A pastor’s daughter who married a pastor’s son, I’ve been intimately acquainted with pastors’ wives for most of my life. Currently, my husband is months away from graduating seminary and we do believe the Lord is calling him to the pastorate. With our ministry “training wheels” about to come off, my awareness of pastor’s wives has increased ten-fold.
If I could lend any insight to congregations about their pastor’s wives, these are ten things I would want them to know.
1. She isn’t on staff at your church.
‘Pastor’s wife’ is not a given title in Scripture. ‘Pastor’ is a title and so is ‘wife’, but the two are never smushed together. Your pastor’s wife is simply a married female church member, she may even be a mom or a grandma, but she isn’t a staff member. Bearing this nuance in mind, evaluate how involved you expect your pastor’s wife to be in the daily grind of church life.
2. She isn’t her husband.
Your pastor’s wife isn’t the church pastor. That means she doesn’t make or influence church decisions. She doesn’t officially respond to concerns or complaints about the church. She doesn’t speak for her husband. She doesn’t preach. She isn’t even obligated to hold a public role in the body. She is not her husband.
3. Sundays aren’t restful days for her family.
Sundays are anything but restful for a pastor’s family. (And that’s why many pastor’s families choose another day of the week as their Sabbath.) If you think about the effort it takes your family to get ready for church, think about the effort it takes for a church to get ready for church. Pastor’s families are often the first to arrive and the last to leave. Compounded with the fact that her husband must prepare to do intense, spiritual work for several hours at a time, Sundays often become pressure cookers.
4. She knows more than you think, but less than you fear
There’s no way around it, a pastor’s wife will have insider information regarding the life of the church. She has a front row seat to the great joys, and the overwhelming sorrows. Because a husband should be able to trust the heart of his wife, a pastor’s wife is going to be trusted with a pastor’s burdens. At the same time, your pastor’s wife probably doesn’t know as much as you think she does. Her husband does likely shield her from many difficult details out of respect to her and his parishioners. And if you’re concerned about what the pastor’s wife may or may not know about you, I urge you to be more concerned with what the Lord already knows about you.
5. Her children won’t be perfectly well-behaved.
Believe it or not, her kids snot just as much as yours do. Don’t expect high standards of godly obedience from her three-year-old. You could, however, lend a helping hand while her toddler is throwing a tantrum in the grocery store.
6. She isn’t the de facto church volunteer.
Growing up, I watched my mom faithfully clean our church building week-in and week-out, largely because no one else stepped up to the plate. I’m not saying your pastor’s wife shouldn’t serve the church, but I am saying you shouldn’t automatically assume she’ll pick up the slack for your inaction.
7. She has feelings.
Pastor’s wives have a front row seat to the tough side of ministry. And when things get ugly, people get hurt. Complaints against the pastor come personally. Members may hold resentment toward the pastor, which affect his wife and family. Remember that your speech and attitudes regarding church leaders affect real people.
8. She doesn’t have the bat phone to Jesus.
As a preacher’s kid, I got asked to pray over meals and events all the time. From what I’ve observed, pastor’s wives get the same treatment. It isn’t wrong to ask her to pray (she probably really likes praying!) but it’s wrong to assume she’s the only gal cut out for the job. Pastor’s wives don’t have special access to the Holy Spirit you don’t have.
9. She needs a friend.
Please don’t ostracise your pastor’s wife. Don’t exalt them to a level that makes them unrelatable or unattainable. They want to grab a coffee or join a girl’s shopping trip. I promise she won’t care if your car is a mess and you’re not wearing makeup. A pastor’s wife needs a friend. You can be that friend.
10. She needs a Savior.
Remember that your pastor’s wife isn’t perfect. She is just as messed up as you are. She needs grace and mercy. She needs correcting. She needs discipleship. She needs time in the Word. She needs the Holy Spirit to help her live the Christian life. Your pastor’s wife is just another humbly broken and wholly surrendered Christian.
I pray that for the sake of pastor’s wives now and pastor’s wives in the making, this post is useful as you find ways to love the pastor’s wife in your church well.