How Satan took down the first preacher… Guard the pastor’s wife.

This article is about an often neglected part of a congregation, the pastor’s wife.  A man who is called to be a pastor has the first vocation of being a husband and then also a father (if God has blessed their union with children).  This first vocation supersedes that of being a pastor, and so it is only natural that Satan would attempt to shut the mouth of the preacher by hurting him in another vocation (isn’t that what he did to Adam in the garden?).

Ask any pastor, and he most likely knows another pastor who had to stop being a pastor in order to be a husband helping his wife in need.  I am not sure how many of our laity know much about this, so this article is meant to let them know the struggles that their pastor and his wife go through.

Herman Sasse called the pastorate “The Lonely Way”.  This makes it very lonely for the one who is the helpmeet for the pastor.  Note that pastors and their families may not have family anywhere nearby, and this not only makes life harder, but more lonely as well (especially in a a church body which celebrates family so much).  This loneliness is especially difficult when you consider that most pastors struggle in balancing their responsibilities to be a pastor, father, husband, etc.  Many pastor’s wives start feeling like the church is the “other woman”.  This is dangerous for faith.

A wise pastor taught me once that the pastor’s wife has to be the most sanctified person in the congregation.  It may not be in the way that you think.  Certainly, there are those who expect perfect behavior out of their pastor’s wife, but the sanctification is not in that respect.  A pastor’s wife has to hear the Word of God preached from a mouth that she is all too familiar with.  It may be a mouth which just snapped at her the night before.  It might be the mouth attached to some other varied sin against her sometime in the past.  Can you imagine if you knew your pastor so well and trying to hear him preach the good news to you?

This article is to raise attention.  There are many things that can be done.  First of all, pastors need to take heed to their wives (and congregations need to understand the vocations that their pastors have).  Secondly, laity can help in the situation by not only respecting their pastor’s other vocations, but also by helping the pastor’s wife in various thing.  This could include:

Taking care to note the wife’s sacrifice for the congregation and thanking her for it (even if she is involved in nothing else, her keeping the home while her husband is off to congregational things is quite a sacrifice)

Doing special events during “Clergy Appreciation Month” or better taking some other time and just honoring her for who she is (rather than who she is married to)

If a parsonage is provided, annually doing a run through (at a time that the pastor and his family agree to) to note any renovations that would be helpful (asking the wife what she thinks)

If the pastor owns his own home, maybe asking the wife what things in the house she would like to see improved and helping with that

Taking the pastor’s wife out to lunch, out shopping or whatever she likes to do, taking interest in her as a person

Providing extra vacation or money for the pastor and his wife to take a special trip every once in a while

Encouraging the pastor to go home and spend time with his wife (and kids) when he is not necessarily needed

Ask your pastor about his wife and how she is doing with things

Asking if the pastor and his wife would like time away from their children (and providing an acceptable way for it to happen if they do)

Providing help for the pastor’s wife to have time to be on her own (or with other pastor’s wives)

These ideas come from some of what the congregation I serve has done for my family.  They have done a great job taking care of us, a fine example for others to follow.  A pastor with a happy, healthy family is a pastor who is freed up to be a better pastor.

The DOXOLOGY program offers help and encouragement for pastors and their wives.

http://www.doxology.us/

If you have any suggestions, please add them below.

About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.

Comments

How Satan took down the first preacher… Guard the pastor’s wife. — 44 Comments

  1. Good stuff. One more I would add: “Tell your pastor’s wife how much you appreciate your pastor.” I know this one would make my wife’s day. Everything she does, she does as a sacrifice so that we can be where we are for the sake of Word and Sacrament. Hearing that everything she’s given up is worth it from those who are receiving it would mean the world.

  2. Dear Pastor Scheer,

    This is an excellent post with really great ideas! Thanks for sharing this with the Brothers (and Sisters) of John the Steadfast!

    You asked for other ideas, so I will just add two:

    1) Members of the congregation need to accept a pastor’s wife’s career, if she has one outside of the home.

    In previous generations, up to and including my parent’s generation, it was very unusual to have a pastor’s wife who worked outside the home, especially if she had children. The rule was “Kinder, kuche, kirche.” That expectation is still present in our older congregational members, both male and female.

    2) Members of the congregation need to accept a pastor’s wife choice of friends.

    When there is a change in pastors, friends of the previous pastor and his family often expect that the new pastor and his family will become their good friends too. That often does not happen, for any number of reasons. When it doesn’t happen, there can be great unhappiness. As other posts at BJS have mentioned, making special friends in a congregation requires special care, so that other members do not feel excluded and that such special friends do not abuse the relationship for purposes of influencing church policy and politics.

    Keep up the great work here, Pastor Scheer, and in your parish! I hope that your people are spared the flooding that is predicted for large portions of Minnesota!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  3. Perfect. Beautiful. THANK YOU! Your point about hearing the gospel from my own husband every week is spot-on. For me it’s less about how he might have sinned against me as that I know his pain. The gospel makes me mindful of my hurts and his.

    All of your suggestions sound awesome. Many of those things have been done for me and it has always been encouraging to me. It’s good to feel like people see me as a person.

    mp

  4. Here are just a couple more for consideration.

    The pastor’s wife is a person. She has a birthday. Do you know how wonderful it is when the congregation sends the wife cards.

    Maybe the congregation could put flowers on the altar in recognition of her birthday.

    When she is sick, write a note, call, and VISIT (if she is up to it)!!!

    Take her to lunch for no good reason at all except that it is TODAY and I love you!

  5. @mrs pastor #4
    I just want to say “thank you” for your beloved and faithful service to our Lord Jesus Christ, His Church, to your pastor, to your husband, and to your family. THANK YOU!!!!

  6. One excellent way a congregation can help and honor the Pastor’s wife is to insist the Pastor take vacations – away from the Church – to spend time with his family. The is an old adage that if momma ain’t happy, ain’t noboby gonna be happy. This applies to the Pastor’s wife and her position in the church. I would give my Pastor the same advice my father gave me when I was a bit to obnoxious around the house – go out and play. It’s good for you (and your wife.)
    Peace,
    Dennis

  7. Wow what a timely topic, I have experienced the ire of the pastor’s wife whilst I was head elder. You see it was obvious to me and my fellow elders who were paying attention that our pastor was neglecting his other vocations. It is not unusual to see Pastor in his office at 9 o’clock at night. After much thought, I decided to speak with the pastor in private about what I had observed, of course I was not going to jump to any conclusions based on my and others’ observations. He informed that I was right he was spending more and more time at the church during what we agreed was family time. I lovingly suggested that perhaps he needed to refocus himself. We had a former associate who had asked for a sabbatical prior to his leaving us. I knew from our conversations that the pastor I am speaking of had no intentions of leaving us, however I felt that time away from his responsibilities as I said to refocus and reprioritize may be appropriate. Their children varied in age from a senior in high school to a 3rd grader I believe. I knew that I had prayed about it, spoke with the DP about it etc. Unfortunetly the pastor was convinced by his wife that I was trying to get rid of him and she has not given me the time of day since. I sat down at the Easter Breakfast and one of his middle sons refused to refill my coffee cup whilst he was doing his duty as a Youth group member.

    So a number of years later now He still burns the midnight oil, she still does not speak to me and I know that reconcilliation is not going to happen with divine intervention.

    So sometimes you can care and try to do something helpful and loving for your pastor and his family can blow up in your face. I now know why no one before me or since has dared to exercise any care and concern regarding this matter with our pastor.

    His wife is not involved much in the life of the church, Unless it has to do with his pay or benefits.

  8. Thank you for this article. In such a lonely life, it’s nice to know others can relate. There is one thing I would like to bring to the table. Obviously, different personalities beg different scenarios. I think a common problem is that when a pastor and his wife are new to a congregation, it is assumed that we are cut out of some mold and are all the same. I prefer not to be singled out or treated any differently. I just want the congregation to get to know me… with no preconcieved notions. I am- after all- a new member to the congregation.. forget the titles 🙂 While it is wonderful to be recognized, I prefer to blend in. 🙂 Getting to know us beyond the pastor’s wife title is greatly appreciated.

  9. I would add:

    become an adopted grandparent/aunt/uncle/cousin to the pastor’s children

    sit with the pastor’s wife and help her with the children in church

  10. Another point:

    Head elder should make sure the pastor’s wife has someone with whom she can talk, a pastor outside the circuit would be preferable. This should be done in private, not shared with anyone in the congregation, and only if the wife desires it.

  11. I would add this comment for those of you that live in urban/bigger towns. If you know pastors that live in a rural areas, invite them that if they need a place to stay when they make it to the big city, that they are welcome to stay at your house. In January we went 3 hours to a Kantorei service and then we drove back 1 hour and stayed at a friend’s house instead of driving the whole 3 hours home in January weather at night time. It doesn’t have to be a deluxe guest room, even just an air mattress on the floor would be welcome to save $ on a hotel room. After living in a rural area for almost 8 years, our choices for going to the big city are either really long days (it’s not rare for us to do 8 hours round trip driving in one day plus whatever time we spend in the big city) or spend dollars on a hotel room. There are times when dh has to go to the big city to visit someone or for a meeting or we have to go there to catch a plane. It would be wonderful to go to the big city for one overnight just for fun, but we don’t do that often because of the cost. After growing up in a big city, this has been a difficult part of rural life for me. Our overnight trip in January was very refreshing. I would encourage this for any of you in a bigger town, not just a big city-remember there are people that live 1 1/2 hours or more away from Walmart or Starbucks!

  12. I have mixed thoughts on this….my husband and I have always been very active in the church…he is the organist…that means I sat alone with the kids while daddy played the organ every Sunday service…maybe I am different but I handled it…never even occurred to me that it was a burden…my husband would work a forty hour week and would then attend evening meetings several nights a week at church…unlike the Pastor he could not take the morning off in lieu of going to the council meeting the night before…my husband would have Saturday off, however, if there was an event, seminar, or meeting at church that day he gave up his day off to be there…so, like I said I have mixed feelings on this, so…………. I am the wife of a church worker….it isn’t that hard…..but maybe I just ‘walk to the beat of a different drummer’

  13. @Stand up and Shout #9

    I cannot say why your pastor’s wife responded to you the way she did, but I can share my own experiences.

    My husband was forced to resign from his previous call. No matter how illogical it is, I tend to respond in fear or panic whenever something reminds me, whether consciencely or subconsciencely, of events that transpired in his former congregation. This is not an easy thing to overcome. Reconcilliation with the former congregation cannot take place at this time, and in areas I have not been able to overcome my hurt or bitterness for past offenses, my fears are quick to surface. Even just a hint of conflict can be enough to send me home in a panic.

    Perhaps your pastor’s wife has reacted to you with the feelings she has towards a past offense for which you are not responsible.

  14. Marcy @14:

    I do feel for the involved laypeople – and I think they need equal encouragement to make family a priority, too. And wrt solo parenting in the pew, I wouldn’t single out the pastor’s family to help, but help whoever seems to need it (in a *helpful*, respectful-of-boundaries way, not in a clearly-you’re-an-incompetent-parent/let-me-parent-them-properly way or “helping” in spite of objections from the helpee), which can be the pastor’s wife.

    Really, as a pastor’s wife, I don’t want special treatment so much as I want to be free of special expectations, and for the church to recognize that the vocation of father/husband is valuable – and act accordingly. And that applies to laypeople, too – most of the suggestions given are the sort of things that friends do for each other, and are good to do for anyone in the church. It’s just that often pastors and their families get hit harder/more-often by unreasonable expectations than laypeople, so an extra reminder can be helpful.

    Anyway, our current church has been great here – and the head elder is demonstrably committed to making sure the pastors don’t end up neglecting their families for the church. I hope (and will check) that the pastors and elders also actively watch out for this with everyone else.

    One thing I really appreciate here is the acceptance of children – that children aren’t something that need to be set aside in order to “do church work”, but that raising children is itself worthy “church work”. Most everyone *says* this, but often they don’t really mean it. Kid noises and behavior are accepted in the service – no side-long glares when they make a bit of happy noise – in fact most people are happy to see kids being kids, and regularly say so, which is nice =). And there’s no unsolicited parenting “advice”/criticism. And they understand that dh can’t go on a summer mission trip this year b/c that’s when our third child is due.

    But this is important to everyone, not just the pastor’s family, like most of the ideas/concerns listed, really. But sometimes people care more about the actions of the pastor’s family than they do about “regular” members – which goes back to my initial statement that all I really want is to be treated like a regular person.

  15. I grew up in a very loving congregation who took the time and effort to support the Pastor’s whole family. It was modeled there for me that the Pastor’s wife and children were also a gift from God in as much as they enabled their husband and Daddy to serve us. To this day I make an effort whenever I can to tap the family on the shoulder to say hi, how much I love them and their husband and Dad. Dropping off a few of their favorite goodies now and then also helps. Organizing financial support for vacations is also helpful. ( we sent that Pastor and his family to Hawaii, Holy Land and Mexico) He would bring back a slide for us and it was a riot to hear his commentary of those trips. He was the kind of Pastor who required us to tackle him and force him to take a vacation. 🙂 Oh how I love those wives and children. Now from time to time I see him, his wife and adult children and their children and it is as if we were never separated. It also did not hurt that the family was so lovable and fun to be around. Te Deum.

  16. ” Note that pastors and their families may not have family anywhere nearby, and this not only makes life harder, but more lonely as well.” –Pr. Scheer

    My son was a Texan whose first call was to Iowa, so I know about that from a parent’s side.

    But many of us corporate nomads have been in the same boat. I am grateful to the first two Pastor’s wives, in our wanderings, who understood that and became good and mutually helpful friends.

  17. View point from person in the congregation if friend with paster wife remember the paster can not tell her things you tell him unles you tell the paster wife yourself.

  18. @Marcy #14

    “I have mixed thoughts on this….my husband and I have always been very active in the church…he is the organist…that means I sat alone with the kids while daddy played the organ every Sunday service…maybe I am different but I handled it…never even occurred to me that it was a burden…”

    Marcy, two things: being the organist’s wife is not the same thing as being the pastor’s wife. I am the the wife of a full-time cantor and while I think I can relate somewhat to the role of the pastor’s wife I know there are also things that only pastors’ wives experience. Also, if I am understanding correctly your husband, while he is the organist, has another job during the week? So he is not a full-time church worker? That may account somewhat for your different experience.

  19. Excellent. I would like parishioners to know that often times, a PW is clueless. The pastor may very well be a tight-lipped man (as he should be), so don’t assume she knows about your marriage or finances or sin, and don’t be offended if she doesn’t know when to weep with you.

  20. Hope you find this funny as I did.
    One Sunday morning our Pastor’s wife told her husband over breakfast that she had dreamed our [“overdue”] child had arrived and was a boy.

    When he announced to the congregation that I had had a boy that morning, she was appalled; she thought he was repeating her dream.
    Actually, he had had an early phone call she was not aware of. 🙂

  21. Cheryl, my point is this…my husband puts in a 40 hour work week…a church worker puts in a 40 hour work week…the pastor puts in extra hours to go to evening meetings…my husband puts in extra hours to go to evening meetings…he and the pastor are at the same meetings…the pastor can and does take the morning or afternoon off in lieu of the time spent at the evening meeting….my husband does not have that option…he has to go to work the next morning even if the meeting went over its 8:30pm ending time…my point is simply that I really do not think there is much of a difference between my husband’s work schedule and a church workers schedule….the difference is that the church worker may complain with out really realizing that the lay person makes the same sacrifice….long hours at the secular office, with all the stress that goes on there…home for a quick meal if there is time and then off to the council meeting with a report that had to be completed in the lay person’s free time….not his work time……….therefore, I have mixed feelings about this sort of article…the commitment, the time sacrifices, for a dedicated lay person are the same as that of the church worker…..it isn’t easy for us either…

  22. Marcy @23:

    I largely agree with you (although if your dh really is attending *all*, or even most, of the meetings the pastor is, I think he’s way overextended, myself – dh attends just about all of them, and there’s not really much overlap b/w most of them other than being church-related) – it gets rough for involved laypeople, too.

    Really, the main difference is in expectations – how much, and from how many people. But sometimes involved laypeople can get hit with that almost as badly, though it usually, afaik, doesn’t spill over on their family (outside of their family never seeing them :sigh). But inappropriate expectations (and associated lack of boundaries) are wrong – no matter who they are inflicted on.

  23. @Marcy #23
    Marcy, a good Pastor often puts in more than 40 hours a week. Hospital patients, terminal bedsides and attending the bereaved (to name just a few) would never be covered if he didn’t. Sermon preparation takes a lot longer than most lay people will credit, and if he is wise he has a regular devotional life, too. (Taking time off in lieu of evening meetings may work sometimes, in some situations, I don’t know.)

    Cheryl, Marcy is trying to tell you why dedicated lay volunteers are scarce. Church meetings really do come in addition to the ‘full time job’ and the vocation of father/husband, if he takes that seriously. (The wives of active laymen would sometimes like to see their men at home, too.)

    We each have our own row to hoe and the grass is usually the same on both sides of the fence, however it may look in some lights.

  24. @Marcy #23

    “my point is simply that I really do not think there is much of a difference between my husband’s work schedule and a church workers schedule….…the commitment, the time sacrifices, for a dedicated lay person are the same as that of the church worker…..it isn’t easy for us either…”

    Marcy, I wasn’t trying to suggest that yours and your husband’s life is any “easier” or that you work any less hard or that your level of commitment and sacrifice to your church are any less than that of your pastor and his wife. I do, however, believe there are challenges related to your pastor’s and his family’s life that are unique to their vocation and position. There are elements of “life in the stained glass fishbowl” (as the Doxology folks like to call it) that those who don’t live in that particular fishbowl don’t experience. Some of them are great blessings, but others are crosses to bear. I’m sure there are likewise things that you and your husband face in your own vocations that your pastor and his wife don’t experience. That goes without saying. But the topic at hand is the particular challenges of the pastor’s wife and how congregations might go about trying to support and encourage her in that vocation. And I think that is a salutary thing, as it is any time the people of God look for ways to serve one another in love.

  25. @Rural Pastor’s Wife #15
    My husband was also forced out of 1.5 previous calls (one was a dual where one congregation wanted him gone and the other wanted him to stay). We are in a wonderful congregation now where so much of the suggested things in this post take place. But to this day, when the Elder sets up a meeting with my husband, I live in fear that this is it – this is THE “we really think it’s time for you to go” talk.

    That’s Satan’s “in” with me, I guess. Our Elder is incredible, this congregation is incredible, so the likelihood that it would go from great to get-out is slim. I’m thankful that my husband has been patient with me on this, often simply saying, “You know I can’t talk about what was said, but he just wanted to talk to his pastor. Everything is fine.” Then I can move on.

  26. I would also like to add not constantly reminding the Pastor’s wife how great the last pastor’s wife was and how much she is missed. Although it may not be meant with ill intent it doesn’t need to be said.
    If you are a friend to your Pastor’s wife, make sure to hold her confindence. Probably guard it more than you would your other friends. A lot of times she is judged enough without her secret concerns being made public.
    Don’t assume that your Pastor’s wife should be the place to lay all of your problems. She is not an extention of her husband in that matter.
    She is not perfect and forgive quickly if she fails.
    If you are angry at her husband do not take it out on her or her children.
    Don’t judge every penny she spends.
    My husband had gone to a conference. It may have been said at Doxology but I can’t remember for sure. They talked about the only person who does not have a Pastor is a pastor’s wife. The Pastor has his circuit councelor and other fellow brothers as well as the DP.
    Just be kind. No matter where we are at ourselves, treat her with respect because she is indeed a child of God.

  27. My first thought is just don’t treat your pastor like crap because his family bears those burdens nearly as much as he does. AND if you love your pastor and know that he is serving in his call faithfully, defend him (maybe even become an elder or other position of leadership) when errant members of the congregation attack him and what he is doing and gossip about him.

    I don’t think there are a lot of professions and vocations where wives regularly go to work with their husbands. That is essentially what happens with pastor’s wives. My uncle is a physician. I’m sure that there are patients who at one point or another have been upset with him, but my aunt is never in the office so she’s not aware of what goes on there. As a pastor’s wives, we see and hear the way parishioners act toward our husbands. It’s absolutely crushing when you know that your husband loves these people and is giving them his best.

    Birthday cards and help with baby-sitting are great, don’t get me wrong. It’s tough being in what sometimes feels like a foreign land with out family for support. But when the head of your household is under fire constantly, little can make up for that. I hope this is not the experience of most PWs, though I fear many out there know what I’m talking about.

    And FWIW, to a certain extent, I know what Marcy is saying. Lots of people have hard jobs and make sacrifices. There are a lot of people who really do put it a lot of volunteer hours at the church, and as the pastor’s family, I can say that we really DO appreciate that. So it’s not about the number of hours. It’s about being under attack constantly, being far from family and familiar culture, living in a fish bowl, etc, etc.

  28. @Marcy

    As a Pastor’s Wife, I consider it a blessing when he is able to share God’s love with a person who needs it. I try to remind myself to be thankful that I am sharing my husband for a short time when he is visiting someone who is sick or dying instead of being the family member losing their loved one. I am proud of what my husband does and although the salary is not “equal” to the work he does, I feel it makes us trust in God to provide.

    All that being said, it is still nice when I am recognized for the sacrifices we make as a family. All of our family is out of town, they all get together at Christmas and for parties on the weekend, time that if I want my children to spend with their aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents I have to go out of town without my husband because it is hard for him to take vacation time on the weekend. This is when he ministers to the most people.

    Multiple times my husband’s time has been interrupted by a congregation member calling to talk about something at home or to leave for an emergency in the hospital. As I said before, I am happy to share my husband, but after a long day, when I think he is in for the night…it can be hard to feel blessed as he leaves me to finish a bath and do bedtime alone yet again.

    My husband works 40 hours a week and then attends meetings, counsels people and does confirmation events. All of those extras are included in his salary and are not “optional” or volunteer.

    I am extremely thankful for his lay volunteers that will lead a Bible study or help make his programming better than he could do on his own, but over the years those people have come and gone based on their availability…I don’t imagine my husband’s schedule will change much until he retires…and even then I have a feeling we’ll be sharing him. It’s who God has called him to be. I’m thankful for my husband, I wouldn’t change his vocation or his calling, it’s why I fell in love with him, why I still love him today. It’s just nice when someone recognizes that I’m helping him be the man he is…and that sometimes I need him to be that man for me and my children!

  29. Thank you for this article. We have been fortunate to have had loving, thoughful congregations for all my husband/pastor’s ministry of 13 yrs. (total of 2 parishes served). Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for this incredible gift; I am honored to support my husband as he serves the flock with which he has been blessed (and no, it’s not always “a walk in the park”- there are always stray sheep that like to give him a “runaround”).

    Only a few times have I been “put off” by members’ comments, either directed towards my children (for damages or litter, and so on; they have “paid their dues” when repairs are needed for something they actually HAVE done), or towards us (“We don’t associate with the pastor’s family outside of church, so we can’t come to your house for dinner”- that was really said to us). All in all, I love that we are treated as “real, sinful” congregants with the attitude that “we are all in this together.”

    Mostly, the lonliness is hard; and yes, it is nice to be included with family-type celebrations; they’ve been slow to come, but that is perhaps in my mind the GREATEST blessing- my children, when they were younger, were even thought of as being cousins! I, and I think I can speak for my husband, would personally be embarrassed to receive extra money for vacation or even a fancy trip- instead, just give my husband a raise every year if it can at all be found in the church budget. To go for 10 yrs. without any raise is a little discouraging when one receives once a year mailings from “the powers that be” in our synod who set the pay scale for pastors (laughable in a small-town parish). Don’t get me wrong; we are comfortable in our parsonage; it is well cared for, and we are not destitute by any means. However, with groceries going up, gas going up, and children growing up (whom we’ve chosen to homeschool, and therefore that is MY full time job), a little extra cash is welcomed to accommodate the changes in the economy.

    Also, I find myself as a pw becoming most discouraged at the notion that I WANT to do *everything* in the church…like VBS, ladies’ guild, etc. I enjoy it, but I don’t always WANT to do it; sometimes I need a break, just like the next person. In 13 yrs. of parish life, I have yet to go to Sunday morning Bible study for grown ups for longer than 4 weeks in a row. It can be a very frustrating thing to feel ill-nourished in God’s word when one is married to the pastor (this could just be the “cross” of motherhood, though, no?).

    My complaints are few; I love most of the ideas mentioned in this article, and many of them have been exercised towards our family while hubby continues to be a pastor. I would just ask congregants to remember the pastor’s family is still plagued with the sinner/saint complex, and are in just as much need of Christ’s forgiveness as they are.

  30. Just an aside on being able to attend Bible study on Sun. a.m.; I have been teaching Sunday School “for-evah”– and this is what I mean when I need a break. I teach out of love for God (first)and love for neighbor (second). However, I’d really like to be seen as that neighbor who needs to be shown love to also; parents of children in church- please be willing to teach your kiddos and the other children of the church the Christian faith. Thanks for listening, because, contrary to popular belief, the pastor, his wife, and his family really DON’T want to do it all.

  31. @revfisk #1

    @momomkr #31
    I LOVED what you had to say! Thank you! I have been a pastor’s wife for 26 years, raised 3 kids (all in college now so still raising). We have been blessed in many different ways in our congregations as well as challenged. I want to say “Ditto” to the raise in salary (district scale would be nice). I could go on and on about stories and rememberances but truly we all struggle with the “Same time Saint and Sinner” complex. What clergy couples can do for each other is to acknowledge each others mission, take time for each other and remember why married each other in the first place. I have truly loved my life as a pastor’s wife, it has been lonely at times and other stuggles come and visit for a while but my husband has truly been my pastor, friend, lover, I am blessed.

    Again, thanks sounding like a leveled headed woman who knows living has it challenges. It wonderful to read your thoughts.

  32. Thank you all for the added suggestions. There is not one person who doesn’t sacrifice something for church (even if it is just their “sunday morning”) and all of these living sacrifices are certainly praiseworthy. The thrust of this article however was that the pastor’s wife does have a special place. This is reflected in that if she suffers, the pastor suffers, and if the pastor suffers, so does the congregation he serves. The preaching of the Gospel can suffer because of the pastor’s household (that is why the household of the pastor being in good order is a requirement for someone to be a pastor). Other God-given vocations (which are holy, neighbor-serving, and God-pleasing) do not involve the preaching of the Gospel, so that is what makes the pastor (and his household) special. All of this is for the sake of the Gospel.

  33. @Jayne Maser #28

    It is not OK for the pastor’s wife not to have a pastor. She, like all Christians (which includes her children and husband) should have a Father Confessor. My husband makes sure that our entire family sees our Father Confessor regularly, and that each of us who are old enough to make confession have all the time we need with him. Sometimes we take the kids out of school for this. That we all confess to him and receive Absolution from him makes him our family’s pastor. He is a treasure before whom we are equally humble, and by whom we are equally served: Dad, Mom, and kids (ie, he’s not just Dad’s buddy, or a distant DP who really doesn’t have time to deal with pastor’s wife and pastor’s kid problems).

  34. Wow! Where to begin. First, as a pastor’s wife I want to say thank you to Marcy and her husband for serving in the church. Our congregations seem to have the same people working all of the time. They just shift from one leadership role to another. God bless them for serving.
    From my perspective this article was an attempt to shed light on the fact that there are times when the wife and family take a backseat to the the church. Often this happens more than it should. I believe that any family that is a “transplant” to a new area will experience the feeling of being lonely. The one thing that is different here is that if you are a pastor and his family it is more difficult to make/sustain relationships within the congregation. We all live under God’s word but often because we are the pastor’s family are expected to live to a higher standard. We cannot often comment or give advice from personal experience because it can be taken as if we think we are perfect. We are just like everyone else. We want to help if we can. As far as hours go. My husband hardly ever takes off the morning when his evening is full of meetings. Yes he does have some felixbility but he cannot schedule when a memebr enters the hospital or even when they die. He is not just at meetings for his congregations but is also on other district boards that have regular meetings. I am not trying to sound like I am complaining but I am trying to make sure that it is known that pastor’s do more than the Sunday service, teach confirmation, bible study, visit shut-ins, hospital visits, prepare a sermon every Sunday (because many do not just reuse the one from last year), during Advent and Lent they prepare 2 or more sermons each week, Chapel for area schools, some even do the weekly bulletin,etc… I know that my husband/pastor loves his members and could not do his job without the support of his elders and other lay workers (like Marcy’s husband). However, he can not come home at the end of a particulary hard day of work and tell me all about it either.
    I am not sure what else to say at this point except we all have our crosses. We are redeemed by Christ and to God be the Glory!

  35. Pastor Joshua Scheer, Tremendous article and some of the comments even brought tears to my eyes for my family has been attacked. Keep up the good work.

  36. @Rebekah #35
    I do not think it is good that a Pastor’s wife be without a pastor. I hope it did not come across that I was saying that. The point was to recognize that she is indeed in a unique situation that needs to be watched and cared for.

  37. Jayne, I’m tracking. It troubles me that the “pastor’s wife’s pastor” question is so often cited as a really big problem with no solution (which is what I thought your Doxology story meant–sorry if I misunderstood). There is a solution. It should be prescribed as widely as the risk is identified.

  38. @Walter Troeger #37
    Thank you Walter for your kind words and encouragement. God grant you and your family strength and faith to endure all trials that come from within and without the Church.

  39. I will become a full-fledged PW in approximately 4 months. Having experienced some of what this entails on vicarage last year, I am very appreciative indeed of this post. One thing I might suggest that also needs to be addressed is that pastors’ wives seem to be a popular target of criticism for a seemingly endless variety of ‘faults.’ I was fortunate enough to avoid being the subject of such on vicarage, but witnessed a bit of congregational surliness and gossip aimed toward a woman that I quite look up to as wonderful example of what a pastor’s wife might be: our vicarage supervising pastor’s wife. I am wary of what I am stepping into as a result, but better prepared.

    Congregations, please be considerate of the pastor’s wife. Guard her good name. She is first and foremost a wife, as the article says, and sometimes a mother…and is the last person who deserves to be scrutinized, speculated upon, or otherwise criticized for something as trivial, say, as electing to decline an invitation to teach Sunday school.

  40. I am blessed to see such an insightful article on the life of the pastor’s wife. Thank you Pastor Scheer. The congregations who love and serve their pastors and families in this way are very special.

    As for me, I have been in the role of a pastor’s wife for almost 15 years now. My husband has served in two congregations and I have joyfully served along side him. I use the word “joyfully” meaning joy as the fruit of the Spirit. Though I love the suggestions of care and support listed in this article, I have had very few similar experiences from our congregations. I have actually experienced the direct opposite on more than one occasion.

    In our first church, an elder decided that he needed to improve me by asking people in the congregation what they thought about me. He told me that when they said nice things, he would then asked them to tell him the “ugly” things as well so that I could get a better understanding of how they saw me and then I could improve myself. He was sure to pass it along to me.

    In our current congregation, we went through a strategic ministry process where the paid professional assisting us interviewed a sampling of our members. Her questions dealt specifically with the church and it’s future. She compiled the answers, created a book and passed it out to all council members and elders and asked them to keep the comments private. In the book, many of these people had absolutely awful things to say about both my husband and me. Some were outright lies and others were half-truths and some were opinions that should have been brought to the Lord in prayer and then brought to us in love – or maybe just kept to themselves. There are always two sides to the story, but we had no way to address these issues because the books were supposed to be “private”, and so were the origins of the comments. I affectionately call the book a “slam book” – reminding me of my days in junior high school. A little humor can be so helpful.

    I do not serve as a pastor’s wife for the glory. I have learned over the years that it’s not about me. It’s all about Jesus. He is the only One who can heal my pain. He is the only One who gives me strength, FAR beyond my comprehension. I stand before Him Sunday after Sunday with a forgiving heart towards my brothers and sisters and worship in Spirit and Truth. I have learned things so precious about the Lord that have given the pain meaning. I serve the Lord along side my husband and we will follow Him wherever He leads – down into the trenches or up to the mountain tops. We recently sang the song “Blessed Be Your Name” in church. One of my favorite lines in the song is “Blessed be Your Name, on the road marked with suffering, though there’s pain in the offering, blessed be Your Name.” Whether we are lavishly loved by our congregations or not, we are lavishly loved by our Savior – and that is absolutely more than enough for me.

  41. @Marcy #14
    Marcy,
    It is much different being the pastor’s wife than the organist’s wife. My husband doesn’t always get to “take the morning off” just because he has a church council meeting. You make it sound so simple. Your family is not judged as much as the pastor’s family. Your husband gets to go home on Sunday – has has TWO days off from his regular job. My husband still works the rest of the day on Sunday. I honor you for the sacrifice you and your husband make for worship. The gift of music is awesome and honorable and a great part of worship. But, as a pastor’s wife, please don’t make it sound like “you are of a different breed” or that your “just handle it better” than the rest of us. Your comment, though valid, was rather insulting.

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