I’ve been chatting with Lisa Jacobson, the beautiful proprietor of this website, because she’s been hearing from women who are pastor’s wives. “What about us?” you say. “What about how hard it is to be a pastor’s wife?”
We hear you, and we get it. I’ve been a pastor’s wife for almost 14 years, and Lisa’s been a pastor’s wife for longer than that. We know the pressures it puts on your marriage, your kids, and your finances. We know the pain that can blindside you in ministry. We know the inner struggle of trying to be a “good” pastor’s wife, and what does that even mean?
Mostly we know that you need somebody to talk to about all of this, but that is instantly difficult.
Who are you going to talk to about your church and its effects on your heart? Hmmm.
Being a Pastor’s Wife
Being a pastor’s wife requires extreme discretion, by the nature of the role you’re in. You know the behind-the-scenes details of many situations. Your husband takes phone calls in the night –can’t tell anybody about those. You often see who approaches him with the question, “May I talk to you for a minute?” The minute turns into an hour –can’t tell anybody about that. You probably know about the disgruntled church members and their sometimes unrestrained lashing out at your husband or the church –can’t talk to anybody about those.
Are you going to pull one of your church people aside and say, “Hey, pastoring is really putting a strain on my marriage” or “Some of this church responsibility is making life hard for my kids.” Uh, no. Can’t talk to the congregation when the congregation is the source of the challenge.
But wow do you need to talk about all of this, because it is a hard job. There’s a boatload of reward and sweet days in pastoring a church (don’t forget that –you didn’t forget that, did you?), but there are challenges and wounds and questions and fatigue.
Proverbs 2:11, King Solomon says:
Discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you. (ESV)
Being discrete will protect your husband, you, and your family, as you work in ministry, so finding a trustworthy, appropriate confidant is of utmost importance.
Your husband is a confidant for sure, but you need a girlfriend who will help carry your load.
One of the best people to talk to is another pastor’s wife. I have a precious friend who is a pastor’s wife in another state. We talk weekly about the unique challenges and rewards of ministry life, and there is safety in this. She is not part of my congregation, and I am not part of hers. She gets how I feel, and I understand her. Even in these private conversations, though, we are careful to build and not to gossip. We speak honorably of our church families, even as we talk about the hard times and frustrations.
Sometimes God will rise up someone in your congregation, with the gift of helping and a desire to be of service to the pastor’s family. I have a sweet friend who used to live here and attend our church, and she was the picture of discretion. God shaped her to be a listener and a woman of wise counsel. I could safely talk to her about all the church stuff.
Start with the Lord, though. He is safe. Tell him you need a confidant, and keep asking, asking, asking until he provides for you. He understands.
Until then, Lisa and I hear you, sister.
Much love from Montana,
Christy Fitzwater is a writer and pastor’s wife living in Kalispell, Montana. She has a daughter who is married and a son in college. Christy writes to help people know God, and you can find her new book about becoming blameless on Amazon. Or follow her devotional blog at ChristyFitzwater. You can follow Christy on Instagram here!