Who wants to be second place? 

By: Steve Cassell

February 2023

I am writing this blog to some of the most anointed ministers that I have ever met. This is one of the most prestigious, powerful, and grace-filled group of people I have ever had the honor of being connected to. Without these precious people, there would be minimal beauty in the body of Christ, no legitimate impact, and absolutely no longevity. 

I am writing to the wives, because you are still our brides. 

I have been in full- or part-time ministry in some capacity for nearly twenty-five years. That time has made me acutely aware of the way my bride, Kay, can be easily dismissed, ignored, under-valued, and even disdained at times. Sometimes, I recognize that it is because “Christian sheep” are generally self-centered and therefore only interested in putting value and/or attention on what they think is the most personally beneficial, which is not her. Better to lavish synthetic appreciation on the head honcho that they perceive is an independent stalwart of faith, ordained by God to fulfill their every whim and want. Other times, I am aware that she is just generally shrugged off as the “number whatever” person among all the other indistinctive faces in the crowd. 

Whether it is an act of commission or omission, it deeply saddens my heart that many do not recognize the greatest earthly gift of God that we men—and ministers—have ever been mercifully bestowed. I can honestly say, in the many wonderful things I have seen and accomplished in ministry, none would be a reality had it not been for Kay’s divine love, supernatural mercy, and gracious encouragement. My personal belief is that it is impossible to shepherd a local church effectively and with longevity without a healthy and intimate marriage. That may not be true in other diverse expressions of ministerial callings (as Paul expressed and modeled). Nevertheless, knowing—experientially and biblically—what is necessary for true kingdom success and having seen utter destruction in many ministry settings, I can say, without hesitation, that among the highest necessities is the supernatural essence of an anointed wife. 

The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 

— Proverbs 31:11, English Standard Version 

Kay often hears this verse quoted by me. My heart is truly safe with her. I can confide in her, and her strength inspires me to run the race that is set before us. I cannot fathom successfully running this race if there was contention or discord dragging as an anchor in a shallow sea. The bride wields a grace-power that I wonder how many fail to comprehend. The above verse is even more radical when you combine it with Proverbs 3, which clearly warns of trusting one’s self, one’s own ways of thinking, because of how dangerous it can be. We see that a virtuous bride, an anointed helpmeet, and a man’s beloved friend (Song 5:16) is a safe place (heart) to restfully trust. The Father is so confident in the abundant grace created in the bride that He expects for us (men) to trust her with our hearts in a way congruent with our trust in Him and the holy Scriptures. 

Also, we see in the above verse that a need for increase or gain is satiated because of her. The bride carries such divine value, such priceless worth, and such glorious wealth for a man’s soul that she can subdue an ungodly temptation to toil in labor of the flesh pressing against his mind. Her trustworthiness deters the flexing of the natural ability or the sweat of one’s brow to try to bring faux fulfillment. Kay balances me by calming the waves as my ship breaks into new waters. Yet she also stokes my fires of passion towards divine destiny to greater intensity while gently exhorting me to keep every ember within the safe confines of the fireplace instead of allowing them to jump onto the carpet and burn the house to the ground. I do not need to fight as a merchant pirate in poverty, needing the spoils of success, but rather I can fight now as a courageous knight defending his homeland because that is where his bride resides—and the desires of her heart are the only treasures I seek. She is the priceless prize of the greatest battle a minister will ever fight. To see pleasure in her virtuous eyes is of more worth than a million Facebook likes. 

The congregation, the world, and (sadly) other ministers see her as a distant second-place competitor, failing to actually win the race. But you know, second place is a decent effort that deserves a smug pat on the head. “You go, girl” is the capitulatory and insincere accolade. This is why the secular world is overrun and dominated by women who fight in ferocious and masculine attitudes striving to be a macho number one. Nobody wants second place. Who foolishly makes that a life goal? What kind of person chooses number two? Kay did, and she still does. 

This is Kay’s enumerated and canonized list of prophetic and saintly mission/vision statements and goals, sealed and recorded: 

  1. Steve’s bride 
  2. Mother of our two children 
  3. Other stuff 
  4. Less important other stuff 

She loves her calling and the grace that comes with it. 

Her divine calling is simple, less than notable, lacks extravagance—and is literally empowered by God to change the world. You will hear one day, “Steve went there and did that thing and changed the world!” In that moment, remember this epistle so you can give proper credit where credit is due, because the headlines will not glorify her and the applause for her will be nil. God sees differently in so many ways that we sometimes forget the kingdom truths about heavenly fame. Kingdom fame is rarely showered on the “big man on campus,” but rather to the one who is servant of all. I sometimes wonder if the Father affirms me in His magnificent love so I can keep foraging through the jungle of ministry, while He just sweetly smiles at Kay with that pleasing and affirming look that says, “Thank you. We both know how important your influence is here.” 

By the same token, the man was not created because the woman needed him; the woman was created because the man needed her. . . . So then, I have to insist that in the Lord, neither is woman inferior to man nor is man inferior to woman. For just as woman was taken from the side of man, in the same way man is taken from the womb of woman. God, as the source of all things, designed it this way.  

— 1 Corinthians 11:9 and 11–12, The Passion Translation 

It is not a “need” as in we are somehow lacking or incomplete in our new nature or in our calling. Adam was not incomplete; he just needed a way to experience his completeness. “She” was given unto “he” so he could be experientially intimate with his divine perfection. I do not “need” Kay in some broken, destitute of soul, Hallmark-channel-storyline way. That poor schlub is demonically poised for self-destruction, because the only thing that will ever satisfy our soul is Jesus. Yet, Jesus is so secure in His complete, agape love that He will give us a bride (from His pierced side) to help us experience that fullness. Amazing. 

“If I wanted to find out whether a man was a Christian, I wouldn’t go to his minister. I would go and ask his wife. . . . If a man doesn’t treat his wife right, I don’t want to hear him talk about Christianity.”  

— D.L. Moody 

Pastors, ministers, if you want to know how well you really honor and value the greatest gift the Father has given you in your marriage covenant, watch how your people treat your bride. If the folks you lead or influence treat her as inconsequential wall decor, then likely they are reflecting your heart. If you see that happening, it cannot be remedied by demand or command; it has to be transformed at the root—you are the root. 

I believe I can speak for many when I tell all of you brides that your intrinsic value will infinitely exceed our deep gratitude.