I’ve been a pastor’s wife for almost 20 years. I think being a pastor’s wife, like everything, comes with its own set of unique challenges and rewards. It’s a role that requires a lot of patience, immeasurable strength, and dogged resilience as you learn to navigate the complexities of ministry and all the expectations (some fair and some unfair) that comes with it.
Challenges of being a pastor’s wife
A first “Con” of being a pastor’s wife: TV-Personality Pressure
Be sure to read my thoughts on the characteristics of a pastor’s wife.
Among those characteristics is NOT being the embodiment of perfection, even though that is what many expect from pastors’ wives. This is one of the chief “cons” of being in our roles. For one thing, folks expect you to be always sweet and in a good mood. Honey, I’m going through menopause – I am not.
Secondly, they think we should be giving to a fault and consistently impeccably dressed at all times. Frankly, I do not like how the whole expectation of pastors’ wives looking like celebrity reality stars came to be, but it seems to be a thing.
In my summation, one of the challenges of being a pastor’s wife is the fact that people expect me to dress a certain way, drive a certain type of car, and look immaculate all the time.
For the most part, I’m ok, but some of my friends don’t believe I actually drive a car with a few years on it and don’t shop like a maniac. Some of that is my personality. I’m a pretty laid-back chick.
Still, in my circle of pastor’s wives, I sense a celebrity vibe. It can only be assumed other pastors’ wives experience that pressure too. Let me know what you think.
My Second: Con – “Where do you want me?”
Have you ever been part of a group photo for work or with your family? Often, no one automatically tells you where to stand or how to pose. So, you’ll hear the question “where do you want me?” asked by the people who are to be in the photo.
As the pastor’s wife, it can be difficult to know what your role should be in the church.
For me, after all my years of being a pastor’s wife, I still struggle with knowing where I should be or what I should be doing. Should I lead a ministry again? Should I be on a committee? Should I visit everyone in the hospital? Should I go to nursing homes? What’s expected of me in terms of hospitality and event hosting?
Many pastors’ wives I’ve talked to say they feel the same bewilderment.
My informal research of pastors’ wives is usually asking the question of my friends or on social media. Still, the confusion about what to do or “where to stand” is true across the board.
This can be made even more complicated if there is a lack of clarity around expectations from the congregation, the leadership team, or your husband.
In my humble opinion, lean into your own relationship with God and seek Him for what He wants you to do. I remember early on in ministry when I was geared up to take on the world, He told me to “be still.” In retrospect, it makes so much sense why He led me in that direction. God always tells you where to “be.”
Con #3 of being married to a pastor: “KEEP MY NAME OUT OF YOUR MOUTH!!!”
People love talking about the pastor’s wife.
They love chatting about what she wore, what she is doing, or how she behaves in a specific situation.
Add to that your husband’s propensity to preach about you and the home and you’re upfront and center in the congregation ALL THE TIME!!!
Depending on the size of your ministry, those whom you’ve never met may recognize you in public.
It still blows my mind how many strangers will approach me in Walmart and say “Hi, First Lady!” To be clear, this is a blessing to me more than a con. Still, it does take me off guard – especially when my hair is doing its own thing. I never assume to be anonymous anymore – which means when I leave the house, I always have to comb my hair. 😀
As a pastor’s wife, you will feel the pressure of being watched and judged by those around you, which can be difficult. I have gotten used to it now, but at any given time, I know someone is peeping at me…checking me out or just looking at me because they love me.
An important reason some people are looking at you…
You know, ladies and young women are often looking to you as an example of how to live a godly life—which is a great responsibility but also stressful at times.
You may find yourself in uncomfortable situations and have to navigate conversations about faith and Bible passages that require patience and grace.
One more time, let me go over what I’ve talked about so far. The cons of being a pastor’s wife are 1) the pressure to be perfect, 2) not knowing what to do in the congregation and 3) people always watching you.
The joy of being a pastor’s wife
The joys of being a pastor’s wife do not require as much explanation as some of the pesky “cons” I listed above.
As a result, I’m going to just create a mad and crazy inventory of the joy of being a pastor’s wife. After each one, take a moment to thank the Lord.
Here goes it!
You have a great big family comprised of your church congregation.
You have significance in the Body and can be of service to more people than if you were not married to a pastor.
The parking space. Gotta love the parking space.
Traveling may be a perk if your husband gets around as mine does.
When you need help, you have a pool to draw from.
Most congregations want to bless the pastor’s family – you are part of that! Be grateful for that!
When you encourage people, it likely means something to people and a lot of it has to do with the fact that you’re married to your husband. Go figure.
Your kids can win all the fundraisers for the. Shady, but it’s true. *hehe*
People check on you with you’re sick or absent from church (this can be good and bad). For me, it’s good. It is such a blessing to be cared about. Relish it.
I’m not a “reserved seat” person, but if you are, that’s an amazing pro!
Sometimes, during meals – they bring the food to you. <3
You get to have an intimate position in what God is doing in the local Body of Christ.
The favor your carry on your life will bless other members of your family. Example: when my brother was sick, some of the staff in the hospital knew me and showed him so much kindness because they did.
Take it all in stride, Pastor’s Wife
Being a pastor’s wife gives you the unique opportunity to minister to people’s needs in ways that may not have been available to you as just another layperson at the church.
Whether through small groups or informal conversation, your ability to talk with people and understand their struggles can open new doors of spiritual growth – both for them and for yourself.
In addition, you may even be able to provide valuable insight and guidance as well as tangible assistance like financial help or mentoring when needed. Be careful with supplying financial help. I once had someone request help and I had her follow me to my ATM only to find out later the church had already given her money. UGH
Serving as a pastor’s wife gives you the chance to experience a particular kind of joy and pride in knowing that you have played a part in making a positive difference in the lives of those around you. In my experience as a pastor’s wife, it is one of the joys of my life.
You will find that it is extremely satisfying to be able to witness the change your ministry has brought about and reflect on all the successes that have taken place under your pastor’s wife’s influence.
Hey, everything has pros and cons.
I think we should try to focus more on the good things, Sis. That’s what I try to do.