Years ago, Greg and I had the privilege of working with Focus on The Family in their pastoral support department. Leading a couples retreat with H.B. London was a joy, and yet during this event I had a stark reminder of the joys and challenges of being a pastors’ wife. There was a point in the event where the wives and husbands split into separate rooms for a teaching time planned specifically for them. H.B. London was in my event with the woman and he risked asking a challenging question there, ” how many of you have 1-2 women in your congregation who you would consider close to you; someone you can fully trust?” I sat there astounded when only 2 women raised their hand in a room of 90 women! My heart-felt so grieved as I was reminded of what I had already come to know through my coaching with Pastor’s wives; her role is full of joy and challenge.
Thom Ranier, a contributor to the Christian Post, did a survey on his blog, Facebook, and general conversations with Pastors wives. Among the challenges were; being a conduit for complaints for their husbands, frequent moves, husbands being on call 24/7, and being expected to be at each and every event at the church.
Juianna Morlet, in her blog “Dear Pastors Wives”, expresses her thoughts this way, ‘ As women, we already struggle with daily pressure to be perfect inside and out, but then adding the spiritual, emotional and physical weight from your husband’s pastoral job and heightened attention, both intentionally and unintentionally, on the demeanor of you and your family, it can be a lot for one woman to bear. ”
In an article sent to me just this week titled; Nine Secrets Your Pastor’s Wife Wishes You Knew, Christina Stolaas posed a simple, open-ended question to a panel of pastors’ wives in different states, from different denominations, with various years of service, “If you could tell the church a few things about your role as a pastor’s wife, what would you say?” She got honest responses. Many wives acknowledged that being completely honest was difficult. Some of the challenges they expressed was the challenge to have consistant family time, the loneliness that came with her role; finding it difficult to have true friendships. Another challenge, and not necessarily a surprise, was that Sundays can be really stressful, especially depending on her involvement or the amount of services held each weekend.
As a pastor’s wife for 16 years I fulfilled numerous roles and responsibilities for which I am so grateful. However there were often times when the expectations, lack of privacy, and unending schedule caused me personal angst. Navigating all the elements of my role took patience, prayer, good council, and much grace. I even had to learn the word “no”. The role is a unique one; one of sweet opportunity but also challenges.
The Pastor’s wives who were interviewed expressed that they loved their churches and felt blessed to be given the opportunity to have impact in the lives of those who worshipped there. These women want to serve alongside their husbands making a difference for their church, their family, and the community.
At the end of the day, your pastor’s wife, though imperfect along with the rest of us, deserves to be respected and shown kindness, grace, and friendship.
Perhaps there is something you could change in your relationship or expectations towards your Pastor’s wife. Perhaps she’d like to go to lunch, or maybe a card would make her day. Your prayers for her might cover her in a situation that feels over her head. Consider your role in helping her navigate her role. 🙂