Are you a pastor’s wife, or the spouse of someone in ministry?
Do you wonder about your role in ministry, your marriage, and how your children will do as PKs? I’m sure you have some amazing, fantastic days, and days are are ready to throw in the towel and check out Indeed.com for job postings. (Maybe that’s just me.) We all have our times when the task simply seems too big and too hard.
After almost 20 years in ministry, 20+ years of marriage, 5 children who are PKs, 35+ foster children, hours and hours of ministry together, and yes a fight or two with my husband that he has another meeting AGAIN, times of feeling incredibly inadequate, and swearing off church with babies until they turn 10, I have learned a few things about what it’s like to be a pastor’s wife.
Check out the helpful resources I have available for you.
(If you are reading this and you aren’t the spouse of someone in ministry, thanks for reading along! Please go hug your pastor’s wife, youth worker’s wife, or other ministry spouses. They have such an important role in building up your church. I often say, we don’t realize how important a good pastor’s wife is, but think of it this way. Nothing will bring a church down faster than a bad pastor’s wife.)
I’ve had the awesome privileged this week of attending Best Ministry Practices Conference in Phoenix, AZ. I’m refreshed, invigorated, and renewed for the work of God’s kingdom.
While here, I presented 3 sessions for Church Worker’s Spouses. All the materials, the power point slides, the handouts, plus additional links to books and resources I recommend are available on this page:
Church Worker’s Spouses Resource Page
Church Worker’s Spouses: Yourself
See the powerpoint for this presentation here.
The role of pastor’s wife can be tricky. There is no set job description. No official title or paycheck.
Yet are there expectations? Definitely. Sometimes, the highest expectations are those you set for yourself.
What are God’s expectations of you as a church minister’s spouse?
I believe this is God’s expectation of you:
Your role is to be an awesome wife to your husband.
That’s it. The sum total of your job description. Your husband has a high calling, with great responsibility. (See 1 Peter 5:1-5, James 3:1, 2 Timothy 3) He needs your support more than anything.
There are 3 primary ways you can support your husband:
- Your service
- Your self
- Your attitude
Your service is how you serve God where you are. Consider your spiritual gifts and your husband’s. Often conflict arises when your husband is serving in an area that is where you have strong spiritual gifts.
Your self is you being real. Do you put on a facade with your congregation, or are you real? Be challenged to be your true self. The church needs this from you and your husband needs this, too. Whatever fun, silly, weird, sweet, gentle things make you YOU are worthy of being seen.
Your attitude is if you have allowed bitterness to creep into your heart. This is an area where Satan most works in the hearts of the spouses of church workers. You get hit hard, sometimes. Like in any family, people in the church family are mean. (As Pastor Jeff Shrank says, “Sometimes, sheep bite.”) Your husband works long hours during what is primary family time. You may feel used and neglected.
Yet this is your calling. You are married to a man who has been called from God. Ephesians 4:31
Church Worker’s Spouses: Your Marriage
See the powerpoint of this presentation here
Instead of thinking of your time spent invested in your marriage as something to be balanced with ministry, consider this:
Your healthy marriage strengthens your ministry. Your investment in your marriage is an investment in your ministry.
People today need to see healthy role models of healthy marriages. There aren’t that many out there, friends. Husband and wives who love each other, parent together, and work through the tough times. You don’t have to hide all the hard. Show that the hard is there, and you are sticking it out. This encourages other people that they can make it through their hard times, too.
Don’t assume that Satan won’t attack your marriage. He will — with a vengence. The last thing the enemy wants to see is a strong Christian marriage, especially one of a ministry family. He will do whatever he can to bring you down.
We discovered that our 19th year of marriage was the toughest, and it caught us off guard. Never assume your marriage can coast along without attention.
Church Worker’s Spouses: Your Children
click here to see the powerpoint of this presentation
Pastor’s Kids (PKs): Are they destined to become prodigals? Or missionaries?
As a pastor’s family, you worry about your kids. How will they do growing up in the fish bowl? What affect will it have on them as people, and on their family?
Barna Research group did a fascinating study of this very subject. Check out the complete study here. Their conclusion?
Pastor’s kids are…NORMAL.
Whether you take this as a positive or a negative (and I see it as some of each), the statistics show that pastor’s kids behavior is in line with other millennials. They tend to go through a period of doubt, and many do leave the church, although most continue to claim Christian faith.
From the research, three ways that parents who are in ministry can better support their kids:
- Show them Jesus
- Spend more time with them.
- Let them be normal kids.
Gathering from surveys of pastors with grown children who expressed both what they felt they did successful and their regrets, you can be mentored from their wisdom.
Show your children Jesus (not just talk about it at church). Your children, more than anyone else, see your good and your flaws, and are quick to pick up on what they feel is hypocritical. Show Jesus in your home and life.
Not spending enough time with their children was the number one regret of pastors. It begs the question, are church workers investing more time in other people’s families, and not enough with their own? Keep in mind your church will have other pastors after you, but your kids only get one you.
Finally, let your kids be normal kids. Kids who attended churches with fewer expectations to live up to an unrealistically high moral standard seemed to stay with their faith.
For this presentation, we asked our 5 kids (ages 7-19) what they thought of being pastor’s kids. We were open to hearing all about the positives and negatives. (See the powerpoint for some quotes of what they said.) We are incredibly blessed that all 5 of our kids, while they have had personal challenges and struggles (as we all do), attend church without battle and have embraced faith in Jesus as their own. They had positives to share about being PKs.
Never underestimate the importance of your role as the spouse of a church worker. You are so incredibly valuable to to your church and to ministry. What you do matters and you are important.
Sara @ The Holy Mess says
Thanks for your comment, Sarah. That is a lot of generations of pastors! My husband had considered chaplaincy at one time. He went through a couple years of the classes. Does your husband enjoy being a chaplain?
Thank you for the encouragement. I am a 3rd generation pastor’s wife (as well as a PK), so I have had two very different role models for what a pastor’s wife should be. My role is very different as my husband doesn’t serve a congregation. He is a full time institutional chaplain, which comes with its own joys and challenges. I am always looking to learn more about how to be a better helpmate to my husband and a better mommy to my 5 1/2 year old.
May God bless you in all you do,