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9 Things You Should Be Doing to Support Your Pastor’s Wife

 

9ThingstoSupportPastorsWife

1. Pray specifically and consistently for her.

Prayer is the most important thing you will ever do for your pastor’s wife. I made this one number one because ironically, if you are not praying for her, it is likely that you will struggle with supporting her in the other eight ways outlined in this article. But if you are spending the time and effort in prayer for your pastor’s wife, it will be easy to support her in other ways. Funny how that works! Here are some specific areas of prayer that your pastor’s wife needs:

~Pray that she will continually nurture her relationship with God and that she will be a Godly woman of spiritual beauty and strength.

~Pray that she will love, honour, and support her husband, and that their marriage will be strong and Christ honouring

~Pray that she will have wisdom and strength to raise Godly children

~Pray for her emotional and mental stamina, especially when she is under ministry pressure or attack

~Pray that she will fit comfortably into the role that God designs for her in her present season of life and ministry

~Pray for her on Saturday afternoons/evenings and Sunday mornings. The enemy seems to be especially active on that day, trying to ruffle things up for Sunday. Ask any pastor and wife. We all have “crazy Saturday night/Sunday morning” stories.

 2. Ask her how you can serve. Then follow through on your commitment.

This point may work itself out differently depending on the size of the church. But given the fact that most churches are small and don’t employ a large staff, your pastor’s wife is likely overseeing several ministries within the church and she likely needs help in those areas. Did you know that she hates to beg for volunteers? She knows you have a busy life and that when you give your time to the church, it is a sacrifice. It means the world to her when you come to her and say “How can I help with {insert church ministry here}?” or “Can I take something off your schedule this week?” or “What do you need me to do and/or bring for {insert upcoming event here}?” When my ladies asked these things of me, and then followed through without my reminding them, it literally made me sigh with relief. It is stressful to chase people down and ask a second time.  You want to bless your pastor’s wife? Look for ways to help, be a willing volunteer, and follow through on your commitments!

3. Support her husband well.

It looks like this:

~Don’t criticize her husband to others. Leadership carries a huge responsibility, and in most cases he’s doing the best he can. Instead of criticizing, pray for him.

~Don’t criticize her husband to her. Nothing is more awkward than hearing a complaint about your husband, who also happens to be your most favourite person on earth. From my experience, in some cases that complaint should have gone straight to him. In other cases, I’ve been glad it came to me instead of him. It gave me the choice of whether or not to let him be weighed down with even knowing it. But either way, it’s awkward.  My husband is a salesman while we are on our sabbatical, and I haven’t once received a complaint, a threat, or an accusation about him from a person in his field. Just the thought of that happening is very odd. But it happens all the time in churches because people think they own the pastor.

~Don’t flirt with her husband. Seriously. I wish I did not have to include this one, but it happens more than you want to know.  {I will refrain from sharing my own stories in this area.} Pastors’ wives email me often with concerns about how to handle a woman in the church who is flirting with their husband, finding ways to spend time with him, and bantering with him in ways that make the pastor’s wife very uncomfortable. Yes, pastors should have boundaries. But church women need to be above reproach in this area as well. Support your pastor’s wife by not intruding into her marriage or even giving her cause to worry.

4. Be kind to her children.

It looks like this:

~Don’t expect her children to be perfect. They are normal children, just like yours. They aren’t born with halos just because a pastor fathered them. Neither will they automatically choose to follow God as a result of growing up in a pastor’s home. Give them the freedom to be normal kids, with no extra expectations.

~Don’t criticize her children to others. This is otherwise known as gossip. And it may surprise you to know that it does get back to the children. I have been glad that my children were small in our first ten years of ministry, and I was hopeful that they would miss most of what happened. But even they have had things to process during our sabbatical, and I’ve been surprised at the questions they have had about specific people in our last ministry and about what was said and done against them. Your pastor’s wife is a normal mom, and has normal feelings {sometimes ‘mama bear’ comes out} when her children are hurt by people in the church.

~Take an interest in and pray for her adult children. I was surprised recently {when I was conducting a poll} to have older pastors’ wives say that it would be such an encouragement if people would ask about and take an interest in their children who are grown up and out of the house. Empty nesters still want to talk about their children just like they did when their children were small.

5. Be a trusted friend to her.

Your pastor’s wife is likely a friend to everyone, but may feel like she is friends with no one. Relationships within the church are so very tricky. They can and do go sour at a moment’s notice. Most pastors’ wives have been betrayed by at least one person in the church who once called them friend. Be a trusted friend to your pastor’s wife! Even if you can’t or don’t get close enough to be “buddy-buddy” {this can cause other issues if she is perceived to be picking favourites}, just be a good friend. Pray for her, reach out to her, include her, keep confidences, don’t gossip about her or turn on her or monopolize her time. You know, all the things you do for your friends- do those things! Be an easy person to have a relationship with. Be the kind of person who, if she were looking for a best friend, she would consider you. But don’t get offended if she doesn’t choose you. I feel like I’m talking in circles. That’s because- as I said earlier- relationships within the church are tricky and quite honestly, very risky when you’re the pastor’s wife.

6. Shed your expectations.

Everyone has a set of expectations about the pastor’s wife. Even if you think you don’t, you do. You measure her by your own perception of what you think she should be. But what if it is your thinking that is flawed? What God wants your pastor’s wife to be and do is between her and God and her husband. You are supporting her when you give her the freedom to be who God wants her to be. This may be a sort of evolution, depending on the ministry, location, tenure, culture, season of life, health, talents and gifts, and other factors of her life at any given time. You are supporting your pastor’s wife when you consciously shed your expectations and do not let them shape your impression of her. May I add that this is not necessarily a one time thing?  It’s more like a string of choices you make over time in relation to your pastor’s wife.

7. Give her grace to be imperfect.

Your pastor’s wife is a flawed sinner, just like you. She is going to sin. She is going to let you down. She is going to disappoint you. She is an imperfect wife and mother. She is not a super Christian, even if she teaches a class or leads a ladies Bible study. She may lose her temper or speak words that she regrets. She may not listen well when you are sharing something really important. She may have marriage struggles or struggles with depression. She may need counseling at times. This should not surprise or disillusion you. Rather, it should motivate you to pray for her and to extend the same grace to her that you wish for others to extend to you in your failures. Her struggles and imperfections are often put on display. I promise, she is very aware of them. She needs grace from you. You are supporting her when you do not expect her to be perfect.

8. Come alongside her instead of thwarting her.

Maybe this one sounds a bit odd to non pastors’ wives. But every pastor’s wife has or has had one or more people {typically women} who attempt to thwart her involvement in the church. These same people will often turn around and criticize her for not being involved enough. Perhaps jealousy is at the root of this type of behaviour; but whatever the reason, it is very discouraging. For pastors’ wives, it is exhausting {especially in a long term situation} to have everything you put your hand to be criticized or boycotted.  The constant drama of disgruntled people fighting change and progress is wearisome, to put it mildly. If your pastor’s wife is involved, thank God for that! Encourage her. Support her ideas, even if you think they won’t work. Jump in and help, even if she is doing things differently than you would. Let her explore and use her talents and spiritual gifts. Instead of judging her motives and creating an atmosphere of competition, come alongside her as she serves.

9. Give her space to be “in process.”

Sanctification is a process. And isn’t it interesting how we graciously allow ourselves to be “in process,” yet we expect our leaders to be farther along in that process than we are. Or perhaps we unconsciously think they are or should be finished with their process.  Your pastor’s wife may not have been saved as long as you have, or may not have had the opportunities to mature spiritually that you have had. Sanctification is not a ladder whereby we climb high and pass each other. Rather, it is a timeline whereby God is continually working to bring us closer to Himself as a more holy child of His. This process looks different for each believer. Who are we to decide where each other should be, or to measure spiritual maturity by our own selves? God did not choose her to be a pastor’s wife because she had arrived. Most of the time, it is the opposite. God chooses broken, unlikely people to serve Him. You are supporting your pastor’s wife when you give her the space to grow and to be “in process.”

Thoughtful gifts and acts of kindness are nice, but it’s the things money can’t buy that matter the most to your pastor’s wife. Will you pray and ask God to show you an area {or several} where you can better support your pastor’s wife? You might be amazed at how He answers!

XOXO,

A Kindred Spirit

*Read the companion article “9 Things You Should Be Doing to Support Your Pastor”

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11 thoughts on “9 Things You Should Be Doing to Support Your Pastor’s Wife

  1. Wonderful article. God bless you as you use the gift He has given you. (Reaching others through the written word.)

  2. Very good Leah 🙂 The Sat/Sun prayer one was the best. That is truly the days I’m attacked by the enemy the most.

    1. I’ve been amazed at how peaceful our Saturdays and Sundays are now that we are on a sabbatical. Unbelievable how the enemy fights God’s servants in full time ministry! I’ve always known that he did, but now having the contrast it is even more clear!

  3. This is so true. I am a pastor’s wife and I’ve been betrayed by people I thought were my friends. Every Sunday is a battle because Satan attacks the most on this day. It is a mental battle to focus on Christ and not on the hurts of people. Yes, if only people would pray for their pastor and stop criticizing him. 30 years of ministry has shown me that the best friendships for a pastor’s wife are friendships outside the church with other like minded believers.

    1. You are right- the safest relationships seem to be outside of the church, sadly. In our previous ministry, though, God gifted us with two families who were and still are trusted friends who we could truly be ourselves around. What a gift!

  4. Leah, great article! My BIL is a pastor and though my SIL doesn’t share a lot with me it grieves my heart to hear how women in her very own church can be hurtful… Grace…grace…grace… praying we’d ALL extend more of it and offer support and prayer to our staff.

    1. Yes….grace is the key. It IS very sad that most pastors and wives could say their worst attacks come from within the church. It grieves me, both from my own experiences and from hearing the experiences of so many others. God help us to stop tearing each other apart and instead build each other up! I am sure you are a balm to your brother and sister in law! God bless you for that!

  5. Our Pastor’s wife is a very precious lady. Having been the wife of the “guy in charge” I realize that you cannot pick one person over all others. I opted to make a best friend with someone whose husband was not on my husbands’ ship (Navy wife). It worked out better. And I have told Pastors’ wives before that they should have a best friend with someone who isn’t a church member. Having said that, we’re all here for our Pastor’s wife. She’s a terrific sister in Christ!

  6. This is a wonderful list! Thank you! I have been a pastor’s wife for almost 25 years and have found that #4 hits closest to home. When others criticize or have high expectations of my imperfect kids, it’s by far the toughest thing! Thanks again:)

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