Dear Pastor's Wife, From My Heart, Letters to Pastors' Wives

Dear Pastor’s Wife: Thoughts On Loving Difficult People


Dear Pastor’s Wife,

      No doubt you have a name (or several) in your mind- that person who is so very difficult to love. I have them, too. Perhaps this was one of the biggest surprises of ministry for me- the fact that professing believers within the church can be incredibly hateful and malicious, both with words and actions. I’ve sat in many meetings where the tongues of others did their best to hurt, accuse, and destroy. You probably have experienced this too. And if you haven’t yet, you will. Sometimes we are able excuse ourselves from their presence, and sometimes we can’t get away so easily.  Sometimes the onslaught of shocking, ugly words rolls off, and sometimes it just sticks. And we vacillate between feeling angry with them and feeling sorry for them. The tough skin becomes tender and the tender heart becomes tough. Yes, churches and families are full of people who are difficult to love.

       But wait.

     Could it be that herein lies an exposure of our own hearts, hidden in the way we think and react to these difficult people? Could it be that when we voice the fact that other people need grace, we are are actually exposing our own need of grace? Is it not true that we cannot extend to others that which we do not possess ourselves? So if that person needs heaps of grace, then it must be true that I need those heaps first. Hmm.

     I’ve had one such difficult person in my life lately. The constancy of the unkindness often stuns me, leaving me weary and desperately pleading for grace to shut my mouth and not say something I will regret, to not respond in like manner to this person who is so very miserable and making everyone around them so. And I ask myself, Why do I see this person’s need of grace as so much greater than mine, or find it so much more difficult to extend than to another, to a friend? What if God sees ME as the difficult person to love? What if, in my pride, I’m denying myself of the grace I so desperately need? What if, upon my dependence on God and the receiving of His grace, I found that that person was actually not quite so hard to love?

    For God SO LOVED. He loved according to our need. He responded by dying on the cross to pay for my pride and gracelessness. He rose again to display the power that He has to redeem, to reconcile, to love. To heap grace. “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” {John 1:16} Did you catch that wonderful word- fullness?!

     If only we could understand the depths of our need, and the completion of His response to our need…If only we could grasp the fullness of the power and potential of the Gospel in our daily lives and practical relationships…I’m convinced we would find that those difficult people aren’t so difficult to love after all.

     Oh, this is an area where I really need to be more like Christ! In the presence of a mean person, I don’t typically say things I regret- I usually clam up and just take it on the cheek. BUT I go home and the flesh gets in the way… and then the pendulum swing starts- anger, then feeling sorry for them; anger, then feeling sorry for them; anger, then feeling sorry for them. In the anger, there is no grace. In the feeling sorry for them, there is no grace. Both are still self focused. How I long to stay in the middle, where the grace is!

     Here’s the truth- there are some really mean people out there who do a lot of damage. And we can’t avoid being influenced by them, especially as pastors’ wives. We can’t even avoid the struggle they create within us. And as much as we may justify our own lack of meanness in comparison to theirs, the issue is really not the mean people or the degree of meanness. It’s me, it’s us. It’s our lack of grace, when all the while fullness of grace is available through Christ.

     It’s about how well we understand and live out the Gospel. It’s about how much we see and understand our own desperate need for grace.  And you know….when God heaps  on grace like He loves to do, you just can’t help but extend it to others! It’s actually impossible to hold it in and store it away for yourself. I don’t know about you, but I find that truth to be amazing and life changing!

Grace was meant to be shared, to be given liberally.

And this is what I wanted to write to you about today. Maybe I am more processing my own need in this letter. But…I’m pretty sure that most of you will relate and say “Me, too.”

‘Cause you’re pastors’ wives. And you just get it. #ThisLifeWeLive has to be one of grace.


A Kindred Spirit


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3 thoughts on “Dear Pastor’s Wife: Thoughts On Loving Difficult People

  1. I’m not a pastor’s wife, but I’ve dealt with several people who hurt me deeply and were difficult to love. God taught me much in these situations. I still struggle with wanting to withdraw and protect myself, but I pray God uses me to soften their hearts and bring the healing they need.

  2. Me Too!!!! I am a pastors wife and have been for 25 years now, and everywhere we have served we have had people who have hurt us or others in the church deeply. I don’t think anyone if being honest would say they have never had that happen to them. However when these things happen to me, it first hurts and cuts deep I may get angry for just a bit, but I bite my tongue and not say anything…because I do believe that if you say something at the time you will say it out of hurt or anger, but instead, I put them on my prayer list and I pray for them on a daily basis, I pray for their bitterness or hurtful spirit to be tamed and I prayer for their walk with the Lord… because the Lord tells us in his word…”You can not truly love God, if you do not love your brothers and sisters in Christ” I John 4:20
    If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. So I work on my spiritual walk by lifting up the ones who do such things to other believers.

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