Six Ways Ministry Spouses Get Hurt

Woman wearing a white hat looking out to the horizon

I want to share a Thom Rainer blog with you today and by the title you are probably asking, “Only Six Ways Ministry Spouses Get Hurt?” We could all list a dozen more ways we are hurt as pastors’ wives but I know you can relate to this blog with what are probably the top six ways we get hurt.

“Hey, I’m not on the church payroll. Go complain to someone else!”

The moment the words left his mouth, he knew he blew it. His wife was the church’s children’s minister. Too often he received complaints about the ministry as if it were his responsibility. On that one occasion, he lost his temper after one complaint too many.

We often lose sight of those in churches whose spouses serve on staff. These are the spouses of executive pastors, youth pastors, children’s pastors, lead pastors and others. We have heard from these spouses through thousands of comments at ThomRainer.com.

We want you to see the six issues we have heard most frequently. We want you to be aware of them so you can offer ministry, encouragement and friendship to spouses of those who serve in the church. Sometimes those are among the loneliest people in the church.

Here, then, are six of the most common ways ministry spouses get hurt:

  1. Complaints about their spousesA student ministry spouse heard complaints for months about her husband. The great tragedy was when the head of the personnel committee told her that her husband was about to be fired. The husband had not heard that news.
  2. High expectations about ministry involvementA pastor’s wife shared with us about an elder calling her house looking for her husband. Upon informing him her husband was not in, the elder asked her questions about the upcoming elders’ meeting. When the wife was not able to answer, the elder complained about her lack of knowledge about what was going on in the church.
  3. Complaints about the children. One of the ways to inflict the greatest pain on someone is to attack his or her children. It is beyond belief how many church members expect a model of behavior for the minister’s family well beyond expectations of their own families. Cut a child and the parent bleeds.
  4. Isolation.Some church members don’t know how to interact with ministry spouses, so they ignore them altogether. Vocational ministry can be lonely. Being the spouse of a vocational minister can be lonely as well.
  5. Gossip and murmuringSome churches have a modest level of gossip and murmuring. Other churches are pretty vocal with gossip and murmuring. At some point a spouse of a minister will hear something about his or her spouse. That hurts. That hurts a lot.
  6. Going to the spouse with problems about the ministerA worship minister shared with us this tragic story. He was caught up in some worship wars, an all too common reality. The worship leader, however, was pretty thick-skinned, and moved forward despite the criticisms. When the critics saw they were not making progress with the worship leader, they began to attack his wife with their issues. She went into deep depression, and the worship leader ultimately left the church for his wife and family.

It is indeed tough to be in vocational ministry. But it’s also tough to be the spouse of these ministers. Pray for them. Encourage them. Befriend them.

I would dare say we have all experienced all six of these at some point in our ministry. We don’t have to be in ministry very long to know what the hurt feels like. But know you have a “safe place” here in The Confidante to share those hurts with other women that understand and will pray for you.

Please let us know how we can come alongside you on your ministry journey!

Click here to read the original blog on ThomRainer.com

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on January 27, 2016. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and nine grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

About Rodetta Cook

Rodetta Cook has been a pastor’s wife for 40 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.

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