As a pastor's wife, Lois Evans felt isolated. She desired accountability, longed for fellowship and encouragement, and wondered if other senior pastors' wives felt the same way. Thus came the conception and birth of The First Lady Ministry, her outreach to pastors' wives.
"The ministry began two years ago out of my lack," Lois explains. "I had no nucleus of women to network with. I wanted a core group of like-minded women." Out of Lois' desire to connect, love and minister to other pastors' wives, The First Lady Ministry supports and trains them to fulfill their ministry role without losing their personal identities.
But Lois' view of being a pastor's wife wasn't always this positive. In fact, as a young woman, it ranked at the top of things she did not want to do. She even told God, "Yes, I'll follow you — but I'll never be a pastor's wife."
Though she married evangelist Tony Evans, founder and president of the Urban Alternative, Lois easily found her place in life and ministry as an evangelist's wife. After all, it didn't have the same pressures and expectations of a pastor's wife. Then came the day Tony told her that God was redirecting his life, from national evangelist to pastor of a local church.
"Never say never," Lois says. "I did my 'Sarah thing' and laughed — not because I couldn't do it, but because I had told God, 'No, thank you.'"
Her biggest obstacle was the expectations placed on her to act or serve at church in a certain way. "During my first two years as a senior pastor's wife, I struggled with the role thing," she says. "I told Tony I didn't know if I could make it!" With her sister's counsel and her husband's advice, Lois realized that she wasn't the church's "wife," but Tony's wife. That's when she made the choice and commitment to be only herself. And that's exactly what she inspires other pastors' wives to be: themselves.
Through her honesty and vulnerability, Lois encourages ministry wives to make a difference for the kingdom of God by serving according to their season in life. For example, when the Evans' children were in grade school, Lois was a busy mother. She was limited in areas she could serve at church because of the demands of her family. But she knew her ministry was to her kids. "I was in the season of raising my children," she says. "They needed my attention then. I couldn't let the ministry [hinder] my relationships."
In her current season, Lois is the president of The First Lady Ministry, a senior vice-president for the Urban Alternative, author, singer and speaker. What's more important, Lois Evans is a woman content in simply being herself.
Ever feel like you need to wear a mask to cover up who you are? Are you concerned that, if people knew who you really are and how you really felt, they wouldn't understand?
One minister, two jobs and the family that's at the top of the list. The number of bivocational ministers, those in full- or part-time ministry who carry an additional job, is estimated by some researchers to be as high as 30 percent of ministers nationwide.
"You should see the church they attend," Lucille said, armed with bulletin and newsletter. Creases formed across my brow as celebration gave way to comparisons a trap that had sprung too many times.