First Ladies: The Unsung Pulpit Partners (Part 3)

Lost? This post is part 3 of a series. It will all make more sense to you if you read the previous posts (Part 1 and Part 2) before proceeding.


Balancing Family Time

“Family and devotional time is on the top of my list—it is what keeps everything else moving forward,” Sharon affirms.  When either of them are ignored or lowered on my priority list, I am less productive and totally not fulfilled.”


Adequate family time is a priority in the Hurst home. “Being a responsible mom is a major thing for me,” Denise says, whose three children are sons Jeremiah, 9, Dynnell, 6, and Sean, 2, with another son due this month. “I’m raising African-American men in today’s society. I want them to be well-rounded and secure in themselves.”

The Hursts are also cautious about the “PK” (preacher’s kid) syndrome. “Germaine and I do not want our kids to grow up and resent the church. I don’t want them to think, ‘The church took my mom and dad from me.’ So to avoid that attitude later, we make sure we do things together—just us.”

The Hursts have scheduled Thursday as their ‘family day’ each week. And Lady Denise is active in her sons’ school too: “It’s important for me to go on field trips and family-type events at school to give them attention.”

A support system for the Hursts is a must. Greater Emmanuel’s Children’s Ministry has blossomed in recent years, and the Hursts have assistants and armor bearers to help care for their sons while they’re at church, but the support system became even stronger when District Elder Hurst’s parents moved to the area. “That made a huge difference… Germaine’s parents moving here was a God-send,” Denise says.


Iris has two grown children that are married, three grandchildren, and one teenager at home. “We go to basketball games, play the Wii, go to movies, and hang out.”

Iris says she always tries to make ministry events fun for her three children, but admits that she did things differently with her two older children than she does with youngest, who is still living at home. She says she wasn’t as personable with her two older children, and that everything revolved around the church, including things like planning vacations. With her youngest, she says she is more cognizant of doing things with her and spending time with her outside of church functions. She says that what children really learn about God is what they’re taught at home, more than anything else, and that “PKs have to see us as living and breathing examples” of how to live for God.


“When Pastor and I come to church, we may think we’re not going to be here long, but things happen and we could be here all day. So we enjoy our time together as a family and a couple,” Mona’ says. We’ve learned to make our assignments and church commitments blend with family time. But we do take family vacations. Sometimes I can steal away on my own with a good book and it refreshes me. Or I’ll go for a walk. I like to be outdoors. I like to take the kids to museums and whet their appetite for the arts, especially in the summer when they’re out of school. And if I’m with my friends, we will have prayer time and dream sessions, where we talk about things we wish we could do.”

“It took about a year, but Aija and Abraham are completely adjusted to being “PKs” (preacher’s kids) now. Abraham loves sitting in the front because he can see everything clearly and connect with the worship portion of the service. Aija has benefitted because she understands her sphere of influence as increased because people listen to her more now. She’s coming out of her shell, and she has more confidence. The congregation also does a lot to encourage them (and spoil them too)!”


Tammy and Grant have four children—twin 16-year old boys, as well as two older children who are both newlyweds.

“The boys know we are committed to Him—it’s a family affair. They have been involved in youth camps, revivals, mission trips, bible schools, etc. We try to stay involved in their lives—we have to give an account for how we teach and love them.”

“Family is a big deal to us. If we can’t minister to our own family, how can we minister to anyone else? Children could question your walk with the Lord because they see how you live firsthand. They see not just us in church acting one way, and then at home acting another way.”

“The Lord’s work is just as important to them as it is to you. They have seen the good the bad and the ugly, but we all know that it’s not about us; it’s about pleasing him. We’re here to minister. If you look at the life of Jesus, people didn’t always love everything he did, so we know it’s not always going to be easy.”

People + Patience + Compassion = Ministry

As any ministry leader knows, it is easy to get tired, discouraged, and taken for granted when you are dealing with people.

“There are highs and lows in ministry, “ Tammy readily admits, “but [when things get tough,] I can always go back to when He first called me when I was in high school—so I know and am sure of what I’m supposed to be doing.”

“Sometimes pastors’ wives and ministers struggle in ministry, but we have to go back to the call,” Tammy says. Man did not call me—God called me. That’s who I answer to, that’s who I am accountable to, and that’s who I have to please.”


Sharon says, “As a Pastor’s wife, there are so many demands and expectations of you, your family and especially your husband, so my biggest challenge is being sensitive to the demands and being patient and unselfish with the gift God has given to my husband.   I haven’t fully mastered the challenge but I have become spiritually mature so I don’t respond to the challenge the same way I used to.”


“I was born to be an encourager, and it’s exciting when you know that everything you do is going to be used by God,” Mona’ says. “But some people don’t understand that I am only one person. If I could give you my left side and do something else I’m committed to with my right side, I would. But my days can be perfectly planned out and then they shift and I just have to go with it. It’s like when GPS says “Recalculating route” and you’re asking the Lord, “When will I get to my destination?” But we have to go wherever the Lord wants to take us, and trust Him that everything He wants to get done will get done in order and at the right time.”


Pastor and Lady Hurst fast and pray together to get focused, find motives for the projects they are doing, and avoid becoming weary in well-doing. But Denise admits to allowing her flesh to get the best of her at times. “Any time you work with people, you have to deal with all kinds of personalities and insecurities. God gives pastors temperance and patience, but there have been times that I have defended my husband and said things that I shouldn’t have.”

“I’ve always loved the church and spent my entire life working in ministry,” Sharon says.  “I think people are the same everywhere you go and the same challenges I experience at work I have experienced at church.  When I was younger in ministry it bothered me to see people gossip, lie, and hurt one another. But I have come to realize that’s why the House of God is prevalent and relevant.  Now my only challenge is not with people but with the process.  I just want to empower church leaders to develop measurable services that will enlighten, enhance and strengthen the lives of individuals, family and community.”


Denise also acknowledges that her heart is with the people she serves: “[As a pastor and first lady,] people are looking to you and trusting you with the most intimate events of their life. They are losing their homes, have kids in jail, and dealing with life and death situations. If you have a relationship with your pastor, that’s who you call. You have to have a heart of compassion, and learn how to listen.” And she understands her role as a helpmeet to District Elder Hurst: “I always want to be a support to my husband so he has a soft place to fall, and I try to minister to him.”

To Be Continued…