Seven Things Pastors’ Wives Wish They Had Been Told Before They Became Pastors’ Wives

I am especially grateful to have the opportunity to hear from pastors’ wives since much of my focus is on pastors. In an informal survey, I simply asked the open-ended question: “What do you wish you had been told before you became a minister’s wife?”

Thank you to the pastors’ wives who were willing to give us such great feedback. And thanks to Chris Adams for doing the survey and to Amy Jordan for assembling the data.

The responses are in order of frequency. A representative comment follows each response.

  1. I wish someone had told me just to be myself. “I am a people-pleaser by nature, so for me, not being prepared to handle being a pastor’s wife with my personality was a heavy burden to carry early in our ministry.”
  2. I wish someone had prepared me to deal with criticism of my husband and me. “It was hard to deal with negative experiences, conflicts, or criticisms, especially in relation to my husband and our area of ministry. So I would harbor feelings of resentment when it came to ministry and my man.”
  3. I wish someone had reminded me that my husband is human. “I wish someone had told me that my husband could not be God for me. I was disillusioned at first to find out that he indeed is just a man.”
  4. I wish someone had told me that others were watching us (the glass house syndrome). “Even though they are watching us, we don’t need to be controlled by what they expect of us.”
  5. I wish someone had told me there are some really mean people in the church. “I was really surprised. I had to learn not to pay too much attention to them or they would get me down.”
  6. I wish someone had told me how much my husband needs me to build him up. “I need to be his cheerleader. Dealing with critics in the church is difficult. He needs to hear that I respect him now more than ever.”
  7. I wish someone had told me that my schedule will never be normal again. “Your husband will be very busy. Expect that. But come alongside him in the areas of time management and organization.”

One pastor’s wife told us that her role was like getting a job for which she never applied. She wrote this funny script in her response:

Husband: “Honey, I got you a job today.”

Wife: “Really? Okay, but I wasn’t looking for a job. I have plenty to do here running the household and raising the kids. That was our plan, right? Me stay home with the kids so you could fully dedicate yourself to the ministry.”

Husband: “Yeah, yeah. But I really need you take this job for me.”

Wife: “Well, okay, just tell me what to do and when it needs to be done by, and I will do everything I can to make it happen.”

Husband: “Well, right now there are no specific responsibilities. Basically, it’s just doing anything at church that no one else steps up to do or wants to do.”

Wife: “Oh my, that is a tall order. Okay, I’ll do it. I guess we could use the extra money anyway. Things are always tight around here on a pastor’s salary.

Husband: “Well, actually honey, there is no salary . . .”

What do you think of these seven responses? What would you add?


Posted on April 6, 2013

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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  • Shamusi Balogun says on

    It has bee encouraging to read all of your testimonies/ statements. I sense the Lord calling me to pastoral ministry and I am seeking insight on how I can love my wife well if in fact that is what He is calling me to. I have gained so much insight from all of your statements/testimonies and I will be praying for you all, and thank you for your transparency.

  • Hi…I have been reading here just to prepare myself as early as now. I am Pastor’s Girlfriend and I wanted to extend my sincerest thanks for I am learning a lot in here. Will be praying for you always and one day will interact here as well..

    As early as being a girlfriend,I’ve experienced some of the instances that happened here..I felt the same amount of pain and hurt but I know the Lord is preparing me…Of course right now we are living separately because we are not yet married but one thing i learn,

    we only owe to God everything and we are not to please anyone in the church but a big BUT, for the sake of our beloved better half, we will just pray for all those who hurt us and him and we cannot do to them what they are doing to us (backstabbing, foul words, unsolicited comments) because God gave us to our better half and we are SPECIAL 🙂

  • I am very glad I came across this. Very insightful. God richly bless you for all your sacrifices and all you have had to put up with.

  • your just making me like not accepting a proposal from a man i love but that tends to be a minister. dont know what to do she God has confirmed many times that he is the one

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  • joy mark says on

    When i take a look at my life now, how perfect it is, i always wonder if five years back i was told i could have such a life, if i could ever have believed. Nothing seemed to be moving, I always use to get funny about him going down the pub with his mates while me at home and we then ended up falling out and he would be gone all night and come in at like 2-3am drunk. I also use to get funny about him going away on holiday with his mates every year. I know him breaking up with me was my fault but not sure why he broke up with me anyway money was getting tight living together so we decided to move out and he go back to his mums and I get a place for me and my daughter we argued a lot at that point because of the stress trying to findX somewhere to live he said he wanted to go on a months break after moving out so we can clear our heads 5weeks into our break me text me saying we’re over I was really upset because I love him so much I was always testing him and ringing him saying I love him give me another chance then he blocked my number so I couldn’t contact him do then I message him on fb asking about my daughter as she was going on about how she doesn’t understand why she’s nit seeing daddy anymore he replies with contact me once your over me and I will have contact with your I left it a week and even though im not over him still till this day I messaged him saying I was over him so he replies with me glad to hear your over me we will arrange something for me to see your daughter. I still love him and I wanted him back i told my sister about it and she introduced me to the Famous spell caster, who helps in so many ways.i contacted her and she did her thing,before i knew it,the next day mike called me and apologized that he was sorry for everything and me sure he will never leave me again. i am so happy now, you can also get in touch with pristess iyawo on her site or her email on [email protected] and you will be the next to tell a new testimony.

  • Trish W. says on

    I read a lot about Pastor’s wives feeling “alone” and I get that. I think Pastor’s get so busy leading the church to worship, that I wonder when / how does a Pastor and family get to worship together ?? God made Eve to be a companion for Adam and to be a partner in all things / including worship with him, right?
    Although my husband is not a Pastor, he is a minister – as am I. We get busy tending to others during our church services, that I feel like we often tend to neglect worshiping ourselves. I try to create balance by FOCUSing on at least one service to absorb the message and worship together, but sometimes that is difficult.
    We both work during the week, so weekends / Sundays are really our precious time together. Some people see me as being “controlling or needy”, when I try to set parameters on our time serving for the church, but I feel I am just trying to find balance and not get “burned out” from serving / ministering. Any fresh perspective for me??

  • Wow, so much to think of and reconsider. I am engaged to a Pastor, and I am so overwhelmed. I know I know better than to let people get to me, to not take my focus off of Pa Pa God… but I am just not sure I can handle the drama that comes with being a Pastor’s wife. I am a strong independent woman of faith, raised my sons, and obtained my education. I started dating him over a year ago, and things were so great between us, until he told the congregation that we were dating and when we got engaged, things have changed. The people in this congregation go out of their way to make issues for him. Most of the women are so ugly and hurtful, and I find myself honestly not trusting any of them. I have had to deal with a women grab his behind, others put hearts in letters they send to him for Pastor Appreciation, and I have had the women’s group blatantly be ugly to me and make comments; from regular congregation members, to Elders in the Church. I am normally one to laugh ugly off. But this has been so hurtful, to the point where I struggle to find joy in worship at this Church. I feel like I am stuck, and have to be there to run the media. I am kept out of knowing about updated information, and I have quit going to the women’s group meetings. I’m tired of showing up, and the meetings start late, and when I try and help, I am made to feel unwanted there. Again, this all changed once they found out about us dating, and it has increased with our engagement. I would expect this from the world, but in Church? I have had the ugliest comments come my way about him and towards me, and now I find myself saying defensive ugly comments right back. I am tired, and I unsure if I want to do this. I really love him, but I do not know if I can take this. He is not behaving in a way that is encouraging this behavior. He tries to be understanding, but I do not like the blatant disrespect of our relationship. I do not even want to go the church anymore. My focus is not on Pa Pa God when I am in church. I have to constantly make sure I have on my armor, more so with people in this Church, then people in the world. I want to give up and walk away from it all, even if I loose the love of my life…. I dread Sunday service, and I just want my joy in the Lord back. I know I need to change my focus, and be in prayer more, but I just want to stay in a ball and cry. It is so hard to forgive when the things being done are blatant, and malicious, and weekly. I am at a loss, and reading your comments, makes me feel like it will never get better or go away, and this is what makes me feel so scared for my future with him.

    • Alecia O'Byrne says on

      I don’t know if you will get this but if you do and feel like responding I would love to know what has occured. Did you marry him? Did you keep attending church? Did things get better? I am a 62 year old pastor’s wife for the last 40 years and am stuggling. I got on here to read what I hoped would be helpful advice, instead I found so many hurting women. I am just curious about your situation. I hope you stayed firm in the faith, despite the “ugly” women.

  • felicity nyasha says on

    wow, now that frightened me, well my bride price was paid just two days ago by a pastor, if i were to liken it to the western culture it would be like engagement, we will be wedding soon. was just reading through and it really frightened me. i knew being a pastor’s wife had some challenges but i never thought they would be as deep as you are expressing them. as i was reading through my heart sank because of what you ladies are going through. may the Lord God give us grace to see us through. my mentor always tells me not to have a friend wo is a church member in the church that we will be pastoring, i guese it is because she has had similar experiences. i am worried about it though , i just hope all this you are going through will not be in vain. so i urge you my dear sisters in Christ not to give up as this should be our part in God’s kingdom, and maybe this was the cross that Jesus was talking about when He said take up your cross and follow me.

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