This week I want to focus on ministry wives. Those unsung heroes behind every pastor. There are a lot of expectations, mostly unrealistic, placed upon ministry wives.
We may think this is a modern phenomenon, but it isn’t. Church congregations have placed unrealistic expectations upon their pastor’s wives since churches existed.
I recently read an excerpt from Charles H. Spurgeon’s (1834-1892) autobiography, The Full Harvest, where he eloquently discusses this exact topic. His words so exactly match my feelings, as well as my experiences.
“Churches do not give a married minister two salaries, one for the husband and the other for the wife; but, in many cases, they look for the services of the wife, whether they pay for them or not. The Pastor’s wife is expected to know everything about the church, and in another sense she is to know nothing of it; and she is equally blamed by some people whether she knows everything or nothing
Her duties consist in being always at home to attend to her husband and her family, and being always out, visiting other people, and doing all sorts of things for the whole church! Well, of course, that is impossible; she cannot be at everybody’s beck and call, and she cannot expect to please everybody.
Her husband cannot do that, and I think he is very foolish if he tries to do it; and I am certain that, as the husband cannot please everybody, neither can the wife….Difficulties arise continually, in the best-regulated churches; and the position of the minister’s wife is always a very trying one. Still, I think, that if I was a Christian young woman, I would marry a Christian minister if I could, because there is an opportunity of doing so much good in helping him in his service for Christ.”
I wanted to jump up and down and shout hallelujah after reading this! Finally, someone, other than another ministry wife, actually understood the challenges that being married to a pastor entail.
We aren’t to be treated as a Two-Fer or BOGO (Buy One Get One).
We don’t know everything that is going on in the church and even if we did we aren’t going to talk to YOU about it!
We can’t be home and at church – at the same time!
It isn’t our job to try and please everyone – even though we certainly try.
Our kids are not perfect angels, they are KIDS and they will make mistakes!
We don’t all play the piano.
We are not all trained counselors that can help you with your problems if our husbands are unavailable!
We ARE women who fell in love with talented, God-fearing men who have a call on THEIR lives to serve the Body of Christ through the local church. Some of us were also called to serve in the church. Some of us were simply called to support our husbands.
We ARE women who love our children and are trying our best to raise them to be productive members of society who also have a passion to serve Christ. We don’t need or want your advice on how to raise them unless we ASK for your advice. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but PK’s have their own special challenges in the church.
We ARE women who have gifts and talents of our own. We may use them in the church, but we may also use them in a secular setting. Please don’t judge us for working outside of the home. Whether we need to work or want to work is our business. ‘Nuff said!
Lastly (for now), we are frail human beings with feelings and emotions. We are easily hurt by careless words and actions. We feel protective towards our husbands and children when we hear church members being critical. Our lives are lived out in the open much like in a fishbowl. We need love, acceptance, friendships, mercy, and lots of grace in order to survive and even thrive in the unique life that God has called us to live.
I feel it is a high honor and high privilege to be married to a pastor and to love and serve the church. It is my desire that more congregations allow the pastor’s wife to be just that the PASTOR’S WIFE. Not the church’s wife. Not an unpaid staff member. Not the church janitor, childcare worker, or event planner – UNLESS SHE WANTS TO!
What do you think? Have I stepped on some toes? Do you agree, disagree, or haven’t thought much about it? Do you have preconceived ideas of the pastor’s wife’s role in the church? I’d love to hear from you.