9 Things Your Pastor’s Wife Wishes You Knew About Her
My husband and I sometimes play a game called backstory.
We see someone in a restaurant or a store and we try to make up a convincing story about their life.
We see a man in a suit and say, “He is an attorney. He has a trial at the courthouse down the street. He just ducked into this cafe to grab a quick bite while the court is in recess.”
Or we see a couple on a date and say, “This is their first date. He is sweating from nerves. He just got a haircut today because he wants to impress her. She doesn’t care much about the date. She’s wearing comfortable shoes, and she’s checking her phone every other minute.”
Sometimes it’s easy to guess someone’s story. Sometimes it’s not.
I always wonder what people think my story is. When they see my kids and me are they thinking, “This lady has got it together. She must have been a drill sergeant in a former career.” Or do they look and think, “This lady needs a nap and some therapy.”
I feel like when people hear that I’m a pastor’s wife they write a story about me that is far from reality. I know what I have thought about some pastors’ wives that I’ve known. “They are so perfect and sweet. They really have it all together. God must have given her a special blessing.”
If you’ve thought things like that, I hate to break it to you… she isn’t, she doesn’t, and He didn’t.
Here are 9 things your pastor’s wife wishes you knew about her.
1. She’s not perfect
She may appear perfect. Her hair may always be perfectly coifed and her smile as constant as gravity, but she isn’t perfect.
She has deep-seated insecurities just like everyone else. She is trying really hard to hide them because her position brings her under a special sort of scrutiny.
She is trying to set a good example for the women in your church, and while she may be a great example, she isn’t perfect.
And she really wishes she could trust you with her imperfection.
2. Her husband’s not perfect
He isn’t. Sometimes you get mad at your pastor and so does she. She probably won’t tell you that he isn’t perfect, but she tells him. If she is a good wife, she is working to make him a better disciple and better pastor because he isn’t perfect.
You may think that he is perfect, and she might let you think that. But I promise if you are singing his praises, she might be saying, “If you only knew.”
The reality is that one day you might know. One day, your pastor’s imperfections may be put on public display. If you have built him up as perfect, it might really shake your faith. So, trust me. He isn’t perfect, but he’s trying his best to be good.
3. Her kids aren’t perfect
She works really hard to put on a show with her kids because it is a great defense against the attacks that people will make against her family. Experience has taught her this.
Somewhere in your congregation, there is someone who is angry with your pastor. It may be for something serious or something trivial. That angry person will take whatever shot they can at your pastor. Including the appearance and behavior of your pastor’s family.
I once heard a man say, “How can we trust him to lead our church when his son can’t sit still through church?”
It didn’t matter that he was confused about which little boy was my son. It didn’t matter that my son has sat quietly in church since his third birthday or that he can recall my husband’s sermons better than my husband can.
That man saw an opening to hurt the pastor and he took it. Many pastors’ wives have been through this and feel like the only way to stave off these attacks is for their kids to seem perfect.
4. She’s lonely
Her husband is her best friend, and sometimes her only friend. They have likely been through numerous years, moves, and jobs together, but he is often absent.
He has many important responsibilities that call him away from her, and it creates a lonely life for her. She would love to have a circle of friends, but it’s very difficult for her. Would you want to invite a perfect woman over for a girls’ night? Do you want to hear her complain about your pastor? Do you want to drink wine in front of her?
Sometimes the pursuit of holiness leads to loneliness.
5. Being friends with anyone is risky
Friends share intimate details of life with each other. Bearing each other’s burdens is part of the currency of friendship. For a pastor’s wife to share can be very risky.
I have had many friends share with me that they are concerned about a habit of their husband. You have likely had a similar situation. You hear that he has a habit of drinking, smoking, dipping, cussing, yelling, etc.
You pray for him.
You give her some advice.
You check with her often to see how things are going.
You don’t tell anyone because it isn’t anyone’s business.
When it’s the pastor the story is different. Someone hears that he dips. It’s everyone’s business because of his position. They tell someone who tells someone else, and he is sending out resumes for a new position.
6. She’s not an extension of her husband
At my husband’s first church as senior pastor, one of the deacons called me “Mrs. Chip” (my husband’s name is Chip) or “Preacher’s Wife.” In the four years that we served at that church, I don’t think that man ever said my name.
And y’all that hurts.
Your pastor’s wife works hard even if you don’t see it. But chances are, you do see it because most pastors’ wives are fantastic workers.
It means the world to her when you put her name on cards and thank her for her work. Sure, she’s proud to be the preacher’s wife, but she’s also a person just like you who likes to be recognized for her contributions apart from her husband.
7. She’s not on staff
She’s a volunteer just like everyone else. She doesn’t have keys to everything. She isn’t responsible for everything. She doesn’t have authority over much of anything.
She can’t fire the janitor. She can’t replace a Sunday School teacher. It isn’t her job to get the youth minister to tuck in his shirt or cut his hair.
She gets tired just like everyone else.
She does not have some special joy in showing up for Saturday morning workdays at the church. She is a regular person who is voluntarily giving up her time.
8. She doesn’t know
Your pastor’s wife knows a lot of things about the church, but chances are she doesn’t know everything.
She doesn’t know when the a/c will be fixed, when that leak will be repaired, what the mowing schedule is, or what was going on with the sound system on Sunday morning.
She is probably doing her best to stay in her lane and keep up with all the things that she’s responsible for and to help her husband remember his responsibilities. She cannot possibly know everything.
And sometimes it hurts her feelings that people ask. She sees people coming to talk to her after church and assumes they want to know about her when in reality they’re coming to get an update on the latest building project. This only amplifies her loneliness.
9. She’s alone a lot
Most pastors work a lot of hours and they’re often not the typical 9-5.
Pastors often miss bedtime with their kids. They are usually gone on Sunday mornings long before their kids are ready. They spend hours writing sermons and are constantly on call. Hospital visits, bereavement calls, and church meetings often take place after regular working hours. There are many missed dinners and changed plans.
This leaves your pastor’s wife alone a lot.
Unless she has kids. Then, she’s not alone, but she is pulling double duty on parenting.
So if you see her struggling to load her kids after church, help her. Her husband is likely busy helping someone else.
In conclusion, only you know what you see when you look at your pastor’s wife.
You may see her as a saint or a sinner.
You may know part of her story, but there are probably many things you’re missing. It may be something listed here are one of a hundred other things. The most important thing for the sake of your pastor’s wife is to let her story be enough. Let her, with all her failings, her history, and her fears, be enough.
What do you think your pastor’s wife wishes you knew about her? Tell us in the comments!
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