Wife of the Pastor, Who is SHE?
Pastor’s wives in all cultures often ask themselves: “Who am I”, Where do I fit in the church?, Where is my niche?” Often they are underpaid, under-appreciated, and misunderstood. They may be criticized, ostracized, and patronized. The pastor’s wife may be lonely, feel desperately inadequate, and have huge expectations placed on her just because she is the pastor’s wife.
Some pastor’s wives feel obligated to turn up at church every time the door is open. To go to every meeting, help at every event, attend every wedding, funeral, and baptism, and visit every sick and old person in sight! If they don’t do this, they don’t feel good about themselves.
It isn’t a matter of how much Christian activity we can generate, or whose expectations we can meet, but rather how well we know, love, and serve the Lord. God created us, painted us with the colors of our culture, and crafted us marvelously for the special calling He had in mind for us to do. So what is the calling of a pastor’s wife?
Called to relationship with God
God made the pastor’s wife, first and foremost, for relationship with Himself. This is our primary calling. It is to Him that I am accountable, before any other creature on earth. My responsibility is to nurture and care for this relationship above all other relationships.
My love for God drives all my spiritual activity in my life as a pastor’s wife. Because I love Him, I want to witness and lead others to Christ. Because He came as a servant, I want to serve others. He bore other people’s burdens, and I want to do the same. The more I spend time with Him, the more I want to become like Him.
I nurture this primary calling by knowing Christ through the Bible. I have a passion for the Scriptures because I am hungry for God. That is where I get my marching orders, my satisfaction, my joy and my delight. His living words lift me up when I’m down and strengthen me when I don’t think I can face the tasks ahead of me. In order to serve the church, I must first serve the Lord.
Called to Relationship with her Husband
As she submits to Christ, it becomes second nature for the pastor’s wife to submit to everyone else for His sake. This goes for every believer. Submission becomes a mindset for both men and women if they are disciples of Jesus. It is a way of thinking that begins with an attitude of humility.
We who have the wonderful privilege of being married to a man who has a high calling as pastor, elder, or missionary can double our impact by combining our gifts and efforts. Peter said that a believing husband and wife are “Heirs together of the gracious gift of life” (1 Pet. 3:7). They have a common Savior and a common cause serving Christ.
Called to relationship with the Local Church
According to Ephesians, every man and woman is a member of the body of Christ, the church. So everything the Bible says about being a church member applies to the leaders as well as the followers. The wife of a church leader may be a hand, a foot, or an “unseen part” of the body of Christ, but she has talents and gifts to offer as well as everyone else. With this in mind, she should be allowed and encouraged by the leadership of the church to be the woman God has made and gifted her to be, just as all other women in the fellowship should be encouraged.
Called into relationship with the World
Like any other disciple of the Lord, the pastor’s wife has an obligation to share the gospel with those who have never heard it. I find huge opportunities to start a conversation with a stranger and talk about what I do because of who I am—a woman who loves the Lord who also happens to be married to a pastor. Often this leads to useful talks about the Lord. We can capitalize on our visibility because of our position in the church, inviting and encouraging others with gifts for evangelizing and teaching to use those gifts.
Called into Relationship with Self
A pastor’s wife needs to sit herself down and give herself some good advice! She needs, like any other Christian woman, to know how to hear the “whispers of His grace” and be strengthened from within. If she is first a God pleaser, and not a people pleaser, this will work.
How does she do this? By being deeply involved in the Scriptures on a daily basis. She needs to apply the Scriptures to her life and situation. She must ask herself what the particular Scripture she is reading has to do with her special role in the church. What is God telling her to do? Is He giving an encouraging promise, or is He warning about something? When we face a dilemma about some action we need to take, God will talk to us through the Scriptures and direct us.
Called into Relationship with Her Children
One of the worst nightmares of parents in ministry is that our children will be upset or damaged by some of the things that go on in the church or mission. We worry that our children will be put off by the pastoral lifestyle, the lack of money, or the jokes, ridicule of their friends, and become disillusioned with God’s people. They may react to criticism of their parents, or a church split, and determine once they are grown that they will never darken the door of a church again, much less serve the Lord in leadership.
But if your children see you counting your calling a privilege and not a punishment, trusting the Lord through the tough times of ministry, and explaining that the motto of your family is “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” they will be all right.
The children will choose for themselves, but we can do our best to set their sails and head them off in the right direction. And we can pray.
So Who is the Pastor’s Wife?
She is an immensely privileged person, made in the image of God to love and serve Him forever. She is graced with the enormous gift of a husband who loves and serves the Lord as her partner. She knows there is work to do for the Lord they both love, first on earth, and then in heaven. And she loves the church Christ died for and seeks to serve as best she can.