Letter to a Wannabe Pastor's Wife

A few years ago Holly (my spouse) was invited to write a letter to a "wannabe pastor's wife," to be posted on the True Woman blog. I think her perspective and advice is really good and worth reposting. 

Holly and our youngest child, Abby Taylor 

Even if you're not a pastor's wife, it might give you a different perspective on what is often called "the hardest job in the church." If you're a member or regular attender at Fulkerson Park, it might provide some insight into how Holly and I perceive her role and how we think through ministry decisions and priorities.

Dear Wannabe Pastor’s Wife,

I think it’s great that you would like to be a pastor’s wife! I consider it a huge privilege to be married to a man who preaches God’s Word week after week. I love my husband and am grateful for the ministry the Lord has given us.

Let me begin by sharing our current ministry circumstances. We’re getting close to completing our first decade in pastoral ministry. Brian is in his second pastorate. We’re in our mid-thirties and our children are currently 7, 3, and 2. So, the things that I’ll share reflect the context of a mother of three [now four! - BH] small children.

Sometimes there are unwritten expectations that the pastor’s wife will be a Bible study leader, the church pianist, and a great soloist all rolled into one package–oh, and she pulls this off with the kid’s hair and clothing looking perfect at all times! But we will become slaves to people’s opinions if we order our lives to please everyone else. I have sometimes found myself side-tracked with worries that I wasn’t meeting people’s expectations. Keep your eye on the ball (God’s Word)! I find much peace in going back to Scripture and reminding myself that my real acceptance and security rest in Christ’s grace, not my performance.

When we were interviewed before coming to our current church, we clarified what my role and level of involvement within the church would look like. My role is the same as most mothers with several small children. This church has been extremely supportive and respectful of me in that decision. Biblically, the role of a pastor’s wife is the same as every wife’s: love your husband and children, manage your home well, and be an example to women around you (Titus 2:4-5). Though keeping the home running smoothly may seem mundane, this is an important ministry to Brian. 

We regularly evaluate what I’m doing in the church to ensure that it’s best for our family. I let my spiritual gifting direct many of my choices. I would encourage you to do the same–pastor’s wife or not! My spiritual gift is service, which means much of my involvement is behind the scenes. This, of course, will vary from person to person. We will serve people best if we’ll just be ourselves.

Your main role is to support your husband. This will look different for each family but here are a few suggestions:
1) Watch out for him. You know him better than anyone and have his best interests in mind. If he is overworking himself, lovingly bring it to his attention. Try to find ways to lighten the load. Occasionally, there are seasons where there is no way around the busyness at church. During those times, be his “fun zone!” Be the place where he can relax and not have to fix problems.
2) Give your husband helpful and honest feedback. Brian often asks me for feedback on his messages. When he asks for advice, I try not to shoot off the cuff, but take it seriously. Some Sunday mornings, I am unusually exhausted or maybe one of my children was distracting me. So the problem may have been with me, not the sermon! Take time to think through your opinions carefully to be sure they are wise and accurate.
3) Stand with him when times are tough. Even when you disagree with him, respect him, both publicly and privately. Pray that God will give him wisdom in making decisions. Do not forget the seriousness of his calling. He is bringing the gospel to the church each week.
Here are a few other random thoughts:

• Never gossip. As a pastor’s wife, you will be privy to much personal information. Keep all of it to yourself. Let this knowledge drive you to pray. It is a privilege to have the trust of people and to be in a position to help them. We must guard that trust.

• Grow a thick skin. A pastor almost never gets a 100% approval rating from the church (except maybe during the first month)! There will be criticisms. Try not to take every conflict too seriously. Keep a sense of humor. This is easier said than done, I know. But Jesus will help us when we ask.

• Be careful what you read concerning being a pastor’s wife. There are lots of negative statistics and studies telling how hard it can be. This is not really helpful or useful information. Read people who are positive and offer help for getting through the tough stuff.

I call myself a “weekend widow” because Brian works long hours on Saturday and Sunday! But when I happily “hold down the fort,” it frees him up to do his job. Remembering the eternal significance of what he is doing helps me keep a good attitude.

Thanks for allowing me share with you. If the Lord does indeed call you to be a pastor’s wife, I pray he will give you many wonderful experiences and much joy in it!

Holly Hedges

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