How To SupportThe Pastor's Wife
When we talk about church and worker wellness, we often forget the spouses. This post is to alert you to a growing problem that often goes unnoticed and rarely addressed.
Many pastors are lonely, and so are their wives and their children can become isolated. This account is not every minister’s history, but it is the tale of significantly more than you recognize. In this post, I will turn to the pastor‘s wife for the latter two weeks before we finish this with the youngsters. While I alluded to the pastor's wife, in particular, I do not restrict this to just pastors, it pertains to any church worker‘s spouse.
I think Christina captures in these short quotes the fishbowl so many pastors’ wives live under. And how lonely this role is for those who have the role of pastor’s wife.
1) “I wish people knew that we struggle to have family time.” 2) “Almost every day I’m afraid of screwing it all up.” 3) “Being a pastor’s wife is THE loneliest thing I’ve ever done and for so many reasons.” 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!” 5) “Sundays are sometimes my least favorite day. Wait–am I allowed to say that?” 6) “It’s hard to not harbor resentment or to allow your flesh to lash out at members who openly criticize his ministry.” 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 church’s doors are open.” 8) “I wish people knew we taught our children to make good choices, but sometimes, they don’t.” 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.” - Christina Stolaas
In the past few weeks, I have tried to open to church members the stresses that pastors and their families go through for the sake of the Gospel. I am writing this, so church members have a greater awareness of the best ways to care for their shepherd and his family. In this post, I want to discuss the pastor’s wife.
Often, the pastor’s wife is taken for granted. It is just assumed she has it all together. People rarely stop and think about the pressure and unrealistic expectations she lives under. She is expected to be a model wife and mother, with perfectly behaved children who never make a sound in church. She is supposed to be a master chef, church master organist, and organizer. Members want her to teach Sunday school while running the sewing circle. All the while providing for all the needs of the pastor. It is the loneliest position. You cannot let people get too close for fear that any struggle you share with people will be used against your husband. So, any vulnerability is unacceptable. Any crack in the perfect window’s purity could cost your livelihood. Stop and imagine what life would be like if you lived under that kind of constant scrutiny. Imagine the mental gymnastics you and your family would daily have to undergo. Successful ministry often comes at a high cost: family.
How to Support Your Pastor’s wife.
1) Don’t expect her to be perfect, every woman is unique. There is no job description for this role.
God has created each woman married to a pastor as a one-of-a-kind, unique individual. They do not all come with the same gifts or temperament. Each pastor’s wife needs to be given the freedom to find their specific ministry place in the church. One thing that most pastors’ wives have in common is that they have a significant and challenging God-given opportunity to have influenced their families. The family is their top priority!
“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.” (Psalm 127:3-4, NIV)
2) She is a vital companion and champion to her husband.
When all the world may be against the pastor, the pastor’s wife often stands in the background, holding up the prophet’s hands. She hears all the complaints being bandied about him, yet often quietly and respectfully listens even though criticism is killing her spirit.
Respect her by not complaining to her about her husband. Instead, speak well of him to her.
“An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:10-12.
3) Pray and encourage her.
If you have been blessed with a young pastor’s family and wife, what an excellent opportunity for the older women of the congregation to share their wisdom and be spiritual sisters to the pastor’s wife. You have a unique opportunity to bless the pastor and his family in this way.
“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (Titus 2:3-5)
Above are just a few suggestions, and I am confident that if you take the time to pray about this, you will come up with much more. I would invite you to share what you find in the comment section of this post so that we can find new and creative ways to support the pastor and his wife. I encourage you also to share what you have done in the past to be a blessing to the pastor’s wife. It will serve as a source of encouragement to others.