The Pastor’s Wife is the Most Vulnerable Person in the Church

Posted by | August 29, 2016 | Balance, Expectations, Pastors' Wives | 9 Comments
Woman kneeling on the ground with her hands in her lap

I recently read a blog by Joe McKeever on www.churchleaders.com and wanted to share it with you because each of you could have written it yourself. This is a truth that many church-goers never think of but is so accurate. Enjoy!

We’re all vulnerable.

Everyone who walks in the church door can be helped or hurt in what happens during the next hour. Whether saint or sinner, preacher or pew-sitter, old-timer or newcomer, child or geezer, everyone is vulnerable and should be treated respectfully, faithfully, carefully.

No one in the church family is more vulnerable than the pastor’s wife.

She is the key figure in the life of the pastor and plays the biggest role in his success or failure. (Note: I am fully aware that in some churches the pastor is a woman. In such cases, what follows would hardly pertain to her household.)

And yet, many churches treat her as an unpaid employee, an uncalled assistant pastor, an always-available office volunteer, a biblical expert and a psychological whiz.

She is almost always a reliable helper as well as an under-appreciated servant.

You might not think so, but she is the most vulnerable person in the building. That is to say, she is the single most likely person to become the victim of malicious gossip, sneaky innuendo, impossible expectations and pastoral frustrations.

The pastor’s wife can be hurt in a hundred ways—through attacks on her husband, her children, herself. Her pain is magnified by one great reality: She cannot fight back.

She cannot give a certain member a piece of her mind for criticizing the pastor’s children, cannot straighten out the deacon who is making life miserable for her husband, cannot stand up to the finance committee who, once again, failed to approve a needed raise, or the building and grounds committee that postponed repair work on the pastorium.

She has to take it in silence, most of the time.

It takes the best Christian in the church to be a pastor’s wife and pull it off. And that’s the problem: In most cases, she’s pretty much the same kind of Christian as everyone else. When the enemy attacks, she bleeds.

The pastor’s wife has no say-so in how the church is run and receives no pay, yet she has a lot to do with whether her husband gets called to that church and succeeds once he arrives.

That’s why I counsel pastors to include with their resume a photo of their family. The search committee will want to see the entire family, particularly the pastor’s wife, and will try to envision whether they would “fit” in “our” church.

The pastor’s wife occupies no official position, was not the object of a church vote, and gives no regular reports to the congregation on anything. And yet, no one person in the church is more influential in making the pastor a success—or a resounding failure—than she. Love her!

Ladies, like I said you could have written this blog yourself and I know it is preaching to the choir but I wanted you to know there are people out there that do understand our position and try to support us.

I would love to hear your feedback. We are here to help you in any way we can.

Click here to view the original blog on churchleaders.com

About Rodetta Cook

Rodetta Cook has been a pastor’s wife for 39 years. She and her husband, Ron, have actively served the Lord together in ministry during the entire time and are co-founders of Care for Pastors. She understands the expectations, loneliness and how hard it is to find balance in ministry as a pastor’s wife. Rodetta also leads the pastor’s wives initiative at Care for Pastors called The Confidante and ministers to hundreds of wives each week. She strives to share blogs with other pastors’ wives that will help them in their ministry walk.

9 Comments

  • Renee DeMoss says:

    35 years experience and still learning, growing, and hurting.

    #1. Your first priority is your husband and children.

    #2. Learn to say no to any and all people and things you don’t feel comfortable with. Don’t trust everyone.

    #3. Only commit to what you think God would have you do in the church. You owe the church nothing. You owe God.

    #4. If you are asked to go above and beyond ask for a paycheck. The Bible says a workman is worthy of pay and Pastor’s double honor. Why should you work and not get paid? When your husband makes 50,000.00 a year – if you work for free the church gets each of you for 25,000.00 you could earn that with less headache elsewhere.

    #5. Never fear people, only God. God gave you this job and he can give you another. Be held hostage by no one.

    #6. God is your ultimate judge and rewarded of a life well done.

    #7. Never be the go between for someone who wants to use you to get something or get to your husband.

    #8. Study what a Psychopath and a Narcissist are. Study it well and don’t be fooled by flattery.

    #9. It’s so difficult to hear all the horrible stories of brokeness but remember only God can heal. Don’t try to heal someone. They have to take God’s remedy.

    #10. NEVER SACRIFICE YOUR CHILDREN TO ANYTHING. THEY WILL LEAVE GOD’S SIDE AND RESENT CHRISTIANS.

  • lauta says:

    I am a pastor’s wife and have been for 40 years. I am also a mother, a daughter and I am many other people. I wear many hats just like most people when my husband became a preacher that is when I became a preacher’s wife. But I still was the other person that I was. I worked in the missions group. I led Baptists women. I played the keyboard and piano. I am on the publicity committee now. And every year I am coordinating the National Day of Prayer in our community. I have done this for 20 years. I like to work in the yards at church. I am on a cook team. I am definitely my pastor’s wife and helpmeet and helper in the church. Sometimes he says I think God created you and then he made a pastor to go with you. So I am open to criticism and whatever. However, I try to follow the example of Corrie Ten Boom. She said I give all the praises to God and when people criticize me I just give that to God also and he takes care of me. I do become very weary at times and it is hard to go on. But I keep trusting God and he supplies my needs. Sometimes I do things not because I want to but because he wants me to. Being a Christian is not an easy life most of the disciples and Christian Warriors in the Bible were killed or their life came to an end early or in adverse ways. And just like Jesus he did not have an easy life and I suspect that most Christians today who are strong and vigilant and passionate will not have an easy life. But they will have a blessed life. God is good and I don’t know of any place I’d rather be then right here beside my husband. At present we are in a very small church maybe a hundred in Sunday school on Sunday two years ago we left the church where we were having maybe two hundred and Sunday School and it has been good to downsize. I do not advise all of this…

  • Lisa Parrish says:

    I was a pastor’s wife for 20 years. I worked to put him through seminary, while abandoning my own education. He was abusive in every way imaginable, unfaithful, egotistical, narcissistic, and probably the most ungodly person I have ever known. He was fired from 2 churches and died while pastoring his 3rd church. My son legally took 2nd husband’s last name and severed ties with my ex-husband. He had affairs with at least 4 women of his congregations, and married the 4th one. All that to say, as churches figured him out and tired of his attitudes and ungodly actions, he threw me to the wolves. So, not only did I have to deal with all that your blog described, but the chief accuser was the pastor himself, my husband. Just recently, God has led me back to the 1st church he pastored out of seminary. He has healed me and the church is a different congregation. Our pastor is a Godly man and I love him. His wife is a precious young lady and I pray that God may use me to minister to her and protect her from those who wold try to harm her. The life of a pastor’s wife is a hard one, but if she has the love of her husband and his support, she can face what comes to her. She needs to rely on God and her husband and realize that not all church members are Christians. Stay strong, my sisters, many will be your rewards in Heaven.

  • Alicia says:

    I would say that pastor’s kids are vulnerable as well. We were held to often unrealistic expectations of behavior and decorum.

  • Vanessa says:

    As a pastor’s wife, I so understand much of this. But I also think we can stand up and set expectations and establish a culture in our churches that help us not be burdened. Obviously, we serve and love and are Christ-like, but we do not have to allow ourselves to be bullied. I wrote a blog post about the topic a few months ago. http://www.vanessambush.com/#!On-Being-a-Pastors-Wife/cgla/571a3bea0cf2dd6f7fc8f1f7

  • As a Pastor’s wife of 34 years, I am fully aware of this truth. I’m not sure how to transfer this knowledge to our congregants. I feel that the pastor is unappreciated and misunderstood by most, but the pastor’s family is unnoticed. Only a preacher’s wife or child understands how sacrificial a life we live. Lord help us not to grow weary in well doing. In due time, we will reap if we do not faint. Thank you for your acknowledgement.

    • DevinePurpose2016 says:

      I am only in the process of becoming a pastor’s wife. However, most of this process even the testing has been public. I often struggle with what activities to become involved in during this pre-engagement stage. Any advice?

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