Survey: The Pressures of Ministry
Since it has been a whole three days or so since I’ve asked you a question, it’s high time you put your survey shoes back on! Laypeople, stick around! I need your help, too.
I’m continuing to work on the Married to the Ministry book and the next chapter I am writing deals with the pressures ministry wives put on ourselves to look and ‘be’ the part. So my question for you is this:
When your husband was first called to ministry, what were your first thoughts about things you needed to do in order to ‘fit’ the role of ministry wife? Did you feel the need to change your style of dress, hair, and/or makeup? Be more submissive and/or pious? I think those two things top my list but I’m certain there are many things you can add.
Also, how has your experience changed from when you were first called to ministry until now as far as what types of pressure you put on yourself? Do you feel your congregation is pressuring you more to ‘be’ or ‘do’? What would you like the congregation to know in terms of their being accepting of your individuality and gifts?
Do you sense your pastor’s wife puts too much pressure on herself to be perfect or fill all the open positions in the church? Do you believe the congregation plays a role in that or is it more something she does to herself? What would you like for her to know in regards to what you expect from her?
Okay, fire away. I really need to hear from you! I’ll follow up with some responses in comments.
Have a great Wednesday!
1. I did buy some “pastor’s wife” type of clothes. Probably after I saw one of the congregation looking at my legs when I was wearing a dress with a pretty racy slit in it did I realize that was a good idea. I also stopped being my regular bossy self – being on the church council, generally helping to run and change the place, and let DH take the lead in church matters.
Our congregation is pretty good about having low expectations of what they will get from me. I am busy working and taking care of the home front so DH can be freed up for more ministry time, and they get that. They do often think I know everything about what is going on with them and the church, and truthfully I pretty much know nothing because what they tell the pastor does not get passed along, for confidentiality reasons. I sort of wish they knew that if they want me to know about and deal with something, they have to tell me directly.
I am a teacher, former deacon’s wife and very involved in the ministry at our church. I really don’t think that I put any more pressure on myself than I already had to be a good church member. I try always to represent what I am on the inside on the outside. I just think that’s important.
I did have a Pastor’s wife that was insane. In a try to do everything kind of way. It was insanely frustrating, if there was an open position, she filled it, never asking for help. It got to the point where she was involved in everything, but not doing anything well because she was being stretched so thin (unnecessarily)! That was so frustrating, and it made me and a lot of my fellow church members feel inadequate, because it was like she thought no one else could do it as well as she could.
So, I guess my message would be: Chill. In most cases, the congregation doesn’t expect anything out of you. But yes, I do think in some cases the pressures that she may feel can come from the church, but if that’s the case, she’s not the one with the problem, the congregation is.
Gosh, does that even make sense?
Lisa—I love that you do this. And before I forget..thank you for your sweet comment on my CWO Cafe post!
Now to the question. I have been blessed—I MEAN BLESSED–we have had the best pastor’s wives. I feel that my pastor’s wife now is pressured…by herself…to be and do so much. She is just a woman, as we all are…and I hate to see someone so precious under stress. But they have had a rough year with deaths in the church/family etc. She has needed to be all things to all people. THAT is a lot of stress! I pray for her and call and check on her frequently. She is awesome…but since both my sisters Wanda and Aimee are in the ministry (well, Wanda is with Jesus–but you know what I mean)–I knew from them the stress the ministry can be trying to please so many people and always trying to think of them and their reaction to everything you do.
So, I probably didnt’ help….but I blabber on and on….as some preachers have a tendency… ;) (kidding :) )
Well… I found your site by accident. I’m really glad I did. It’s awesome!! As a Pastor’s wife -I do feel the anxiety that some woman sitting behind me in church is noticing that I may a have “hole” in my the back of my hair…but I like to let people know up- front a few things: (that way they won’t be as disappointed!) Yes – I really AM this thin, I do not wear a bun or little tiny flowered double-knit polyesterdresses & support hose, and I do not cook or play the piano. If they don’t like me after that, they can just get happy in the same panties they got mad in.
When my husband and I got married, he was already in ministry. So marriage and ministry have always been an integral part of each other. I think it is important to “be” who we are in Christ; then we will be genuine and real in our daily relationships. If I am insecure in my position with Christ, then there is too much focus on what others think of me. I passionately believe that ALL Christian women should aim to be more like Christ; not just the pastor’s wife. And if my life and marriage can be a window (fishbowl!) to help spur other women towards Christ, then “bring it on”! In no way do I pretend to be super-holy. Ha! Far from it. But I am a dedicated follower of Jesus who makes mistakes here and there like any imperfect human, but striving to be more like Him every day. That would be my opinion even if I wasn’t a pastor’s wife.
Lay person here:
I attend a large non-denom. church (about 5000). By the time a church, or any group, reaches that size, the people in charge – Pastor & Mrs. Pastor – have figured out that they need a ‘team’ mentality to keep the ship afloat and accomplish anything in the kingdom. There are things that she is responsible for, but she has as much help as is needed available to her.
I know that anyone can secretly put undo pressure on themselves that no one else is putting on them (my personal flaw) but anytime that there are many eyes are on you – from the congregation – there has to be a certain amount of normal pressure to at least always look “all together” and not undone or frazzled.
(now I’m gonna step on some toes)
I think most of the ministry pressure – for ministry wives at least – comes from folks whose walk with Christ isn’t what it should be. I know that until I allowed Christ to REALLY begin to search the ‘real’ me, and show me all of the logs in my owneye, I wasn’t able to be as compassionate or understanding. Before Jesus really did His work in me, I’d have easily run with the crowd that chose to pick the leadership apart. Now, I’m in awe of their ability to raise a young family and still serve in the capacity that they do and still be able to smile in public!
I say all of that to say this:Pastor’s wives probably do put pressure on themselves to fit what ever “pastor’s wife” picture they have in their heads. But they probably wouldn’t feel the need to be so good at that if churches weren’t filled with Christians who simply love criticism more that they love Jesus.
That will be 2 cents, please :)
As a frequenter of two churches, I actually see two very contrasting views.
Do you sense your pastor’s wife puts too much pressure on herself to be perfect or fill all the open positions in the church?
Church A: Nope, not at all. She’s a “what you see is what you get” kind of person (which I just LOVE), and knows her limitations with scheduling, family and a fabulous job.
Church B: I don’t actually think it’s her putting pressure on herself, but yes.
Do you believe the congregation plays a role in that or is it more something she does to herself?
Chuch A: I think if nothing else the congregation would love to have her participate in more things only because she’s a very wise woman who’s incredibly enthusiastic. But she’s done a phenomenal job at knowing when and where to draw the line.
Church B: I believe the congregation does add alot to her overall opinion of how she should be. She’s your dressed to the Hilt type always sitting with legs crossed, arms neatly folded, etc. It’s obvious it’s “naturalness” somewhat shows only due to adaptation. I don’t think she realizes how stiff and uncomfortable she looks.
*By Hilt I don’t mean Neiman Marcus. I’m talking about the embroidered sweaters with the perfect matching pants, shoes and things like that.
What would you like for her to know in regards to what you expect from her?
Church A: I only expect her to continue what she’s doing in terms of being her genuine self.
Church B: I really don’t think I’m too picky, and this first part is probably going to come across grossly wrong. But a sincere interest in womens spiritual growth would be nice because *I* really think her weight (behind the scenes to her husband or just as a plea to the Council) carries more than that of any other female within the congregation.
And I really do expect her to be herself.
I am a wife of a part time youth and worship minister. When we were asked to accept the position, I remember feeling a new confidence I didn’t have before. I didn’t feel pressured to change anything to fit in with the other wives. I was honored that the elder team/pastors felt us capable of doing the job. I definitely think I am more confident on a Sunday morning since we took the position.
Now, I know my identity is in Christ, and I keep that in perspective of course. But you asked how I felt when we entered into ministry, and that is what stuck out to me!
As for my pastor’s wife, she is an amazing woman, and I don’t think she puts too much pressure on herself. She genuinely tries to reach out to people and be accessible, but she has three children in middle school, and she is real about where she is as well.
I fall into the “Lay People” category. I do not THINK my Pastor’s wife puts too much pressure on herself. As a matter of fact, I give her kudos for keepin’ it real! I know her pretty well because I have been in a weekly Bible study with her ever since I joined my church – just about a year ago. She IS very active in the church – as I guess ALL Pastor’s wives are… but she does say no to things too. She and Pastor both pick and choose which “activities” to involve themselves in — and I think they choose the ones that they themselves ENJOY! I know that they do put in “some” time with every ministry… but they do not participate in every activity! And I myself don’t expect them to — I don’t think our congregation does either.
And I don’t know if I’ve ever commented here before or not — but I do enjoy reading you fairly regularly! :)
I may not have much time until Friday to answer these questions because of the testing we are doing right now at school, but I will be back to comment….might have some time tomorrow!
O.K. Layperson here, here goes:
I think these day’s it’s different then it used to be. In day gone by I think the Pastors wife was expected to fill alot of shoes. Today I don’t think it’s as expected. I’m sure there are still some that think she needs to be it all, but not here. Our Pastor’s wife is a wonderful woman with a heart for prayer, and she’s an awesome artist! She is serving God tremendously in those areas! They need to serve where God wants them to serve, but they are in a unique role, where they need to do some things with their husbands as a team. When a pastor is called, the whole family is called to a certain extent. There are many sacrifices the pastors family needs to make.
BTW, I’ve left you an award over at my blog, because you’ve blessed me so much!
When I met my husband I knew he wanted to be a pastor, I hesitated a little, I came from the “grunge” generation and growing up my pastors wife was perfect (beautiful, she could sing, teach a women’s group or Sunday school class with a smile and never break a sweat) That was not me.
It took me a while to realize that God did not want me to try to be someone else or try to live up to imaginary expectations from those in the church but He also did not want me to stay the same. I guess I am still learning daily, I hate when I am late to things, I hate that I do not have the Bible memorized, I hate that I get stressed but I love to look back and see what God has done in my life in the last 13 years.
As a lay person, I would say that yes the pastor’s wife needs to be involved, but not so much that she can’t be normal. So many obligations often times take the focus away from why one is really there in the first place. Get in the groups that you are passionate about and encourage others to get involved. Lead by example, but not so much that you run yourself ragged.
I think a pastor’s wife can put pressure on herself, but I also think a lot can come from the congregation. A lot of jobs tend to get put on the pastor’s wife. I think the congregation expects too much out of her. Just because she’s a pastors wife doesn’t mean she’s Super Woman!! In Romans 12, Paul talks about the gifts we have in Christ. God has given us all a gift to further his kingdom whether we know what ours are or not. The congregation should step up and do their part, and not put it off on someone else.
Layperson here: I don’t expect anything from the pastor’s wife except to do only the things God calls you to do. We put so much on the pastor and his wife and that isn’t our place. My best friend is a pastor’s wife and I have told her what I am going to say, don’t fill a position to please the church or because no one else has done so and I know this is hard but God will deal with those who demand of you what he doesn’t and the main thing, be real. My friend has caught some flack over this but she doesn’t succumb to the pressures of man or woman and she truly does the things God calls her to do regardless of what people think. I hold in high regard minister’s wives because I am in the trenches with her and I know what you all face. Praying for you all!
I’ve just found your blog/bible study and so far have enjoyed the first lesson. Thank you for offering this!
When I went to your blog, I saw the question to pastor’s wives and had to answer………………I’ve been a pastor’s wife for over 21 years now with 3 wonderful sons and in process of adopting a little one from China. I never in a million years thought that I would ever be married to a Pastor! I was not prepared for this, but have had a great time with it. In answer to your question, I remember the very first thing that I decided needed to change to make me more “pastor’s-wifely” – I had one ear that was pierced 3 times and the other only once. I removed that 3rd earring on my wedding day, even though I was not one to wear anything other than very simple, tiny diamond studs in those holes (you had to look real close to see them). It just seemed a bit too MUCH for a Pastor’s Wife (and I was a Youth Pastor’s Wife at that time)………………….Funny what we see as “too much” when we are newly married and young! Nowadays, I wish that I had that 3rd hole back – and I’m too afraid to re-pierce it! I would also LOVE to have a simple, very tiny, diamond stud in my nose (one that you can barely see). NO, I’m not a rocker or a wild woman – far from it, in fact. However it all seems too silly now………………
I’ve come a long way since that wedding day – mostly because we have pastored some GREAT churches and there have been very few times that I have felt that I had to do or be something that I wasn’t. I have been so blessed by the women in these churches, and how they have been so willing to let me grow and be who I am – even celebrate it! I realize that may not be what so many others have experienced, and I don’t know why I have been so blessed in this area. Maybe because I am stubborn, maybe because I see things a bit differently……….whatever it is, I wish that I knew. Yes, I’ve been hurt by some church members who have said terribly unkind things about me – but you can not dwell on that. There are too many others that are just pure JOY to be around!
In any case, I still wish that I had that 3rd earring…………..or nose stud!!!! Hee-hee! (and maybe the ability to play the piano………………………..nah!)
Pastors Wife here: 1st I have to say thanks to Patty for what she said. She is my BFF and believe me she has truly been in the trenches with me. Oh the prayers she had prayed for me and with me !
I am a rebel so when it came to ‘fitting’ the role of pastor’s wife my goal was to break the mold ! I am not your typical “Pastor’s Wife”. I learned a long time ago that you cannot please everyone and that a lot of people don’t care what the Pastor and his family have planned.They think if they need him then they need him and he should drop whatever he is doing and run to their side. Yes I have issues with that. However I turned that over to God and He helped my husband correctly set his priorities. Praise you LORD ! God also helped me not to get bent out of shape(as much) if my husband had to go somewhere unexpected.
Our present congregation doesn’t want me to do or be anything. They want me to be quiet and sit on the pew. I have had to let them know ‘in Christian love’ of course that I am on this earth to please God and do what He has called me to do and not what they think I should or should not be doing.
When my girls were younger and we were early in ministry I put a lot of pressure on them to be ‘perfect’. I realized that was wrong and I needed to let my kids be kids, godly kids but still kids.
OK I’m stepping down off the soap box sorry I got carried away. LOL
Thank you for asking for our input. With what I have read so far, you should get the info you are looking for.
My husband and I have been in fultime ministry for over 36 years. I believe attitudes and expectations of the pastor’s wife have changed over the years. I received some valuable advice in the very beginning and that was to be myself – to dress, wear my makeup and hair the way I wanted to from the get-go. When we first entered the ministry I did feel the need to be as perfect as possible in everything I did, but I soon learned that made some people (women mostly) feel uncomfortable and inadequate. Being myself and allowing others to do the same and love them unconditionally has been successful for me.
I have learned that working with the congregation instead of for them is better (most of the time). I have tried to not allow anyone to put me a pedestal because you know what happens next – CRASH! Overall, I do not feel our congregation is pressuring me to “be” anything other than myself. There may be a few among the elderly who still have preconceived ideas of what a pastor’s wife should be, how she should look and how she should act. Bless their hearts; I don’t fit that mold too well. As far as what I would want them to know — even though I may be a “Jack of all trades” I am not a master of anything and I know that – it helps keep me humbled.
We have pastored only three churches in two different states during our ministry. When we first started out, we were young and unaware of the cultural differences we would face. (We were not well traveled at the time.) Learning the culture of the area you are ministering in is so helpful. If the differences are not recognized and addressed, misunderstandings and misinterpretation of actions, etc. can cause unnecessary trouble and undue stress. Learning and understanding the culture of your congregation will endear you to them.
Good luck in getting your book finished. God bless you abundantly!
When dh and I started dating [and early married years] he was in the ministry already- [music and youth]and the thing I struggled with the most is the expectation that I know every church members’ name. I”m just so horrible with names and had to work really hard at this…
I found that many times church members expected me to orchestrate [sp?] dh’s ministry instead of going directly to him with concerns…
we’ve been out of ‘full-time’ ministry for many years now – and I think there ARE congregations that put a lot of pressure on pastors’ wives to be super involved in every ministry area, but I hope that our church now accept her [them] as individuals [just like us!] who are gifted in different areas…
I’d like for pastors’ wives to know that I pray sincerely for them to
have a good, dear friend with whom they can share completely bc it is a tough position to be in when you feel like you can’t be completely open with someone for fear of what they might think of you and then judge your husband based on your thoughts or actions.
You have to be what your husband needs first. If he asks you to dress a certain way or do a certain job, then you need to. I see many pastor’s wives dressing and doing for the congregation and they seem to have little interest in what it is their own husband wants and needs.
Remember, you are only called to be his help meet!! He is called to the ministry, not you!
I had to learn this for myself. I am a third generation preacher’s kid and married to a preacher for 25 years myself. I felt pressure as a child to ‘perform’ and my husband liberated me from that! He just wants a ‘wife’!
Preachers wife here!
I married my dh knowing that he had been called into the ministry. He was a music major in college and had a great voice and couldn’t wait to lead worship in a church. He was called to be music and youth minister at a church just weeks after our wedding.
I grew up in a large church with a “perfect” pastors wife and after she left, the new preachers wife wore jeans and t-shirts to our “formal” church. Everyone was astounded that a “preachers wife” would dress like that. It was my 1st introduction to a pw being normal!
I enjoyed my time as a m&y wife(for 8 years) and said, way to many times to count, that I would NEVER be a preachers wife! Well, I’ve been a pw for 7 years now and am really enjoying it.
The biggest pressure I put on myself going into it was being more diligent about personal Bible study. My thought was how could I expect the women of our church to be reading their Bibles and studying when the pw didn’t.
Because of my 1st pw growing up I felt the need to dress the part. But I began recalling other pw’s I had been around & how they were “normal”. So I quickly became as “normal” as I could be, which wasn’t hard because with me it is pretty much what you see is what you get!
I have found that the congregation, mainly the women, want me to be like them, not pious, more holy, just me! They want me to have a spiritual side so that they can come to me in times of need, but they also want me to have a fun-loving, normal side so that we can be friends.
I used to have a hangup about women introducing me to people as their pw instead of their “friend, Julie”, but I have gotten over that. I understand that they are wanting to introduce me as member of the community, not just who I am to them.
I also want to comment on what someone else said about not knowing anything. I too would like people to know that if they tell my dh something that does not mean that he has told it to me. Don’t assume that just because you have told your pastor a confidence or any bit of news that he has told me. Sometimes yes, but overwhelmingly NO! It is an issue I have brought up to him many times, but he really feels that the people are coming to him in confidence, sometimes he will ask if he can share, but most of the time he forgets!
After reading some of the your responses, perhaps I (and others) should be the ones that see things differently. I’m 45 years old and live in smalltown Alabama. I consider myself a very modern woman. However, when it comes to a pastor’s wife – I think, in a sense, they should stand a little bit apart from the crowd. No, I don’t necessarily think they should be involved in EVERY aspect of the church at all, but I do think they should at least show some interest in everything. Our pastors wife doesn’t get involved in anything at the church. She sits on the back row at church and visitors have commented – after attending the church more than once – that they had no idea our pastor even had a wife. Granted, he was called to preach after they were married, so when she says “I didn’t marry a preacher” she is right. But I think she should show some kind of interest in the church and support the members of the church in causes they’re involved with in the name of Jesus. I love this woman. I’ve known her all of my life, but I’ve never understood her relationship with the church. Maybe I’m expecting too much………
My husband is the youth pastor at our relatively small church. When he first assumed that role, I felt that I needed to be careful about my relationships with the young people in the church. It wasn’t all that long ago that I was in the youth group… I had to be careful what I said, how I said it, and how I carried myself. I never talked badly about people, but I wasn’t as guarded with what I said. I think that when your husband is in a “Leadership” position, people are automatically going to be a little bit more critical.
As far as my dress, hair, and makeup go, I didn’t have to change much. I always make sure that when I go out, I would feel comfortable wearing that particular outfit to church. I see no reason to be less modest at any other time than I would be when I’m going to church.
I don’t think our congregation puts pressure on me… they might come to me or the pastor’s wife first if there’s a vacancy in the nursery, but other than that, I think they put no pressure. Thankfully, they realize that, like every other woman, I am just that — a lady, saved by God’s grace. Because my husband is the youth pastor, I am not super woman.
The only way I pressure myself is to make sure that I am very involved in the ministries (evangelism, nursery, music, etc.) and am diligent to read my Bible and study.
I stumbled on your blog for the first time today. I would like to make a comment to the ANONYMOUS comment made: in regard to your Pastors wife that sits on the back pew, can I encourage you to speak love and encouragement into this woman. Just because her husband was called into ministry AFTER they were married does not mean God does not have ministry for her and as a Pastors wife I believe her place is beside her husband as his armour bearer. I fall into that same category as your Pastor…my husband and I have only been in the fulltime ministry of being Pastors for 6 years, we have been married for 26 years. However, as a couple, we have always felt the call of “ministry” on our lives and found ourselves doing ministry in different areas throughout our married life. When God called my husband into ministry fulltime, God also put a burden, and a call on my heart. I had someone ask me “so, what are you going to do differently now that you will be a Pastor’s wife?” and I thought about that and it kind of disturbed me at first to think that I had to be “different” now. But God spoke to my spirit and said…JUST LOVE THE PEOPLE AND I WILL DO THE REST. So that is what I have done, loved the people and God has given me the wisdom, the grace, and the love for the ministry that I share with my husband. Hope this helps you in your efforts.
My husband was already in the ministry when we married. My dear friend gave me some advice that I think about almost daily, she told me to just be myself. So simple but so true!
We are serving at our first church together now and we did something a little unusual during the interview process. During the evening service after my hubbie preached during the am, we had a question/answer time with the congregation.
It was during this time that my hubbie was able to express that he would not and would not allow a church to put any undue expectations on his wife. (that’s my man!) I was able to tell the church that I don’t sing (gasp!), don’t play the piano (what!) but that I could cook a mean chicken casserole! (I really did say that to them!) I also shared that I believe that my husband is my first ministry, family next and then whatever God places is next.
I think this type of upfrontness has help alleviate any problems. Are their some who probably have some unspoken expectations of me, sure. But do I worry myself about it, nah! I’m just trying to live for an audience of one!
Sorry this was so long!
In looking at my pastor’s wife, I often feel like she is criticized because she doesnt fit the traditional roles.
We are a Baptist church, and loving people, and my pastors wife is a great person, but I think people find her a bit…untraditional.
I believe this is something she is aware of, but she has decided to be herself. Most people love her, and a few people dissaprove but I love that she is REAL. She watchest TV, jokes with her kids, and is just NORMAL.
I am a pw of a small inner-city church. Communication is the biggest hurdle I have with the congregation and my husband. I serve the children each Sunday and miss announcements. My husband assumes that I get to talk to every one who came and the congregation assumes that any announcements my husband has already told me. Several conflicts have arised because of this.
I have a younger/less churched congregation is that makes sense. We have approached raising our kids in a way that allows them to be kids-meltdowns and all. When they happen it allows the congregation to see that our family struggles but it is also a teaching moment as we try to handle discipline in a godly way and show by example how a healthy loving family handles conflict. In our neighborhood, most families become abusive physically or emotionally so the opportunity to show them another way has been very beneficial.
I had an epiphany moment earlier today that I thought could carry weight on what I see between the two churches. “Average age”.
Do you think the “average age” of a congregation could have an impact on a preacher’s wife in terms of how the congregation views and expects of her?
In Church A we are primarily young families. Not saying it’s all a young crowd, but a crowd with young children.
In Church B our average age would easily be 60.
I don’t know, but something that may be worth taking into consideration.
Lay person, with way too many churches under my belt…we’re military, and have been through something like 6 churches in the last 15 years…
Many of the pastors’ wives I have dealt with have put too much pressure on themselves. A couple put extra pressure on the younger women in the church, perhaps trying to be the “teacher” or Titus 2 woman.
I LOVE the pastor’s wife we have now…she’s a down-to-earth, real woman who is very clear that she is a human just like us, and struggles in the same ways we do.
Lay person who is on staff checking in. Church size is about 2000, so we have a staff of pastors and wives. I would say our head pastor’s wife does not feel pressure to be molded into anyone else’s expetations. She does not do women’s ministry. Period. She has a full-time career outside the church.
Yp.wife here. I think that i have felt alot of times in the past, at churches we have been at,that there is alot of presure put on any wife that is in volved in ANY type of ministry. I have felt as if they look at me, the way i dress or wear my hair or makeup. The fact that i like my nails and toe nails done, i have been looked at like im a prideful. I can remember even my preachers wife mentioning it one time. It is not that i am pride full AT ALL!! I just like to feel good about myself. My husband and i like to look put together at all times.When we are going to church or just running around doing errons. We like to look our best. I feel there is NOTHING wrong with that at all. I also feel like if you have children, as a pw or a ypw, your children are watched closer than any other in the church. You are watched to see how you will react to them, good or bad. I do feel overwhelmed at times. But then God steps in and assures me, 1)To in all things serve Him and put Him first 2)Pray before you speak 3) Treat everyone as He would have me too (hold your tongue basically is what He means) 4) Do not let things go to far, bother you too much, or be spread through out the congragation before you talk to the one you feel you have been hurt by. Yeah sure, remarks are going to be made about something at sometime or another. But that is to be expected, life is not perfect and we are ALL human. I think like alot of the girls have said here, we have to learn to be ourselves. Love God with all our heart, stay within His will for our lives, be aware of the needs of your husband ahd his feelings,after God…to ALWAYS put your family first, and pray that people will see and accept you the way that God made you.Good luck girls! And Lisa….Thanks for all you say on here and giving us the opportunity to laugh and vent and understand who we are and that it is ok to be just that….Who we are!!
Much love too you and God bless you!!
Can I just say again I can’t wait to read the book? :)
I’ve experienced both extremes, I think. Each church we’ve interviewed at also interviewed me to some degree. I found that interesting.
At our first church I was adored and cared for simply because I was a pastor’s wife. They expected me to pitch in (small church), but celebrated everything I contributed.
At our second church, it was even written into the bylaws that the ministers’ wives were expected to be on the women’s ministry board and attend (BORING) meetings and go to every function. Ugh.
At my current church (large church- 2,800), our senior pastor’s wife has set the tone, I believe. She is there and serves in important ways, but isn’t an “up front” kind of person. I think the size of the church helps; many people don’t even know I’m a pastor’s wife. There are particular people who think I should attend every Ladies’ Salad Supper and are perhaps a bit put out when I don’t, but they are the minority.
In general, I have not felt a lot of pressure. I have known I’ve disappointed people, and there have been plenty of times I’ve gone to things or done things simply because I felt it was expected of me, but I finally have come to the point where I pretty much do what works for me; what fits my personality and life and family schedule.
Layperson here: Our current church has done a really good job of this, and so has our pastor & wife. It’s a very authentic church. Pastor’s wife didn’t grow up in church – became a Christian in college, so she didn’t have a lot of preconceived ideas of what a PW is “supposed” to do. And we don’t have a bunch of elderly folks, so there’s not the history of folks with expectations. We have a lot of folks with varied denominational backgrounds who are members, too, so I don’t know that they all have the same expectations. We’re a Baptist church, but it’s not like everyone’s been Baptist since Cradle Roll days. (And some of you probably don’t even know what THAT is!!)
Our PW also recently got her Master’s in Counselling – not only does she have a job, but the Counselling background gives her a good perspective on human behavior and balance. She teaches the Ladies Class and does a great job with that.
DH was already in ministry when we met, and that was a huge hurdle for me. I did not feel qualified to be an official PW, so i thought maybe i shouldn’t be dating him. i just liked him so much, darn it all! turns out i’m just called to be HIS wife, pastor or otherwise. it’s his job, not mine. and if he takes some time off and bags groceries for a couple years, i’ll still be called to him. dh likes to say that men are called to a task, women are called to a man. he’s probably right. i’ve knew a lot of girls in college who felt God was calling them to be “a preacher’s wife.” they didn’t have a particular preacher in mind usually, just wanted that role. i don’t know what i think about that. it certainly wasn’t that way for me. anyone?
the reasons i felt i shouldn’t be a PW are many. i’m not naturally submissive; i’m stubborn and can hold my own in an argument with my husband. i do submit to him, but to no one else!! i would make a lousy secretary or assistant. too opinionated. too honest, too many doubts about my own faith. i felt like a PW shouldn’t admit to not understanding why some people go to hell, why evil exists, all those things that keep me up at night. dh loves those things about me, though.
it’s funny that someone mentioned piercings and nose rings. i have my nose pierced with a small diamond. dh loves it. i’ve asked him several times if he thinks it’s a distraction, i’ll take it out if it’s a problem. he says i’d better not; he thinks it’s so sexy! i think the piercing was part of my rebellion against the PW stereotypes. it’s the equivalent of wearing a t-shirt saying “i’m not what you think i am.”
we’ve just been married 5 years, and i think it’s actually getting easier. dh is a church planter, which is easier in some ways, b/c there isn’t anyone in our church who doesn’t love the pastor! we didn’t inherit any complainers from a previous pastor. there is a lot of work, but that’s true for anyone in a small church plant, not just the preacher’s family. i encounter the stereotypes more with new people or people outside of our congregation. it’s hard to meet someone new. as soon as they find out i’m a pw, it’s like they stop being real, start trying to seem more pious or something. i don’t want to have that effect on people. i know dh has the same problem when he meets people.
dh told me once that i’m the most important member of our congregation to him. sounds obvious, but it’s a good guiding principle when church work demands lots of time. being home for dinner counts as an important ministry too!
Hi – I am a PK daughter; married to an Evangelists wife/Staff wife. When we married he was already in ministry. When I used to travel with him to meetings; I always wondered “do I have on too much makeup, too much jewelry, yada yada”. I’ve learned in my ripe age of 46 to just be me. I can’t be anyone else but that. I never and would never question my husband publically @ something within the church. If I have a question or disagree; I do it privately. You are pressured in everything you do; it’s sad church has to be that way sometimes; but it is. I had to learn to listen to one … the Lord then please my husband alone. I don’t feel the pressure to “be” or “do” it all within the church. Most of the ladies in our church are so sweet. They have lives, families like we do. I think my worst critic is me :) I would ask our church to just love me; warts and all … pray for me, with me, don’t expect our children to be perfect, let God lead me into what He would have me to do. If I were to be people-led; it wouldn’t be obedient to the Lord. I’ve had to let go (through the Lord helping me) expectations others may have for me. Whatever I do serve in, I serve as “unto the Lord” and do it as best as I can. Love your blog; it brings many thought-provoking questions and I love to hear what everyone thinks. God bless!
Ok, I admit I’m too lazy to read through all 35 comments, so if I am repeating something, please forgive me.
First things first, I’m not a PW (pastor’s wife), but at one point thought I’d be. One thing I think PWs have the hardest time doing is allowing others to see them when they’re weak. I understand that each congregation has their issues, but to perpetuate the myth that PWs have it all together (and if they don’t they better get their act together fast) is one of the greatest things that hinder the growth of the Kingdom today. Once talking to a pastor’s wife, she confided that she had several people looking up to her and she felt she would let them down if they knew she felt her life was falling apart. I, for one, was encouraged to know she didn’t have it all together and when I go through those “falling apart” stages, I remember that she overcame them and that I can too. It is hard because so many of our relationships in the congregations are so superficial and one-sided that PWs and the other women there miss out. Church becomes a lonely place. Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?
Lisa, I don’t know if you remember that PW panel at SEBTS. Remember that one PW advised to put on a smile and go on as if nothing happened? Well I wholeheartedly disagree with that. Sure, smile because Christ is your joy, peace and strength, not because you have to pretend to be strong. Your flesh will have a heyday over that!
Ok, I’m commenting on this post a little late – just stumbled onto your blog and was reading back a little.
First, ALABAMA SALSA??? Come one, they must have some AUBURN salsa out there that I’m sure totally kicks Alabama’s hiney. War Eagle. :)
Second, I’m not a Pastor’s Wife, but I AM a pastor’s daughter. That’s right, I’m a PK. Oh dear, I hear the PK rumors flying through your head even as we speak. My mom is a Preacher’s Wife and YES, she has always felt extreme pressure to be perfect. Mostly self-induced pressure, but still, pressure. She sincerely thinks that if she isn’t perfect (dress, housekeeping, children’s behavior…aka, me and my brother…attitude, etc) then it speaks unfavorably on my Dad’s ministry. I was NEVER allowed to step out of line, especially in public where a church member might see, or the punishment WAAAAYYY outweighed the crime. I was told when I was in high school that if I was ever caught drinking, my Dad would lose his job. So the pressure to be perfect was passed down to me. I lived with that pressure until one day had just HAD IT. I decided what the difference was in being a Christ Follower and being perfect was and my entire life changed. Now I don’t strive to be perfect, I strive to please God and CRAVE good worship. My mom is still stuck in the “perfect zone” – I also realized I can’t change that – I can only pray for that. She certainly doesn’t love my lack of perfection attitude, but in small baby ways, I can see that she’s watching and noticing and making little changes. I pray for, and look forward to the day when she can see herself differently.
Being a PK, I also have a different way of looking at the families of the staff of my church. I understand the “fishbowl” that they live in and can easily sympathize. Absolutely no perfection is expected here. It’s definitely not easy to be a PK, and I have enjoyed it SO much more as an adult than I did as a child.
I was a pastor’s wife for most of my married life. My DH is no longer a pastor.
People who haven’t been in the ministry really have no idea how hard a life it is. The struggle between pleasing God, and people’s expectations is so hard to describe.
We left the demonination we were in because the last congregation blamed us for problems that were there long before we were there. The church board was unwilling to back the pastor. The district threw us away when the church board didn’t want to make needed changes. They thought they could guilt people into attending church. They didn’t want to hear about sin. There were three unmarried couples living together we weren’t aware of when we accepted the position. I don’t care how committed to each other these couples are. Sin is sin. We were costing the district money, and the district didn’t want to lose the money from the church. We were expendable.
I was always aware that, as the pastor’s wife, I was watched and commented on. I was never so watched as I was in the last position. That church had never had a full-time paid pastor. They didn’t understand what a pastor does. We sacrificed a lot to serve that congregation, but they didn’t care. They were totally unreasonable.
I can’t be a pastor’s wife again. It hurts too much to love your congregation, and then have them rip your heart out, telling lies about you and your husband. I can’t trust people not to abuse me or my DH.
I am ill now, and I know that the stress of ministry made my illness worse. I know I may sound bitter, but I don’t feel bitter. I have put it all in God’s hands. He knows we did our best.
I grew up in a “ministers” family. My grandfather was a retired pastor and my father was a youth minister for 28 years and is now a senior adult minister. Needless to say, I grew up around wonderful examples and I truly believe this prepared me for my life as a “pastor’s wife”. I’ll always remember my father telling me that minister’s families are lived in fish bowls, someone is always watching. This visualization has shaped how I act now. As wonderful ministers that my grandfather and grandmother were, I do see differences in their “ministry conduct” than my own. My grandparents wouldn’t promote going to the movies nor would they invite my sister and I to play in a game of cards. My grandmother wouldn’t dare go out in public without her nails done, lipstick on, and heels, for she might see a church member. I might run to Wal-Mart on a weekday and see a church member and they’d be lucky if I put makeup on. Call it a “generational gap” or just change in times. They both have passed from this world however when they were both living, ironically I would find myself being more cautious in my conversation and actions around them than I would my own church family. I didn’t want to offend them with “moderate” talk. I don’t know if I was trying to shelter them or myself. Because of the great admiration and love I had for them both I did not dare want to disrespect them in anyway. I didn’t want them to be uncomfortable due to differences in theology. I think it’s easier for me to be ME in my church family because I am my own entity. Within my biological family, there are certain expectations to uphold that are not as easy to break from.
I have been a PK most of my life and until I married I attended the church that my father pastored. My mother has felt a lot of pressure to act a certain way, say or not say certain things. I know I always felt under the microscope and always looked at how I acted or dressed because some congregations focus on that so much more than others. I really enjoy being a church member and cried the day my husband was ordained as a deacon because of fear of that life following me forever. He is really cool about it but sometimes we catch ourselves mulling over some decisions based on his position, that we had never thought about before.