Nine Secrets Your Pastor’s Wife Wishes You Knew

Written by Christina Stolaas, reblogged from Shattered Magazine.

pastor's wife

She’s always there. Sometimes in the background, sometimes with a welcoming smile up front, sometimes noticed and appreciated, sometimes being silently judged. Your pastor’s wife; the powerful force behind most church leaders often perceived as a mystery by the rest of the church. It doesn’t have to be that way.

What if we just asked our pastor’s wife to candidly, honestly, even anonymously share some of their secrets? What if we invited them to share their hearts and tell us what they wished the church knew?

I posed a simple, open ended question to a panel of pastors’ wives in different states, from different denominations, with various years of service, “If you could tell the church a few things about your role as a pastor’s wife, what would you say?”

The women selected are the wives of music ministers, children’s leaders, senior pastors and youth pastors. Some of them serve in churches with large staff and even larger budgets, others in newer church plants, and even some from old and barely surviving congregations. Despite such different backgrounds, their responses were strangely similar and in several cases, almost identical.

I’ve sat for coffee, exchanged emails and had lengthy conversations with many who freely shared their secrets with me in exchange for the promise of anonymity. What follows is a condensed collection of their words.

1) “I wish people knew that we struggle to have family time.”

There was one common response that I received from every single pastor’s wife. Every. Single. One.  Over and over again, many pastors’ wives shared numerous occasions where planned vacations had been cut short (wouldn’t that be hard?). They told me tales of family evenings being rearranged for crises of church members, middle of the night emergencies and regular interruptions. A true day off is rare; even on scheduled days off their husbands are essentially on call 24/7.

2) “Almost every day I’m afraid of screwing it all up.”

They don’t have it all together. They battle many of the same issues every other woman battles: marriage issues, extended family difficulties, sickness, finances, children who make poor decisions, fear and insecurities. Some seasons of life are obviously harder than others; but remember, ministry wives are not Wonder Woman with special powers. Please have a little mercy and extend grace.

3) “Being a pastor’s wife is THE loneliest thing I’ve ever done and for so many reasons.”

Personally, I think this is surprising to many (it was to me). Several ladies shared the difficulties of finding friendships that are safe, being looked at (or treated) differently and even the desire to be invited for an occasional ladies night out. One woman shared, “Invite us to something just to get to know us. We like being known.” People in the church often assume that the pastor’s wife is always invited and popular. In reality, for whatever reason, many ladies fear befriending them. On Sunday mornings pastors’ wives are often sitting solo and those with children are essentially single parenting.

4) “It is okay and welcomed to have conversations with me about things that do not pertain to church, or even Jesus. There I said it!”

They have a variety of interests. Believe it or not, many pastor’s wives went to college and had full time careers before becoming “Mrs. Pastor’s wife.” They have hobbies, likes and dislikes, and though they often serve beside their husband, they are individuals with their own unique gifts.  Do not make the mistake of assuming your pastor’s wife has the same personality as their husband. One wife shared that as newly weds when they announced their engagement people regularly commented on how good of a singer she must be (because her husband to be was a music minister). When she shared that she sounded more like a dying cat than an elegant song bird the shock on their faces was evident.

5) “Sundays are sometimes my least favorite day. Wait– am I allowed to say that?”

Sundays are hard. And long. And there is no rest. To a pastor’s wife, Sunday means an early morning of rushing around to have the family ready in their “Sunday Best.” Although you may not see your pastor’s wife on the platform, rest assured, Sunday is equally tiring for most (all) of them.

6) “It’s hard to not harbor resentment or to allow your flesh to lash out at members who openly criticize his ministry.”

They hate church criticism more then anything. It’s hurtful. Offensive, and yes, it’s very hard not to take it personally.  It is one of the most damaging things they witness regularly inside the church whether it be through emails, social media or gossip. They wish people understood how serious God’s word speaks on the danger and power of our words. And how much it injures the pastor’s family.

7) “Please don’t look down on me or assume I don’t support my husband just because you don’t see me every time the churches doors are open.”

Most wives are not paid staff. They are wives, mothers, and some are employed outside the home and need to be allowed the freedom to pray and choose ministries they feel called to.

8) “I wish people knew that we taught our children to make good choices, but sometimes, they don’t.”

Jokes about pastor’s kids should be avoided at all costs. The risk of rebellion in a “preacher’s kid” is no secret. They aren’t perfect, and never will be (are yours?). They have to learn to walk in their faith just like other children and need encouragement and love to do so. Again, extend grace.

9) “What I can tell you is I have been blessed beyond measure, I have been given gifts, money, love and prayer, so much prayer… by so many.”

They love their church and understand the role comes with special challenges and special blessings; it is fulfilling and brings them great joy.

One Extra Thought

Though it was not a common response, there was one that stood out. The top of the list of one seasoned pastor’s wife simply read, “I deleted my number 1.” Some secrets are so difficult to share, even the promise of complete confidence is not enough to bring them out.

These Godly women have something they want us to know and as a body of believers working together towards the same goal I think we might gain a better understanding of how to appreciate our leaders by listening. All of these responses point to a singular truth. Your pastor’s wife is a human being that desires to be known, just as you do.

About the author of this post: Christina is an energetic mom to four adorable young kids, wife, a lover of the outdoors and people. In her free time she enjoys writing, training for road races, drinking too much coffee, belly laughs with friends and pursuing a deeper walk with Jesus. She is forever thankful that God’s script for her life needs no editing. (Romans 8:28)

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About Chris Jordan

Husband. Father. Author. Pastor. Guidance Counsellor. High School Teacher. Follower of Jesus. And I enjoy a good cup of coffee!
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12 Responses to Nine Secrets Your Pastor’s Wife Wishes You Knew

  1. Kathy says:

    Absolutely great post!! Thank you for sharing it.

  2. ziggy317 says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Makes me want to invite my pastor’s wife out for coffee. 🙂

  3. Marla says:

    Thank you for writing this. As a pastor’s wife, I agree. It would be so nice for the congregation to understand this.

  4. Gale Haney says:

    Great post!! This article is so true. As a pastor’s wife of 31 years, I would never want to live life with my great husband, but I wish sometimes it could be less lonely. Thanks for sharing

  5. Gale Haney says:

    Correct my post: I would never want to live life without my great husband.

  6. Nella Robinson says:

    I lived the life of a pastor’s wife for 50 years. I probably lived through as many trials and tribulations of being a pastor’s wife as any wife living today, There were many heartbreaking times, but there were also many blessings from serving the Lord in that capacity. Yes, life was lonely at times, discipline of our 3 children was placed on my shoulders almost entirely, my house was supposed to be immaculate all the time, and I was expected to wear many hats, sometimes all at the same time, and I was expected to smile although I felt terrible, or was under a heavy burden myself. The life of a pastor’s wife is not easy, but who ever said life would be easy for anyone. My husband of 50 years went to be with the Lord on June 30, 2005, and I still miss him. I served alongside him and tried hard to make him, as well as the Lord, proud of me. I want all to know that I would not trade those years of service to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for anything this world can offer. All those years were the greatest blessing that life could bestow on a wife. I am proud to have been chosen by God to be my husband’s wife all those years. I still love the Lord, and am still serving him by teaching and serving in my local church where I now live. I am happy in the Lord, and am looking forward to the day that I will see Him face to face, and will once again be alongside the wonderful man that I called my husband, and others called their Pastor.

  7. Cynthia Beckworth says:

    Amen and Amen.

  8. Melinda says:

    What happens when you get a bad pastor’s wife!? Ours has offended many. Membership is down in our church because the sermons are uninspiring & dull. I like our Pastor but pray to find the word of God in his messages. Truly difficult. His wife talks to mothers in the cry room, who are still trying to participate in the worship service. She even talks thru prayer. 😦
    But the WORST thing was at my father’s funeral. We ‘hired’ this pastor to do his service. She came along. After the receiving line proceeds to complain to my middle sister about work issues & how the bank doesn’t make enough money (she’s a board member)!! Then she complained to my eldest sister that we were horrible members due to our lack of attendance at church.
    I’ve been praying about changing churches & approaching her about her behavior which made everyone uncomfortable & feel worse than we already did with the loss of our father.

    • Chris Jordan says:

      Melinda,
      I’m so sorry to hear about your negative experience with your pastor’s wife. When it comes to leaving a church, I would definitely encourage you to pray about it and seek the Lord for His wisdom and counsel. And whether or not you do decide to leave the church, also prayerfully consider talking to your pastor’s wife about her behaviour. Hopefully you have a close enough relationship with her, and she has a humble and teachable enough spirit that what you share will be well received. And on behalf of this pastor and his wife, I apologize for the what you have experienced at their hands.
      In our church, we have been preaching through the Book of James, and this morning, we went through James 3, and I shared verse one that talked about how God says not to desire to become a pastor/teacher because we who teach and preach God’s Word will be judged more harshly than the average person in the church. Because as leaders in the church, what we say and do can affect others – positively or negatively. So know that ultimately, what mistakes he makes, God will hold him accountable for one day.
      Having said that, I also want to remind you that no one is perfect – no pastor, teacher, preacher – or pastor’s wife. So, I want to encourage you to pray for them, love them, accept them, forgive them, and extend them grace – just as God has been gracious to you!
      I hope that helps… praying the Lord Jesus would give you wisdom and direction in your life concerning what church to attend… keep me posted! God bless you…

      • Melinda says:

        Chris, Thank you for your reply. I have prayed about this issue many times …… long before the funeral home incident. My 21 year old daughter left our church over a year & a half ago and found her ‘home’ in another church, and is a million times happier. I went with her, but did not feel the spiritual pull to that church. I have yet to go back to our church since the funeral incident (April 25th) and did attend a few other churches. I guess I am afraid that I will say something unkind and not affective, so I have avoided the situation entirely. I guess I will have to rehearse in my head what I might say to her a few hundred more times. But then again, I feel like …….. this is my church WHY SHOULD I BE SO STRESSED ABOUT HER ….. isn’t this supposed to be spiritual home, too?
        I understand how as a Pastor’s wife you are viewed a certain way. And I am quite sure … just like in any job/family you will run into people that you have conflicts with as well as possibly dislike. It is not written that you MUST like everyone. 🙂 I guess I just expected her not to be such a bulldozer.
        I will continue to pray, and pray and then pray some more.
        In His name, Amen. Thank you for allowing me to ‘vent’, as obviously I am unable to do so in real life at this moment. I appreciate you all.

      • Chris Jordan says:

        Melinda,
        I’m glad to hear that your daughter found a church that feels like home where she is happy – praise the Lord for that! And God bless you for continuing to persevere in prayer and not give up… feel free to come by here and vent any time you need to. I’m always willing to listen and pray. Blessings!

  9. Pingback: The Top Ten Posts of 2014 | The Beausejour Pulpit

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