I was thinking about being a pastor’s wife. Actually, I’m always thinking about something, but this time it was about characteristics of a pastor’s wife or first lady of the church (the latter is relevant if you are a member of an African-American church). Anyhoo, here is what I was thinking about: should there be required ways a pastor’s wife or church first lady should behave?
What do you think?
At first, I was like “there are no essential characteristics a pastors wife needs”.
Pastor’s wives are as varied as pastors, so no specific characteristics exist for them.
Then, I came to my senses.
While pastors’ wives don’t have a formal job description, of course, some characteristics and attributes serve us well in our role. For example, it helps to be patient, kind, understanding, and flexible.
Let me share my “take” on each. I’d love to hear yours too.
The 1st of the characteristics of a pastor’s wife: Patience
A patient pastor’s wife will definitely be less stressed out than one who is consistently trying to live by her own agenda (instead of the Lord’s).
Letting go and trusting God prevents all sorts of problems – especially depression.
Rigidity just doesn’t work in our lives. Too many outside factors can change our plans, derail our efforts and totally re-calibrate our day. This is why we’ve got to be patient with life, our husbands and God’s people.
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Why do we grow impatient?
I think I’ve found a great explanation! It’s from Dr. Jim Stone’s article called “Understanding Impatience” from one of my favorite websites, Psychology Today.
He associates impatience with something called the “adaptive syndrome approach”.
I won’t begin to explain that concept, because I’m not totally sure I understand it myself.
But, basically, he says impatience is bred when we run into the following scenarios:
- We have a goal (Yes, pastors wives can have goals/plans)
- We have estimated how long it will take to reach the goal (then people mess with or delay our plans)
- We have other things we could be doing if we weren’t pursuing the goal (at this point the plans are usually in the garbage can.)
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve planned a vacation (i.e. my goal) only to find we must re-schedule because a family in our congregation is suffering or a sudden death occurs.
My sweet husband always confers with me to ask me what I think or want. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I want to support the church family. I love them so much.
Guess what! You have patience as part of your nature. It’s inside you because it is fruit of the Spirit. IT’S YOU! It’s part of your characteristics because He lives inside you
Let’s be honest, though, pastors wife…
It can be disappointing not owning my life, but it is part of the cost of the call I’ve aligned myself with.
The funny thing is I am not usually tempted to complain or be frustrated. I’m not sure why. Maybe God has given me a weird sense of “no problem” when my life is challenged by the call. Maybe it’s just my personality. I don’t know. Either way, I seem to bounce back quickly when things switch up on me.
To be clear and transparent, I’d better say, again, it has not always been easy though. I won’t pretend it has or is ALL of the time.
Maybe it’s a Philippians 2:13 thing:
“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.“
Patience in another form…
Other times, I am tempted to be impatient when I miscalculate how long something will take.
It may be someone I’m supporting who is just not making progress (taking too long to reach the goal).
Or, maybe it’s when people stop me in Walmart and tell me all their problems when I really need to get home and cook dinner (i.e. could be doing something else).
I try to listen. Maybe that encounter was a set up by God and He wanted me to talk to that person? Who am I to complain about that, right?
In the end, I hope the trials that test my patience build perseverance in me like the scripture says:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2-3 )
Kindness and the pastors wife (no apostrophe on purpose)
A pastor’s wife or first lady must also be committed to kindness.
People are hurting so much and dealing with so many struggles.
How wonderful it is to be in a position to bless them with encouragement, mentoring, a kind word or even my resources.
Truthfully, ALL Christians should walk in love and kindness – not just pastors wives.
Being a pastor’s wife or first lady of a church just means I’m able to do so with more people and with more eyes on me.
I’d like to think I’d be kind to everyone – regardless of whom I married. That’s just being a good Christian, right?
Listening to problems, talking to people, greeting them with a genuine hug and lots of love – all is part of being a loving and kind first lady (or pastor’s wife). It’s part of being a good Christian too. That’s what I think anyway.
Let me say it again: it’s not always easy.
I’m not perfect.
Some people do try your nerves.
Just like blood-related family, sometimes you want to smack them up side the head.
But, you don’t.
Discipline and maturity won’t let you. No, wanting to please God won’t let you. In the end, that’s what I strive to do. I know you feel the same way.
You have kindness as part of your nature too. It’s inside you because it is fruit of the Spirit.
Yes, you have this characteristic too, Christian Woman!
We strive toward perfection…we are not perfect.
I’ve found a cool article called “Traits of a Godly Wife“.
Even though it’s written by a man, I love the stance it takes. The author of the article, Dr. John Barnett, says time and time again a Godly wife “seeks to” do this or that.
None of us are perfect – especially not me.
But, I sure “seek to” please the Lord in my life.
He must increase, but I must decrease.”
The 2nd of the characteristics of a pastor’s wife: Understanding
Understanding doesn’t mean you always understand, Pastor’s Wife.
Some things I don’t understand (with my brain), but I have to try to make myself be understanding, empathetic and long suffering or others.
For example, when people criticize my husband, I want to throw a punch. I can’t. I must make myself understand that everyone has an opinion, a point of view and maybe even scarring from the past.
Yeah, those past wounds can cause them to be “jerky” or mean.
I certainly can’t retaliate with a worldly response. My fight is not with them or their flesh and blood.
Instead, I got to find the strength of the Holy Spirit to respond with his weapons. Instead, I try to pray and exercise a little sympathy. It proves the good and perfect will of God. It’s always better to do things His way. This, I have learned the hard way.
But, nothing about Christianity is easy and very little about being a pastor’s wife is easy either.
Like that line in the Godfather: “This is the life we have chosen”. 🙂
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”
By now, you know what I’m going to say, right? THIS IS PART OF YOU AND me BECAUSE THE HOLY SPIRIT IS INSIDE! Yup, you’ve caught on to me, Sista.
The 3rd of the characteristics of a
pastor’s wife: Flexibility
The Flexible and Adaptable Pastor’s Wife
or Church First Lady lives life with more peace!
Don’t get me started on how important flexibility is to a church first lady or pastor’s wife.
This sort of revisits my first point about being patient.
Here’s my humble take: patience is the ability to wait for something. Flexibility is not freaking out during the wait or once you discover you will not get what you want.
Life is going to change.
Plans will change.
People will change.
Try not to let it drive you insane or stress you out.
Instead, when life goes “left”, take a deep breath and say to yourself “everything is going to be OK”.
Keep it moving and proceed to plan “B”. Always have a plan B.
In my mind, I see all the impromptu ministry problems and interruptions as part of my sacrifice.
I see it as part of what’s in my alabaster box.
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance, and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
You can be flexible because -as you see in the above scripture- you can do ALL THINGS! Make this part of your characteristics as a pastor’s wife.
I gotta say it:
Respect is the final characteristic of a pastor’s wife or first lady of the church.
No way in the world we could talk about characteristics of a church first lady and not discuss respecting our husbands.
Don’t stop reading now!
Seriously, it’s so difficult, isn’t it?
I burn “mental” calories sometimes trying to re-frame my words and actions in a way that respects him and his leadership in our home.
He needs that.
At times, I even go so far as to tell him something like: “I really wanted to do _____, but out of respect for you, I didn’t”. *Then I smile innocently and bat my lashes*
Hey, I want full credit for my effort!
Girl, make sure he knows you’re respecting him when you do certain things or at least trying to respect him.
Men can easily miss our attempts and not even recognize what we are doing, so tell him. 🙂
Respect is a clear characteristic of a pastors wife (actually any Godly wife). Don’t be a wet noodle or lose yourself in him. Just respect his authority.
You know the scripture I’ll reference:
“…. and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33
Leave the first part of the scripture to God.
Pray your husband learns to love you as he should. More importantly, you give him respect even if you have to call him a “butt head” to the Lord in your prayer time. 🙂
Even if you’re still working on it (as we all are), respecting your husband is a characteristic of a solid pastor’s wife. Why? How? Because you’re committed to being obedient to the Lord, that’s how.
To wrap it up, in my opinion, the characteristics of a pastors wife or First lady of the church are:
You’re empowered with each of these by way of the Holy Spirit and the life-changing power of the Word of God. Spend time in it. Pray every day and rely on the Lord. This thing called Christianity works…if you work it. It takes time to grow into your best self. Hence, the popcorn reference. Things don’t happen overnight and the best characteristics of a pastor’s wife won’t either.
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Photo: Vinicius Wiesehofer
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.