Dr. Tara Jenkins

The word ministry simply means to serve. I feel that the title of pastor’s wife does not give you a pass regarding serving God’s people. As pastors’ wives we can not dress up and expect others to ‘serve the Mrs.’ when we, too, are called to serve the masses.

Candie A. Price – Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us. Tell us a little about your upbringing, where you were raised, family life, etc. 

Dr. Tara Jenkins: I was born and raised as an only child in the small town of Jackson, Tennessee by my ever-sacrificing mother, Margaret Rawls. Although the town was not big, I was blessed to be exposed to big things. We were regularly exposed and involved in various forms of the performing arts. My mom enrolled me in everything that was available to us; ballet, tap, jazz, piano, cultural arts summer camps, oratorical contests, and so on! Also, we were blessed to live in a city where a Historically Black College was present- Lane College. Thus, I grew up with a desire to attend an HBCU.

CAP: How long have you and your husband been married and how many children do you have?

DTJ: We have been married for 10 exciting years. We have two young daughters; 5-year-old Princess Alexandria and 3-year-old Paris Victoria. We are currently expecting our third child!

CAP: How long have you and your husband been in ministry? 

DTJ:  When I met my husband, we were 19 years old. He had already been preaching almost 3 years! When we got married at age 22, we were instantly in ministry. Four months into our marriage(1998), he was named the Associate Pastor of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church of Chicago. He was being groomed to succeed the legendary Dr. Clay Evans at the time of his retirement in 2000. 

CAP: What would you say is your greatest challenge in being the wife of a pastor?

DTJ:The greatest challenge is maintaining balance between home, marriage, family, church, and personal purpose. It can be an ongoing tug-of-war to try to strike a balance in the midst of it all. 

CAP: How do you handle that challenge?

DTJ: A wise pastor’s wife, Jamell Meeks of Salem Baptist Church of Chicago advised me not to look at it as a balancing act. She told me that it is more of a juggling act.  She says that when juggling, you have to hold on to what needs to be held at the moment; while some other items may have to float in the air for that time. Personally, I have found that deciding to be flexible when you want to be flustered is the only way to live at peace. Only God can give you the ability and capability to adjust at a moment’s notice!

CAP: You’ve recently written your doctoral dissertation on Equipping Pastor’s wives for ministry. What do you think is the most effective way to accomplish this and why do you feel it’s necessary?

DTJ: The word ministry simply means to serve. I feel that the title of pastor’s wife does not give you a pass regarding serving God’s people. As pastors’ wives we can not dress up and expect others to ‘serve the Mrs.’ when we, too, are called to serve the masses.  Serving can be fleshed out in various ways. Too often we do what others expect us to do instead of doing what we are called to do. We must equip ourselves in the area of service in which we are gifted, with no respect to whether or not that role is deemed as ‘first-lady-like.’

CAP: Tell us about your ministry, Ministry Mates. What is the goal of this ministry and what do you feel is at the core of its success and what other ministries are you involved with?

DTJ: After surveying 151 pastors’ wives across the country for my doctoral dissertation, it was evident that most pastors’ wives are going through the same challenges…..but alone. Ministry Mates was birthed out of a need for pastors’ wives to come together regularly- not to gripe, but to grow.  Once a month in Chicago, pastors’ wives come together for encouragement, equipping, interaction  and fellowship. From this ministry, we have also launched an online component for pastors’ wives who are not in the Chicago-land area. Ministry Mates Institute for Online Learning offers online classes for pastors’ wives. The first two classes have been such a blessing. These classes are entitled, “The Leadership Role of the Pastor’s Wife” and “Preparing the Heart to Teach.” I have also been blessed to be a part of the advisory team of Dr. Lois Evans’ Annual First Ladies’ Conference in Dallas, Texas which will host their 10th conference in June of 2009. 

CAP: What is your life’s verse and why? DTJ: Ephesians 3:20 states, “Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”  This verse shows us that God can use us to do bigger things through us than we could ever imagine in our wildest dreams. With this verse in mind, we should expect incredible things to happen to us and through us daily!

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? 

DTJ: God blessed me to author a book entitled, “Wisdom for Wives; 21 things every pastor’s wife should know.” In this book, the first principle states, “Obey God’s voice for YOUR life.” God made you an original so don’t die a copy! Many of the challenges that  pastors’ wives face would disappear if they could put others’ opinions of what they should and shouldn’t do on mute.

CAP: How do you balance your personal achievements, your participation in your husband’s ministry and your family life?

DTJ: Many peoples lives are ‘out of order’ because their priorities are ‘out of order’. To achieve any sense of balance relational priority must stay in place. All of this is impossible without a real relationship with God. Then, marriage is the highest human form of relationship. Therefore, keeping the marriage relationship strong must be the earthly priority. Then being an honorable steward over the lives of the children entrusted to you must come next. All ministry and personal goals must fall in line after God and home are in order. If any of these factors get out of sequence, you can get ready to experience a life that is ‘out of order’!

CAP: What biblical character has influenced you the most in your walk and why?

DTJ: The story of Esther has greatly influenced my life …mostly because of her willingness to show up for the casting call of queen based solely on possibility (regardless of her past as an orphan raised by a man). Too often we assess our own past, and count ourselves out. Instead we have to have the willingness to show up. Once we show up, God knows we are ready to go up. With a single-parented past, failing the 12th grade and not graduating with my class, I still had to show up for what God had in store for me next. My next included a Bachelor’s Degree, a Master’s Degree and a Doctoral Degree. My testimony would not have been complete without the willingness to show up based merely on possibility.

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?

DTJ: A First Lady must ask herself, “What area would I be actively involved in according to my giftings if I were an active member of church and not the first lady?”  The gifts deposited within her from God must drive her area of involvement, not congregational expectations; geographical alienation or denominational limitations. Once this area of involvement is identified, she and her husband must be on one accord regarding communicating this laser focus to all.

CAP: Tell us a little about your husband and the church he pastors. 

DTJ: My husband is not an ordinary preacher or pastor. At 16 he was preaching, at 22 he was an associate pastor, and at 24, he became the pastor of a 50-year-old landmark church of Chicago. Although young, his commitment has always been to bringing generations together to win the world for Christ. Fellowship Baptist Church was founded in 1950, by Dr. Clay Evans. With a rich history and heritage, the church’s population was primarily senior citizens at the time that my husband became the pastor in the year 2000. It is exciting to see that now the congregation is more than 7,000 members from all generations. My husband attributes this multi-generational growth to his intent desire to “Respect the Past as we Expect the Future!”

CAP: How do you want to be remembered?

DTJ: I want to be remembered as a person who lived beyond the norm and who always encouraged others to live life limitlessly.

CAP: What’s next for Dr. Tara Jenkins? What would you still like to accomplish?

DTJ: I would like to author more books and continue to creatively educate adults in the classroom as well as through the medium of the internet. I also look forward to Ministry Mates gatherings taking place globally.

CAP: Now you can give our readers any information you’d like to advertise about your or your husband’s ministry – websites, etc.

DTJ:Learn more about our church- Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church at www.fellowshipchicago.com

Learn more about my husband, Pastor Charles Jenkins at www.CharlesJenkins.org

Learn more about Tara Jenkins at www.TaraJenkins.org

Featured in:

October 2008 WOW! Magazine

#DrTaraJenkins #PastorCharlesJenkins

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