so recently my wife – the beautiful Val (because clearly) – was on a camp where we had been asked to speak (actually first time the invitation came to us as a couple) and someone was chatting to her and said something along the lines of ‘so are you the tagalong?’ – hm, strangely that person still lives today, but ja Val was not super amped

and looking back at that camp, if you had attended it, you probably would have thought that i was the speaker and tbVal was accompanying me because she did not do much up front

but the majority of her input – although she did get a lot involved in the camp as a whole and was a legendary participant in the Amazing snail-and-scrambled-egg-eating Race that they put on (where i got to hang out as base and appear as ‘phil’ every now and then to welcome the teams home – gruelling gruelling work) – happened after lights out

one of our favourite times as a couple is lying in bed before we go to sleep at night and chatting about life, the universe, fantasy cricket picks and everything – and on that camp in particular it was chatting about the talks i was going to give the next morning where her input was invaluable. she really had probably the hugest input she has had in any talks i’ve given on that camp and yet from the outside it looked like it was all me, but it really was completely more of an us, and it was so great

and maybe ‘tagalong’ is the history of pastor and missionaries wives in many cases where all they have been seen as good for is making tea and holding women’s meetings to knit squares and bake christian muffins or something but that is certainly not how it works for us. one of the key elements of tbVal being the one for me was that she had (and continues to have) a brain – she really thinks about stuff and she questions (which is often uncomfortable but usually so good) and she sees things from different angles that i do and often calls stuff that is hidden in my blind spots

so i refuse to have her as a porcelain doll on the mantelpiece for all to see and ooh and aah and ‘how sweet’ – we are in this journey of life and ministry together and she is my tag team partner and so even though, for now, i am the one upfront (and watch this space cos that is going to change) a lot of the time, she is completely a huge part of what is happening

but feel free to call her a ‘tagalong’ to her face, especially if i’m standing nearby… see how that works out for you!

and maybe some of you husbands out there – especially in the official ministry type vocation – need to take a good long hard look at how you and others view your wife and her role in ministry and see if it’s accurate and fair or perhaps needs some intentional reworking…