Ministers’ Wives – Role vs. Purpose

By Jannice May

Connecting & Bonding (C&B), a ministry devoted to nurturing ministers’ wives, is entering its 12th year. C&B conferences have taken place in England, South Africa and the Philippines as well as Kentucky, Delaware and in Los Angeles in California. We consider the Los Angeles conference our mother conference since the first one was there and our conferences have continued in L.A. for all this time.

Little did I know when a new minister’s wife asked me for help 12 years ago God would give me a passion to start a ministry for all ministers’ wives. At first I resisted the word passion because I didn’t think it applied to me. Then someone explained a passion is a heartbeat, and I had to admit I definitely had a heart for ministers’ wives and their unique challenges. In this column we will explore some of those areas.

Author and speaker Jan Johnson spoke at several of our conferences about the different hats we ministers’ wives wear and our role and purpose. I’ve heard her give this same presentation several times, but when she spoke last year in Lexington, Kentucky, a light went on for me.

Jan mentioned being a minister’s wife is our role, not our purpose. Sometimes we get the two confused. Therefore, when our role changes, it can be quite difficult. I can’t tell you how many times a minister’s wife has told me after her husband retires or dies, “I don’t know where I fit anymore.” They have served in a specific role and now that role is gone. Being a minister’s wife is a role, not a purpose. Jan explained sometimes we can use our role to fulfill our purpose, but we need to know the difference between the two. When the role of being a minister’s wife is over, life is not over, because we still have a purpose.

Abby Williams shared how much Jan Johnson’s presentation meant to her. Two and a half years ago Jeff and Abby set their alarm to go off at 6a.m., Sunday morning, so they could get ready for church. When the alarm went off, Jeff did not move. Abby said, “I knew he was dead.” Jeff was just 45 years old and had died in his sleep. Abby shared how she struggled with knowing where she fit after his death. Saturday she was a full-time minister’s wife and Sunday morning, that role was over. I am happy to say Abby understands even though the role of a minister’s wife is not there for her anymore, she is OK. She knows she was put here by God for a purpose.

I find this so liberating. When our roles change, we still have our purpose. Many of the women found this liberating as well. They can be the ministers’ wives, but they can also have something of their own. Perhaps it’s worship leading, teaching classes in prison, serving at a homeless shelter, running a business or starting their heartbeat ministry. I say it’s a great time to be a minister’s wife. It’s wonderful to be chosen for that role. It is also important to know if this role ends one day, our purpose will not. Our purpose will never change; it will just grow.


Jannice May has been a minister’s wife for 40 years. Her husband Curtis is the director of Reconciliation Ministry. Jannice shares her passion through Connecting & Bonding, a ministry devoted to ministers’ wives of all denominations. She has a new role to add to her many hats this year. She will be a grandmother when her first grandchild is born in September. This new C&B column for Connections will allow us to explore topics unique to ministers’ wives. Be sure to check out the C&B website at for coming conference information. Contact Jannice at