Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Pastor's Wife

Since returning from the RHMA conference for small-town pastors yesterday, I’ve been catching up with many of my favorite bloggers. A current meme that has been circulating among blogsites is “the …. formerly known as …” A particularly poignant posting by Lyn Hallewell at Beyond the 4 Walls is called: “The Women Who Have Been Known As The Pastor’s Wife.”
After spending the last three days in the company of pastors’ wives, it saddens me to realize that a significant number of them are suffering from the same wounds experienced by Lyn Hallewell. Some of those wives were young—still in their 20’s or early 30’s. Some were still full of ideals. Some had already been sliced in pieces and didn’t know who to turn to for help. Some of the older ladies had built walls for protection. And some, I’m sure had made peace with their “calling” or their martyrdom. And I never even got to know them.
Even though the theme of the conference was to measure our ministry by God’s standards rather than by man’s, I wonder how many of these women will allow isolation and criticism and unrealistic expectations to destroy them. I wonder if anyone ever gets to know them.
Then, as I read the news headlines tonight, “Tennessee Preacher’s Wife Convicted,” hit me between the eyes. Only God knows the back story here, but there are many pastor’s wives who can read between the lines. They feel deserted by both God and their churches and become vulnerable to Satan’s lies.
How can you and I reach out to the pastors’ wives in our communities? What positive things can you do today to build up them up?


Aussie John said...

Elder's Wife,

Thankyou for you post. As I read I was emotionally affected as you reflected on the women who have been known as the pastor's wife.

My dear wife would dismiss the difficulties which were thrust upon her as water under the bridge, but I saw her hurts and struggles, some of which have affected her to this day.

Many churches expect the pastor's wife to be a second unpaid pastor. Two for the price of one. They are often expected to be a sounding board for anyone who cares to unburden themselves, without any consideration of the personal issues that involve being a pastor's wife, especially in some churches.

I could go on and on about the many times I sat with my wife trying to help her see that she ought not try to meet the expectations which were often placed on her when I was absent. More often than not the tasks that the pastor's wife is expected to perform should be done by those who place the expectations on her.

Aussie John

Elder's Wife said...

Aussie John-
I appreciate your comments. Too often the pastor's wife is seen as either "church slave" or as an obstruction to pastoral access.
As an elder's wife in a church that doesn't "do" a vocational pastor, I don't have the same expecations from the other people. But there have been times when I've reacted against my husband's (and my own) expectations! I have been known to whine that I can "smell the sacrifice burning" :)
What one practical suggestion would you give to churches who have a pastor's wife? How can people be supportive of her?

Aussie John said...


My short answer would be for for church people to treat her exactly as they expect her to treat them.

Aussie John