Cristina, who is 25 years old, currently a senior attending Wayne State University and Daniel, who is 22 years old, recently graduated from Spring Arbor University. Diane has been a pastor’s wife since 1999 when her husband Eli left his engineering career to become Associate Pastor at First Spanish Baptist Church.