While growing up, I never guessed that a woman married to a pastor had a life any different from my mother who was married to a realtor. A pastor’s wife was always at church, always dressed nicely, and always smiling. That’s about all I knew of her. I took every pastor’s wife for granted until both of my sisters married pastors, and then I began to have a far greater appreciation for those in full-time ministry.
Since women married to pastors often face things we never realize and carry unique burdens about which they never complain, it would be difficult for them to share publicly without causing offense and possibly hindering their ministry (or that of their husband). Therefore, I proposed a venue where they could share anonymously from their hearts.
Seven friends of mine who are married to pastors volunteered to contribute to this article. Two of these dear women have been my pastor’s wife at some point in my life. I am extremely grateful for the impact they have had and continue to have in my life. Thank you, Ladies! Your gifts of time and transparency are priceless.
3. My husband says it’s harder to be the pastor’s wife than the pastor. He can choose to address or confront criticisms or negative remarks if he thinks it is biblically right to do so. I don’t always have the freedom he does. I think he’s right. Oh, and I know my kids will also do something wrong. (My 5-year-old really did stick her tongue out at the head deacon and then run into the girls bathroom.)
4. When you get mad at me, it hurts. I’m not superhuman.
5. Being the wife of the shepherd means I get to help carry the responsibility that God has given him. While it often comes with some (large) challenges, it is the greatest privilege I could ever imagine. Though I never aspired to it, I can’t imagine doing anything else. I am so thankful God knew what was best for me. I pray that I will be a blessing to our church family and sensitive and obedient to my loving heavenly Father.
I had the joy and privilege of being a Pastor’s wife back when we still lived in the Midwest 10 years ago, and also an Associates Pastor’s wife of a Native American church back in 98, so, my experience isn’t “recent” but hopefully, still valuable. (Very tough, when also raising a family and going to school, along with a 50 hour work week on top of it, and small churches, where the Pastor is expected to be everything to everyone! Tough….but we learned soooo much!) Both experiences also unfortunately weren’t very long and both were stressful, since my husband was bi-vocational!
Loved being the Pastor’s wife and getting to help encourage everyone and pray for everyone, and listen to their hearts, and help motivate them and cheer them on, so to speak, and help wherever I was needed and then some. Being in ministry has always been my heart’s desire, along with being a wife and mother, so it was truly a blessing!
However, being involved in smaller churches in both situations, I was also expected to be and do everything, along with raising our children and supporting my husband, etc. It can be fun and also very lonely at the same time. Who does the Pastor or his wife go to when they have a problem and are in need of counsel? Since every one’s expectations are so high of you, it’s hard to let them down, so you just continue “doing it all” and it’s hard sometimes to just be honest and admit, you really can’t do it all and are in need of help and encouragement yourself! Ya know what I mean? We were still human! But felt sometimes that we had to be “super human”!
All these years later, God has grown me in soooo many ways and I am NOT the same person I was then…thankfully…and I am still hoping that God allows us to be back in the ministry again…full time…not bi-vocational this time!!! And I will definitely do things differently and with my new perspective and all that God has done to change me over the years, it will be even more joyous this next time around I believe!
I would soooo encourage a new young pastor’s wife to just be herself…be totally honest from the start, with love and grace of course. But to also let everyone know she will do her best by the power of the Holy Spirit, but is still human, so please remember to extend grace to her (me) as well. Let’s work together in this ministry…everyone using their gifts to edify the saints, and not being “territorial” about certain ministries, etc…love one another, pray for one another, encourage one another…be about “one another”…
Pastors and their wives need encouragement and prayer more than anyone can even begin to realize! They need to be lifted up and appreciated, because it is such a thankless “job” sometimes and the hours are long and hard, and no one realizes just how much time they do put in and how many sacrifices they do make!
In both of my experiences, I was able to let people in to really get to know me and that was a huge positive…they knew that I absolutely LOVED purple, I collected tea-pots, and loved relationships and getting together with women to talk over a cup of coffee…in my case…tea. I was vulnerable and transparent and they loved that about me…that was especially interesting with the Native American women! lol!
The bottom line is…as women especially…we all need to feel loved and accepted and your pastor’s wife is no exception!!! Love on her and pray for her every day all the time!!! Ask God to bless her bountifully! Treat her like a queen! Most that I know, unfortunately, are treated like everything else but this…so sad…and ministry is just plain hard, no matter how you look at it, but it can also be the biggest blessing in your life and bring you such overwhelming joy that you can’t even contain it!!! I would rather be the “joy” to my Pastor and wife and NOT the “burden!”
A few things I meditate on to be put into practice: Count it all joy! Give thanks in all things! If any of you lack wisdom…ask! Count my things as rubbish! Will it matter in eternity?
Feel like you live in a fish bowl? If people see me at home not dressed up, with no make up, in work clothes cleaning cupboards, laundry on the couch … good! I am normal and have a real family life. They will be more comfortable with me and not afraid of what I expect at their homes. The Lord sees me all the time! He is more important!
Feel like you live in a fish bowl… Praise the Lord. People need to see that real life happens to pastors families and how we handle it. Paul said Watch me and do as I do.
Expect and be ready for unexpected dinner and house guests and last minute surprises or needs! Come up with a couple of simple meals, dishes that you can keep supplies on hand. Dishes that take little prep. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Even a can of slices peaches with some Tang sprinkled in it is a treat for those who are hurting.
Keep a supply of sample toiletries on hand. If you can have a set of clean sheet, towels and a basket of basic needs handy.
Make those surprises easy on your self by thinking ahead and be as ready as you can for the unexpected. People will be more at ease if they are made to feel that you are not put out by there arrival or need.
My time: It is NOT my time it is the Lord’s.
I must keep Titus 2 in mind. The Lord tells me to teach the younger women to love their husband, be discreet, sober how to care for children and the home.
Also, I am to obey MY husband and the Lord. If I keep that in mind it will help keep me from becoming overwhelmed by tasks and time users that take me away from what the Lord and my husband say I am to do.
I can even put pressure on myself to do things believing that it is from the Lord but if my husband does not agree then it is not the time. I am my husband’s wife just as other wives. I am not the assistant pastor. My life will be easier if I keep this in mind and remember that every request for me to do something does not have to be done by me.
It is usually the pastor’s wife that determines the tenor of relationships between her and the people in her local church. The congregation tends to watch, wait and then respond; but that is a different topic to discuss altogether. This article is for you. Not your pastor’s wife. Take it upon yourself to “do what you can” as Mary did when she anointed the feet of Jesus. She went out of her way and made a sacrifice to minister to Him (Matthew 14:8). When you take care of the needs of your pastor’s wife, you are ministering to the Lord (Matthew 25:45).
2. Realize that the pastor really does work more than just on Sundays and Wednesdays. You will not ever know how much time and energy he puts into his “job” because it is his calling, and he can’t get away from it. Even on vacations, he will be thinking about your church and praying for your family and studying the Word of God so that God can minister to him and then he can minister to you. My husband seriously had someone ask him what he did all day–didn’t he have all his sermons done? Really?
3. Also, please remember special days–not just birthdays and anniversaries, but also anniversary of his ordination, or anniversary of his service to your church, and October Pastor Appreciation. And do it up BIG! Make a big deal of your pastor and his family.
4. And whatever your heartaches, struggles, disappointments are–remember that your pastor’s wife has those same heartaches, struggles, and disappointments, perhaps multiplied because she also carries the burdens of her church family.
I’ve been a pastor’s wife for 6 years now. God lead us here through the leading of His people connecting with us. it is really a long story. I really didn’t know what to expect as a pastor’s wife, but I love being one.
My advice to other women married to a pastor: connect yourself with as many pastor’s wives as you can and ask lots of questions. Attend seminars, and if in college or seminary with your husband attend the student wives meetings. They were very helpful to me. Be open to God and His leading.
My advice to church women: I’m just like you, no better, and I need your prayers. Just letting me know you love me and pray for me is the most encouraging. Don’t be afraid to be close friends with your pastor’s wife, she needs friends she can turn to.
Many pastor’s wives are lonely and conflicted about friendship with women in their own congregation. They are known by all, yet known by no one. They are present and yet distant. They give their lives but reserve their complete openness to protect themselves, their husbands and church leadership. Women are often curious and sometimes critical of the woman who has the heart of their pastor. Unspoken expectations exist and are usually expressed when building a negative campaign against the pastor or his leadership. I have been blessed with a few special ladies in our twenty years of ministry who really looked beyond the stigma and expectations and did what it took to get to know my heart and love me, the sinner that I am.
To have a friendship with a pastor’s wife requires a unique and purposeful relationship. I would like to share a few of the ways that my dearest friends have endeared themselves to me.
1. They understand my public ministry to all the ladies in the church.
My closest friend understands that our friendship is built in the one-on-one moments outside church functions. Sunday mornings, church activities, ladies meetings are all times when I have the freedom to make connections with visitors, ladies on the fringe, and ladies who are hurting or need counsel. My friends adjust their expectations of spending time with me at church and know that I may not be able to “give” them any more than a passing smile. They are the friends who call on Sunday afternoon to ask about my ministry that morning. They know and expect me to be unavailable to talk, chat or connect with them at church, but it sure is fun when we can find a moment for a quick hug or greeting, knowing that we will talk later.
2. They are sensitive to my schedule.
3. They don’t allow me to “vent” about people or circumstances, but rather encourage me to communicate my feelings.
This is possibly the most important and valuable aspect of my closest relationships. It seems like every friendship requires trust and the ability to be completely transparent and tell each other everything without the threat of betrayal or judgment. The truth is, when you are married to a pastor, you are exposed to some very dark times of personal despair that can be confusing, frustrating, and lonely. The only thing that can make that worse is to expose others to the darkness of human error among people in their own congregation who they may respect or have a lifetime of experience with and who will remain if the Lord chooses to move you on to another ministry. True friends are aware of your hurt but unaware of the people or circumstances that caused it. On the occasions when I truly need to express details, I call my dad, sister or someone who has no knowledge or experience with that congregation. True friends can encourage you through loneliness or despair without knowing the details because they know your heart and your motives. They can remind you of God’s promises, your calling, and His great mercy and love. They don’t ask for details or names and stop discussions that might lead to unwanted or unneeded disclosure. This is extremely difficult yet such a precious gift.
True friendship survives geographical distance. My dearest friends know that to be my friend they took a risk that I may be asked to move to another ministry, yet continue communication knowing that I am investing my life into a new group of ladies. They are not threatened by new relationships and embrace others who are reaching out to me.