Thank You Pastor’s Wife

November 9, 2013

Thank you pastor’s wife.

You may have one of the most thankless roles in the world. You receive no compensation, but there are many expectations of you. At times you are expected to be omnipresent; and other times you are expected to be invisible. Rarely at any of those times does anyone express gratitude to you.

Thank you pastor’s wife.

You may have one of the most selfless roles in the world. You are expected to be at the beck and call of church members, regardless of your own schedule. You are expected to adjust your life to the life of the pastor, who just happens to be your husband. You really have no independent life of your own.

Thank you pastor’s wife.

You may have one of the most challenging roles in the world. You are the only person in whom your husband can truly confide. When he is down, you are expected to encourage and exhort him. You try to provide balance for your family and children, especially since some of the church members expect them to be perfect.

Thank you pastor’s wife.

You may have one of the most painful roles in the world. You have discovered how hurtful some church members can really be. You listen to criticisms of your husband, and you are expected to be stoic. And when you are hurt, you think you have to keep it to yourself. You internalize it and hurt even more.

Thank you pastor’s wife.

You may have one of the loneliest roles in the world. People in the church seem afraid to get to close to you. Friendships are rare, if not non-existent. There are times you want to cry out in your need and pain, but there is no one to listen to you. In your darkest moments, you wonder if it’s all really worth it.

Thank you pastor’s wife.

We who stand on the sidelines may not know your hopes, hurts, and needs. We may not realize the depth of your times of pain and loneliness. But we know Someone who does. And He is with you. He is your strength. He is your comforter. He is your confidant.

And one day you will see that Savior named Jesus face to face. One day you will get your rewards for your labor, sacrifice, and love. One day He will look at you with unstoppable love and piercing eyes. One day He will say, “Well done good and faithful servant. Well done.”

And then you will know it was all worthwhile.

Thank you pastor’s wife.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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  • Don’t you think this is kind of sad? Shouldn’t we be calling for and believing for something betteR? Something different than this? Or is this her lot in life? I think as Christ’s followers, we can and SHOULD do better than this. I appreciate the thank you. But I also think we shouldn’t settle for this…

  • It makes me sad to read this piece and all the negative experiences of those commenting. My experience as a pastor’s wife has had perks I could never have imagined, and the support I receive from the congregation still amazes me. When my husband volunteers me for a job I want to do, he has to assure the people in charge that I asked to do it. We have numerous families waiting to babysit for our son…for free. One family provides us with all the farm fresh eggs we could ever want and they won’t let us pay them. When we’ve tried to hire parishioners to do odd jobs around our property they accept the work, but rarely let us pay them. I’ve taken to paying them with homemade pies and preserves. My young son’s antics during church are always the subject of conversations during fellowship time, but members tell me over and over how much joy those antics bring. When my son fell head first off the pew (he was caught by the teenager on the other side of him) I expected criticism. Instead, no less than eight people shared similar stories of falls and accidents by their children, and each one told me that it happens to everyone. Some of my best friends are people I met at my church. Sure, we have our share of frustrations, but they are minor. I don’t know what exactly makes my church different, but they are amazing. They recognize that my family isn’t perfect, that my son will do things that kids do, and that I am not an extension of my husband. I’m not writing this response to gloat, but to say that being a pastor’s spouse doesn’t always come with so much baggage.

  • An older PK says on

    Charlotte Gebauer Koelling likes an article.

    From a PK’s perspective, I can vouch for the loneliness and pain of being a pastor’s wife. As I observe now, it seems to have improved greatly since my mother’s days in the parsonage (1937-1979). To the challenges mentioned I would add the poverty in which we lived and with which my mom struggled through their whole ministry. It was brutal (and the reason I would not date anyone going into the ministry). Also, these wives can at least have some identity of their own now, thanks to our culture’s increasingly enlightened view of women over the years. (When my folks retired, my mother said she had to keep quiet all those years so as not to cause a problem for her husband, but finally she could say what she thought … and she did!)

    I rejoice that she has entered heaven. The words of the writer: “One day you will get your rewards for your labor, sacrifice, and love. One day He will look at you with unstoppable love and piercing eyes. One day He will say, “Well done good and faithful servant. Well done.” I weep with joy for her reward.

  • Ros Mayfield says on

    Just wanted to share a blog post I read today – both honest and inspiring on this issue and how the whole world wins when women live into their real God-given gifts (which may or may not include ‘keeping house’ and ‘pastor admin’) Hope it blesses you.

  • Thank you for thinking of all us Pastors wife it is a privalige to serve God and Ours church’s

  • My husband sent me this website and your kind words for Pastor’s wives this morning. I hadn’t had time to read it until now. Good therapy just reading all the posts. My husband pastors a small church in a rural area. I should say WE pastor. It is a team effort for sure. He feels he couldn’t do it without me and I feel of course, I wouldn’t be here without him. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t here. I think, how fellow brothers and sisters have hurt us is more painful then anything there is, because you feel they should know better and we hope they see how much we love the Lord. We have just come thru a trial but the Lord used it to “prune” our church and right now we feel very blessed and refreshed. But I’m realizing after being here almost 8 yrs, if we expect to skate thru ministry unscathed we are naive. The Lord uses all we go thru to strengthen us and make us better people and glorify Him. I can’t say I’d rather be here then anywhere, but I surely would rather be in the Lord’s will then anywhere else. Thank you for thinking of us PW’s.

  • Thank you for this. As a pastor’s wife I am hurting right now. I would not wish my situation on anyone. Having been reconciled with my husband, I and our children are back at his church. It’s been almost one year now and things haven’t changed much. I have to deal with a disrespectful ‘associate’ minister who is great friends with the former mistress who is also disrespectful yet sits on ‘my pew’. Add in the fact that she has a huge family who also hate me and kids, the fact that she has many positions of leadership and you have quite the party. My husband tells me to rise above it while refusing to address it. He claims that he has addressed it privately (without me?) and nothing has changed. I’m sincerely longing to go back to my former church where I and my children were well-liked, but most importantly, were at least treated with common courtesy, as one would be even among those who are ‘un-Christian.’ He has created a mess yet refuses to stand up for his wife & family PUBLICLY, because he ‘says’ it would be stooping to their level. But he maintains a friendship with them, former mistress included. I tend to think he’s playing both sides. His other excuse for not ever addressing anything is because he doesn’t want things to get crazy. I say he’s running his ministry in fear. Needless to say I (& two DAUGHTERS, 6 & 16) are in a hostile atmosphere week after week after week where we maintain our silence and continue smiling. I’m worried about how this is all affecting the 17 yr old who is as sweet as any teen ever was. I have done nothing. I don’t confront anyone. I used to say hello and attempt to hug everybody, but now I just say hello and it’s sometimes returned. My husband contends that he needs no counseling and if I would ‘rise above it’ i.e. ignore and say nothing, as I have for a whole year, then it will all work itself out.

    • Dear Sister Danielle,
      I don’t know if this will get published, but I really am feeling for you right now. Your husband should be confessing to the congregation and step down for a while and she should not be allowed to come to your church. He is hiding because he knows it is a grave sin and he doesn’t want to lose his position of “power” instead of a very high calling from God. This is very serious and he is making light of it, but the Lord is not. I’m praying you will not fall into deception and will do the right thing. It seems as tho’ you should not attend that church until this is handled in a godly correct manner.
      I am praying for you dear one. You are not alone!

      • Sis Rhonda,
        Truly I appreciate your kind & wise words. You’ve only confirmed what I’ve always known in my heart. My decision was already made by the time I posted this. All that you’ve said is what I’ve said to him. Of course I was ridiculed because he’s been doing this for over 35 yrs & I haven’t, therefore I don’t understand ministry or ppl & mistreatment is all a part of being a leader. That’s certainly true but not to this extent! 🙂 He’s 18 years older, by the way. I won’t get into anymore specifics. We all have a story to tell. I’m just grateful that I haven’t lost my faith in the Lord! May the Lord bless & keep you & everyone called to a life of ministry. I will forever support & pray for you all!

      • Sister Danielle,
        Praying for you…………

  • I truly love, adore and appreciate my First Lady Errica Washington, wife of Pastor David E. Washington Jr. Canton Christian Fellowship, Canton, MI. She is so amazing at how she lives her life for Christ, her husband, children and family. I encourage her to stand in spite of, because God knows her trials and tribulations. When the weight of the members comes upon her, she carries it like the cross that Jesus carried and continues her journey of leading us along side her awesome husband.

  • In my denomination, both husband and wife complete seminary and both are ordained. However, the weekly living allowance comes in the husband’s name – the wife who works just as hard as the husband is considered a volunteer. As you can deduct, this has been a ‘sore spot’ with wives for a long time. However, if the calling and the mission are foremost, it is not an issue – it never was with my wife; she had her own unique ministry and her devotion to God’s call to her was much more important that separate 1099 forms.

  • Rev. Betsy Haas says on

    Oh, Thom. What beautiful words, and so often we don’t ascribe the credit to our clergy spouses that they deserve and need to hear! But why, oh, why, did you have to be so gender exclusive? This lovely tribute has had the unintended consequence of pouring salt in the wounds of every female pastor who has watched her husband go ignored and dismissed simply because he chose to be a Pastor’s husband in a world that doesn’t recognize him. My husband has had to cheerfully respond to invitations to Clergy Spouse Gatherings only to find out the program was on Apple Jewelry Making. He has sat in the church that he supported faithfully with his tithe and his service as the coordinator of the homeless ministry AND the Confirmation teacher AND a weekly youth ministry small group leader AND trip chaperone, only to hear each of the Pastors’ wives be lifted up by name in worship as part of clergy appreciation week and hear not one mention of him. He has heard the Senior Pastor’s wife praised by a church member in a joy moment for her nurturing support of her husband and her volunteering at the church, and then had to show appreciation when after this tribute, the Senior Pastor thinks to say, “Oh, and we appreciate Kenn, too.” Please, please, remember these faithful, sacrificing men who have learned how to make pigtail braids on Sunday mornings, who do without Mom’s presence at the table on Administrative Board meeting nights, who cook, clean, worship and serve alongside their wives with little or no recognition. Not all of us have a Pastor’s Wife.