#HopeForPastorsWives, Ministry, Pastors' Wives, Pray for Your Pastor's Wife

The Pastor’s Wife: To Care or Not To Care?


“I wish I didn’t care so much.” If I’ve uttered this phrase once, I’ve uttered it a thousand times. Sometimes my husband has replied, “I’m glad you do care so much” and other times he has said, “I wish you didn’t care so much either.”

This is one of those phrases and feelings that I thought was unique to me in ministry. But the longer I interact with pastors’ wives in my ministry of encouragement, the more I’ve come to realize that there are patterns among pastors’ wives. Understand this: I will be the last person on earth to box up pastors’ wives into neat packages. Each one is uniquely gifted for her husband and for the ministry she is part of. But there are distinct patterns of similarity among us. The many emails I receive show me that the majority of pastors’ wives fall into one of the following mindsets:

The “care too much” pastor’s wife:

When “care too much” pastors’ wives write to me, they say something like this: “I can’t imagine doing anything else but ministry. We’ve been doing this for X amount of years at such-and-such church. I love serving alongside my husband, but this is killing me. The last few years have been a nightmare that feels like it won’t end. I want to walk away from it all because it is just too much to bear. How do I care less about what is happening at church?”

Interestingly, the “care too much” pastor’s wives may entertain thoughts of walking away, but they rarely actually do it…because they care too much. However, they do get burned out and need support both from other pastors’ wives and from their husband shielding them from as much drama and hurt as possible {many times this is extremely hard to accomplish}. Why do they get burned out? Because they are constantly caring….The “care too much” are usually found reaching out to someone, counseling or praying with one of their ladies, checking up on someone who is sick, lending a listening ear, and are deeply involved emotionally with the church people and with what is going on at the church. They are very “hands on” with ministry, sometimes to a fault. They tend to be emotionally charged about church matters, and have trouble separating “personal” from “business.” They are often oblivious to their own self care needs, and drive themselves to the brink of desperation before they reach out for help. When they get overwhelmed, they become a  “don’t care,” but only temporarily.

The “don’t care” pastor’s wife:

When “don’t care” pastors’ wives write to me, they say something like this: “My husband is a pastor- he became one later in life- but I don’t feel called to ministry. I see it as two separate jobs. I work my job and he works his- he just happens to be a pastor.” Some of these pastors’ wives express frustration that their husband has become a pastor and resentment that the ministry keeps invading their marriage and life as a couple. Others say it works quite well for them to be distanced from the ministry. They are blissfully unaware of ministry details and are often absent from church activities. Regardless of whether it’s working well or not working at all, the “don’t care” tend to keep a purposeful distance that prevents their ladies from getting close to them, so as not to be involved with ongoing counseling matters. They do not share their husband’s burden and calling, but instead enjoy a separate life.

Interestingly, these pastors’ wives seem to be the ones who walk away. Perhaps, deep down, they really do care more than they realize, but usually they care about totally different ministry aspects than the “care too much” pastors’ wives. They don’t reach out for ministry support, but rather for help in coming to terms with their seeming lack of calling. They want to know how to make their marriage work and how to keep their people from resenting them for their lack of involvement {emotionally and practically}. And because of stereotypes concerning pastors’ wives of years gone by, the “don’t care” assume that they are atypical.


There are many ins and outs that are intertwined with these two perspectives on being a pastor’s wife- more than can be expressed in one article. So- at surface value- is one of them better or worse than the other?

Not necessarily.

Both have perks and potential downfalls. Both can become self focused. Both can offer great blessings. Both can be used right where God has placed them.

Both need heaps of grace.

To care or not to care- that is the question. And although we all lean heavily towards one or the other, perhaps one day we’ll all figure out how to be a little of both…


A Kindred Spirit

2 thoughts on “The Pastor’s Wife: To Care or Not To Care?

  1. I am totally the care too much, I am currently trying desperately as a church planting wife to be a helpmate my husband, his only other leader in the church, Bible study teacher,and a mom of three!! I am praying that the Holy Spirit will guide and direct me in every way to balance all of this and not care so much!! The how is very hard… More experience pastors wives, please help!!!

    Also, tried to get in the group and won’t work for some reason?

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