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Dear Perky,

My husband and I just accepted the call to serve our first congregation. I am excited, but I’ve heard horror stories about being a preacher’s wife. My greatest fear is that I don’t know how to play the piano. What should I do?

Toni Def


Dear Toni,

First, I commend you for following your husband into a profession of rich rewards and the occasional landmine. Pastoral ministry is a noble profession if you love others, have a lot of patience, and possess the hide of a rhinoceros (just joking—in a Christian sort of way).

Not playing piano isn’t as big a deal today as it was when Buck and I were young. Back then, the pastor’s wife was also expected to serve as church secretary, clean the building, serve as local NWMS president (today’s NMI) , and teach Sunday school (junior boys, of course)—all with a smile. Thankfully, I survived. A few of those boys didn’t.

With the way things have gone in the musical tastes of churches, you’re probably safe. They don’t use pianos much anymore, and I can’t remember the last time I heard an organ in a sanctuary. You’d more likely be on the hook if you played castanets or congas.

A lady (not a Nazarene) who attends our monthly preachers’ wives (PWs) gathering told me she managed to avoid having to perform musically by singing off-key. Of course, in some churches, no one would care (or notice). Also, the competition to be a member of some praise teams can be vicious, so you’ll probably win a few friends if you’re musically ignorant.

I recall the first Sunday evening service (you might not be old enough to remember those) in our first assignment. Buck and I were sitting on the front pew waiting for the NYPS (today’s NYI) service to begin, when the choir leader, Bro. Dimbro, walked up and asked if we had prepared a song for the evening service. As I choked, Buck responded in his usual calm manner with, “Brother, I think we’ll wait until another time to sing.” Thirty-three years, and we’re still waiting.

I do miss many of the “old” songs of the church. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, when you reach your new assignment, ask for a “hymnal.” Surely there’s an old-timer there who will know what you mean. Likely, you’ll find them in an attic space, the basement of the parsonage, or as makeshift steps to the baptistry (Buck is short, so he’s been known to use this trick from time to time). Folks of my generation enjoyed trying to read the music in our hymnals as we sang the lyrics. Come to think of it, we had some pretty good three-part harmony in those days. As I’ve aged, it seems harmony in the church has grown harder and harder to find (I’m talking about singing, of course).

Just remember, God doesn’t care if we can’t play an instrument or if we sing off-key, but He does want our praise, worship, and obedience. We can do this with hymns or choruses or symphonies, and by keeping our hearts open to His leadership as we live our lives guided by His Word. Enter your new assignment on this note and you’ll have a great future.

Love and Blessings!


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