I find the role of a pastor’s wife to be both marvelous and challenging. Pastors’ wives carry a heavy load of responsibility as we care for our husbands, our families, and the people in our churches, and participate in activities of the church and community. There are high expectations for our families and us. The church assumes we will be involved on every level: Bible studies, women’s and children’s ministries, hospitality, outreach, events, etc.
How does a pastor’s wife live up to the high expectations of the church? How can we do it all?
I posed an open-ended question to some pastors’ wives I know who live all over the USA, from different denominations, with various years of service to get some answers. I asked them how they would respond to this question: What do you wish people knew about being a pastor’s wife? I received varied responses about the secret struggles and joys of serving in ministry alongside their husbands. I promised anonymity for all who answered, and was so thankful for their honesty.
Here will you find the things we wish you knew but can’t say out loud: (These are direct quotes)
Struggles of Ministry
- Friendships are hard for me. They are hard because I don’t feel that I can fully be myself and my relationships with other women in the church. I have trusted and been betrayed more times than I can count, so sometimes I choose loneliness for safety’s sake.
- There’s no way a pastor’s wife can fulfill the high standards people put on us. There is this pressure to be perfect.
- My husband has to be a husband and father before he is a pastor. If his family is falling apart, he has no ministry. It seems that people want him to have a healthy family life while giving the church all of his time. It cannot work that way, and both the family and the church need to show grace to one another while we live in this tension.
- I wish people knew that we struggle to have family time.
- Because I need to minister to many people, keep many confidences, and am very busy, it may seem like I don’t want to be as close to you as you want to be to me. But really, I am often lonely and desire to have a close friend.
- I don’t enjoy being visible and up front. I only do it by the grace of God.
- Almost every day I’m afraid of screwing it all up.
- I wish people knew that we taught our children to make good choices, but sometimes they don’t.
- I am a people pleaser and worry/know others are judging my clothes, my hair, my family, the car I drive, and my home.
- I don’t enjoy living in a fish bowl. There are some aspects of my life I prefer to remain private.
- Being a pastor’s wife is the loneliest thing I have ever done.
- I enjoy talking about other things besides Jesus and church.
- It is very hard not to take church criticism personally. It hurts, especially if it is toward my husband. The reason that those wounds hurt so much is that they come from people that I trusted, that I felt safe with, people that I had come to love. Because this happens, it is often difficult to trust anyone.
- I find it difficult not be resentful towards people who expect my husband to be available 24/7.
- I do not have a thirst for power or even a desire to lead.
- My life is not perfect. My husband isn’t perfect. My marriage isn’t perfect. My kids aren’t perfect and most of all, I am not perfect. We all, just like you are sinners saved by the grace of God on a daily basis. We struggle and worry and are fearful, even when we know we shouldn’t be. We get angry and yell at each other, just like you. We pray until we cry, and then we pray more. This walk is hard; but our God, just like yours is rich in mercy and full of love. And for that I’m thankful.
“Ministry is giving when you feel like quitting, praying for others when you need to be prayed for, feeding others when your soul is hungry, living truth before people even when you can’t see results, hurting with others even when your own hurt can’t be spoken of, keeping your word even when it is not convenient. It is being faithful when your flesh wants to run away.“ Author Unknown
Joy of Ministry
- I love my job, and I love my church.
- I have been so blessed by gifts, money, love, and much prayer.
- I consider my role a privilege. My opportunity to influence, to teach, to counsel, and to lead women brings me great joy.
- Especially as a young mom of two boys when my husband is gone most nights (on top of being gone most days of the week) meeting with members, counseling, and going to church events, I wish more people knew how incredibly life-GIVING it is to hear what God is doing in their lives and how their relationship with God is growing. When I hear these stories, it fills my heart to the brim and reminds me that the sacrifices we make behind the scenes are making an eternal difference. Those life-change stories are like the fuel that enables us to keep running our race, our eyes steadfast on the prize that lies ahead: Jesus.
- Let your spiritual leaders know how you are doing in your walk with God- it is an incredible encouragement!
- Jesus is the answer to everything- really, He is!
- It is an honor to minister alongside my husband, and I take my role seriously. I want to love people as Jesus does, glorify God, and represent Him well.
- I love watching individuals and families grow in their walks with the Lord.
- What a joy it is to shepherd others!
- It is a blessing and privilege to be trusted with other people’s secrets, joys, and intimate details.
- I am challenged every day to depend utterly upon God.
- I love when my when my husband shares biblical insight from his study/sermon prep time.
Our hope, as pastor’s wives, is that you would understand we are humans, sinners, and regular people just like you. We are not special or unique. Please keep all the above responses in mind when talking to us and about us. We try our hardest to love God and love people the best we can.
“For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.” Psalm 92:4
~Another great read: The Pastor’s Wife Effect
What are your thoughts to these responses? I would love to hear. Please comment below or email me.