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The Preacher's Husband

notes from a clergy-hubby

Rebekah Maul: "The Preacher"

Since I moved this blog over to WordPress we’ve picked up some new subscribers. So – once in a while – I’ll be posting some entries from the original Preacher’s Husband blog to catch everyone up to speed! Here’s a definitive post from earlier this year – it’s actually an article I wrote for FOCUS Magazine.

Choosing Who to Follow: Two years ago I started my first blog. The eponymous site is an on-line journal, where people look over my shoulder and read what’s going on with my life.

I’ve posted over 600 entries to date, around five new items per week. The experiment has generated some interest, somewhere around 3,000 hits every month. You can check it out if you’re interested, just log in via DerekMaul.com and click on “The Life-Charged Life.”

My blog features great photographs, plus some of my best writing – the same kind of content presented on this page. But it’s a journal, so most people don’t even bother to take the first look. The sites people go to in droves tend to feature scandal, controversy, juicy gossip, famous people or writing of more topical interest.

Well I’m not that interested in negatives. But it does make sense to write about topics that generate attention. So I scratched my head and came up with a subject I’m well qualified to address but may well raise a few eyebrows. The new blog is called, “The Preacher’s Husband.”

Bingo! I had more hits in the first couple of days than I’d hoped for in a month.” It turns out that people are interested in what it means for a guy to be married to the pastor of a church.

To tell the truth, I’d like to have known the answer to that question back when Rebekah and I started dating. But, occasional incidents of prejudicial thinking and lapses into male chauvinism aside, the overwhelming weight of my experience has been positive. I’ve been married to a preacher for close to three decades – and I have the stories to prove it!

No stereotype: Probably the best thing about the preacher’s husband gig is the absence of stereotypical expectations. Simply put, people don’t have preconceptions regarding what I’m supposed to do: there is no well-worn path to follow.

We may be in Twenty-first Century, but I still talk with minister’s wives who say they’re expected to, “Play the piano, teach Sunday-school, run the women’s group, clean the church kitchen, organize Vacation Bible School and be their husband’s secretary.”

Not so for yours truly – because nobody knows quite what to expect from the preacher’s husband. True, I am excluded from invitations directed to “ministers and their wives”, but the beauty of not occupying a culturally pre-assigned role is the freedom it gives me to simply follow Jesus.

My mother-in-law, Nell Alexander, gave me this advice when Rebekah was called to her first church. “Derek: love the Lord, love the preacher, love the people. If you get that right, everything else should fall into place.”

The other thing she said was, “If the preacher brings home extra folk for dinner unannounced, you can always cope by cooking extra biscuits.”

My freedom has given me pause. So much of what we do in life, cradle to grave, happens under the unyielding scrutiny of social norms. Many of these standards have less to do with what is “right”, or “Christian” than they have to do with what has become de rigueur for North American culture.

That’s why neither my wife nor I complain about the challenges of our non-standard life. Everything we’ve done, from my years as stay-at-home dad to her position as senior pastor at a vibrant church, has been free from the strictures of cultural stereotype.

The apostle Paul put it this way: “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations?” (Colossians 2:20).

It’s always a good question.

– DEREK

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