Know your Pastor’s Wife

Can I just say I love being a Pastor’s Wife. When I was very young my dad would drop us off at a local church when he had us on his weekend (probably to get a tad more sleep). And although I loved to learn about Jesus, I always watched the pastor’s wife. I remember saying I wanted to be one when I grew up. And I remember the odd looks I got. Once I became one, I thought “WHAT WAS I THINKING!?” After being in the ministry with my husband a couple of years a friend of mine got married to a pastor as well. About a year into their marriage she said to me, “Why didn’t you tell me how hard this was!? I’m kind of mad that nobody warned me!”

16 years into this gig and I’m still loving it. However, that statement doesn’t mean it’s easy. It doesn’t mean that it’s glamorous, and it doesn’t mean that I love every aspect. It simply means I am where God wants me, and THAT makes me happy. Being a wife of anyone isn’t always easy, but when your husband’s job puts expectations on you, no matter how absurd those expectations are, and no matter how much we KNOW they are absurd, it adds a level of stress to an otherwise pretty calm wife.

I recently read this article on the 9 Secrets Your Pastor’s Wife Won’t Say Outloud (read it if you have time). And I posted it on a community page that I’m a part of that consists of other WONDERFUL Pastor’s Wives (hey, us gals gotta stick together!). I asked them “What would you add”. Listed below are some of their statements. (some paraphrased)

  • I am the loneliest I’ve ever been in my entire life. When church members need someone to talk to they come to the pastors or the pastor’s wife. They can also go to a friend and pour out their souls. The Pastor’s wife can’t always go to her pastor, (sometimes he’s the reason she needs someone to talk to! lol). And most of the time she doesn’t have a good friend she can be completely open with. (see the next point)
  • We want friends, too. Many people don’t want to be friends with pastor’s wife. So we watch you and your other church friends go to coffee, go out shopping, or have a playdate it only reminds us of how hard it is to make friends… see the first point
  • .We shop second-hand stores, and rummage sales praying for great deals on nice looking clothing because we’re expected to look nice, but  have the lowest income of anyone in the church.
  • When people leave the church without a “reason”, we take it personally. It hurts our feelings (although we’ll graciously wish you well). We pour our heart and soul into helping our husband grow the church, and although deep down we understand everyone has the right to pick what church is right for them, and we DO get that we can’t be “right” for everyone… but when people just up and leave, it hurts… deep down we’re hurting.
  • Sometimes the expectations are over the top, and although we know that, we deep down feel the need to meet those unrealistic expectations. When we can’t, we feel guilty. (Many times because others have talked down to us when we can’t meet their impossible expectations)
  • Our children are just that, children. When church members expect them to live up to unbelievable expectations, they can easily crumble under that pressure. This can cause them to hate church, and eventually leave the church altogether because of their negative experiences.
  • Our children put in MANY hours per year helping at the church. Many times they help set up, help tear down, sleep in pews, come to church when they are under the weather, and work events rather than participate. So when they get extra treats, leftover snacks, or “inside privileges” trust me, THEY DESERVE IT!
  • Our children are church attenders just like yours are, so they should get to enter drawings, compete to win, and win prizes just like all other kids.
  • Associate pastors are pastors, too. Many times they get treated as second class… and their wives are treated even worse. Please be kind, Associate (including children’s and youth pastors) Pastors work VERY hard!)

Maybe these things shock you. Maybe it’s because you didn’t know that some people actually treat people poorly. And sometimes it’s not a deliberate thing, it’s just something that gets overlooked. And possibly you are one of the precious gems in your church who befriend the pastor’s wife and provide a good solid support for her. If that’s you… PRAISE GOD for YOU! Keep it up, and encourage others to do the same.

I have been in a handful of churches in my 16 years as Pastor’s wife (7 of those months I was just the pastor’s fiance) and I’ve experienced both sides. I’ve been hurt, I’ve been overlooked, I’ve been the topic of gossip, and the object of slander… but I’ve been loved, been valued, been supported, validated, and uplifted. Many Pastor’s Wives can’t say that last part of the sentence above. They live life under pressure, condemnation, and eventual depression. If you love Jesus, will you decide today to pray for your Pastor’s wife? Then do something for her. Take her to lunch, coffee, or shopping. See if she’d like to take a walk. Ask her how you can help her. And give her a little grace. Afterall, she’s just human, just like you.

I want to dedicate this post to a lovely lady that passed away WAY before her time. I wish she could see this and know that her encouragement to pastors and pastor’s wives has NEVER gone unnoticed! Wilma Beppler from Trinity Tabernacle in Bridgeton, MO was one of the most talented “Encouragers” I have ever met. I used to pray that God would duplicate the woman and place one of her in every pastor’s life. She was one of a kind. May her legacy live on in every church, and in every pastor’s life (and his wife!). Love you, Wilma, and miss you!

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