Being the wife of a pastor is a life besieged by the expectations of other people. How can you handle these expectations in a way that brings God glory?
They are the superheroes of the church. Piano player, flower-arranger, church secretary, Sunday School teacher, librarian, punch-maker, casserole-baker, children’s choir director, hostess for out-of-town guests, and often the janitor.
Woman, thy name is Pastor’s Wife! Stand up and take a bow (before you flop on the floor of the lobby in sheer exhaustion).
Pastors' wives have the dubious privilege of being in one of the professions most pierced with the unrealistic expectations of other people. (I’m sure being the wife of a president or prime minister carries some of the same challenges to an even greater degree. I’m so glad I’m not called to that, aren’t you?!)
Quite often these expectations are completely contradictory.
If you are the wife of a man in the ministry, you are expected by some people to hold down a full-time secular job (to support the pastor since the church can’t) or never to make money on the side (since you should not need money when God provides all your needs).
You are expected to both oversee the nursery and teach the children’s church, even though they take place at the same time.
You are expected to make all the meals for the church fellowships and yet allow all the other women to make their specialty foods.
You are expected to keep your own house absolutely glisteningly clean so that you can have company at any moment and yet always be at the church in order to meet secretarial or janitorial needs.
You are expected to rear your children in such a way that they will be angelic examples for everyone else, and yet be prepared to desert your family at a moment’s notice in order to meet everyone else's urgent needs.
These expectations from everyone around you could lead to stress, discouragement, irritation, or apathy. Instead of giving in to these natural responses, free yourself from the expectations of others and focus on God’s expectations for you!
The truth is, God made every pastor’s wife differently. Some are piano geniuses; others can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Some are natural organizers; others struggle with making their beds in the mornings. Some have secretarial skills that would make a Fortune 500 executive’s office manager blush; some can’t type and have to beg their teenagers to turn on the computer for them.
I like to think of pastors' wives as a bouquet of flowers in the hand of God.
Pastors' wives, like flowers, are lovely in their variety: all different colors, all different types of flowers, with all different beautiful scents. Some are tall, elegant, and reserved like a Calla Lily. Others are as cheerful as a daffodil. Some have the vibrancy of tulips; others have the delicacy of roses.
Each one is unique, with different strengths and weaknesses. And each one adds to the beauty of God’s Kingdom.
If you are a lay person, take a moment to look at your pastor’s wife this way. Don’t judge her by your expectations. Ask yourself instead what her God-given strengths are. And then watch the way she uses those strengths for the glory of God and the church. And thank God for her.
If you are a pastor’s wife, don’t be weighed down by the unrealistic expectations of others. Understand that people pay a high compliment to your role when they magnify all of the potential ways in which that role can be fulfilled. But filter those expectations through two things:
1. Your knowledge of God and His will for you.
2. Your husband’s needs and desires.
When God first made Eve, He gave her a high calling: to be a helper fit for her husband. That, my dear friend, is your true calling. . . just as it is for every wife.
Yes, there are many other ways of fulfilling your role. I have met pastors' wives all over the world who are fulfilling their roles in beautiful, unique ways. But don’t forget these two most important things: God and your husband. If you get those right, everything else will fall into line.
Live with that mission.
Tim and Laura
Timothy and Laura Berrey are missionaries with Gospel Fellowship Association. They share a passion for missions which has taken them to several countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. They currently minister in the Philippines.
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