By Kristin B. Sizemore
Contrary to popular belief, a pastor’s wife, is, in fact, human. We love our husbands, our families, our callings, our ministry, and our church. We do our best to advance spiritually in order to help those who need us. We understand that our husbands have a high calling and one of our callings is to support his work for the Lord and to be his “help meet”. Still, as we strive to be all that we are called to be, us pastors’ wives deal with some pretty extreme emotions at times. We see and hear more of the good, bad, and the ugly than you can imagine. We spend a lot of time praying for others and also a good deal of time praying for ourselves. One of my frequent prayers is, “Lord, put within me a right spirit.” (I figure, if it worked for my passionate, good-hearted, but sometimes emotional and hot-headed, friend, David, it’ll work for me.) Your pastor’s wife loves you. She has a burden for you. She’s also a wife, a mom, and a person. She can be pushed over the edge. Whether you want to push your pastor’s wife over the edge or avoid doing so, this list is for you.
7. Lack of effort
Your pastor’s wife likely fills many roles within the church, especially if your church is small to medium sized. She understands that life is busy. In fact, she may just understand better than anyone in the building. She understands that every job is not for every person. She understands that there are seasons in which you may not be spiritually, physically, or emotionally able to contribute your efforts. She doesn’t blame you for not putting your name on the tenth sign up sheet she’s placed in the foyer this month. She’s probably not even going to call you out on it. She’ll sit and look at volunteer lists and fill ten jobs with five people. Just do her one favor: if you volunteer, put your name on a volunteer list, or otherwise commit yourself, be ready to work. While she understands life better than you may think, she doesn’t understand not giving your best effort for the Lord. She understands your best better than you realize. While your best, at times, may seem like not enough, she knows you’re giving all you have. She also knows when you’re not.
Your pastor’s wife sees you. She can tell what kind of mood you’re in when you walk in the building. She has a spiritual inclination that often lets her know when you’re struggling or hurting. She can be just about to grab you and shake you when a wave of compassion courses through her and all she can do is cry with you and pray for you. Just spare her the foolishness. She can tell when you’re making excuses and when you’re being dramatic, self-elevating, malicious towards others, or just plain selfish. Just be honest and up-front with her. She can deal with the truth, even when you’re at your worst. She doesn’t have the time or energy to deal with foolishness.
5. You talk about her church or her congregation.
If you know a pastor’s wife, but she’s not your pastor’s wife, probably don’t speak in a negative way about her church or her people. Remember when Jesus said it would be better to be cast into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to offend a believer? Yeah, He may have been planning on releasing a pastor’s wife on you. Just don’t. She knows her people. She knows their strengths and weaknesses. She knows her church. She knows what is working and what the Lord is working on. You’ll find that she’s very protective, especially when it comes from someone who means her church or the people in it harm. Go for the millstone instead.
4. Show unfairness to her family and friends.
Sadly, at times, ministry, especially pastoral work, can be a lonely place. Pastor’s wives learn to guard their hearts and even their personalities. Every one isn’t trustworthy. Every one isn’t there to stay. Some will use a low moment against you. A pastor’s wife has many people she loves, but few friends. Many of those are her family, because their love seems more unconditional and lasting. She treasures the few true friends she finds along the way and the family members who are loyal to her and to her husband’s ministry. Don’t be cruel or unfair to them. She will stand up for them. They are precious to her. She shares a lot of her life with a lot of people. They are hers and she will protect them.
3. Cause division in her church.
A pastor’s calling is complicated. While a good pastor also has good discernment, he’s often called to minister to people in a long-suffering way. Long before the Lord says, “Enough”, the pastor’s wife knows it’s coming. She sees the signs: whispered conversations, a shift in personality (suddenly outgoing or suddenly withdrawn), the defiant facial expressions, the well-placed remarks. While the Lord is working through the pastor to offer opportunities for change or repentance, He’s often preparing a pastor’s wife for what’s headed their way. Proverbs 6:16-19 lets us in on the things God hates. Yes, hates. He that sows discord among believers makes the list. While the pastor’s wife hopefully realizes that she is not the Almighty Creator and perfectly righteous Judge of the universe, she’s not a fan of “he that sows discord among the brethren” either. Don’t come in her church intending to tear it apart and expect her not to protect her husband, her family, and her church. Romans 16:17 instructs us to mark those who cause division and offenses contrary to the Word and then, avoid them. If you come out of the church with a giant “T” (for “trouble”) on your forehead in permanent ink, the pastor’s wife may have just interpreted that scripture very literally and jerked out her Sharpie on you.
2. Mess with her kids.
Pastor’s kids pay a high price; higher than you realize if you’ve never been in pastoral ministry. They have to live up to what their dad is preaching to every one else. They have to follow the rules when no one else does. They see their parents give all they have and then sometimes see them hurt and mistreated. They’re always being watched. They’re sometimes the only kids that show up for things like prayer sessions or community witnessing, the last ones in line for food, the kids who help clean up regardless of the fun that may be ensuing elsewhere, and sometimes the kids who don’t get recognized. They’re the kids who often get in trouble in front of everyone when they slip up. The pastor’s wife is fine with this, for the most part. She believes in faithfulness, obedience, and paying the price. She wants her kids to learn those things. Still, she knows they carry a heavy load a lot of the time. She knows a lot is expected of them. She knows that many of these expectations are for man rather than for God. She feels the unfairness of the pedestal they’re often placed on. She remembers that they’re still just kids. While a pastor’s wife is often tough on her kids, she also values them and the price they pay. Just because she allows certain things for their protection, for the good of the ministry, and the good of the church, never think she doesn’t recognize the unfairness and pressure they deal with much of the time. Your pastor’s wife is a mom. She’s diligent and watchful. Don’t attack, threaten, or use her children. Trust me. Remember Samuel’s righteous anger towards Saul that was carried out on Agag? He wasn’t even a mom.
1. Be disrespectful to her husband.
A pastor’s calling is expansive. He’s called to lead, preach, teach, counsel, intercede, and otherwise minister to his flock. While a pastor’s wife shares his burden and calling, she has a job all her own. A pastor’s wife is called to take care of her husband and his needs. She gets him dressed, in the car, and into the pulpit when anyone else would call in sick to any other job. She watches him gladly go out on hospital visits at 2 am. She prays for him when his load is heavy. She wakes up to an empty bed to find her husband praying or pacing the floors because he’s after an answer for his church, burdened for his congregation, or worried about one person. She tries to keep things light for the kids while her husband is quiet and shut down for days at a time because you are on his heart or because the Lord has given him a tough message to deliver. She sees him at his best and his worst. She knows that he’s not perfect, but that he is genuine, sincere, and giving all he has to give, both to the Lord and to his congregation. He’s not only her husband. He’s her pastor and she can appreciate a pastor more than most.
Don’t be disrespectful to her man. Your pastor’s wife is fine when you disagree respectfully, interpret something differently, or ask questions, as long as you do so in a respectful and appropriate manner. Don’t cross that line. First of all, it’s not biblical. Take a read through Scripture. Take a look at God’s loyalty to those who were faithful and loyal to Him. Second of all, remember that extra calling that a pastor’s wife has? The one where she’s called to take care of her husband? Don’t forget that one. While you may feel a kindred spirit of friendship with your pastor, he’s still your pastor. God has placed him in a position of authority over you. God has called him to lead you. If you can’t respect that, find a pastor with a calling you can respect. In the meantime, don’t attack him personally, speak to him rudely or condescendingly, or think that you know better than what God is dealing with him on. Most importantly, this is not pleasing to the Lord. Of secondary concern, there is a woman lurking around because she saw you coming months ago. She’s listening. She’s watching. She’s protecting. Don’t expect to be disrespectful to her husband and her pastor and then expect her to be okay with it…
because you’ve just pushed her over the edge.
Meet the Author!
Kristin B. Sizemore is a pastor’s wife, mom, stepmom, author, and hair stylist. When she’s not writing, she loves to read, sing, listen to music, and talk on the phone. Kristin has big dreams, a big heart, and a big imagination! She loves the Lord, her family, and her crazy life!