July 30, 2013

What Your Pastor's Wife Wants You to Know

One Sunday after church, an acquaintance asked me, “What is it like being a pastor’s wife? Do you like it?” I didn’t know quite what to say. No one had really asked me that question before and definitely had not asked it so matter-of-factly. And how do you succinctly summarize something that affects every aspect of your life?

I thought about that question long after it was asked—about how grateful I was that she tried putting herself in my position and about how, if given another opportunity,  I would answer her.
This is what I would say:

I want you to know that, in some ways, being a pastor’s wife is no different than being a doctor’s wife or a teacher’s wife. There are sacrifices that must be made and challenges that accompany every job. Just like you, I love my kids, I like spending time with my husband, I feel lonely and overwhelmed sometimes, I need encouragement, I doubt myself, I try my best, I want to enjoy God and know His pleasure, I struggle, I desire relationships with other women, and I don’t always know the answers. I want you to know that I need and desire everything that you do.

I want you to understand, though, the unique joys and challenges that accompany being a pastor’s wife. There are expectations on me simply because of my husband’s job, many of which I don’t have a choice about, whether it’s attending certain events, hosting parties, or being open and available to women. I want you to understand this, not because I believe I am to be pitied or that this is an obligatory role, but because I value and appreciate your grace when I say no or am not available to you.

I want you to know that I am equally as passionate about the church as my husband and equally as called into ministry. My husband’s role looks vastly different than mine, and I am not as “out front” as him, but I am just as involved, concerned, and vital to the ministry God has given us. I want you to know this, not because I’m looking for your validation or appreciation, but just so you are aware that your critical asides about the church or decisions my husband has made feel personal to me.

I want you to know that I am often leading, planning, administrating, or hosting. Most women look to me to carry the conversation, initiate a relationship, answer questions, or create solutions. I want you to know this, not so you’ll think I’m something special, but so that you’ll know that I appreciate when other women allow me to not lead. When others show interest in me or take initiative in ministry, it is refreshing to my soul.

Finally, I want you to know that I consider my role a privilege. My opportunity to influence, teach, counsel, and lead women brings me great joy. I love the people God has given us to serve, and I love serving. It is not always easy to serve joyfully, but it’s my goal and desire, and I’m getting there after 13 years of ministry. In the end, I am not a pastor’s wife because of my husband, because of you, or because it’s expected of me. I am a pastor’s wife for the glory and honor of God.