Tears welled up in my friend’s eyes, “Some of the elders disapprove of the book I’m reading. They don’t agree with the doctrine.”
My friend is a pastor’s wife. While on vacation she was reading a book by a Christian author on being grateful to God. It was blessing and ministering to her and she wanted to overflow that to others, so she shared a quote on her personal Facebook page.
She felt sad and anxious for causing trouble for her husband. These elders are his bosses and they have the power to determine his salary and fire him.
It seemed that books and conferences on “spiritual formation” were banned. This grieved me because I saw the fruit of her learning for her life and those they were discipling.
Pastors and their families often feel like they live in a fishbowl. With so many people watching them and making judgments. Often they suffer in silence.
It’s an honor for me to provide a safe space for a pastor’s wife to share her feelings freely. It protects them from the church gossip mill.
God’s design for the New Testament church is a place where men and women of all kinds would be welcomed and each would be esteemed for their personality and gifts. “Acknowledge those who work hard among you,” Paul teaches us. “Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, NIV)
(It’s a surprise to many, but the Bible actually speaks to the situation and needs of pastors’ wives.)
How about the pastor’s wife in your church? How can you bless her?
Many pastors’ wives like my friend are like unpaid and unrecognized ministers in the church. They listen and care for others. They lead ministries. They offer hospitality in their home. They do all sorts of services for the church and it’s people, often at the last minute.
Most of all, pastors’ wives serve the church by listening to their husband and absorbing his stress and hurt. When he’s criticized she feels belittled. When strong personalities in the church oppose him she feels undermined. When a leader he’s invested in leaves the church she feels rejected.
She feels his emotions — sometimes more than he does! — but she’s powerless to do anything about the situation in the church. (This is a relational dynamic called “collusion.” We did a “Soul Talks” podcast on this: “Who Carries the Emotions in Your Relationship?”)
But she’s not just “Mrs. Pastor’s Wife”! Often pastors’ wives feel they’re viewed that way. Even if she’s active in ministry and has a much needed perspective, wisdom, and empathy to offer she’s usually left out of important church leadership decisions. She’s not invited on the church stage, except to smile and nod while her husband talks and waits patiently as most people pass her up to talk to him.
She may feel like she has to be the supportive wife, model Christian woman and mother, happy hostess for church events, pastor, counselor, and Bible teacher. That’s a lot of pressure, role confusion, and emotional depletion!
These are just a few of the pressures and hurts that pastors’ wives talk to me about.
Appreciating the Pastor’s Wife Near You
There’s a pastor’s wife in your church or down the street who needs your prayers and appreciation. You could start by forwarding this devotional!
If you’re a pastor’s wife I encourage you to reach out to another pastor’s wife to share and pray for each other.
Tune Into This Week’s Soul Talks Podcast: “Repairing a Relational Wound”
“Through a Dark Valley With Your Spouse”, Pastor’s wife Susan Baugh shares her story of feeling alone, confused, and afraid when her lead pastor husband was opposed by church leaders and lost his pulpit. Here’s how to “carry each other’s burdens” to make it through a dark valley to see the sunrise.
Coming Next Week!
Based on your request we’re extending this series. Next week Kristi and I share on the theme of “Repairing a Relational Wound” in marriage or friendship.
How is Soul Shepherding Blessing You?
“Your articles on reconciliation and forgiveness have been a go to for us.”
Pastor Ryan Doughty and his wife Tami
Grace Baptist Church in St. Helens, OR