THE PASTORS WIFE
The transition from singleness to married life is tough. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female. But when you marry a pastor, that transition can become a nightmare.
I have been in ministering since I was 16 and full-time ministry since 1985. I am amazed at how many things have changed with time, and I am just as amazed by some things that didn’t - but should have.
Thus the reason for this blog entry. Even though I am passionate about small groups, Pentecost, and the church - I want to get this off my chest.
Here are a few things that I see.
The Pastors' wife is supposed to work for free. I’ve heard church boards say, “Well, it is a package deal.” Or, “Good! 2 for 1.” You should always ask if the wife can serve. Never assume that she can. Her responsibilities at that time may not allow her. She may be homeschooling her kids, caring for an elderly parent, or improving her skill set through online education. If she wants to serve as a small group teacher or as a greeter - fine. If she wants to volunteer her ministry, that’s fine. But if you are asking her to serve in a staff position that was or should be a paid position - do not assume that you don’t have to pay her. The “Well it’s a package deal” devalues her. Not good.
Why is pay necessary? It’s not about the money. It is about honoring her worth. Would you work at a job where they didn’t appreciate you and expected you to work for free? No.
The Pastors' wife is supposed to be silent. I laugh at this one. Some of the most outspoken people I know are women evangelists, leaders, and pastors. (My wife is on this list.) Why would you take away her voice? God can use her to speak wisdom and knowledge into a church. Her experiences are different from those of her spouse. From her place before Christ can see things that Pastor cannot and speak life and hope that he cannot say.
Now the inevitable conflict happens when she disagrees with her husband. Some think that their marriage has come to an end if she balks at him. Others, too quickly for my liking, start yelling at the Pastor that he is not in control of his wife. Chill out. I am speaking to everyday life and matters of ministry. Let them work it out. I don’t know how many times my staff has witnessed my wife and I go at it. Listen, when you have two alpha personalities, it’s going to happen. If her heart is with her husband, she will yield to His decision. (That wasn’t a sexist statement.) They are working together to build the best church for Jesus they can. It isn’t easy.
When she disagrees and openly rebels against his authority, other problems need to be dealt with.
The Pastors' wife shouldn’t be a credentialed minister. Since 1914 the Assemblies of God have been credentialing women ministers, evangelists, and missionaries. Yet to this day, I meet people who think that women shouldn’t be in ministry; thus, the Pastor's wife shouldn’t be credentialed.
But what about Miriam, a prophet who served alongside her brothers? You know them, Moses and Aaron (Ex. 15:20) Deborah, both a prophet and a judge (Judges 4 & 5). What do you do with her? Huldah, a prophet who helped spark religious reform in the days of King Josiah (2 Kings 22:14–20; 2 Chronicles 34:22–28)
That’s Old Testament Russ. What about the New Testament? I’m glad you asked. In Acts 2, Peters declares that women of all ages and backgrounds will prophesy. We can see Tabitha (Dorcas) (Acts 9:36). Philip’s four unmarried daughters (Acts 21:8,9). Paul spoke of two women, Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2,3). There is Priscilla found in (Romans 16:3,4). In Romans 16, Paul greets several women in ministry. Phoebe, a leader in the church at Cenchrea, was highly commended by Paul (Romans 16:1,2).
The Pastors' wife should keep her kids under control all the time. You can’t keep your kids under control half the time, but you expect the Pastors wife to do the impossible? Funny. They are kids, and especially when they are young, they will do what all kids do. Listen, I get it. Some parents are more laid back than others. But you are not their parents, and as such, you don’t get a vote. When they are in their teens, problems can arise. Especially if they see the church as a PK (preachers kid), treat their mom and dad poorly. This is why you should always treat the parents of these kids with the utmost respect. They watch their parents go through hell just to do the right thing. Then they don’t need to see their parents go through hell because the church is acting like it’s from hell.
No, the whole church doesn’t get a say in how they are raised. That isn’t to say that some are willing to invest their lives into the wife's heart and speak wisdom through a loving relationship. But carte blanc parenting? No. You didn’t allow everyone to tell you how to be a parent, so stop placing unreasonable expectations on the Pastor and his family.
The Pastors wife will be crucified when they don’t want to touch the Pastor. In some churches, speaking against the Pastor is a no-no. But attacking the Pastors wife isn’t. Highly dysfunctional environments produce this problem, and as a general rule, it has gone on for years. The solution most often usually requires the Pastor's resignation. Then the cycle starts again. If you are looking at pastoring a church, call the previous Pastor and ask him how they treated his wife.
People will approach the Pastors wife about something that should be presented to the Pastor. This one irks me. They will not go to the Pastor with their problem, so they will go to the wife. If she is wise, the wife will say - “You need to speak to the Pastor about this. I will let him know that you will be in contact with him soon.” They will try to weasel their way out of it, but once you establish that pattern, it usually stops the “dumping.”
Why does this happen? Expectations and dysfunctional traditions. Most people who attend a church will set their expectations for their Pastor based upon their favorite Pastor of the past. This is usually their first Pastor, the one who spent the most time with them after salvation. Do you like it when someone says to you, “I wish you were more like (insert name of person here)?” Doesn’t that just warm the cockles of your heart? Could you stop it?
Some people have a snapshot of what their preferred Pastor and Pastor's wife should be. Problem is. They took that Polaroid in the ’70s. Pastoring and the pastors' lives have changed. You’re going to have to change with it.
Well, I don’t know if I would qualify that as a rant. But I do believe that the church should take the time to respect and honor the ones who will stand before the throne of God and give an account for their ministry. They are willing to go to the gates of hell with you. Don’t be afraid to help them when they face tough battles too.