Stress and the pastor’s wife is a real struggle.
Some tips for pastors’ wives to avoid the stress of people pleasing.
I chatted with a woman from our congregation the other night. She was so kind and so fun to talk with that time just slipped away from us. Around the time the conversation was to end (about 7 minutes is my limit), she said: “I keep you in my prayers, I know how hard life can be for a pastor’s wife”. She was talking about the whole stress and the pastor’s wife thing.
I paused a second, pondered her words and responded “Actually, my life is rather simple and uncomplicated. But, I appreciate your prayers so much.”
She relented and said: “No, I know you have to deal with so many people and that can’t be easy. I bet they always have something to say”. She chuckled.
My response: “No, it’s not hard. People have very little effect on my life and I care very little about what they say”. One of my family members heard the last part of the conversation, glanced up at me, and giggled on his way out of the sanctuary. He knows me so well. He knows that I refuse to be bound by stress and tension.
I’m sorry if I’m a rude pastor’s wife.
I know it can sound rough but, please know sounding mean or callous is not my intent. In fact, it never is. I certainly hope you don’t take it that way. But, the truth of the matter is my life is uncomplicated because I choose – no, I’m committed – to make it that way. I refuse to let people get on my nerves! I just can’t and neither can you.Senior Pastor's Wives: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10 Click To Tweet
Even before I was married to a pastor, I’ve lived long enough to know that there will always be people judging, commenting and talking about you. Someone will always “have something to say” as the lady mentioned. Thank God that I have figured out how to not let those folks stress or inhibit me. Imagine what my life would be like If I did. I think I’d be depressed and on someone’s anxiety meds.
Those jokers attacked me…and still didn’t stress me out!
For example, years and years ago I had one of those situations that will test your church resolve. Some people came after me with a vengeance. I could have chosen to fight back, lash out or defend myself. But, thank God, He gave me the wisdom to see them with eyes of grace. It was wild! Instead of anger, the Holy Spirit stirred a sort of compassion in my heart for them. He helped me see the insecurity and inferiority that lied at the heart of their attack. That was sad to me. I felt bad for them. I really did.
I couldn’t let their issues “worry” me.
Hey, I don’t have time to absorb other people’s issues. Neither do you. It’s better for pastor’s wives to pray for the folks that attack us or treat us badly than to try to go to war with them. I know it sounds pious, but this is real talk. Instead of being stressed by them, try feeling sorry for their silliness and ask God to make them whole in Him. Ask Him often because as you pray for them, you will find your heart will soften toward them. Works like magic – Jesus magic!
What triggers your stress, pastor’s wife?
We cannot begin to minister to others until we know ourselves. Knowing what tends to bother or hurt our feelings, enables us to develop a strategies for handling those triggers. For me, I am personally bugged by people who gossip and speak badly of others. That stresses me out and makes me want to scream. I can’t stand it!
Knowing this about myself, I’ve developed some safeguards to prevent me from getting caught up on those type of scenarios. Here are a few:
- I limit phone calls (to people outside my personal circle) to about 5 – 10 minutes. Anything longer can often turn into something “else”.
- I listen for phrases like “Have you heard…”, “Did you know …” or the best one: “Someone told me…”
- When I hear one of those phrases or something like them, I like to shut down the conversation sternly and quickly. I almost risk sounding horrid, but I send a strong message that I don’t want to hear about other people’s business. Works like a charm.
Guard your peace, pastor’s wife
I must preserve my peace and I hope you feel the same way about yours. If people want to judge you or label you as mean, ignore them. You be you and focus on maintaining your Christian integrity and being a good wife. The rest, in my opinion, is just extra.
No need to push, struggle and fight for their acceptance. Let go of your desire to be “one of the girls” in the congregation. God called you for much more important things than that. He called you to serve the people, lead them and be a blessing to them. If you’ve been doing so, stop trying to fit in. It will only stress you out. That whole stress and the pastor’s wife thing will overtake you.
Jesus modeled being free
What if Jesus had chased the Pharisees around saying “Hey….talk to me…please accept me…please like me?” How foolish of a thought, right?! No, Jesus was confident in His mission and was laser-focused on that and that alone. He was not comparing Himself to them or even worried about them aside from getting them saved. Follow His example.
Susan Biali M.D. wrote a great post called “Prescriptions for Life“, she advocates for focusing more on “belonging” than “fitting in”.
This is so good for us as pastors’ wives. We don’t want to be “set apart” as though we are better than anyone else because we are not. We want to be a part of the heartbeat of the ministry. So much a part people feel comfortable talking to us; reaching out to us and needing us. The article describes belonging as “showing up and letting yourself be seen and known as you really are “
There it is.
I want to be part, not apart. I want people to accept me for who I am and how I am. Dr. Bialia titled the article “Stop Trying to Fit In, Aim to Belong Instead”, we should focus on the latter. If you’d like to read the article, click here. Take the meat and leave the bones.
Pastors’ wives seeking attention = pride
Further, banish your need for attention or to have your face on everything. Those things are carnal; those desires for attention derive from something you have not or are not getting in your life.
If could have stemmed from rejection or even horrible ways people treated you as a child. Whatever the source, get whole in Jesus. Spend regular time in prayer, reflection and study time in the scriptures. His power will do a spiritual surgery that will render you whole in Him. I’m living proof of that.
No, don’t burden the Kingdom with your need to shine and be seen. Only Jesus should shine. Pastor’s wives, in fact, all Christians should want Him to be the consistent focal point.
Allow God to lift you up and exalt you in the hearts of His people. You just be humble. Be kind. Then, they will be able to turn to you for support and help when they need it. That’s your service to His people – while all the glory goes straight to Him.
The best part of ministry for me is when others have no clue how much you do and the many ways you “show up”. You don’t live for them or for their rewards, so they did not know. You live for God and that keeps your life uncomplicated. His yoke is easy, but the burden of people is not.
You know, anything can be complicated if you allow it to be.
Driving can be complicated if you close your eyes. So you open them.
Eating can be complicated if you don’t chew. So you do.
Talking can be complicated if you don’t open your mouth. So you speak loudly and express yourself.
Being married to a senior pastor can be complicated if you lock your eyes on people, overly focus on your own needs and care too much what people think. So, don’t do those things.
Eschew the complicated; embrace the simplicity of freedom in Christ. Stress and the pastor’s wife don’t have to go hand-in-hand. Amen? Amen.
Married to a Pastor.com is a blog for pastors wives focused on offering encouragement for a pastor’s wife as well as insight on being a pastor’s wife…from one pastor’s wife to another.
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