31 Pro Tips for Pastors’ Wives
When my husband and I got engaged, he was a youth minister.
In an effort to prepare myself to marry a minister, I asked the senior pastor’s wife what I needed to know to be a good pastor’s wife.
She told me to “learn to play the piano and stop dressing so young.”
I didn’t learn to play the piano, but I did stop dressing so young mostly because I got older. (I was 18 at the time I received this sage advice.)
Incidentally, I went into being a pastor’s wife feeling very unprepared.
And don’t misunderstand me, I don’t blame Tammy for not preparing me. Being a pastor’s wife is such a multifaceted job, there’s no way she could have prepared me if she’d had weeks to talk to me. Even my own grandma, a pastor’s wife of 50+ years, didn’t give me any good advice.
(For those of you that are curious, Mimi told me to “stay in the Word.” Which is great advice for Christian life in general, but not really unique to being a great pastor’s wife.)
And honestly, I guess more than anything, I was looking for someone to tell me that I was good enough to be a pastor’s wife. That despite my past sins, I could still be married to a minister and bring value to his ministry.
So if no one has said that to you, hear me –
you are a great pastor’s wife.
If you are loving your husband well, covering him in prayer, and helping him in whatever way he needs, you are a great pastor’s wife.
Because your second calling (first is to love Jesus) is to be a good wife.
Your husband is your husband first and a pastor second.
His vocation doesn’t define him or you.
He chose you as his wife so be a great wife and helpmate. That will make you an awesome pastor’s wife.
Having said all of that, there are definitely some things that years in ministry life will teach you.
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Here are 31 great tips for pastors’ wives from pastors’ wives from around the world.
1. Keep a pair of comfy shoes in your husband’s office.
Keep some cute but comfortable (think flats not tennis shoes) at the church. Sometimes you will be stuck at the church longer than you expect and those super cute high heels are going to really hurt. Having an extra pair of shoes at the church that you can slip on and keep truckin’ will save you from blisters.
2. It’s okay to say no.
Just because you’re married to the pastor doesn’t mean you have to also be the children’s director, choir member, tech person, nursery worker, bus driver, and secretary.
Obviously, if you feel called to a certain ministry, jump in there.
But don’t feel like you have to say yes because of people’s expectations. In fact, you should choose very carefully what you say yes to. You only get so many yesses. Make sure to use them well.
If you say yes to everything, you’re not giving your best because you’re stretched too thin. There will always be vacancies at church. You do not have to be the one to fill them. In fact, by saying yes just because someone needs to fill the position, you might be stopping someone who is much more qualified from filling the position.
Related Post: How to Say No: Three Steps to Make More of Yesses
3. Have a weekly meeting with your husband to sync up your schedules.
Nothing will mess up a good week like finding out your husband has a meeting on the night you planned a calm, family dinner. There are a lot of ways to sync your schedules, and the methodology isn’t important. You can sync the calendars on your phones, use Google calendars, have a large family calendar hanging in your house, use paper planners, or whatever.
The point is that you and your husband talk each week about plans for the upcoming week and get on the same page (get it?? because calendars have pages!).
Related Post: The 7 Best Planners on Amazon
4. Be Yourself (Kind of)
This is a two-part tip.
The first part is that you should fully own the gifts and talents that God has given you. Don’t try to mimic some other pastor’s wife or to be the pastor’s wife that you think people want you to be.
God has uniquely gifted you. Use the gifts He’s given you to grow His kingdom.
If you are a terrible singer, it doesn’t do anyone any good for you to step up and lead music. That’s obviously not your area of talent.
So find the thing that you are naturally good at or passionate about and start serving there. You don’t have to be like any other pastor’s wife to be used by God. He didn’t call them to marry your husband or serve at your church.
He called you.
However, let’s be real about who you are. You are a sinner.
Just like me and every other pastor’s wife in the world. So you should be continually seeking progressive sanctification (the process of becoming more like Jesus every day).
That means that you can’t just say, “I’m the kind of woman who’s going to tell people exactly what I think, and they can just deal with it.”
That sort of behavior hurts people and isn’t Christlike. Work on it. Work on you. Admit your faults and celebrate your strengths.
Work to be better at loving people today than you were yesterday.
5. Don’t take on too many positions for the good of the church.
If your husband is called to serve at another church and you’re in charge of everything, you’ll leave a gaping hole at the church. Make sure that as you’re serving, you’re helping to train others to take over.
You should never be irreplaceable. Having the mindset that you should constantly be teaching others to serve like you will help you to make disciples, and it will keep you from getting burned out and overwhelmed.
6. Manage your money well.
You are in a position of leadership and people are looking to you as an example. Be sure that you are honoring God with your money and that people know it.
Related Post: 5 Personal Money Rules for Ministers
7. You don’t have to take the first offer.
Just because a church offers your husband a job doesn’t mean you have to accept it.
Wait patiently on the Lord to reveal where He wants you to serve. I know a lot of pastors that jumped at the first offer and really regretted it because it was very clear within the first few months that it wasn’t where he was supposed to go.
Related Post: 32 Job Interview Questions Pastors Must Ask
8. Choose joy.
It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game when it comes to ministry.
There will always be churches that have better numbers than yours. They may have more people in attendance, a bigger budget, more cars in the parking lot, more people on staff, etc. If you spend your whole ministry striving for bigger numbers, you’ll never be satisfied or fulfilled in the ministry God has called you to.
9. Love your husband well.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the things of ministry life. Because there are a ton of things.
But here’s a truth you need to remember – there will always be a ton of things in ministry life.
When you are serving God, there will always be more ways to serve God.
“He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” – Luke 10:2
And while ministry is certainly a calling, it is also a job. And jobs aren’t your life.
So remember to keep your priorities in the right order – God, husband, kids, church.
Keeping God as your first priority means that your own personal relationship with God is your first priority. It’s easy to get super busy at church and think that you are keeping God first while neglecting your own Bible reading and prayer time.
But right after God is your husband. As your husband. Not as your pastor. So be sure to love your husband well. Figure out his love language and try to do something every day to show him you love him.
Make sure that he knows he is more important than the kids. Be the wife that he married all those years ago.
Related Post: 5 Totally Free Gift Ideas for Your Husband
10. Your family is your priority.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of pastor’s kids who hate the church because their parents spent all their time, effort, and energy on the church instead of them.
And while none of us would knowingly do this, we may be unwittingly putting the church first. Take some time this week and evaluate how you spend your time and energy. Make sure that your family knows they are more important than your church family.
Related Post: Preacher’s Kids: A bad rap or an earned rep?
11. It’s okay to take a season off.
God designed seasons for a reason both in nature and in life.
It’s important that you recognize and use the seasons effectively. And often, that means that you need to take a season off. Unless you are being paid by the church, you should be able to take a break easily. If you find that you can’t easily be replaced in your volunteer positions, you’ve set yourself and the church up for failure.
Find and train a replacement ASAP.
And when your family life gets hectic or your kids need you to be more present or your husband needs you to make your home a sanctuary or you need a break for your own mental health or whatever, you can take a season off.
Related Post: To the Pastor’s Wife Who’s Ready to Quit
12. You need friends in church.
It’s been a pretty long-held belief that the pastor’s wife should be kind to everyone but close to no one.
And while this idea will probably keep you from being hurt deeply by people, it will also leave you incredibly lonely which is a pain all of its own.
In addition, this isn’t what Jesus modeled at all. He had TWELVE friends that he did ministry with for years. And one of them betrayed him. Big time. And Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray him the whole time they were friends and he still chose to pour into him. So make friends at church. It’s worth it.
Related Post: 4 Reasons Every Pastor’s Wife Needs Church Friends
13. Vulnerability is okay.
Following up on the last point, it’s okay to be vulnerable. Yes, it’s scary.
But it’s also what Jesus modeled for us. So please don’t avoid all real relationships because you think it’s impossible to be friends with people if you’re married to a pastor.
Your life is not your husband’s job.
Yes, it’s a huge calling, but it shouldn’t be a lonely one.
You need people in your life who are your tribe just like every other human needs people in their life. Being married to a minister does not enable you to live life alone. And don’t say you’re not alone because Jesus is your bestie. Jesus had TWELVE besties aka disciples who he did life with, remember?
Related Post: The Pastor’s Wife and Vulnerability as a Ministry
14. You will be hurt by church members.
It’s a hard truth that makes it difficult to be vulnerable and have friends in the church.
I’ve heard more than one pastor’s wife say, “Sheep Bite.”
But here’s the thing about being hurt by church members – it really shouldn’t be so shocking. Guys, they’re sinners too.
Just like you.
It should be the same as being hurt by a co-worker. These people are your co-workers. They’re supposed to be out there in the fields planting and harvesting with you. And whenever there’s a job to do, there’s disagreement about the best way to do it.
It’s okay to not get along with every single person at church.
If When someone hurts you, love them anyway and MOVE ON.
Yes, I know that’s very easy to type and very difficult to actually do.
I once heard Francis Chan talk about how he and his wife don’t ever fight because they’re too busy doing kingdom work to waste time on petty arguments. That’s how I want to live my life. I’m definitely not there yet, but I am striving to be.
15. It’s okay to leave if things are bad.
Obviously where you serve is a decision that’s made between you, your husband, and God, but if things are bad, it’s okay to leave. I’m not saying you should start sending resumes at the first sign of trouble, but if being at a church is ruining your life, LEAVE. In Matthew, Jesus told the early church to leave if the people weren’t welcoming to the disciples he sent out to minister to them.
“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” – Matthew 10:14-16
Pastor Better Now has a great article about determining when a pastor should leave and when he shouldn’t.
16. Get a side hustle.
There are few things that make ministry life more miserable than being broke.
And unfortunately, many pastors’ families aren’t in good financial situations which makes it incredibly hard to leave a church when things get bad because you have no backup plan.
The solution is to get a side hustle. Find a job or jobs that you can do to supplement your husband’s income. Find things that he can do to supplement his income. I know pastors that are process servers, private detectives, ranchers, dog breeders, authors, college professors, substitute teachers, bus drivers, referees, woodworkers, and insurance salesmen just to name a few.
There are lots of things out there that don’t require you to even leave the house. My favorites are selling things on eBay and writing, but there are tons of ways to make money from home.
If you’re interested in writing, check out our guest post page. We pay for guest posts from pastors’ wives!
Related Post: How to Make Extra Money on eBay
17. Hospitality is important.
Your husband may preach the best sermons in the world, but if you aren’t hospitable, his ministry will suffer.
It’s all fine and good for him to preach great sermons, but people want to know that you love them and care for them. That’s really hard to convey from the pulpit. It’s our job as pastors’ wives to supplement the preaching with love.
And if you’re an introvert and the thought of having people over makes you break out in a cold sweat, I get it. But don’t let your preference for introversion keep you from ministering to the people God has put in your life.
Related Post: How to Be Hospitable When You’re an Introvert
18. Prioritize your marriage.
This is another one of those things that super easy to type and super hard to do – especially when you have kids. Date nights are expensive. Babysitters, restaurants, and movies are all expensive, but so is divorce.
And if you consistently put your marriage on the back burner for ministry, kids, work, or whatever, you won’t have a happy marriage. So sit down with your husband and figure out how you can work together to make your marriage a priority. Pray for God to send you a sweet grandma to babysit your kids for free, schedule an at-home date night, go for a breakfast date once a week, or drop the kids at the grandparents’ house.
You are an intelligent woman married to an intelligent man. Y’all can figure this out.
Prioritizing your marriage is the best investment you can make.
Related Post: How to Balance Marriage and Kids
Related Post: How to Balance Marriage and Ministry
19. Be honest with your kids.
People are sinners.
Sometimes those sins will be against your kids.
Don’t gloss over it. Explain it to them and help them to see that we can still love people that have hurt us.
And I get it.
As parents, we have a natural instinct to want to protect our kids from all the ugly things in life. But kids are smart and they’ll see through it. Instead of trying to totally shelter your kids, strive to have the kind of relationship that allows for open and honest dialogue about everything – even the tough stuff.
Related Post: How to Talk to Your Kids When Church Life is Ugly
20. Find your identity in Christ.
This is another one that’s a really easy sentence to type and a really hard thing to do.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the different hats you wear – mom, pastor’s wife, VBS leader, Sunday school teacher, youth worker, etc.
But when you do that, you’re setting yourself up for pain.
Those positions don’t last forever and if they define you, you’ll be heartbroken when you aren’t in that role anymore. Instead, work on finding your joy and identity in Jesus. And while that’s a really hard thing to do and takes daily commitment, it’s also absolutely worth it.
21. Fill your cup first.
Make sure that you are having your own daily quiet time.
Read your Bible, read a devotional, listen to worship music, pray, and stay close to Jesus. You cannot pour from an empty vessel and if you get completely run down serving the church, you’re no good to anyone – including your family.
22. Don’t take everything personally.
People are much more concerned with themselves than us.
So don’t assume that someone’s sharp tone or snide remark was about you. More than likely it’s about them and what’s going on in their own life. Try to always believe the best about people instead of assuming the worst.
23. Don’t gossip.
This one seems very obvious, but it’s pretty hard to do.
You will always know more about what is going on in the church than the average member. People know this. So be sure that your conversations stay on track.
It’s easy to get trapped in the whole “we’re so worried about them and want to know what’s going on so we can pray for them.”
Staying vigilant in guarding your words will help you to have a very fruitful ministry.
24. When visiting with stinky people, wear a scarf with essential oils.
God loves everyone even if they don’t have access to running water, etc. and we’re called to minister to those people too. But sometimes people and places smell bad. Grab a scarf, put some essential oils or your favorite perfume on it, and go love them.
I’m going to go ahead and guess that the lepers Jesus healed didn’t smell great. And maybe Jesus had a little leftover Frankencise from the wise men that he put on his prayer shawl. Or maybe the son of God just wasn’t bothered by smells. I am, so I try to politely cover up bad smells.
25. Learn to cook a main dish and a dessert really well.
You will probably attend a lot of pot lucks and having food that you can prepare quickly and easily will help.
My favorites are brownies and buffalo chicken dip.
And here’s a bonus tip: teach your kids to cook.
My eleven-year-old daughter can make those boxed brownies as well as I can. So I let her. She loves it because she feels grown and important. I love it because someone else is doing the work. If your kids aren’t old enough for boxed brownies, try some place-and-bake cookies. I absolutely count those as homemade.
Related Post: 10 Quick and Frugal Recipes for Pastors’ Wives
26. Keep some fancy cheeses and grapes in the fridge for unexpected guests.
People are going to stop by unexpected.
That is how ministry life works.
If this really bothers you, you may need to check your heart. Having a quick snack you can grab out of the fridge helps people to not feel like an inconvenience. Plus, it’s a great excuse to keep some fancy mom snacks on hand that the kids aren’t allowed to eat.
Related Post: 5 Totally Free Mom Splurges
27. It’s okay to get help.
Whether’s it’s a housekeeper, some meds, a counselor, babysitter, tutor, or whatever.
If you are struggling with something, there is probably someone or something out there that could ease the burden. Don’t let your pride stop you from accepting or seeking help.
28. It’s okay to not know everything that’s going on in the church.
Early on in our ministry, I felt like it was my job to know about all the things that were happening.
I wanted to be the best pastor’s wife ever and to me, that meant I needed to have all the answers. If someone asked me a question about church and I didn’t know the answer, I felt like a failure.
I see now how prideful that was. But at the time, I wanted to do something measurable and keeping up with the church’s schedule was very measurable.
Now, I am quick to tell people that I don’t know everything that’s going on. I am on the leadership team for women’s ministry so I know about that. I try to stay up to date on what’s going on with the youth and children because I have kids in those, but I often fail. I am totally okay with it. Sending people to ask someone else is okay.
You aren’t a calendar.
29. Dress nice for church.
I’m not saying you have to dress like Easter every Sunday, but making an effort to wear something nicer than you were on a regular Tuesday is important.
I’m also not saying that there’s anything wrong with jeans. If everyone in your church wears jeans, it would be weird for you to show up in a tailored dress.
What I am saying is that you should dress nice on Sundays for you.
Taking the time to put effort into how you look on a day that a lot of people are looking at you will help boost your confidence. It will also help you to remember that it’s a Sunday and that you’re there to worship. As pastors’ wives, we’re often at church a lot, so without some deliberate effort, Sundays can feel like any other day we’re at the church and we forget to worship. Dressing in something different than your usual attire will help you remember that it’s a day to worship at the church and not work.
Related Post: Six Perfect Church Dresses for Moms
30. Dress your kids nice for church.
In the same line of reasoning as the last point, dressing your children nice for Sunday church has some distinct benefits.
You are teaching them that part of going to church is taking the time to look nice. They are learning to dress the part so to speak. And as cute as I think those tiny little three-piece suits are, they’re not really what I’m talking about. (Unless that fits your church culture. If so, suit up!) I just mean making sure your kids are in special clothes that are designated for Sunday only wear. My boys have a couple of pairs of khaki pants and nice jeans for Sundays. My girls have dresses from Target and Old Navy.
Looking down and seeing that they are in church clothes may help them remember to behave differently.
Because if your kids are like most pastors’ kids, they spend quite a bit of time at the church. They need to be able to differentiate between Sunday and Tuesday.
In addition to being a cue signaling higher behavioral expectations, church clothes can help your kids to feel more confident on Sunday mornings. Pastors’ kids are in the spotlight a lot at church, and they realize that at a very young age. Making sure that they look nice is going to help them to feel more confident.
It’s also going to be less fuel for the fire so to speak when it comes to people talking about your kids.
People shouldn’t talk negatively about children, but they will. Make sure your kiddos look their best and that’s one less thing that people can say.
Related Post: The Real Reason I Make My Kids Dress Up for Church
31. Lead your kids well.
I know that the husband is supposed to be the spiritual leader of the house.
And while I do my best to support my husband’s decisions and let him lead us, I also take it upon myself to teach our kids about the Bible and stuff.
If your husband is anything like mine, he has a lot on him. Pastoring isn’t for the faint of heart. If I were to sit around and wait for my husband to teach our kids to memorize scripture or read their Bible or do a devotional, it would be a while. It’s not that he doesn’t want to do these things. It’s that he’s really, really busy.
So instead of guilting him about it or pressuring him to make time, I just do it.
Every week, I work with our kids to memorize one Bible verse. We use scripture coloring sheets and repetition. We read a devotional together most days. We read a chapter of the Bible together about half the days of the week. My husband knows that we do all of these things and if he’s home, he does it with us. But if he’s not, we do it alone.
And y’all, I could be really bitter about this.
I could choose to be indignant that he has time to disciple and lead others but doesn’t make time to read a five minute devotional with our kids. But that wouldn’t help. It would just add another thing to his overfull plate and drive a wedge between us.
God gave my kids two parents for a reason.
And as the parent that is home with them the most, I am the one who teaches them the most. It’s okay. They’re learning the Bible and how to love God and love others. When my husband gets home, they recite their memory verse to him and often our dinner time conversation revolves around our devotional or scripture reading for the day.
He is a part of their learning, but it is not all on him.
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In conclusion, being a pastor’s wife can be a really overwhelming job. Hopefully, these tips for pastors’ wives will help make it a little bit easier.
And if you need more support for your calling as a pastor’s wife (who doesn’t!??!), then come join our Facebook group Wife in the Fishbowl. It’s a group exclusively for pastors’ wives where we have authentic conversations about the joys and trials of vocational ministry life.
What are your best tips for pastors’ wives? Tell us in the comments so we can add them to the list!
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