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Surviving As A Pastor’s Wife

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

A conversation I had with a young woman in one of the first churches where my husband was pastor came to my mind today.  I’m sure it’s because I’m about to leave my role as “the pastor’s wife” when my husband retires from our church this month.  She asked me, “How can you survive as a pastor’s wife?”  If I recall correctly, we were standing in the foyer just before the church was to vote on a controversial topic, and she knew several church members were against my husband’s stand on the subject.  What I don’t remember is my answer. 

How would I answer that question today after 45 years of being a pastor’s wife?  The question itself implies my role is a difficult one.  While I can only speak for myself and my own experiences, being the wife of a minister has never seemed an impossibly tough and demanding way of life that I had to survive.  I am not so naïve, however, not to realize how many ministers’ wives chafe and struggle under this mantle, hating the scrutiny, the pressures, and the expectations. 

Whether it was because I transitioned from being a preacher’s daughter to a pastor’s wife in one single day when I was 18 years old and said “I do,” or whether it was because I felt the call of God upon my life to some type of Christian service when I was a teenager, (and I suspect it was a combination of both) I walked into our first church loving both the title and the responsibilities of my role. 

During the years that followed that first pastorate, I’ve continued to enjoy serving my Lord as the wife of a pastor.  I can think of at least four reasons why I’ve lived in this role so easily.  First, I love the pastor.  I believe the Lord called James to be His spokesman, and He created love in my heart for him, and thus also created a love for the task He gave to James.  I’m proud and happy to be the wife of the pastor, because I’m proud of him and happy with him.

Secondly, I accept the person God made me to be.  I am not a children’s worker, a choir director, a women’s coordinator; nor am I called to serve in the myriad of other necessary positions in the church.  While I am able to function fairly well in many different capacities, I have discovered my calling is to adults, specifically teaching the Bible to adults.  I also know the limitations of my personality.  I feel emotionally and physically drained after working with people, while some people seem supernaturally energized as they work with others.  Knowing the other gifts and traits the Lord has given me, enables me to function joyfully as a pastor’s wife.

Thirdly, I seek the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.  While teaching is one of my spiritual gifts, I am more introvert than I am an extrovert.  It takes the power and strength of His Spirit to enable me not only to use the gifts I’ve been given, but also to display the fruit of His Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. 

And, lastly, I spend time daily in His Word.  I listed this reason last because I believe it is the foundational stone on which the other reasons are built.  I could not love my husband, know myself or be filled with His Spirit, if I were not reading His Word and praying that Word back to Him on a daily basis. 

While these reasons answer the question of how I have thrived as a pastor’s wife instead of just surviving, my prayer is that in everything I have brought Him glory. (Colossians 3:17)

  1. Kim
    September 21, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Wise words from a wise woman. This could fit for a wife of a husband in any profession. As the bible tells us many times, love and acceptance are the key. Love of our husband, love of our God, love and acceptance of our role and accepting the gifts God gave us. The most important gift being His word!


  2. September 21, 2011 at 9:18 am

    You are so right, Kim. I had this thought exactly as I finished the last paragraph, and I wrote something to that effect, but then I deleted it, feeling the post was already too long. But you have captured that truth with your comment. That’s as it should be.


  3. Jim Lockhart
    September 21, 2011 at 10:50 am

    I think the important statement, especially for me, is just to be the person God wants you to be. Too often we are overtly and subtlety pushed into roles others want us to play that we move away from all we could be for God. If the Holy Spirit (another good point) is to do his work in our lives, we have to be true to the selves we are created (and fashioned) to be by God. To see the gifts of others and to love them with all of your heart as they mature in their calling (whatever it might be), is a work of faith and grace. What I especially like about your post is that it works as well for husbands as wives. Thanks for starting my day well. Jim


  4. September 21, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Jim, you have expressed this so well! Perhaps one day soon I’ll write more about my journey to get to this place where I learned to just be myself. It didn’t happen overnight that’s for sure, and I’m still learning this lesson. And, you’ve made such an important point about how we relate to others as they make this journey with us, learning to be what God made them to be and accepting whatever mile marker they are encountering. Thanks for your astute comments.


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