Survey: What is the Hardest Thing About Being a Ministry Wife?
Okay, Girls. Once again I am coming to you asking for your input! Did ya’ll know what a wealth of wisdom you are? Individually your insights are amazing but collectively? My goodness, you are geniuses!
Here’s the thing. I am working on a project for ministry wives. In order to have a complete picture of your experiences, I am asking you to give me your thoughts on the following questions:
You don’t have to limit your answers to just one thing. Just be honest! If you need to answer anonymously or by private email, feel free.
Also, I need to hear from you laywomen. Would you answer this question?:
What are your perceptions of ministry wives?
I ask on this one to please keep the comments general so no one is dishonored. I know some of you have had painful experiences where ministry wives are concerned. Some of you have these women in your life who have served as great mentors. The purpose of my asking this question is to be able to give advice to ministry wives about pitfalls/mistakes to avoid as well as what actions make a difference in the lives of the women of their congregations.
I am thanking you in advance for your answers – I know you’ll have great insights that will help me tremendously. You have no idea how much I appreciate your willingness to share your lives with me!
WOW, what a loaded question. There is so much that’s been said on this subject. I believe our calling is simply to first grow ourselves and not count on our spouse’s walk with God to carry us. We must be meeting with God on a daily basis to be what He desires us to be. As minister’s wives I believe our first priority should be supporing our husband. Asking the questions “how can I best serve him (not the church) as unto the Lord”. “What does it look like for me to be his godly helpmate?” This will look different for everyone, but will always communicate love and deep respect for her husband to those watching. I don’t think our ministry should ever “compete” with his. I see many women so busy in their “ministry” that their husband and families are suffering as a result. We are not called to compete with our spouse, but rather to compliment and help them. I have found this can change with the seasons of life, the ages of children, etc. I love being the wife of a minister and am humbled to have the privilege to serve the Lord alongside such a great man. I experience the sweetest joy when I am fulfilling my God-given role of being a godly wife (regardless of my husband’s calling). Again, our joy and usefulness in His Kingdom is directly related to our fellowship with Him personally. Hope this helps!
I’m not a ministry wife, but I am a PK, as was my mother before me. (Imagine all the lessons she had learned before she even married my dad!)
If I can write for her (because she is still learning how to turn on a computer), I would say one of her biggest lessons is: Be yourself. My Mom felt tremendous pressure during the early years to be the kind of pastor’s wife the church expected her to be. In her case, that meant leading women’s Bible studies and/or maybe being the women’s ministry director; being at every church function; and supporting my Dad so he could attend meetings five nights every week while she took care of the four kids by herself.
My Mom experienced a lot of freedom when she was finally able to say, “Look, I’m happiest teaching my second-grade Sunday school class, not women’s Bible studies. I can’t physically attend everything. And your pastor is always my husband and my children’s father; we need him too.”
Look at God for your approval, not necessarily the church body.
Most difficult thing? Learning names! No really, knowing that a particular person has been critical about your spouse and still needing to love and serve them. Developing thick skin, but not too thick!
I would tell a new minister’s wife to savor the relationships she will have with the people she serves and serves with. I’d tell her to pray for a love for their people and for what they’re doing. Her attitude is a powerful influence on her husband. I’d tell her that she is her husband’s MVP.
I am very partial to my ministers wife as a layperson. Our pastors wife is the perfect helpmate. She is a go getter and supports him in all that he does, plus takes on more than her share. She is like the coolest person I know, and manages everything well, including her 4 children. She is loved beyond belief by everyone in our congregation and relates to all ages, babies to the elderly. Her secret, she loves Jesus with all she is and her desire is to please Him above all else. She is a rare gem! I know all the struggles that they must have as a ministry team, but they seek to please Christ and not man, but by doing so, they please man in the process, those that are also seeking the Will of God and not the will of self. Not sure if that answers any question but that is my perception of my pastors wife.
I agree with Amanda on the most difficult thing….knowing that someone has wronged or been critical of your husband, and then still loving on them and serving them…ouch that is HARD. I just recently found myself in that position.
I would tell a new minister’s wife to first seek God and keep your eyes on HIM. Every time I glance away from Him, Satan tries to step in to get my attention. And unfortunately many times he does! Also, don’t feel that you have to do/go to EVERYTHING he does.
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If you haven’t you should. I am new to this blogging thing and I just came across that one recently. Check it out!
Most Difficult Thing: I totally agree with these other ladies. Knowing that someone is not in our husband’s “camp” is hard. It’s even harder to hear the negative spirit that can invade during some of these “down times”.
If I had to pick another one (since that has already been picked), I’d say that learning when to say “yes” and when to say “no” is also difficult. Some churches see a minister and his family come in and they picture more workers. When we were in one of our first pastorates, my DH and I doubled the children’s Sunday School department with our two children! Believe me, this church was hungry for people who would come in and DO the Lord’s work.
2. What would I tell a new MW?
I would definitely say to be selective in what you agree to do. Better to take one or two areas that you know you CAN do and do it well than to do a bunch of things half-way.
And, I know we want to be kind to everyone, but I’d also say to be selective in choosing friends. Be kind. Be loving. But those people who you can really “let your guard down with” should be VERY trustworthy and not those with a hidden agenda.
I used to think Ministry wives were SOOOOOOOOO together and SOOOOO spiritual and just altogether on a different spiritual plain than the rest of us! ;-) But thru some divine intervention I have learned that they struggle like the rest of us, they mess up like the rest of us and have UNBELIEVABLE pressure! Not only the scrutiny of congregations, but attacks from the enemy on every turn to disrupt their ministry. I love our ministry wives at my church and they have been a tremendous blessing in my life!
Layperson here who is also the Women’s Ministry Coordinator. Before God called our Sr pastor to another church my dearest friend was his wife. I would agree with what’s been said before loving those who are critical of their husbands is hard. They do need to have that one (or two) close friends they can be really real with.
As WM leader I “hear” alot. And I think the average layperson puts much pressure on the wife to be at every activity, to be available for every woman and lead studies, throw open house parties etc… but these women have husbands and children. God has first called them to be a wife and mom, then she can serve within the gifts God has given her. She is a woman like every other woman-she needs to be treated with love and repect, we need to help her as a wife and mom not make her job more difficult.
I have a high repect for any pastors wife. They do have a high calling, but first and foremost they are mom and a helpmate.
Well don’t know if I answered your questions, or helped at all…but I just love our pastors wives…and I still count our pastor’s wife who moved as a dear friend. After a year we still talk almost weekly.
I was almost a ministry wife, but then my hubby discerned that the Lord was leading him in another direction. The biggest struggle was meeting everyone’s expectations. One thing I learned was that people in ministry are REAL people who struggle just like everyone else. My advice: To always be genuine.
I like what Valarie said about the PW having issues spiritually like the rest of us…I think that is a common misconception that they do have it together.
Mine has been my mentor for so many years, and now that I am at that age where I can KNOW more, its tough, because I see her having struggles sometimes, and I want to ask if she is doing okay, but hold back, like its not my place to ask..
I DO pray so much for her though, I feel like what also Valarie said was about divine intervention, you know thoughts and feelings of the heart without knowing…and I know face expressions too…
So, all this, ladies, you got it tough, I praise God for giving you the strength to do what you do.
I think it’s tough getting criticism (both for myself and my husband) but that is not the hardest thing. For me I have found I have a strong sense of boundaries…maybe too strong. Since I am in a leadership position, with my husband at that, I feel very uncomfortable being vulnerable and open about problems in my life. It is difficult for me to make friends with laypersons that go beyond the surface niceties.
Thank you for visiting my blog!! I absolutely LOVE yours. I will for sure be back to visit!! You’re posts are full of wisdom. Keep preachin’ to us youngins!!
Hope you’ve had a great weekend!
Okay, so I realized I never answered this question. Obviously, I’m not a MW, not even a wife, but the only thing I would say to them about being one is that it is OK to let down your guard. Your house doesn’t always have to be perfect, nor does your life. We need to know you struggle with issues just like the rest of us. But, we also GREATLY appreciate you. You ARE every woman! :)
My husband is a college minister. I don’t know if my challenges apply to being a “minister’s wife” or just my husband’s wife, but they are (have been):
1)When he’s at a ministry event, he is so focused I feel invisible to him. (Learning to look to God to meet my needs and not him–not making him an idol– has helped me a lot with this one, but it was really hard early on)
2)His self-image is so tied to numbers attending events, even when we say “numbers don’t matter, relationships do”. I don’t always know how to encourage him when attendance drops in half from one week to the next.
Its been said already but, First, be “THE” minister’s WIFE. Not married to the ministry, but rather the minister.
The hardest thing is learning to take criticism graciously. Expect to be criticized and misunderstood and plan ahead on how to respond. Often it is best to ignore it and let time deal with it.
My husband is a student pastor and was when we married so I don’t know anything BUT life in the ministry. I agree with what has been said about the hard things you go through. The hardest for me has been finding “true friends” inside the church who you are more to then “just on staff”. However, and this is NOT JUST A CHURCH ANSWER, I LOVE being a youth pastor’s wife. I count it a great honor. I think we (pastors wives) can get so focused on the bad things that go along with this journey that we forget the High Calling. I went to a Beth Moore conference for Pastor’s Wives in TN a few years ago and will never forget….There was a woman there my age (20’s) and her husband was about to leave a secular job to become a pastor and she called him and told him that she did not think she wanted to do it anymore because “all these women are just so broken and hate it”. My heart broke because I do not want that EVER to be what I protray. I am not a victim of the church. Can the church hurt my feeling….yes…..Can the church have unrealistic expecations….yes……but when I stay focused on Christ and what His expecations are for me and our family then I can rise above what people say.
I want them to know that it is hard and frustrating even but that it is also a great adventure and a high calling. Embrace it.
Well I don’t know a whole lot of ministers wives but I know a few and they’re all completely different. So I don’t have an overall perception, but I think the ones who’ve impacted me the most are the ones who are very real and honest about their struggles. It’s easy to “idolize” anyone in any position if they appear to be totally put together and perfect in every area. But when people are honest, when they share some of the struggles they’ve endured, then others identify with rather than idolize them.
As for whether leading a ministry of their own is a job for pastor’s wives, I think that’s up to the woman. Who she’s married to doesn’t have anything to do with what her personal gifts are, there are plenty of ways to serve and we are all called to that.
My father is a minister, my uncle is a minister, my brother is a minister, my husband is a minister and now my 2 sons are also ministers. (I guess you could say that we are in the “family business”.) I have seen the ministry from all sides – in and out.
The hardest part of being a Pastor’s wife to me is walking in love toward the people who are attacking and fighting against my husband. I try to see them as God sees them and love them as God loves them.
It is also important for me to be happy with myself and know my strengths and weaknesses. To be okay saying “no” and “yes, I’d like to….”. I do not feel that I have to be everybody’s friend and be involved in everything that goes on.
I feel that being a pastor’s wife is just as much a calling as being a pastor. The wife has the ability to help build or destroy the ministry of her husband. It is extremely important for her to build up her husband in private and in public. What SHE says will impact how others see adn receive him.
The wife is the glory of her husband and it really shows in the ministry!
WOW! What a question!
I have to agree with everyone else that one of the biggest challenges for me is loving peoople who hurt and accuse and plot against my husband. It is especially hard when I know a person is talking so ugly about my husband and me behind our backs but act like they love us to our faces……that is hard!
It is also hard for me to know what to say to people in that moment when I hear them saying things that are incorrect about my husband or about something at church or even something that is biblically wrong. “Speaking the truth in love” is a very hard concept for me. Knowing when to speak and when to be quiet. I do know that speaking would only come with God’s guidance – but still it is hard.
What would I tell a new ministry wife?
Be careful who you REALLY talk to. LOVE the people in your congregation and give them your all but also know that your closest friends – the friends who you can really air your dirty laundry to are NOT going to be in your church typically.
Secondly, I think I went into being a preachers wife thinking that all the girls my age would want to be my friend – would want me to be their friend. I’ve found this untrue and rather disheatening. I’m not sure if that is a personal thing because I thrive on deep relationships or if that is just a standard. SO I might make mention of this.
Let me know what your outcome is!
I’d especially love to hear what you find out about what people think of thier pastor’s wives………=)
and please tell me you are writing a study for pastor’s wives…..=)
well, i am a wife in ministry, but not a ministry wife……….. if that makes sense. It seems to me the larger the church i have been to the less accessible the minister’s and wives are. untouchable at the really big churches. my fault, their fault – i am sure both!! it is a really strange dynamic… i do see a lack of trust on both parts. many of it on both sides can be justified, but still not of the Lord. ok – that is all i know…
have a great day! Leigh
Let’s see, where do I begin…
For me the most difficult thing has been learning to share my man with so many others. People need him and it is sometimes hard to remember that.
Second, I have learned to love the flock the Lord has given us. I asked the Lord to give me a love for these people that only He can give…and He did. Is it always easy? NO. Is it possible to love them like He loves them? Absolutely. And they will love you right back. Also, be yourself. Learn from the godly examples the Lord has given you and then be who God has called YOU to be.
Most importantly, do everything you can to be an encouragement to your husband. You have more influence in his life than any other person. Ask the Lord how to be what your husband needs. Pray for him. Be his biggest encourager.
Yep the hardest thing is definately getting over what people say about your DH. I would rather somebody say something hard about me than him. And again I agree the 2nd part to that is getting over it enough to be able to love them without holding a grudge.
My advise to a new MW would be:
1. Don’t feel as though you have to jump in and ‘do’ everything you ‘think’ is expected of you. When starting into ministry for the first time or changing churches I would say the healthiest thing you can do for yourself & family is to not commit to anything for the first year – other than love and support your man. Then after a year start to ask the Lord where HE, not everybody else, wants you to serve and slowly get involved if you feel led. Lots of MW think they have to be all things to all people – hello – been there done that – never works.
2. Be truly satisfied with what the Lord thinks of you and not what others may or may not think of you.
3. Be wise with friendships, don’t assume that the first person to show any kind of friendship towards you will be the one God has sent to entrust your heart with. I fell into that trap and realized that some people just wanted to be my friend b/c I was the ‘pastor’s wife’ and not because I’m Shelley.
4.Be one who has her face and heart in the Word ALWAYS – make sure your first priority is a vibrant, living relationship with the Lord, – it’s the only thing that will get you through.
5. Take every opportunity that comes to belly laugh with you man -you both need it.
I’m new to your blog… pleased to meet you, Lisa.
This post rang a bell with me, because some time ago I wrote a piece called “Your Pastor’s Wife: 25 Ways To Care For the Lady Who Loves” here. You might be interested to know that it’s among my most googled-for posts ever. People do care about their preacher’s wives, and it shows!
Bless you for addressing this issue in more depth. Hugs, e-Mom
The most difficult thing? When dealing with difficult people, not speaking what is on your mind without praying and/or sleeping on it first. Some people just ask for it … no … BEG for it but it’s usually best to let it go and leave them with a ‘bless your heart’. Also, being super careful about not being negative about your husband around church members. Things like what married couples deal with aside from ministry (the messed up plumbing, the all day football marathons, the little spat you had the day before) are all a part of marriage but are hard for other people to seperate from the ‘Minister’. It goes back to the “I can talk about my family but YOU can’t” rule. People need to know you aren’t very different from them but they don’t need details.
What new MW’s need to know? That their husband is no longer on a 9-5 shift. Ministers are on call all day every day. You may have to cancel your own plans if there is a church emergency. It happens. Be flexible and understanding.
Toughest… I echo many above; it is incredibly hard to have people criticize your husband and then still serve them lovingly. It can seem that the every member of the entire congregation has their own individual job descriptions for him!
For newbies… be the safe place for your husband. Allow him to come home to a peaceful place where he is loved deeply and accepted fully. He will be hurt and attacked on every side at times; don’t let it come from you. (Sadly, it took me a while to learn this.)
I’ve been stalling in responding to this post, mainly because I wanted to think and pray through it for a few days.
The one thing I have learned that I think I would want to pass on to another MW – or perhaps a new MW is this…
With every fiber of your being, do whatever you can to educate yourself on the magnitude and intensity of the warfare that will be a part of your lifestyle when you or your husband serve the Lord in fulltime ministry.
Although God’s Word tells us that our battle is not against flesh and blood…and that in the end times the battle will intensify…and even Jesus himself said…”In this life you will have many troubles, but take heart, I have overcome the world”…I have to admit that throughout my own ministry career and that of my husband’s…the MAGNITUDE & INTENSITY of the battle, at times, (like every day…ha ha :-)) has really exceeded what I anticipated. Just a little honesty there.
I’m not being pessimistic – nor am I trying to deter any ministry wife from answering the call of God upon her life or staying in the fulltime ministry battle – because “if God is callin’ ya, he’s callin’ ya!”…AND HE NEEDS YOU IN THE BATTLE. However, He does expect us to be as responsible as we can in our lives and he also tells us to seek Godly counsel when necessary and I think that talking to a mentor couple (like someone who has been in ministry like 15-20 years) about the specific struggles/warfare experiences/situations they have faced would be GREAT for a MW (and even her husband) at any time in their journey – and more specifically for those who are just about to enter fulltime ministry, etc.
And that’s it! Have a great week! :-)
I think the most difficult thing is the preconceived ideas of what a minister’s wife should look like, dress like, which ministries she should be involved in. When I first married my hubby 12 years ago, I just wasn’t sure this whole ministry thing was going to work (just being honest). I’ve never felt like I fit the “role”. But thank goodness, God has made me comfortable with who I am, and has encouraged me to be strong enough to be what He has called me to be in ministry, not the preconceived ideas. Now in the direction that He has led us, that preconceived idea is not there as much anymore (meaning, in the style of church we are in now, compared to the more very traditional background we both came from). Not that one is good, better, or best–it’s just different. My ministry is the support for my husband with this new church that God has blessed us with. I’ve learned to say NO to anything else. At this point in time, what I’m doing is what God is leading. For new minister’s wives, that would be my advice. Do what God calls you to do–not everyone else. Otherwise, you will wear yourself out doing things that you may not be gifted or called to do and in the end, you’re no good to anyone, and only hurting yourself.
Hi! I’m a pastor’s wife…and what I would tell a new pastor’s wife is “Enjoy, flourish, and grow in the calling God has for you! And that calling is primarily to be a wife to your husband, a mother to your children, and after that, to be an example to the women in your church of the kind of woman God wants all women to be.” Not to be a “SUPERwoman” but to be real – growing and alive in your personal walk with God.
The hardest thing in ministry (obviously subjective) is to forgive as Christ forgives.
I think you missed an important question as well. Not only should we share what is tough about ministry, but what is the greatest thing you’ve experienced about being a pastor’s wife! Because there are positives as well – we just don’t talk about them.
For me, some of the greatest things about being a pastor’s wife is being able to share my faith with others, the spiritual oneness with my husband, and the instant bond with all you sisters!
I am from a pastor’s home and when he would go to a new church he would tell them “you are hiring me; not my wife. Her main role first is to take care of our four children. God will lead her where she is to serve; not sister “so and so”. I married an Evangelist who is so great; he lets the Lord lead me where to serve; no ties. Learn the word “no” if you truly know this is not where God would have you to serve. Whatever God has called you to do; do it with all your might as unto HIM. It’s a joy (usually) to serve in a church. Also, get to know the other staff wives and agree that the men’s “business” stay at church and won’t affect your relationship; if at all possible. Guard your children. Let it be known quickly that your children are no different and will be treated no different than anyone else’s.
The hardest part for me has been my husband can be focused on the church and other people that I feel left out. Through time (20+ years), I have come to attend things I am comfortable attending “by myself” and going home or staying home with items that I am not. Others have a choice — I determined that so do I. As a result, I enjoy what I am involved in and give it all that I have.
I recommend to all spouses of pastors to determine what you want to do in your love for the Lord — and that is what to become involved in. Do not get pressured into activities or events that make you uncomfortable (because they really are not your gifts or where God is leading you.) Of course, we can’t sit back and stay in a comfortable place all the time for we need to grow by allowing God to stretch us. However, let God do the stretching — not sister-so-and-so.
Most of all, seek the Lord our Maker in your own relationship. Pray without ceasing — and recognize good and bad do come. Find outside sources of strength — not just people within the church your husband is serving.
Peace of the Lord Jesus be with all of you as you work in ministry for Him!
I am a bit late in posting as I am new to Blogville, USA. First, thank you for your blog. What a blessing to stumble upon it and read what other PW’s are saying! I am not ALONE! :)
One of the hardest things for me as a PW is what others have noted: fighting bitterness, hurt and resent when your husband is bashed. Secondly, time managment is always a challange. I have to remember that I am THE Pastor’s wife, not the church’s wife. (that is what I would tell new PW’s as well! Be The King’s daugher first, A Helper Suitable 2nd, mother to your children 3rd, etc. I would also tell them to schedule dates with your hubby on a weekly basis..even if just for a cup of coffee or a walk around the block)
Lastly, I guess I find it hard in the “fishbowl” to juggle being friends to all, yet feeling isolated too. (Though,we always LOVE them as Mindy commented..thanks Mindy!) How do you be transparent to all, yet be careful what you share at the same time (knowing some will throw you under the bus)??
I saw someone encouraging you to write a study for PW/MW’s??? I second that!!!
But all, in all, I praise The Lord for this High Calling my husband and I have!! I wouldn’t trade it for any wordly success.
Thanks! Looking forward to reading more in the days to come! Will keep you in my prayers.
I’ve been married to a pastor for almost 8 years. We are in youth ministry, and as a teenager, I independtley felt called to be in ministry. I thought I was prepared for what the road entailed. The hardest thing is being caught up in the result oriented mentality of success. For example: If we have a certain number of students in a servcie, I feel energized and purposeful. If our number dips below a certain line, then I feel angry, resentful, and ineffective. I wish I could get to the place where I am just confident that God called me and leave the numerical growth to him. It is hard not to get caught up in the “good enough” mindset when you look at other places and see peoples success in ministry.