This post: 10 things every pastor’s wife should know.
I am a pastor’s wife. Ministry is my vocation.
Not to be confused with vacation.
It’s my calling.
Sometimes it’s what I do best.
Other times, I feel like it’s what I’m least equipped to do.
Here’s the Tricky Part
Being a pastor’s wife is hard and wonderful and surprising.
Kind of like hiking up Pike’s Peak on my honeymoon.
The snow-capped mountains in early spring beckoned my young husband and me, promising an epic experience.
Off we went, full of energy and optimism.
We didn’t last a mile.
We weren’t prepared for the challenge.
No one warned us about the weather, recommended hiking gear, or suggested I not wear my favorite pair of Rothy’s.
And sadly, we didn’t think to ask.
Consider This Your Warning
Ministry life is a lot like hiking up a mountain.
Obstacles abound, it gets a bit lonely, and good shoes are essential.
Bottom line: you need a guide.
I still haven’t mastered Pikes Peak. Probably never will.
But I’ve been a pastor’s wife for seventeen years.
Before you haul off toward that glistening peak with your preacher, let me hand over some hiking gear.
The fact you’re reading this post tells me you’re asking.
Here are ten things you need to know.
1. You don’t have to be perfect.
You really don’t.
Embracing transparency as a pastor’s wife is one of my greatest challenges.
After all, who gives us permission to be real?
Bottom line: we have to give it to ourselves.
And give it we must.
Transparency isn’t just about authenticity or saving your sanity. (Although, I feel like those are both good enough reasons.)
But your church family needs you to cultivate a safe space so that they can grow too.
There’s already enough pretense and perfectionism in the church culture; let it end in your corner.
2. You Will Get Lonely
For some reason, this came as a bit of a surprise to me.
As an introvert, I’m not a socially high-maintenance person.
But like every other woman, I long to be known and understood. Those needs are not always met within the context of ministry life.
Sometimes you will feel misunderstood.
Other pastor’s wives may be too busy to listen or connect.
You may experience loneliness in your marriage.
Then there is the loneliness of physical distance from familiar places and family.
Bottom line: we can learn lessons in seasons of loneliness.
3. Every Pastor’s Wife Needs a Mentor
Remember that guide I mentioned?
You need one.
I like the word “mentor,” but you can call it whatever you want.
Find someone who is ahead of you in life’s journey and heading in the direction you want to take (for example, the top of the peak).
Find a mentor, community or fellow mountain climber… and don’t go it alone.
–> Check out my post, How to Find a Titus 2 Mentor.
4. Dress For Success
How should a pastor’s wife dress? She should dress like a woman who wants to make it to the top of the mountain.
Of course, I’m not talking about pulling on a pair of hiking boots on Sunday morning (unless that’s your jam, then go for it!).
Dress for success– like you mean business and have thought this through.
Maybe you’re a relaxed dresser, and maybe you dress as elegantly as the First Lady.
Bottom line: own your style and dress with confidence.
5. Your Marriage Is a Top Priority
Unlike every “normal” job that “normal” men have, your husband’s vocation isn’t exclusive.
You are part of his team.
Even if your church has a staff, and even if you hold down a job separate from ministry life- you’re still on the team.
Ministry works best when both spouses consider it their mutual calling and vocation.
When your marriage and home life are healthy, you can invite others into that safe place for mentoring and influence.
–> Let me recommend two books:
Bottom line: investing in your marriage is an utmost priority.
6. Your Kids Need a Safe Place
Chances are high that the church is not it.
PKs typically grow up feeling like more is expected of them than of their peers.
The most important dynamic is that you are your kids’ safe place.
It’s important to realize that your kids are not “a shining example.” They are kids.
Like all kids they need space to grow, stretch, question, and learn from mistakes.
Make room for your kids’ humanity and personalities.
It’s okay if kids sometimes say they don’t like ministry life. Who says they have to love it all the time?
Give yourself permission to walk a grace-filled journey alongside your children.
(Raising preacher’s kids is hard work!)
Bottom line: preacher’s kids are along for the hike, and they need a patient guide.
7. Control Your Tongue
Preacher’s wives often know too much.
People tell things you wish you didn’t know, and ask questions you don’t want to answer.
Discretion is a concept you need to get acquainted with.
My kids have a running joke in our house about all the times they’d been told, “Don’t repeat that!”
Even the preacher’s kids can learn to watch their mouths.
Learn the art of knowing when to hold your tongue, what needs to be said and when to say it.
8. Self-Care is Essential
Hikers are encouraged to keep it light.
Ministry life is anything but lightweight. That’s why you have to learn to let go of what you can’t carry.
Just this week, my husband and I collapsed into bed on Sunday night (Sundays are tough!) and looked at each other with weary eyes.
“Alarms off?” he asked.
That’s his way of saying, We need rest. Sleep in.
I’m a fan of leisurely hot baths, morning runs, and faithful doses of Dove milk chocolate.
Pastoring during the pandemic weighs especially heavy, which makes the habit of self-care even more important.
Talking to a Christian counselor or therapist helps me emotionally “unpack.”
Bottom line: practice self-care so you can travel light.
9. You Can’t Save the World
But you will probably try.
And it will probably wear you out, burn you out, and make you crazy.
Because God never called you to rescue everyone or fix anyone’s problems.
God is the only One who can rescue or fix.
It will be easy to try to play God in people’s lives, and sometimes people will expect you to.
Love well. Listen well. Serve well.
But live with healthy boundaries.
Bottom line: let God be God so you can be human.
10. You Are a Leader (Like It Or Not)
Most of us prefer our comfort zone.
As a pastor’s wife, God will allow you to be stretched far beyond your natural level of comfort.
You may leave everything familiar and live among strangers.
You may be asked to lead in some capacity within your church or community. If you are a natural “follower,” this will feel hard.
Conversely, if you are a natural leader following someone else’s lead (sometimes even your husband’s!) might be hard for you.
Whatever your personality, resist the urge to stay in your comfort zone.
They may be God’s tools for cultivating lasting growth in your life.
Bottom line: you’ll never reach the mountain peak if you stay on soft ground.
LET ME SEND YOU A FREE Gift:
Self-Care Kit For the Pastor’s Wife
1. Click here 2. Drop your name + email.
- Download the free kit. Join my weekly-ish newsletter and as a bonus, you’ll get the printable!
- Print. Any paper will do the trick, but card stock would be ideal.
- Use your kit to practice nourishing your heart, body + mind (give yourself some time to grow- self-care is a lifestyle).
- Keep your kit somewhere handy- tucked inside a pretty folder or journal, for instance, or on your desk next to your favorite pen.
Here’s a sneak peek inside the self-care kit:
Are you a pastor’s wife? Introduce yourself in the comments below.
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