Hello, Ladies!!! I am, in fact, a pastor’s wife. Wendy (my blogging cohort) is a pastor’s wife and so many of my close friends are pastors’ wives (that happens when you go to seminary).
Being a Pastor’s Wife is Tough!
This is one of the things that prompted Wendy and me to start this blog. There’s a lot of pastor’s wives out there who need some encouragement and help with the day-to-day challenges of ministry life! This is a topic we will be writing about regularly.
Being a pastor’s wife is so wonderful on many levels and a great privilege. But it is also tremendously challenging. Your husband works long hours constantly responding to the needs of others. You are often the primary caretaker of your children, which can be especially challenging when they are small. The expectations of dress, mannerisms, abilities, hospitality, parenting, poise, maturity and theological understanding are nothing short of impossible to meet. It’s easy to feel like a disappointment to the church.
While this is certainly not always the case, all too often I meet Pastor’s wives who describe these types of burdens in ministry:
- high pressure to be a certain way
- in a position to hurt your husband’s ministry
- difficult to maintain balance
If you are the wife of a Pastor, it is vital that you invest time in yourself! You need a few characteristics that can help you handle the challenges and engage in meaningful ministry life. These cannot happen overnight, come naturally to most people, or can be forced. They develop with much prayer and labor but, if you intentionally work toward strengthening these five areas in your life, a vibrant ministry awaits you in your role as a pastor’s wife.
If you regularly attend a church, let this be a challenge to you to help encourage your Pastor’s spouse in these things. Everyone needs support and encouragement in ministry and you can be an incredible blessing to your Pastor and his wife!
1- Close relationships
I cannot stress the importance of this enough in ministry life! Loneliness is a force behind so many who quit the ministry for good. Even in a vibrant and healthy church, it’s hard to shirk the isolation that can come with the position of Pastor’s wife. Most of the time the isolation is unintentional, being brought about by people who think you don’t need them to be your friend, feeling like they aren’t “good/spiritual enough,” or that you must be invited to so many things they don’t want to overwhelm you. But, ministry life is IMPOSSIBLE to maintain without close and supportive relationships you can lean on during the tough times.
It is important you have close friendships both inside and outside the church walls. I had the blessing of having an invaluable mentor and friend at seminary during my first years of ministry. She helped me navigate the turbulent waters of church leadership. Without her moral support and insights, I am convinced I would have quit and never looked back. But God provided me the guidance I needed to do well in the vocation to which He called me.
He also provided me with a couple of close friends who were in similar situations and who held me accountable when the going got tough. They would lovingly remind me of the purpose of my ministry, listen to my frustrations, and spur me on toward godliness. Wendy is, of course, an incredible friend and support within the church as well as a few very trustworthy ladies who live life with me day in and day out. I absolutely could not do this without them! They are an incredible blessing to my husband, my kids, and me! I thank the Lord for these ladies every day!
Do you have this? If not, seek it out! It is OK to ask people to be your inner circle. Reach out. Invest in others one on one and ask them to invest in you as well. Give yourself time to develop close relationships and be patient with others during the process.
2- An Outlet Outside the Church
It is WAAAYYY too easy for the church to become your whole life! For Zach and me, we both live and breathe the church, sometimes to an extreme. We know that it’s taken over too much when we have to ban church stuff as a topic of conversation during our date night! You absolutely must have something to connect with outside the church. For me, this blog is a great way to connect with the world outside! How do you connect with the world outside your church? If you don’t have an outlet, find one!
3- A Ministry In the Church
We’ve all been there…. Stepping in for the umpteenth time because no one else stepped up to cover it. And that’s OK… sometimes. But if that’s where you find yourself 90% of the time, that is not OK. Are you using your God-given gifts to help others? Find something you are passionate about that you can pour yourself into and feel like you are making a difference. What lights a fire in your heart? What are you passionate about?
Let’s be honest, people say hurtful things. Things said or done in a tactless or heated manner leaves you feeling hurt or confused. Whether it’s about you, your husband, or your kids, it is so easy to become defensive or respond in anger. Much of the time you don’t even hear it from the source but through the grapevine. These things are a huge threat to the unity and ministerial effectiveness of your ministry in your church family! You must address them in a God-honoring way, for your own sake as well as for the church’s benefit.
…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20
When instincts kick in, it is really hard to suppress the wave of emotion they create! Please trust me when I say this: you must not react emotionally. It does not help! Bite your tongue and let the emotions pass, girlfriend!
Once you can think straight, begin to peel back the layers of what was said or done and try to figure out what was actually meant! It’s not an easy process but will make a world of difference in the way you handle the situation. Once you put yourself in their shoes and try to see or feel things from their point of view, often times things become constructive, well-meaning (albeit poorly executed), or a simple misunderstanding. Some of the time, this requires a good, honest, heart-to-heart talk to clear the air. And don’t be afraid to humbly and lovingly initiate those conversations when necessary. Quality communication goes a long way in restoring relationships.
Some of the time, grace and forgiveness are all that you can give to help set things right again. When you extend grace and forgiveness, asked for or not, you reflect what Jesus does daily for each of us. The grace and forgiveness to apply in this instance pale in comparison to the amount applied by Jesus on the cross to cover your sin. Grace received, grace extended. Keeping that perspective in mind makes all the difference.
…wisdom yields patience;
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11
5- A Gospel Perspective
Speaking of perspective, looking through the lens of God’s Word provides the ability to rise above the struggles to focus on the big picture. The grand narrative of God’s plan for His church woven together by the threads of our ministry combined with millions of others becomes the center of our attention. In light of that perspective, we have to remember that “our ministry” is not our ministry. It’s His. We do our very best to steward our time and talents and we love and point people toward Christ every chance we get. But remember that we are not the main character of this story, He is. And it’s not through our strength that we persist in ministry, but through His strength that we endure!
Seeing ministry life with the Kingdom of Heaven perspective, keeps minds and hearts focused on the right things!
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4
I hope this helps encourage you! What are some other things that have helped you with the daily challenges or cultivate a meaningful ministry as a Pastor’s wife?