Dr. Lois Evans is Senior Vice President of The Urban Alternative, the national ministry of her husband, Dr. Tony Evans. Dr. Evans also serves in the office of the Senior Pastor at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship Church in Dallas. She is the founder of the Senior Pastors’ Wives Ministry and The First Lady Conference. The mission of these ministries is to give help, hope and a safe haven to first ladies who may be experiencing isolation, fears and silent abuse in their role as pastors’ wives, by providing them with education, biblical counseling and support and a myriad of other Christian resources. Dr. Evans holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Dallas Baptist University and an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Eastern College.
First Lady Real Truth (FLRT) is a quarterly campaign that highlights the amazing contributions of first ladies that embody the essence of WOW! Magazine: to Inspire, Encourage and Empower Christian women toward a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. The FLRT candidate is a woman that is impacting the kingdom of Christ through outstanding involvement in her home, church and/or community. We are honored to feature Dr. Lois Evans, First Lady of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship Church, Dallas, TX under the leadership of Dr. Tony Evans.
Jeremiah 1 is really true – before you were placed in your mother’s womb- this is exactly where God wanted me – doing ministry with Tony at this church but He wanted me to be me! So, I’m about the ministry of freeing women that are married to pastor’s to be who God has called them to be because you are his helpmate in ministry as well.
Candie A. Price: How long have you and Pastor Evans been married and how many children do you have?
Dr. Lois Evans: 37 years, 4 children , 6 grandchildren
CAP: How long have you and Pastor Evans been in ministry?
LE: Together, we’ve been in our church 31 years and started out in college in ministry. So, almost 40 years, 31 at the church and he’s been preaching for about 38 or 39 years.
CAP: What would you say is your greatest challenge in being the wife of a pastor, especially one so well known?
LE: I think the greatest challenge for me is me accepting myself for where I am as it relates to people’s expectations. So the greatest challenge is people’s expectations and me being matured enough, which is a growing process, to kind of train people to accept me where I am. I guess that is why I started the ministry for pastor’s wives because I think that with the local statistics and things like that, that is the largest area of struggle for a lot of pastor’s wives – of working through how to meet the expectations and do it with grace and with love. That’s probably the hardest thing. You know we started out young in the pastorate – we were in our twenties and so people expected me to be Tony Evans and I didn’t go to seminary. I went to Bible College and people were, I guess, expecting Hebrew and Greek from me and I was just a kid wanting to still learn. Tony was my pastor, I grew up under his ministry and I think people’s expectations, especially in the early days, were kind of tough for me.
CAP: How did you handle that challenge?
LE: Praise the Lord, I have a great husband. We started the church with ten people in our home and people expected me to be everything and just as versed in scripture as my husband. As I just mentioned to you, I was growing under his ministry as well. The first two years of ministry were really hard for me. I loved the Lord and the Lord called me to ministry before I met Tony so ministry was not a challenge. I knew God called me to ministry but being a pastor’s wife was another thing and I had always said that I would never be a pastor’s wife and Tony said that he wouldn’t be a pastor either so we thought this marriage was made in heaven. But during Tony’s last year of seminary the Lord changed his direction completely and so he came home and told me that the Lord was actually going to have him pastor. I thought he was kidding me but then I found out, of course, that he was serious. So I told him, ‘I love the Lord and I know that the Lord called me into ministry but this is going to be hard for me’. I think I self-inflicted what I saw happen to my pastor’s wife and I just assumed that it would happen to me. I came into it from a negative point of view and then, of course, after two years I realized that it doesn’t have to happen to me. So, I can determine how I walk in ministry and not self-inflict. But for the first two years I did self-inflict things on myself because I just didn’t think I could do this and that and I was raising young children at the time, so the first two years were tough. But Tony revolutionized where I was. He looked at me one day when I was struggling and I just needed his help and his prayers and I looked at him and said, ‘You know I don’t think I can do this role thing. I’m definitely going to be committed to the Lord and I love you to death and I’m definitely going to be committed to you as my husband and I know you’ve got my back, but these expectations are out of the hemisphere!” And he looked at me and revolutionized my whole ministry and he said, ‘Lois, just be yourself!” And I said are you sure the people are ready for me to be me? But you know that’s why I’m so passionate about training pastor’s wives! Jeremiah 1 is really true – before you were placed in your mother’s womb- this is exactly where God wanted me – doing ministry with Tony at this church but He wanted me to be me! So, I’m about the ministry of freeing women that are married to pastor’s to be who God has called them to be because you are his helpmate in ministry as well.
CAP: Apparently you are very successful in the ministry God has laid out for you, what would you say is your greatest inspiration?
LE: Mentors in my life. I think people in your life are important but now let me quickly say that I know it’s hard for pastor’s wives to actually find someone with whom they can confide in and share, but my husband is my mentor and my mother. But I ask pastor’s wives to take the risk and pray for God to put someone in their lives to mentor them and encourage them. So I would say my husband and my mom and women along the way in ministry that have, in different ways, mentored me and inspired me and encouraged me to keep going. I also wrote a book on Seasons of a Woman’s Life. I learned early in life that life is seasonal and so is ministry. You can’t accomplish everything now in ministry because the Lord gives us the gift of children, He gives us opportunities to work outside the home –life is seasonal and Ecclesiastes talks about that and there is no exception for pastor’s wives. We have to look at ministry, we have to look at our lives and we have to make sure that we are keeping our biblical priorities in order and you need to keep your life grounded. When we started our church I had young children so I couldn’t do everything and people weren’t very happy with me. You can’t please everybody but I had my husband and my mother reinforcing what the scripture told me to do and that’s managing my home first.
CAP: What is your life’s verse and why?
LE: John 15: 5 – “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” I literally don’t do anything in my life without making sure the Lord sanctions it because I really can’t do anything without His help. At this stage of my life, in this season of my life, I don’t want to do anything that’s not a part of His plan for my life. I want to make every day count for the plan that God has set forth for me. So, I also plan in quiet time so that I can hear His voice. There is so much going on in our lives, so many people pulling at us, and for right reasons – people need the Lord, but you know what I like to tell pastor’s wives we need Him, too. We’ve got to be quiet enough and still enough to hear His voice so we don’t mess up His plan for our lives so we can stay on track with His vision for our lives personally and also for His vision for our family.
CAP: What piece of advice would you say is essential to give to a minister’s wife that will soon become a pastor’s wife?
LE: Get all the training you can now, take all the opportunities you have – conferences, training, prayer partners, be open to advice and information you’re getting and mentors in your life is important.
CAP: What is the First Lady’s Conference (the main goal) and how did it begin? What was your motivation for its conception?
LE: The passion grew out of my need for ministry. It has been 31 years now since we started our church and in those days I kind of had to grow by osmosis, unfortunately, and the Lord was good and I’m here today simply because He’s a good God! But what He did, because my first two years were difficult, was plant a seed and a passion in my life to give back – give back for the things I was looking for. I was looking for training, networking, information, inspiration, encouragement and so ten years ago I started this conference (we have a conference every year) and a website ministry that is 24/7 365 days a year where pastor’s wives can get ministry any time she needs. We even have links to counselors if a pastor’s wife wants to stay incognito, stay anonymous and get counseling because the statistics are high today of pastor’s wives that are lonely, feeling unappreciated – 84% say they want more training. The pastor’s wives ministry grew out of where I came from but also based on the report today – the statistics are the same as they were 31 years ago. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the Barner Report, I said ‘Hello! Where are we?’ So, my passion is to give back, to train, to encourage, to network, to brainstorm with women, to provide counseling and have a website that’s going 24/7. People come on the website and leave their prayer requests anonymously – we don’t know who they are because some of the issues that they are dealing with are major but I have a group of women that I call my Advisory Team and they go on the website from time to time anonymously as well and pray for folks. My passion is to give strength, gird up, encourage and help them to remember that there is really joy in the journey, whoever God calls, He equips. God doesn’t always call the equipped, but He does equip the called.
CAP: How do you balance your personal achievements, your participation in your husband’s ministry and your family life?
LE: Tony and I keep our communication strong, same as our kids. I encourage pastors and their wives to find time in the busyness of ministry to sit around that table. You hear a lot from your husband, you hear a lot from your children when you sit around the dining room table. If you have young children make sure you sit around that dining room table for emotional time and give your children a chance to express themselves about what they feel about the ministry, what they feel about your schedule, about your lives. When our children were young we gave them a chance to express themselves – some of the things we didn’t like or enjoy hearing –one of them were we were too busy or they’d rather not do this or that in the church because people’s expectations of them were too high – we heard all of those things at the dining room table. And I know sometimes you’re too busy to meet every day but at least once a week – sit down so you can hear really what’s going on in your children’s lives. Our kids are grown with children, but we still gather around the dining room table today and still have these conversations even though three of them are married. That kept me and Tony balanced, you know, as to what our kids were really feeling about our lifestyle, our traveling, and things like that. So we started that tradition then and we’ve continued it now – our home is empty they are not really living at home and Tony and I still communicate a whole lot. He knows exactly where I am in ministry, what I’m available to do or not do – its constant communication, compromise and realizing that you are not competing with each other – you’re complementing each other. So you are free to use your gifts as you move along with one vision although you’re not the same.
CAP: What biblical character has influenced you the most in your walk and why?
LE: Probably Esther, I kind of mirrored her life in my testimony in my book, simply because Esther went through so many seasons in life. She didn’t understand them as she was going through them, they didn’t make any sense to her, but again she had this mentor in her life that kept telling her, ‘You can do it, you can do it’. And, eventually, of course, Mordecai revealed to her exactly why he was promoting her in the palace of King Azariah and she finally realized her purpose – that she was there to bring deliverance to the Jewish people. And I have gone through several seasons in my personal life, family life, ministry life, marriage life, and Esther has encouraged me along the way. Then there are several other women, Naomi was so strong and Ruth – her commitment to follow her mother-in-law regardless of what happened. And Deborah was so strong as a judge and God used her to make a difference so that women could stand out in their different skill sets and different callings in life and all these women listened to the voice of God and had godly people in their lives.
CAP: First Lady the Real truth is about the ambiguous role of the pastor’s wife and often there is a misconception about the roles and duties of a pastor’s wife – what do you think is the best way for a pastor’s wife to reconcile the expectations of the church body with whatever plans God has ordained for her in the body and what she and her husband have decided would be her role?
LE: I think it’s important that the two stand as one always in front of the membership, it starts with the leadership first. I know that the church has hired the pastor and unfortunately as time has gone by the wives have been given a job description, but not hired. The husband and wife should always stand together to the membership to let them know that they are a partnership. Sometimes you have to make it clear that you are not paying the pastor’s wife – she’s partnered with her husband so what he’s asking her to do is her skill set. So, it takes two – it takes the husband constantly reinforcing that. And what I’ve learned over the years is that when people come up to me with expectations that might not fit my gift set or might not fit my season or I’m just not skilled to do, I’ve learned to delegate. I tend to delegate to those that are coming complaining. I was over the Women’s Ministry years ago and I was on the Advisory Team but my husband asked me to come back in a leadership role now that I’m in a new season in life. But still the strategy that I’m using is listening to women that are passionate about certain things and I’m supporting them to do it. So again, I’m overseeing it and not actually having to do everything.
CAP: Pastor Evans is an awesome and anointed teacher/preacher of the Gospel – its been said before that behind every successful man is an even greater woman – ministry comes with many pressures and its not as easy or glamorous as people think it is, how do you stay motivated to encourage him and cheer him on even through conflict in ministry?
LE: It goes back to talking a lot. I pray for him. Two years ago we had a major transition in our church, very major, and it was hard, it was harder for me than Tony. Tony kept saying the Lord knew this was coming and He was going to work it out. Tony just has a different personality than I, but it was hard for me but the reverse happened and he had to minister to me. I saw my husband in an overworked situation and trying to replace leadership is very hard after you’ve had the same leadership for years. So, you know what, we encourage each other and then sometimes when I see him just overwhelmed with ministry, just physically drained, I have to let him rest and let him know I’m praying for him. Tony works all the time so I have to tell him to eat and recommend things for us to do. I recommend people to get away quarterly, if it works for you. Tony and I get away even if its just to the other side of town, we regularly take breaks. Get away from the work – just to pray or relax. We love to go to New York, take in a Broadway show – just to relax – that’s permanently in our schedule. You have to put that in your schedule first or it’ll never happen. And there’s a lot of honesty between us as well – you know, if things are just not right, they’re just not right. I don’t mean to paint a perfect picture here but communication has to be strong. The Bible says that the husband is to dwell with us in knowledge – so you have to give him the knowledge. I counsel a lot of pastor’s wives and they feel like if they tell their husbands where they’re hurting, or what’s really going on in ministry or what they’re concerned about, they’ll come across not supportive or not spiritual enough and I’m saying, No, you have to share so that he can pulse where you are in ministry and so he can support you where you are.
CAP: Most of us do not dream of being a pastor’s wife when we grow up, what were your personal aspirations for your life?
LE: I grew up in a Christian home and to be quite honest, that’s all I knew. So, my personal aspirations were what I’m doing now today in ministry and that is business. I’ve always had an interest in details and strategies in business and I went to business school and of course the Lord called me to ministry. Tony was wise enough to see that even before we got married and when we got married he put me to work. So we blended my skill with ministry.
CAP: How do you want to be remembered?
LE: Oh, WOW! As a woman that heard the voice of God and stayed on track as much as she could with the plan that He ordained and preordained for her life. I want to hear well done. I might not please all the people here, but I want to hear well done. Because what he foreknew about me and predestined for me, I took time in life to really accomplish that. I want to leave a legacy and heritage for my children and grandchildren and for any woman that the Lord brought my way. I want to leave some inspiration and some encouragement for them. Foremost in my mind is that I want to hear well done.
CAP: Finally, what could you tell us that most people would not know about you?
LE: That I’m a very private person, people probably wouldn’t know that about me. Very private and love people, but if I had a choice I’d be around my family at the kitchen table, cooking pumpkin bread or something. But the Lord has a sense of humor and He’s kind of plunged me out there from behind the curtain and I’m amazed today when I stand up to speak – it’s only the Holy Spirit that keeps me going. I’m amazed. Sometimes I’m in the middle of my message I’m saying ‘Lord, I know you are on the throne!’ I’m more comfortable around my kitchen table or in my office with the staff making the ministry happen.
CAP: Now you can give our readers any information you’d like to advertise about your or your husband’s ministry – websites, etc.
LE: I’d like to mention the books, Season’s of a Woman’s Life that I’ve written and Stones of Remembrance with Jane Rubietta and then Tony and I have written a devotional for couples, Our Love is Here to Stay. I think a couple’s devotional life is key. I’d like to mention our websites tonyevans.org and loisevans.org and really invite pastor’s to send their wives to the conference and add the training to their budget so that they can get the information and encouragement they need and partner with them in strength and not from weakness. Also, our 24/7 website for pastor’s wives.
Featured in: WOW! Magazine January 2008