One of the unexpected and pleasant surprises of this blog for me is hearing from pastors’ wives. As a result, I have written a few blog posts (one, two, three) about these women. Additionally, I interact with the wives via social media on a regular basis.
For certain, I have learned from other spouses of ministers as well. But the most frequent comments have come from pastors’ wives. In this article, I share with you the lessons I’ve learned from pastors’ wives who tell me they have found great joy and meaning in their lives. Here are seven of those lessons:
- They focused on their identity in Christ. They are not first pastors’ wives. Nor do they find their primary identity in their local congregations. They are daughters of God, loved by Christ, and led by His Spirit. They know they are loved and accepted unconditionally by Him.
- They know they have their husbands’ support and priority. Many of the pastors’ wives who are struggling are intensely lonely. And one of the key reasons for that loneliness is their sense that they are not the priorities of their husbands.
- They are honest and transparent with their husbands. Because they know they have their husbands’ support, they are open and transparent communicators with them. They do not typically hold feelings inside of themselves.
- They understand and accept that criticisms and unreasonable expectations are a part of church life and leadership. So when they or their husbands are criticized, or when expectations are unreasonable, they know that is an unfortunate price of church leadership. It does not eliminate the pain; but it does help them to deal with it in a more healthy fashion.
- They are intentional about making friends outside the church. Most of the pastors’ wives admit they have difficulty making friends of church members. So they intentionally seek other female friends outside the church. This one act was mentioned several times as the key way they have mitigated loneliness.
- They don’t let others dictate their roles inside or outside the church. They feel the freedom to “be themselves,” and not to be shaped into unreasonable images by church members.
- They pray regularly for their churches and church members. Prayer is pervasively powerful. And our prayers for others shape our attitudes toward them. Such was the reason many of them were so positive about fellow church members.
Thank you, ladies, for sharing these important and joyous issues with me. But I know many pastors’ wives are struggling. We need to pray for them, encourage them, and seek to serve them.
Let me hear from you on this important issue.
Posted on October 11, 2014
With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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Very refreshing! Thank you.
As the daughter of a now-retired pastor’s daughter where there was much conflict from the church growing up (such that I had a virulent hatred for church and church people until The Lord brought me to Himself decades later) I suppose I take special interest in my pastors’ wives. I was very blessed by a book that contains a chapter written by the wife of one of our associate pastors (now retired), Letters to Pastors Wives, edited by Catherine Stewart . My mother also found it to be helpful.
I enjoy reading your blog and was especially interested in this one. As a pastor’s wife of 41+ years, I would add that a pastor’s wife, just like any other church member, should be free to serve the church in the areas of her giftedness and passion. For me, those areas have changed over the years, partly because I changed and sometimes based on the needs in the churches we were serving. Because I love doing a lot of things, my husband has had to protect me from myself, by reminding me to say “No” to some opportunities! Also, although I know this is not always true, I have realized (with age) that many church members are eager to know and love their pastor’s wife. I feel like a queen sometimes–almost makes me feel guilty to be so loved and encouraged. When I faced a serious illness this past year, I was especially touched to be prayed for and contacted by so many friends from previous churches we had pastored.
I am very much aware that some pastors’ wives haven’t had such a positive experience in ministry. How can we connect with and encourage those who are especially hurting?
Thank you very much for sharing…These information I received are very encouraging to me..Thanks once again
I totally agree with these women. Years ago when feeling overwhelmed and intimidated in a new ministry, God spoke to my heart and said, “Janet, the most important thing you can do for my kingdom as a pastor’s wife is be the best wife to this pastor (my husband).” To support and love such an important warrior is a true privilege.
Thanks, Janet. Welcome to Nashville!
There isn’t a job description for being a pastor’s wife, no courses being offered and very few solid “self help” books.
I’m grateful for the wise counsel that I have received on my own journey and for the confirmation I got this morning reading this.
Being a pastor’s wife is by far one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I wouldnt change it for anything.
Thank you for this article!
Thank you, Jes. I have little doubt that you are a blessing to many.
Good words. As a pastor I have seen many of these qualities displayed in my wife’s life. I would add contentment to that list. “Godliness with contentment is great gain”.
Thanks for your continued encouragement.
Thank you, Darryl.