She’s always there. Sometimes in the background, sometimes with a welcoming smile up front, sometimes noticed and appreciated, sometimes being silently judged. Your pastor’s wife; the powerful force behind most church leaders often perceived as a mystery by the rest of the church. It doesn’t have to be that way.

What if we just asked our pastor’s wife to candidly, honestly, even anonymously share some of their secrets? What if we invited them to share their hearts and tell us what they wished the church knew?

I posed a simple, open ended question to a panel of pastors’ wives in different states, from different denominations, with various years of service, “If you could tell the church a few things about your role as a pastor’s wife, what would you say?”

The women selected are the wives of music ministers, children’s leaders, senior pastors and youth pastors. Some of them serve in churches with large staff and even larger budgets, others in newer church plants, and even some from old and barely surviving congregations. Despite such different backgrounds, their responses were strangely similar and in several cases, almost identical.

I’ve sat for coffee, exchanged emails and had lengthy conversations with many who freely shared their secrets with me in exchange for the promise of anonymity. What follows is a condensed collection of their words.

1) “I wish people knew that we struggle to have family time.”

There was one common response that I received from every single pastor’s wife. Every. Single. One.  Over and over again, many pastors’ wives shared numerous occasions where planned vacations had been cut short (wouldn’t that be hard?). They told me tales of family evenings being rearranged for crises of church members, middle of the night emergencies and regular interruptions. A true day off is rare; even on scheduled days off their husbands are essentially on call 24/7.

2) “Almost every day I’m afraid of screwing it all up.”

They don’t have it all together. They battle many of the same issues every other woman battles: marriage issues, extended family difficulties, sickness, finances, children who make poor decisions, fear and insecurities. Some seasons of life are obviously harder than others; but remember, ministry wives are not Wonder Woman with special powers. Please have a little mercy and extend grace.

3) “Being a pastor’s wife is THE loneliest thing I’ve ever done and for so many reasons.”

Personally, I think this is surprising to many (it was to me). Several ladies shared the difficulties of finding friendships that are safe, being looked at (or treated) differently and even the desire to be invited for an occasional ladies night out. One woman shared, “Invite us to something just to get to know us. We like being known.” People in the church often assume that the pastor’s wife is always invited and popular. In reality, for whatever reason, many ladies fear befriending them. On Sunday mornings pastors’ wives are often sitting solo and those with children are essentially single parenting.

4) “It is okay and welcomed to have conversations with me about things that do not pertain to church, or even Jesus. There I said it!”

They have a variety of interests. Believe it or not, many pastor’s wives went to college and had full time careers before becoming “Mrs. Pastor’s wife.” They have hobbies, likes and dislikes, and though they often serve beside their husband, they are individuals with their own unique gifts.  Do not make the mistake of assuming your pastor’s wife has the same personality as their husband. One wife shared that as newly weds when they announced their engagement people regularly commented on how good of a singer she must be (because her husband to be was a music minister). When she shared that she sounded more like a dying cat than an elegant song bird the shock on their faces was evident.

5) “Sundays are sometimes my least favorite day. Wait–am I allowed to say that?”

Sundays are hard. And long. And there is no rest. To a pastor’s wife, Sunday means an early morning of rushing around to have the family ready in their “Sunday Best.” Although you may not see your pastor’s wife on the platform, rest assured, Sunday is equally tiring for most (all) of them.

6) “It’s hard to not harbor resentment or to allow your flesh to lash out at members who openly criticize his ministry.”

They hate church criticism more then anything. It’s hurtful. Offensive, and yes, it’s very hard not to take it personally.  It is one of the most damaging things they witness regularly inside the church whether it be through emails, social media or gossip. They wish people understood how serious God’s word speaks on the danger and power of our words. And how much it injures the pastor’s family.

7) “Please don’t look down on me or assume I don’t support my husband just because you don’t see me every time the churches doors are open.”

Most wives are not paid staff. They are wives, mothers, and some are employed outside the home and need to be allowed the freedom to pray and choose ministries they feel called to.

8) “I wish people knew that we taught our children to make good choices, but sometimes, they don’t.”

Jokes about pastor’s kids should be avoided at all costs. The risk of rebellion in a “preacher’s kid” is no secret. They aren’t perfect, and never will be (are yours?). They have to learn to walk in their faith just like other children and need encouragement and love to do so. Again, extend grace.

9) “What I can tell you is I have been blessed beyond measure, I have been given gifts, money, love and prayer, so much prayer… by so many.”

They love their church and understand the role comes with special challenges and special blessings; it is fulfilling and brings them great joy.

One Extra Thought

Though it was not a common response, there was one that stood out. The top of the list of one seasoned pastor’s wife simply read, “I deleted my number 1.” Some secrets are so difficult to share, even the promise of complete confidence is not enough to bring them out.

These Godly women have something they want us to know and as a body of believers working together towards the same goal I think we might gain a better understanding of how to appreciate our leaders by listening. All of these responses point to a singular truth. Your pastor’s wife is a human being that desires to be known, just as you do.

[Image via Eflon on Flickr]


302 Responses

  1. Rachel Edgington

    These can be said for PK’s too. we ended up getting out of the ministry b/c my mother had a mental break. She was so diagnosed as bi-polar and the church assumed that since my dad couldn’t “control” his wife than he couldn’t lead a church. It was heartbreaking for all of us. Thankfully God restored us and I and my brother are of the rare pk’s that didn’t rebel. The thing is I still love ministry. I know the pitfalls and am prepared. Also another secret that should be added is, we would like to be paid more. My dad served at many churches that could afford to pay the pastor’s family more but many a times he was given a very minimal salary without insurance or benefits. So when my mom went to work to fill the gap instead of applauding her many felt it was an insult to all the church was providing (which wasn’t much) We lived a humble existence. Many say well you didn’t get into ministry to make money, however people in the church expected us to live a certain lifestyle that just wasn’t possible with what was provided.

    • Ken Rhymes

      PK with four siblings; 8 schools in 7 years. Never knew what was coming. Expected to be perfect. My mom gave her life for Dad but divorced him in the 49th year of marriage when he took up with the Church Secretary. Tore my family up for years. We are reunited now, thank God.

      • wendy

        Im right there with you. My dad cheated on my mom too with women in his church. But the divorce they had was the best move my mom ever made. She and I are in MUCH better places in our lives today.

    • Pastor Rick DeWard

      You nailed it Rachel. This is so common. Only one so called to Pastor would even start to consider it. I did not play the “control” game with my family. We gave them room to make their own decisions. Believe me, I got tossed out once for that. I love Jesus for all He is to me and the Lord our God for giving Him to us. Without the Holy Spirit touching and healing me I would have been very bitter about the pay thing. When the Holy Spirit washes over me, it all seems worth it.

    • Alexa

      Your story genuinely broke my heart to pieces. It’s a lot of pressure being in a ministry family. What’s the hardest is having to deal with people that just DO NOT understand the mental, emotional and physical difficulties and sacrifices we have to make. Including whoever decided that your father couldn’t “control” his wife. As inappropriate as it may be… F*ck them! They’re ignorant idiots. Instead of caring for the pastors family and coming along side and partnering, the are lazy and stupid expecting the pastor to do everything to perfection which is unreasonable. I believe this with all of my heart that God was angry on your behalf in this situation. He has imperfect children too that doesn’t reflect Him. I pray He heals your heart and your family’s.

    • Beatrice

      I understand you fairly well my mum too went too depression and she didn’t know this cause me to go to depression I waw the diagnosed but we had keep quiet because it will mean we don’t beleive that God can help. pressure could be pretty tough I am a PK too.

      • Youth pastor wife

        I think a lot of pastor’s wives suffer with depression because of the fact that there is no one that they can open up to.

    • Paul

      I would have to say that I agree with everything in this article except for the notion that our pastor’s wives are single parents. I find that to be a huge slap in the face to pastors and their wives. When you call someone a single parent that means that they are truly all alone. Even in the moment of Sunday Service where the mother is with her kids and the father is up front, she still is not a single parent. If we use this logic than every time a husband goes to work than his wife is now a single parent. I find that comparison to be very unfair and very unhelpful to pastors and their wonderful wives. Other than that this was a great article. Praise God for loving Godly wives.

      • Anonymous Pastor's Wife

        We’ll Paul, I am not a single mom, but I do feel like one on Sunday mornings trying to get my family and myself ready for church. It’s hard, and I get zero help on that morning. This is a very real feeling for me, and an unseen sacrifice that I make for the church.

      • Paul

        Hi APW, First off let me say thank you for your loving support of your husband and the ministry that God has given you and him. I am sure that it is not easy on Sunday mornings and I am sure that it makes the rest of your day a little harder to handle because you are already very tired before you even get to church. Unfortunately I am not sure you have really thought through what it means to be a single mom enough to really make that statement. Single Mom’s do not feel alone just on Sunday they feel alone everyday. Single Mom’s do not get their kids ready by themselves just on Sunday morning, they get their kids ready everyday all day. Single Mom’s wonder if they ill ever have help and have the added pressure of trying to be two parents all of the time. They have to be the spiritual leader all of the time as well as the financial and emotional caretaker. There is so much pressure on them that only increases on Sunday because they are struggling to meet the same unrealistic pictures that people in churches try to place on each other. Then when they get to church they have to wonder if people are judging them because their marriage didn’t work out how they wanted it and answering questions about where her husband is. I understand that you may feel alone on Sunday mornings and I can empathize with that, but saying that you feel like a single mom is at best a little disrespectful. Not only disrespectful to Single Mom’s but also to the husbands. I say this because when you call someone a single mom, you are also saying something about the father. Unfortunately sometimes fathers pas on and are not even available to love their wives and kids but that is not the majority. Most times it is because of a split between the parents and the father is abdicating his responsibility. If you call yourself a single parent and your husband is alive, than you are in essence telling your husband that he is not doing what he should be for the family. I know you are not saying that at all and I am sure that your husband is a great father and husband. That is why I simply wanted you to understand what you were saying. I hope that this will not only help you get a little perspective but that it will also let you see your single Mom’s in your church in a new light.

        God Bless you!

      • Another Anonymous PW

        Here is an excellent example of why pastor’s wives hesitate to share with anyone.

      • andrew young

        As a divorced pastor, I must agree with APW. For years my ex-wife raised our family alone. Not just on Sunday mornings. A Pastor is on call 24/7. There is so much required of the Pastor. Being a Pastor is like being the CEO of a fortune 500 company.
        Staying on top of new technologies to promote God. Constant studying, fasting and praying. Then there are the traveling engagements. Most Pastors live out of a suitcase. Constantly on the road. Then when in townwe were always in separate cars. On Sunday mornings @6am there’s intercessory prayer. Most times she would be so tired from mm being a single parent all week long she couldn’t get up in time to make that hour long TN drive to the city intime for prayer. During the week I’d be in the city , she’d be at home being a single parent.
        i lost my family doing what I love. But, I lost them! My daughter has her own family now, my son is fourteen and they remind me of the things they had to learn without me. So Mr. Paul no disrespect but I disagree.
        I am remarried now to a gospel recording artist. We have no children together. Her children are of age where they can kinda take care of themselves. But I miss my children! But it was because of my responsibilities to the church, that forced my ex-wife to be married but, a single parent. I was in the home, but I wasn’t. My hat goes out to all Pastors wifes or for that matter, any wife of a man who’s in ministry. Or in my case any man who has a wife in ministry. God bless you all.

      • just me

        Well, maybe if you made the “sacrifice” for the Lord instead of the church then you wouldn’t be so bitter about it. just saying….

      • A Reader

        This is one of the most cruel “advice” that one can give to a Lord’s servant.

      • Dumbfounded

        What a terrible, insensitive thing to say to someone who is being open and sharing her pain. A pastor’s wife is no different than any other man’s wife. Every human being is attacked by Satan on a regular basis and pastors’ wives are no different–if anything Satan fights them harder because they are harder to pull to the dark side. A pastor’s wife doesn’t get sprinkled with angel dust that makes her perfect; what so many people fail to realize is that a church is not a “Jesus Clubhouse”, it’s a house of worship, thankfulness,and the sharing of pains and sins. The church is a hospital for the spiritually sick and injured– and that includes EVERY living person. No one is immune. So a walk in a pastor’s or a pastor’s wife’s shoes might provide you with quite a change of “opinion”. Try to help, not hurt.

      • mom of 4

        just me,

        Your comment is extremely cruel. Perhaps, you could be the friend who sits alongside the “bitter” pastor’s wife on Sunday morning and helps hold child #1 so she can hold child #2. Then she might not feel as lonely as she does. After all, we are ALL called to serve, aren’t we?

      • Constance

        Paul – I have been a Pastor’s wife for over thirty years and while we are not stating that we ARE a single mom we are stating we FEEL like one. Instead of giving a long winded response and lecturing someone on something that you cannot understand please just have empathy because if you shared your heart about something you would EXPECT the Pastors wife to have it for you – do the same. The same scriptures on love apply to the people in the church – not just the Pastors family. I have worked closely with single Mom’s, and my mom was a single mom – I am fully aware of what a single mom goes through and I am sure the other Pastors wives are too. You lecture on your opinion and then put God Bless you at the end. These are the things that are hurtful and disrespectful and want to make the Pastprs wives not even show up to church sometimes.

      • Constance

        Just me – your response was cruel and totally uncalled for. Before you start advising someone else how they should walk with The Lord maybe you should understand that you are called and commanded by the word of God to love and build up others not tear down.

      • Cathy

        I have to get my kids ready all by myself on Sunday morning too, and most every other day of the week and I’m married. My husband goes to work in the morning way before the kids and I get up and on our way. On Sundays he runs the sound at church and, again, is gone before we have to be there. Then he has to cut his Sunday afternoon short to go back before the pastor does on Sunday night. That doesn’t make me a single parent and to compare yourself to one isn’t fair to all the women (and men) who are truly single parents with no help. Come on….Oh, and I love our pastor’s wife.

      • Constance

        Cathy – certainly you do not understand by how you try to compare what your husband does with the Pastors job. Your response was less than lovely and you assume your opinion is truth. This is why 99% of Pastors wives do not like women’s ministry – women in the church want to be loved, valued and encouraged and they certainly expect it from the Pastors wife but they don’t want to have empathy, encouragement or life giving words for the Pastors wife.

      • Carol

        Paul, you forget these comments came directly from pastors wives. To discount what they “feel” is a bit unfair. It was not a personal attack on their husbands or single parents. The article is what pastors wives wish you knew, if we look at it from their viewpoint and genuine struggles it is fair. It is similar to military wives and no it does not just mean when the spouse is literally physically away. I truly think it was just their honest view and the point was how much they are judged.

      • Paul

        Hi Carol,
        Now you are onto something. When you talk about military wives I think you are getting closer. Those poor ladies may not have their husband for over a year and maybe never again. I also believe that the part of the article that mentioned single parent was a part of the commentary rather than the wives themselves. I understand that no one intended to be disrespectful but that does not stop it from hurting people or losing credibility. If I hadn’t eaten in 24 hours and was to say, “I am so hungry I feel like an Ethiopian.” Everyone would be horribly offended because they are really nothing alike. Now I know that is extreme in nature but you get what I am saying. I was just saying how I feel but still it is an unfair assessment of my condition to equate it to another’s condition.

      • mom of 4

        Paul, T

        The hardest part of the week for any mom of small children is Sunday morning. The pressure of getting everyone up, fed, cleaned up, looking good, as well as yourself, then off to church (on time, of course) and with a happy smile on your face no matter how difficult the morning was, making sure all children are well-behaved during the worship time while still trying to quiet your own heart for communion with God has sometimes sent me home in tears (only after everyone else is gone, of course). Add to that the season we spent in a church that had no resources for a nursery or children’s program even during the sermon time, and yes, there were many times I told my husband I felt like a single mom on Sunday morning. Then there is after the service when my children are all starving (not like an Ethiopian of course, but extremely hungry) and we can’t leave until everyone who wants our attention has gone. Living on a tight budget means that while many of our parishioners are heading out for lunch as soon as church is done, I’ll be heading home to get a lunch on the table for my family, then the clean up (by myself, since my husband has more meetings), and the rest of the day is generally equally as busy for all of us.

        The funny thing is, I have watched many single moms do the same thing I do for several years. You’re right, it IS different. My husband is up front, for sure, a constant presence in his children’s lives. But many of them have parents, sisters, friends, etc, sitting alongside them, a constant support system for their Sunday morning. (Many pastor’s wives have no family living within miles of them.) Nobody looks down on them if they show up 5 minutes late because the baby had a blowout on the way out the door. They can sit in the back, while a pastor’s wife is expected to be up front. Their smile isn’t on display for the entire congregation, regardless of what kind of morning they had. And if their child has had enough, they are allowed to walk out without any judgment or stares. I know single moms don’t have it easy, but for you to imply that the feelings of a pastor’s wife might somehow be insulting to all of the “pastor’s and their wonderful wives” that you know says to me that you don’t really know much about them or the sacrifices they make.

        I would also add to this list, to be paid better. There are so many sacrifices that go on behind the scenes that people can’t even begin to imagine.

        And no, I am not bitter. We have talked many times of leaving the mninistry, but it always comes back to our calling, and knowing that we couldn’t find fulfillment in any other occupation.

      • Julia

        As a military wife, I totally understand “feeling like a single parent.” The difference is that I am not the sole breadwinner for my family when my husband is deployed, and I totally get that true single parents have it much harder than I do. I may have the stress of making all the decisions, having no time off, and doing all the chores, but I don’t have the added worry of making enough money to care for the family as well. Even so, it’s a struggle sometimes. At least in a military community we understand the struggle and can support each other, whereas the preacher’s wife is assumed to not have a struggle and has no support. The term I like to use is “geographical single parent” because my husband is still in the picture, but what he is doing at the time is important enough that he has to put his family second. I imagine this is not an easy thing for anyone who has to choose between family and their community on a regular basis. Rating whose struggle is harder doesn’t make anyone’s life better; instead we can acknowledge that anyone’s life can be difficult and show some grace.

      • 25 Years A Pastor's Wife

        I have never posted a negative response to a comment on a social media thread before today. Give up on justifying yourselves or other pastor’s wives to Paul – it is a pointless effort, as impassioned and 100% true are your comments. This article hit a nerve for him, his thinly disguised anger is not about you. God forgive him, he doesn’t know what he’s doing to the hearts of these women who are hurting – and if he DOES know what he’s doing, God forgive him.

      • kristin

        I am a Pastors wife and I spend most of Sunday alone with the kids. While daddy is upfront preaching and in the same building I am trying to help him be able to do his job by keeping the kids low matience and not needing their Daddy too much so that He is able to meet hte need of members. I often say I “feel” like a single mom those days. However I use that phrase as I get a small taste of what it might be like to be alone without help. These Sunday’s of being alone have given me great compassion for single mom’s. If my slight taste of their life creates such stress for one day I can only imagine theirs. I don’t think the phrase is meant to lessen anyones hardship it is just honestly how we feel and a lot of church members do not realize How different it is for a Pastors family. They think we are a “normal” family at church too… and honestly if that is the way I appear then God is doing a great work as that is what I strive for on Sunday’s… A low stress day to worship in the mist of the hardest parenting day of my week.

      • 6 year pastor wife/10 year marine wife

        Oorah 25 year pastor wife!!! I can tell you, being a Pastors wife has been more emotionally difficult than being a military wife. Family time is difficult to find. As a military wife, you know the routine, you know the schedule and deployments. You, as military wives have other wives who are in the exact same boat. As a pastors wife, your daily schedule changes by the hour, regularly. You are expected to be completely flexible and when you find yourself being irritated by it, then guilt comes in because you love The Lord and you know people are need. It’s a continual circle…Excitement for the new believer, Guilt for wanting family time, Joy in the Lord always, Depression if you don’t have safe friend to confide in. My teenage daughters actually talk about the guilt that comes with it.

      • PWife

        The truth of the matter behind this post and the single mom thing is that no one will understand it until they are in it. My husband has a parish and churchwide responsibilities. I signed up to be a PW and we make it work, but I never knew he would travel as much as he does. I think the “single mom” point could be better made that because people are often afraid to engage us for whatever reason, lots of people offer to “help” but at the end of the day when your husband is off taking care of everyone else few people actually offer help because they assume someone else will. So perhaps the “single mom” part goes hand in hand with being a PW is the LONELIEST thing I’ve ever done.

      • Kristina R

        I totally agree with you Paul! I am a mother of 2 young girls and our third due in July. I am not ever a single parent. I hate that phrase being used for married women. Even though my husband leaves on Sunday morning before any of us are even up, therefore I get everyone ready and out the door, I am not alone. I still have his love and support. I am never a single parent and I am thankful. I am NOT a single parent when he goes out of town for youth trips or anything like that as well. Single parents are truly alone 24/7.

      • A pastor's wife

        I understand what their saying but the pastor wife is single most of the time the pastor is gone and she has to Manage decisions and be their for the children alone. If she make a bad choice then the church talks about it. They have sometimes no heart for the wife or children the congregation can be selfish and take all of the pastors time and energy not concerned about him spending time with his children or wife. They don’t think about the children needed a father. my husband which is a pastor has missed many events and I have had to struggle thru sickness and working a job alone with 4 school aged children and I felt many days I was alone and single with no help the only thing I could do is pray through that the God I serve would open his eyes because he could not see it.

      • Clif

        I think the pastor’s wives say they FEEL like “single” parents. I have 5 young children under 8 and have to be at church early, and one of the last to leave. I am just an associate pastor and have duties to fulfill, so that leaves her to parent. She has vented to me at times that she feels alone, but presses on for the Lord. I feel like quitting at times just to be with my family, but what keeps me going is that Jesus didn’t give up on the cross. Pastor’s wives need to be held up in prayer to help them endure. She is the one who can help the man of God stay the course.

      • Melissa

        I believe the single mom remark is right on the money. In the last congregation my husband served (he left the pastorate for institutional chaplaincy), church members dragged him away to deal with one of their more negative “characters” the day we arrived: leaving me and our 2 month old to unpack. At Christmas, the elders called a meeting on Christmas Eve, keeping my husband out for 4 hours of to listen to their litany of “disappointments in his then 4 months on the job,” followed by ordering him to call on homebound members (which he did regularly already) ON CHRISTMAS DAY. They asked me to be the part time secretary and agreed to pay me a tiny sum for said duties, then never coughed up one cent. Because I was raised in a different Protestant tradition, they actually called into question my faith as I had been baptized and sprinkled as a child, then confirmed as an adult. I stood my ground and refused to be “re-baptized” — as that was a heresy in my eyes. The Board went nuts when we traded my 14 year old car for a 7 year old car, implying that we were clearly being paid far too much money, while many of them drove Cadillacs and Mercedes. Were it not for four non judgmental and incredibly supportive families, I would have lost my mind had we stayed there much past the 24 months before he left to become a hospital chaplain. Leaving the congregational pastorate saved my life. When my husband retires, we will attend my denomination, not his. Make no mistake: I PAID my dues, was gracious, generous with my time and talents, fed the sick, prayed, and did all I could do, but they made it CLEAR I was not the pastor’s wife they thought they were “PAYING” for. Life in the parsonage is definitely not for anyone faint of heart.

      • Markus

        Hmmm, looks like maybe churches that have people who want to truly serve should consider assigning someone to the Pastor’s family to assist in such times as when the wife of the Pastor has to corral the kids and/or deal with things that the Pastor cannot because of his assigned (and unassigned) duties. It may sound very corporate, but if we’re really interested in taking stress off of the Pastor and his family, so they can lead in an effective way, maybe we should do what we can to alleviate that stress.

      • mm'swife

        Some minister’s wives do feel alone most of the time, and guess what! It doesn’t ever seem to get better.

      • N Tharp

        And to all the “real” single parents out there. Many women bring children to worship and the husbands, fathers stay home. What about the folks who choose to sing in the choir, play instruments, etc. Their spouses would be considered “single”, too.

  2. Ron Newberry

    No. 10. She has a name and it is not “preacher’s wife.”

    • Cynthia Bastin

      So often they give up thier expectations of life and motherhood. To the Grace of God Thank Them! To
      God Be The Gory!

    • Elaine

      Someone, well meaning, once introduced me as the “minister’s wife” I promptly offered my hand out to shake it and said “Otherwise known as Elaine” She got the hint.

      • Farrah

        Yes I get referred to as the pastors wife. Often they don’t even know my name. Often they would rather talk to my husband because he is the upfront guy. 🙁

      • Sonja Sellers

        I said: My name is Sonja and I am married to the Pastor!!!! I continued to repeat it until “they” finally got it!

      • Sonya

        I do say hi, I’m Sonya, I am the pastor’s wife. Why? Because when I was 13 years old God called me to be a pastor’s wife, I try to celebrate the calling with my intro.

      • PK and PW

        I do love being in ministry with my husband, but because this place is lonely, I would love to hear someone introduce me as their friend rather than their pastor’s wife. It’s so hard to know who even considers me their friend.

      • Carol Gordon

        Can I just respond with respect…the intent of the introduction, the pastor’s wife, is typically not meant as a negative or to lessen WHO you are, in fact, it could be because you are considered important. Yes, it would be nicer & considerate to say, “the pastor’s wife, Elaine”. Just another “side” to the story. I think your response is perfect and while sending a subtle message (I have a name) doesn’t make the person doing the introducing feel like an idiot! I look at it as being introduced as one of my kid’s mom…Many times I have been introduced as “Steven’s mom”, etc. No offense – just connects the dots for folks.

      • Trina fitch

        Carol, thank you for that. Although many pastor’s wives have been mistreated….the title is one of honor and respect. When not, there is a soil problem with that parishioner. I wish we could all have positive experiences but that would only be in a perfect church which doesn’t exist.

      • Dawn

        It is an honor to be my husband’s wife. If they forget to say my name, I am not offended. But what blesses me more than anything is that TWICE, by two different ladies, I was introduced, “This is my pastor, and this is my friend, Dawn.” And, oh, goodness, how many times do I forget peoples’ names? There are a lot of people who know my name, simply because I am the pastor’s wife, but I don’t know theirs. It’s horribly humbling.

    • Sandy Vincent

      YES! THIS! Sometimes when introducing myself to new folks at church, I purposely omit the “I’m the Pastor’s wife” just so I can be a “normal” person! LOL

      • Audrey

        Haha! I have done this many times. Unfortunately, we are at a small church so my normalness only lasts a few mins.

      • Pastor's Husband

        I’m actually a pastor’s husband, and sometimes when someone introduces me as Pastor __________ Husband, I say, I sometimes I just go by “my name”. That usually gets a chuckle, then a look of thought as people have to think about that I have my own identity 🙂 Works well!

        But this is true for my gender as well!

    • Sarah

      True! I am constantly introduced as “the pastor’s wife” and I do not care for it. I usually respond with “you can call me Sarah;” most people get the hint.

    • Lauren

      Amen! I love my husband’s response to people when they ask “what’s it like for your wife being a pastor’s wife?”. His response “I don’t know, what’s it like being an office manager’s wife or a professor’s wife?” (my husband is bi-vocational and occasional tri-vocational)It really is such a stupid question to ask. I don’t even have an answer for when people ask. I mention it unless people ask how long I’ve been at the church.

    • Mike Tune

      My wife, who is a preacher’s wife, pointedly told people this almost from the beginning of our ministry together. People still made that mistake, but they only made it once.

    • Jarrod

      Absolutely! I can’t stand the term ‘pastors wife’. I find it disrespectful. They are wives whose husbands just happen to be pastors

      • marilyn

        A pastor’s wife has to do the same things other’s wives do, work, support husband, and raise kids. In addition a Pastor Wife is the Bride of Christ, the honor and the privilege to be the bride of Christ above all, is one that was not mentioned in the Article. Above being a PW, these women are the bride of CHRIST, and with great honor and love for their savior they serve and accomplish what is required to support Christ’s great commission on this earth.

        I was so surprised to find these women whining about not having enough family time, when the Church is our true family in Christ, what can be more honorable than to be together in fellowship with Christ’s Family, to help each other, encourage each other, strengthen each other, and love one another? Why are these women complaining they do not have enough time with their families? Nobody does, Christians and non-Christians, I see my non-Christians friends on the phone at night, up at 5am to feed their babies dump them in the nursery, and commute to work, I see them working on weekends, holidays, and BDs responding to the demands of their work 7/24. I personally missed so many thanksgivings with my family, birthdays with my son and husband, and worked so many Sundays and infinite endless late nights. The only difference is that I did all that for myself, out of selfishness not out of love for Christ.

        I was surprised to find out these women have a hard time making friends. The title of PW does not entitle one to have friends, or be popular in fact it isolates these women only because they show up in Church with perfect smile, perfect lives, and supposedly perfect kids, and thus are not able to help others, with sincerity, love, encouragement and trust, hey I have been there, I understand your suffering, that is not the image they project in Church, that is how friends are gained, not on a girl night out. I can’t believe that was their response. Friends are gained by reaching out to the heart of others, by helping someone in their deepest needs not by being the PW. The list of women that have huge followings, by serving and ministering to others, is amazing, I guess they were not interviewed.

        I was surprised to hear them say people should know that although they are teaching the kids to make good choices that the kids will not make good choices all the time. What true Christian based their identity on their kids and how they turn out to be? when we have no control of that at all. We are responsible to discipline them, to educate them, to point them to Christ and to be a role model of a true life in Christ, the rest and the outcome belongs to Christ and Christ alone. Most likely the prayer is not I hope they understand and have grace on my sinner kids, but the prayer is help me LORD be a good role model in YOU for my kids, and to reflect Christ in our lives, families, marriage, home and church with love, patience, peace, joy, kindness, self-restrain. Kids model our behaviors, our attitudes, our looks, our responses, our anger,

        Latching out because husband is criticized, a Pastor Wife should not place her identity in anybody else but CHRIST, and should grow up and mature knowing that a Pastor is always going to be criticized that is what human beings do. The Comfort of a PW is in that CHRIST is constantly advocating for her Husband that is sufficient and enough. It is in the honor that her husband is serving the LORD to the best he can.

        A Bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your GOD rejoice over you (Isa 62:5). Today as every day of our lives, we need the Gospel, and we need the power of the Gospel even to believe in the Gospel. Sometimes even the good news seems too good to be true. So I pray that these women have the grasping power to receive the multidimensional love that is ours in Christ. A love that surpasses knowledge but will never diminish through eternity as in Epi 3:14-21.

        I pray that these PW, recognize that Jesus is the bridegroom who rejoices over HIS bride. That they recognize that it is Jesus Christ who is committed to all of us including PW, Christ is not just faithful to us, HE is not just a provider, HE actually loves and enjoy us. On Sundays morning when our homes are Chaos to go to your body and to praise Christ and to minister and hear our husband preach your word, The LORD does not say to whining, anger and inpatient PW, if only you would change your attitude, HE just loves us perfectly. HE does not look at other spouse and think “If only….”

        These PW should meditate on John’s vision of the startling wedding day, where can we find in this world better rejoice?, what other hope could possibly generate such unabated gladness? . I pray Jesus helps PW see every day that we wear the wedding dress of HIS grace, HIS perfect righteousness, HIS amazing love and kindness, HIS strength and courage, freely given to us on the amazing sacrifice of the cross.

        May these PW see that the most important marriage is the one with you vertically that is their only sustainment, their only true joy, approval, recognition, love, and affection, without that vertical marriage to our LORD all horizontal relationships will be disappointing and will eventually fail. I pray that the Lord help them see that a title of a PW is the title of the humble servant, as HE taught HIS disciples and that only in Christ , they will have the strength, honor, privilege and wisdom, to serve in their husband’s ministry.

        I pray that the LORD help these PW, to delight in HIM, although the survey shows that they would like to talk about something else other than Church and Jesus, LORD help them understand that outside of you there is nothing, that all beauty is your creation, flowers, music, art, electricity, animals, air, water, each cell of a human body was carefully designed and created by you LORD, even the breath we take, is not possible if 16 pounds of atmospheric pressure is not present in our lives, what can we talk that is not linked to your amazing Love and Majesty?

        There is only One Secret to a PW that is the amazing ONE way LOVE of CHRIST in their hearts, to the measure they receive that love, feed on that love, cherish that love in their heart, they will have all the other stuff they claim and whine they do not have.

      • Hope

        Oh, how I wish I hadn’t read your comment. This is precisely why we feel we can’t open up honestly with others. Such harsh and unfair judgments. I wish you could open up your heart to understand.

      • Ministry wife of 15 years

        I couldn’t even finish reading this post because it’s SO messed up. I feel sad for you…

      • Constance

        Marilyn – you think you have all the answers – even throwing in a couple of religious terms “bride of Christ” and a few scriptures but what your post says to me and others is that you really don’t have the answers or even want to understand what the difference is between the family of God and our own immediate family. They are not one in the same. I am not even going to comment on the rest of the article because it is not applicable to a Pastors wive experience or life.

      • PK and PW

        … and this is why ONLY pastors and pastor’s wives/spouses should be allowed to comment on articles such as this.

    • The wife

      Yes, I have a name, talents, hobbies, gifts and a life outside of the church! Also, I m the Pastors best friend and I hear what you say about us both! Church would be wonderful w/o control freaks in it!

  3. Kim B.

    She is the source of support for your pastor, youth pastor, music minister, prayer minister, and she has enough to do without you assuming she can head up every committee, arrange the musicals, work in the food pantry, and anything else that crosses your mind. YOU can do these things too!

    Annnddd…if they live in a parsonage, remember this is her home for the amount of time they are at your church, let them have their belongings, store what you’ve got that they don’t need, without making them feel bad. Call before dropping by unannounced or sending workmen. She might wanna tidy up a bit.

    • Marilyn M.

      My experience brings up another point. My husband (the pastor) passed away unexpectedly. The church treated me kindly and even told me that they were not hurrying me at all regarding finding another place to live. I suspect that some ladies in the church made sure that this was communicated to me. But the truth is that after my husband passed away I no longer had a home… there was no “waiting for at least a year to make major decisions like moving” for me as is often the advice given to widows. I really like the idea of giving the pastor a housing allowance and allowing him to buy his own home! If it were not for life insurance money I would not be able to make a good down payment on a home of my own… which may happen very soon, just over two years after losing my sweetheart.

      • Dawn

        I wish, Ms. Marilyn, that I could hug you right now. You have lost much. I pray that as He walks with you through this next journey of buying a home, that your new home feels like home very soon. At least until we reach our heavenly one.

  4. Heather L Heilman

    1. We notice that everyone wants to meet us and nobody wants to know us. And that is the loneliest kind of lonely I’ve known.

    • Amy

      Oh, you coined that so well. That is very often true! Never thought about it that way.

    • C

      I drive home many Sundays with a lump in the throat. Church can be a lonely place for the “preacher’s wife. ” I miss my friends in my home church but pray God understands this is sacrifice.

      • Ann

        Of course He does! Since He knows the end from the beginning, He knows all about your loneliness. I know what you mean. My husband has been in ministry since the day we got back from our honeymoon and I have always been lonely.

    • Sonya

      Absolutely. Dangerous to make close friends within “your” church, and friends across the miles though cherished can’t totally understand and most certainly cannot hang out with me. Love my calling, but it does hurt at times

      • G

        Yes, definitely – No friends within the local church – only long-distance “heart” friends. Then to add to the loneliness, even my 3 close long-distance friends would rather talk to a pastor than to me, their friend. Therefore, each time they have major life crises, they call my husband instead of me.

    • Sharon - 25 yrs

      YES! LOneliness has been the hardest battle for me even though I’ve sought friendships through hobbies, community groups where I remain “anonymous”, PW’s groups or PW’s from other denominations, etc. Our pastoral couple friendship inevitably break down through moves and we have found it nearly impossible to nurture a social life with other couples due to DH’s schedule, busy weekends when others are off, etc. As we get closer to retirement, I wonder who my friends will be when I am no longer the PW? Will the stigma ever go away? I know some VERY lonely widowed PW’s and retired couples who lost any social life they had with their previous church when they retired – made it very clear that people were looking to “get” something from being friends with them rather than enjoying a true reciprocal friendship. It’s very hard for me to see my mom and sister with their lifelong friendships b/c I long for the same thing, but I’ve been burned too many times to truly trust anyone in our church. I am truly called to ministry and support my husband completely, but it has been a very lonely life for me.

    • Jen

      Nail on the head. To be seen but still invisible where it matters. Very lonely indeed. I’m a pastor’s wife of 10 years and it’s been the most lonely I’ve ever been.

  5. Lisa B.

    I am not just an extension of the Pastor’s mind! I am always asked questions from where to put things in the church or what time such and such meeting starts to when to light the candles during worship. When I tell them I don’t know, they usually walk away annoyed. Kind of makes me feel like a failure…

    • Danica

      I feel ya! Being a wife to a youth minister, all the parents think I know every detail to all events. Most of the time I’m just finding out about it myself.

      • Randi

        I totally understand that!!! The parents look me like I’m crazy, but I always just say to them, “I’m not the pastor ” that also usually leaves them annoyed too, but sometimes people need to hear it.

      • Jen

        I could have written your comment verbatim. I always think I walk away looking clueless when i don’t have answers for people. Usually my husband is so busy he forgets to let me know some events and even the ones I know about, I don’t know nearly enough about to satisfy some questions by folks.

    • Ashley

      I respond with ” hmmm ..I don’t know… Not my department” hehe

      • Amy

        I often tell people thank you for keeping me in the loop, but they need to talk to my husband…

    • Lauren

      My response “Just because my husband is a pastor doesn’t mean I know what’s going on” and smile. Don’t feel like a failure. It’s wrong of them to assume you would or should even know those answers.

    • PK and PW

      I agree! Check your bulletin, people! Or even the calendar in the church office. And just because I do the bulletin, doesn’t mean I remember everything in it!

  6. Marilyn A. Hudson

    In the end – we need to recognize that the spouse of a pastor is just another church member. This person is not special, not unique and not better just more visible. The problems revealed here come from trying to place people in special positions of value in a church. I am merely another person on the pew and it is as I find my place of service in the church and community that I model how each is to find their place of service. If I sit out a Sunday; it is the same right other church members have to do the same. If I get involved, it is the same opp others have. Loneliness is our choice. Get out and join a group outside the church. Find validation, support and friendship outside the church if it is a bad situation. Support your spouse and family sometimes can even mean attending another church.

    • Ana Figg

      Im sorry but no “Pastor Wife” is just another member in the church, that woman is special, important, unique, and also called with a specific assignment, being a pastor wife my self for 14 yrs a can say we are not just someone else in the congregation.. We hold an important place in the kingdom… Forums such as this helps us better understand each other and find encouragement by knowing we are not alone, nor our kids. We are a community that need each other and we can bring a new perspective in how we can better develop our ministry and be as normal as possible. 🙂

      • ALH

        Amen! I am not just like every other person in the congregation. Every other congregant isn’t watched on a daily basis to see if the marriage/parenting/life measures up to the expect ions of the whole congregation. No one else’s ability to perform their job is called into question if there are personal struggles in the family. No one else is judged as harshly as the pastoral staff and their families.

        And loneliness isn’t always a choice. We live in a small town. Everyone knows who I am. There are no groups that I can join where I can just be me and not the pastors wife.

      • R.U. Kidding ME?!!!

        EVERYONE is “special, important, unique and also called with specific assignment” in the church, the body of Christ. The fact that you can say “not just someone else in the congregation” screams a superiority complex on your part that is not indicative of a servent’s humble heart. There is nothing in scripture (NOT ONE VERSE LADY!!!) that indicates that an apostle’s wife, a pastor’s wife, a teacher’s wife, a prophet’s wife, a priest’s wife, a high priest’s wife, etc… is ANYTHING at all. You’re hanging onto your husband’s title pretty tighty for someone claiming to be special. The woman you responded to was right on the mark: Go do something outside the the church—-especially the church body that YOU are in that you currently expect to treat you reverentially -just like the book of James says right? Sheesh!

      • Marcy

        Are you a pastors wife? I do not believe most of us that are feel we are in any way superior to others in the congregation, but we are DEFINITELY different, and treated so. Church changed for me after I married a pastor. I still love it, I still love the people, but the expectations, the judgements and the loneliness all increased by large amounts in the church from the moment I said “I do.”
        When we leave the town we are living in and move to another place, often for awhile the people in the church are the only people we are in any contact with. It takes time and is often some hard work to find ways and places to make true friends outside the church.
        It is worth it, but being a pastors family is hard. It is great! But it is hard.

      • Katie

        I AM a Pastor’s wife at a VERY large church, and I DISAGREE with you. We are not SPECIAL or better than everyone else. You (We) do not hold a special place in the KINGDOM, what we are called, is to be servants, servants to those in the church. We need to meet their needs and do it with the love of Christ. Yes, we are called into the ministry, but it does not make us BETTER than anyone else. It is hard work and yes, not for everyone, but we are normal and until we see ourselves as such, we cannot and will not properly reach and teach those in the church

      • Called to ministry

        Being a woman leader in a church is a calling, and a lonely calling at that. The PW are typically seen as special people and typically form a closed exclusive group to support each other, it is a shame this is how church culture works since women in minstry face many of the same challenges. We are all Gods children and God sees us all the same.

    • Tammy B

      As I PW, while I do want to be “just another church member” at times, it’s far from reality. The expectations put on a PW is so tremendous. I don’t see my self as “special” because I’m a PW, but I know others treat me that way & have expectations I could NEVER meet just because I’m a PW. I can’t be “merely another person on the pew” because I have to know what my husband is preaching, what is the order of service, where to find the batteries for the cordless mic, who I can get to lead music because the person who usually does it didn’t tell anyone they wouldn’t be there, take the minutes for the business meeting because our treasurer is out & no one else wants to do it, etc. The last 2 churches we were at, I was expected to lead music, play an instrument, lead a Bible study several times a week, lead a SS class, arrange all potlucks and activities, while trying to be a mom and wife. The comment about finding friendships outside of church is great but most people know we are PW’s, therefor treat us differently. I would never attend another church while my husband is pastoring a church! I’m supposed to be THERE to support him. How could I support him if I went elsewhere? If I attended a different church than my husband, people would say that we were having a marital issue & then suggest he wasn’t fit to pastor the church. I’m sorry but unless you’ve been a PW, you can never understand.

    • Sharon - 25 yrs

      Then why am I asked to leave the congregational meetings when salaries are discussed? WHy are my words spoken in a public meeting assumed to be those of my husband? WHy am I introduced as “the pastor’s wife”? Why do women stop sharing in a small group when they know I’m married to their pastor? WHy do women tell me to stop sharing about my home life or marriage because they “don’t want to know that about my pastor!” WHy do people want to be close to me only to turn around and gossip about their pastor and his wife? Why do people ask me to tell my husband important things? OR the joys and privileges of being asked to pray with someone when my husband isn’t available? Welcomed to visit with newborns or people on their deathbeds when “no visitors” are allowed? HEar peoples’ confidences, deepest concerns and joys that they say they would share with no one but their pastor and his wife? wHy do people assume I know everything that’s going on or that I know the difficult situations they are in? NO….we do not have a “Special” place in the kingdom, but people DO recognize and honor the unique relationship we have with their pastor that NO oNE else has with him! AND, that’s why we can’t be “Just another member.”

    • Constance

      Marilyn – clearly you have no idea what it is like to be a Pastors wife so your advice comes across as harsh and uninformed. I would say before you offer your opinion because in the end it is just an opinion and not fact you should find out really what it is like to be a Pastors wife. I have been one for thirty years and know that the different dynamics of a life in ministry result in loneliness so it is by no means a choice we make.

    • PK and PW

      I beg to differ about being just another church member. The pastor’s family carries a far greater burden. No one church member knows all that he is told in confidence, the schedule he keeps, the times he is called in the middle of the night, the hospital visits, the administration of the business side of the church, the management of people, the times he is raked across the coals by the same one family. He is the cheerleader for those in leadership, for the senior adults, for young families, for the teens, and for the children, and is expected to be at every event, every S.S. class’ Christmas party. Don’t get me wrong, I love being in the ministry with him. Also, I don’t let others determine where I choose to serve (offically, because I’m always his support and help mate). But I do get a little hurt when pastor appreciation seems like an after thought. We are not just another person in the pew. No I don’t want set on a pedestal. No, I;m not any better than anyone else. We just have something different that no other person understands unless they’ve been in the ministry as well. God’s word tells the church to support the pastor and pray for him, build him up. It’s different than the support given to others.

  7. Daniel Wilson

    I’m a staff pastor at a small church and this article was great to read. I see all of those in my wife’s life and would love for our church to see them too. Not only for her but all of our pastors’ wives and female staff members. I knew what I was getting into when I pursued my call of ministry but I think it was a shock to her. I don’t think she expected it to be this way. This article has challenged me to be a better “church goer” to my wife. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Tina Cooper

    I have been a senior pastor’s wife for over 30 years. It is a calling. I have had good times and bad times. This article is spot on. Ministry wives need SUPPORT and, this author recognizes that. The only comment that I would add would be that I would trade my career for full time ministry in a heart beat. I like being “the preacher’s wife.” However, I find it mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausting to do two jobs. Twenty first century churches would to well to consider a salary if they desire a full time ministry wife. So many of us would LOVE to serve, but family finances will not allow it.

    • Daniela Houk

      Amen! I work FT outside the home and have a toddler. Finances are still a matter of faith sometimes. I ran into a church member in public who introduced me to her friend as the youth pastor’s wife and the friend actually said…out loud…to my face…oh I think it’s so great when churches get two for the money. The past 5 years have taught me to cherish the “winners” because it’s easy for the negative encounters to be the ones that stick with you.

    • Ann

      Tina you are right about the salary thing. I work pretty much full time to help support our home. I think that the pastor’s wife (me) should be paid as well. It’s hard to do all three jobs properly – wife, mother and grandmother at home, employee at work, and church worker. There aren’t enough hours in the day, and I am nearing retirement age, so get pretty tired with all the responsibilities. I don’t do coffee mornings with my few friends – I am always working.

    • Tammy B

      Amen Tina! I have always had to work outside the home since being a PW (20 yrs). I would LOVE to do ministry full time, but cannot afford to quit my job. I dream of the day when I can dedicate my entire day to ministry…until then I consider my work place a mission field. 🙂

  9. Ron K.

    If the church would be the body of Christ, and do the work of the body, and not be consumers, and not treat Sunday Mornings like a conference, and not make the pastor of a church the savior of the church/community, and not put the full responsibility of every gifting on the “pastor”. Then pastors wives wouldn’t have a good amount of these difficulties. The fact that this is even an article reinforces the fact that the church (especially westernized church) does not look like God intended it to originally look. Everybody has struggles though.

  10. Tabi

    May I translate this article into Spanish? I know so many Spanish-speaking pastor’s wives who would love to read it and share it. I will, of course, give full credit to the author and link back to the original blog.


  11. Anastacia Maness

    I think the biggest one is the fact that the preachers’ wives holdssecrets that no one else in the congand their wives can understand. egation will ever know about. Church members may never know who came for counseling nor why. They may never know about canut them middle of the night phone calls answered. However when church members complain that the preacher isn’t doing enough his wife has to bite her tongue while listening to the criticism.

    I do participate in other activities with my husband and children outside the church. I just hate hearing other people criticize their pastor’s family. And whenever I am introduced to another pastor’s wife we immediately relate.

    I think some people are intimidated by us because of those secrets and experiences that only preachers and their wives can understand.

  12. Anne Cullum

    Right On!!

    Now if someone could just tag me in this on FaceBook, or post on behalf of all us pastoral wives so the church world can read it, that would be awesome. Because we ALL KNOW as pastor’s wives that if WE post this, it would just sound like we are complaining… which we are not “allowed” to do.

    • Amelia

      I agree Anne. This article is spot on. I just don’t want to share on FB because I’m afraid people would think I’m complaining of the position I’ve been placed in.

    • Ruth

      Anne, I completely agree. I hesitate to post A LOT of great articles because of what the congregation may think. But I think I will post this one. 🙂

  13. Laverne

    I often want to shout from the pulpit: I LIKE MY HUSBAND! It always amazes me that if someone has a complaint, they think I would agree with them. Of course I want him to be his best but he can fail as far as I am concerned, every day of the year and every Sunday of every week, and I will still like him! When people don’t like him and feel the need to tell me, I hurt worse than if they didn’t like me.

  14. Ashley DePalma

    I am a pastor’s wife. I am NOT an extrovert. I am uncomfortable leading and I hate being on stage. God has gifted me with the ability to listen, to comfort, and to open my home to people that need a safe place. I wish people understood that I don’t have to be on stage or leading a children’s/woman’s ministy or be teaching bible studies to be doing God’s work.

    • Heather (A pastors wife named Heather?! Whaaa...)

      I feel the same way! I get asked to talk at women’s events or showers and I am so nervous!! I would love to serve and bring some food but it’s assumed that I would want to do the same task of public speaking that my husband excels at.
      I think it’s really important (and healthy) to connect with other pastors wives that you can meet with. Always helps relating and getting advice from others who are going through the same thing!

    • Beth (Wife of a former Pastor)

      Even yesser! We were passed over for a church because they wanted a two-for-one and according to one of our references (so much for friendship) I was never involved — because apparently leading worship EVERY service didn’t count. We went on to be blessed in amazing ways that we hadn’t even dreamt of, but at the time it hurt both of us. We have since moved out of full-time ministry, but I now try extra hard to make sure our pastor’s wives are cared for.

    • Tammy B

      At our last church when I was asked what instrument I played and I was going to do this & that, I kindly replied: “I’m sorry, God didn’t gift me in playing/singing music, so I won’t be able to do that”. One lady goes, oh don’t feel bad, I can’t play anything either. I then said there was nothing worse to give someone a job in which God didn’t equip them & they all agreed. I don’t mind leading small groups, but I’m NOT Beth Moore, so your not going to get that kind of lesson. A great web blog for pastor’s wives is: I’ve been a part of this for YEARS. I’ve never felt closer to such an amazing group of women before. They are all in the ministry & many have been thru the frustrations we go thru. They are great for encouragement, suggestions and to be a sounding board.

    • Kathy B

      My dad was the song leader at the church of Christ in Harlem, NY. My sisters, brother and I weren’t scrutinized as much as the minister’s three kids. I never thought that they were. I am married to a man who is not only one of the song leaders where we worship now in Bridgeport, CT., he’s also a minister in training. Reading this article gives me a newfound respect for the minister’s wives that I know, and it gives me some insight to what I can expect should my husband become an ordained minister.

      Pastors aren’t ministers, by the way. Pastors are shepherds. Read Acts 20:17-38, Ephesians 4:11, 1 Peter 5:1-4. 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus are written specifically to evangelists.

      Ephesians 4:11 has both words in it, evangelists and pastors. In Greek, they mean two different things.

    • Pk

      Church members need to know that each PW is unique and to be careful about what expectations they place on the PW. I am a PK. When my dad answered the call my aunt, who was a long time PW, gave my mom some very wise advice. She said that when my uncle came to one particular church, she was expected to take on the same roles as the previous PW. My aunt very graciously refused and found a place of service that suited her gifts and talents, and she served very successfully for many years. She told my mother to be herself and not to feel as though she must conform to others’ expectations. I can tell you that no church member would take kindly to being told where and how they must serve! PWs should not be treated any differently.

      • Sharon - 25 yrs

        AMEN! I was told to take a year to get to know people and eth church community before taking on any responsibilities. If you jump in too fast, you might be taking away someone else’s ministry spot or get caught up in the middle of something. Also, when DH was interviewed I was 7 mths pregnant with our first child. WHen people asked what I would do, he said the best way I could support the church was to be a wife and mother.

  15. LaDonna

    As a former Youth Pastors wife for years, a Pastors Wife & currently an Associate Pastors wife. (In Ministry for 16 years as a married couple) I agree with all of the above. #3 was a shock to me as an outgoing social person. We had been in youth ministry for YEARS, where the majority of parents & people loved us because we took good care of their kids. Then when we left a heathy growing ministry, to be the lead pastor, I was literally in shock for the 2 1/2 years we were there. No one befriended us, asked us out to dinner, or over to their home, the entire 2 years. Sure at church we had some surface friendships, but after leaving that church, there is only one female who I keep in contact with and it is because we bonded over a tragic situation and I love her with all my heart <3 #6 EXTREMELY TRUE, ENOUGH SAID! #8 This Is the one as a parent I have always been concerned about. While having young children in Youth Ministry in a growing thriving church, I never worried about this EVER! However after that move to the Senior pastor position, where the church was not very healthy. I worried about it a lot. I started noticing my kids getting really upset around certain members in the church. WHY?? Well because they had heard something they said about their dad, or heard someone else talk badly about another member. My husband was excellent about the confidential problems of the church, sometime not even telling me…but some members of the church were SO awful, it shown very brightly to all, including kids. (All 3 of our kids were under 9) My oldest saw a man walk through the doors at church & I saw this panic come across his face, I asked what was wrong & he said " **** is here & I am worried, what if he has a gun and shoots daddy???" WOW! was all I could think! So I'd like to add something to #8, PK are very aware of how "Christians" act in the church, I think you could ask almost any PK & they would say it's hard, because you learn so much about how Christians can be so UNLOVING & that can be very hard and cause bitterness for a PK. I was just talking to someone today during Bible school that Satan doesn't need outsiders to com in & wreck a church. The Christians on the inside can do a fine job all by themselves. WHY? because they forget the greatest to commandments & missions. "To LOVE God & Love Others!"

  16. Pam

    There are times — many times — when we need pastoral care (someone in the family is ill, we face a personal crisis, we need spiritual support beyond Sunday morning worship and our personal devotions) and pastoral care is often not available to us. Our spouse cannot be our pastor. I am now a pastor (thank you for a husband who supported my call to ordained ministry), and he and I have seen both sides of this issue. We have learned to find our own source of pastoral care. Spouses also need to be supported in their own vocations outside the church. I had another career for many years, which meant I could not attend daytime meetings of the women’s group. My husband, now retired from ministry, has developed a second career. Those career paths are also blessed by God but often are misunderstood by some members of the congregation.

    • Michelle

      God bless you for pointing this out. I Co-Pastor and it seemed for a lot of years at our former ministry that I was supposed to dummy myself down. I was supposed to be ‘the pastor’s wife’. Do what everyone else wants and forget my ministry call/training.

      Ministry is more difficult than it needs to be because church people seem to forget the 1. Love God in front of everybody. Love everybody in front of God. Jesus two commandments that encapsulates the 10.

  17. LO

    I am going to be a pastor’s wife, my husband is currently studying theology and I must say that I’ve been aware of all these things for a long time now. It is something I fear and dread. My husband and I are inseparable and I cry when thinking of all the wasted time we will have to spend apart, just because people are playing church and not being committed to God. I’m 25 now and very afraid of the future.

    • Nancy

      Sweet Lo, No need to worry – let God drive the bus! My mom told me 32 years ago to start out like I can hold out. My husband was wise and told me I would not work for the church. I have a full time job outside of the home and participate in what I enjoy doing – otherwise, you’re miserable. I usually tell someone that if I say no to an event it gives someone else the opportunity to say yes. I have also been blessed with several close friends in each congregation. Enjoy, keep a journal because you’ll never be able to remember all the fun and exciting things you will go through as a pastor’s family. You’re biggest job is to love the pastor and defend him when the need arises!
      Blessings to you – living in a fish bowl and swimming along!

      • Nan

        I told the search committee that I felt my job in the ministry was to support my husband. That meant making sure he had a restful place to come home to, doing things for the church that he asked me to help out with, and taking care of our family. Everything else I would do at the church (various ministries, SS, teaching a class, etc) would be after taking care of my husband and family.

    • Paula

      I am sorry that this article has added to the anxiety of being a minister’s wife. I have been reading the comments trying to decide how to affirm the feelings of those who have posted, while painting a brighter picture of what this role can be.

      I have been a “minister’s wife” for 23 years. We have only been in 3 churches where my husband has served in ministry. Life has not always been easy, but my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. Yes, at times, you will have to have a “thick skin” but most people say things that might be taken in a negative way out of ignorance or simply because they do not know what to say in a situation. I try to live by the rule of speaking truth without being defensive, but by giving people grace and forgiveness when those times come.

      I would suggest you find a seasoned “minister’s wife” to be a sounding board when you need that. You will need a safe place to “vent” at times. (If you ever need this from me, let me know!)

      I would suggest you find some things that interest you that you can do without your husband, whether in ministry or just for fun! I think it is wonderful that you and your husband are inseparable, but there will be times when he will not be available to you (just like in any profession). There will also be times when he will not be able to share certain things with you. And you will probably be glad that you do not have the burden of knowing these things.

      My final words of wisdom would be to be yourself. Do not succumb to the pre-conceived ideas of what a minster’s wife should be. You obviously love the Lord, so ask Him where and how he would have you serve. He made you, so He will lead you to where you can serve Him best!

      I will pray for you that your fears and dread will diminish and you will be able to find joy in serving Him in this unique way!

    • just me

      LO – Please don’t cry now for the “wasted time you will have to spend apart”. It hasn’t even happened yet. God knows the future and He’s already there. You’re assuming that the people your husband will be ministering to are “playing church and not committed to God”. How do you know that’s going to be the case? You say that you’re inseparable. Does that mean you go to his classes with him, you’re by his side while he’s studying, you go to work with him (if he works) you’re in the bathroom with him when…. Come on now, I think you get the picture. You’re not truly inseparable you will find your niche in ministry and it will be your area to “serve the Lord with all you heart, mind and soul”. Lighten up and don’t build walls of negativity around a ministry that hasn’t even started yet.

    • Kristina R

      I agree with what these sweet women have said to encourage you LO. There are many things in this article that are true, especially in certain seasons, but I don’t find ministry to be miserable at all. God provides time for our family. We spend a lot more time together than when my husband was in seminary. Get to know and to love God’s word! It’s something I see missing in the comments and testimonies. I am not saying that people in the church can’t be difficult or that ministry isn’t lonely, because it can be. But. We should take these perceived needs to The Lord! He has always provided for me and if he didn’t fill that perceived need than it wasn’t a real need and He was/is enough. I am 33 and have experienced a lot of loss in this life, especially over the last 8 years.
      This world is not my home. I am reminded so often in my loneliness (by God’s grace) that Jesus’ life on this earth must have been very lonely. When I feel uncared for by the church, when I feel misunderstood,
      I “try” to think of Jesus and how misunderstood and lonely he must have been. I should expect this. God’s promises to sanctify us, complete the good work he has begun, etc applies to PW as much as it doesn’t everyone else. We need to be careful not to let a root of bitterness take root. I have had to deal with plenty of bitterness and a hard heart myself, God is always faithful to change my heart and help me!

      I would say too that as you are able, make good friends while your husband is in school. The Lord will use those friendships for your lifetime. If you don’t have close friends, pray that The Lord would provide one.

    • Anonymous PK

      As a PK, I’m afraid I don’t have much to share, except that a good idea would be to find a “small group” or “life group” or Bible study group or such to join at whatever church(es) you are called to. You may not be able to attend every event, or get to know every person, but doing so, even if it’s awkward the first dozen and times and if you don’t fit the demographic (college age, single adults, young families, older families, etc), having a group will allow you to become close to people. Right now our family’s closest friends (who attend our current church) are all people who are either a) working with us in ministry or b) attend the same small group.

      After my dad was laid off several years ago, the people who brought us food and gift cards and supported us and prayed for us the most, were the ones in our small group. And we probably wouldn’t have even attended the group for young families if my siblings and I (middle/high school) hadn’t looked after the little kids while the adults met. It was really awkward, and for the longest time I never wanted to go, but these people are the ones who I trust the most.

    • Peggy

      LO, I will tell you that your husband will need to make your relationship a priority. Yes, there will be occasions where he will need to go to the hospital with an emergency, but let’s face it, that is not a daily or weekly occurrence. I have been a PW for quite awhile now. I do struggle with the loneliness, especially now that my children are your age, but my husband and I make time together a priority.

      Set his day off and swear by it — he will need to train people that he is not available on that day.

      Take time away to go to a state park or shopping mall in the next town over and TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONES!

      Speaking of that, hubby doesn’t give out his cell phone number to hardly anyone. They can call the house or the office. If we are away, they can leave a message and wait.

      You are not a slave 24/7 to your congregation. As a matter of fact you will do them a great disservice (and future pastors families) if you and hubby are in charge of everything. What happens to ministry when you leave? Let the congregation do the work of the ministry or it doesn’t get done. (If I have to hear one more time that the younger women need to take over the ice cream social…. Ladies THEY DON’T WANT TO! LET IT DIE!!!!)

      Make date nights and stick to them. (a real emergency is the building is on fire or a child has been injured. A hangnail is not a real emergency. A scheduled colonoscopy is not a real emergency. An existential crisis is not a real emergency. — All these can wait.)

      I honestly would not come home early from a vacation. It would have to be a truly devastating situation like an entire family murdered. Hubby always lets another local clergy member know that we are going out of town and if there was a death, that person could cover.

      Don’t mourn for time you won’t have. Being a PW is an amazing blessing and a real struggle. Don’t place on yourself the demand for perfection. And sometimes you will have to say to hubby… “Thursday is your day off and we are going to get out of town for the day!” And then turn those horrible cell phones off and go.

  18. Joy

    As a former PK, I always dreaded the thought of my husband becoming a pastor. I saw how ruthless people were to my parents, siblings, and me. We rarely had a chance to be a human let alone a kid because perfection was required, the idea that I as a 9 y/o child would know about all the church mtgs, and people never kept their criticism to themselves as if there was no filter. Be a blessing back or go find a club that likes vicious gossips.

  19. kim

    I am sorry but I am tired of hearing how hard the pastor and his family have it. My husband works 24/7 most of the time. Do not know a vacation that we took let alone where he wasn’t being called from work all the time. At least most pastors and their families get a paid vacation. Even better, the “trips” that include the entire pastor’s family. I helped with a booth at a major pastor’s convention. Looked really hard for those wives enjoying the nice hotels and dinners while I am sure the congregation paid all expenses.

    And yes your hardest work day is Sunday, I get that but what other day do you have off? Some churches are closed on Mondays, some Fridays, the week of Thanksgiving , the entire week after Christmas. My husband works all week and then we serve together most of Sunday ( our only “day” off). I have yet to meet a pastor or wife that gives time every week serving on their day off. So we never have a day off unless we do not attend church which is almost never.

    I adore my pastor and his family. But people in the ministry need to walk in other peoples shoes and quit whining about how hard they have it. Look at the insurance and retirement plans you get. The sick days and personal days. Free schooling for your kids. Numerous tax breaks. And do not even get me started on the loads of gifts ( never reported usually) that generous people seem to love to give.

    Sorry but reading this made me want to ask all of you in the ministry to quick complaining and be thankful for what you do have.

    • Kaysie

      I honestly didn’t sense any whining in this article. The point was just to help people understand the lives of a pastor and their spouse because most of time we don’t see or know everything that actually goes on with them every day. They give so much of their time and attention to other people and then still have to find time for themselves and their own family. No, maybe they haven’t walked in your shoes, but neither have we in theirs. Instead of comparing our lives to one another, let’s pray for each other and encourage each other. Philippians 4:8 says to set our minds on what it true, noble, pure, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. When we focus our minds on things that don’t fall into these categories and get consumed with the worries of life, it’s easy for us to feel like the grass is greener on the other side. But we don’t always know what’s going on in the lives of others. Not heeding the wisdom of this verse will lead to our minds becoming full of worry, stress, and negativity. And I know for me, this always leads to a skewed perspective of myself, my life, and other people. Not trying to preach. Just a little encouragement!

      • Flo

        Very true Kaysie and very well said. This has been my favorite verse for sometime now. Everyone has it hard today but it could be a lot easier for everyone (including the Pastor’s wife & their kids) if we would all remember those verses and put into practice that old saying that doesn’t seem to be very prevalent today, ” Do unto others as you would have them do to you”.. We live in such a ‘ME’ generation where instead of life being centered around others (putting them first), our main theme seems to be “what about me?” The ‘church’, of all places, should be the one place where we can go and expect to be accepted just as we are, (warts & all) and the place that we can find the best friendships ( people all be of like mind and all) —just saying— but sometimes it is the most lonely of places not only for Pastor’s wives but a lot of new ladies in the congregation, (and I find that this to be true in bigger, established churches), Most people have their own friendships already established and don’t need or want the time it takes to include someone new in their busy lives, and so that person goes from Sunday to Sunday feeling like they are invisible.>>>>>> Oh, sure on the surface, everyone seems friendly and happy to see you but once you are gone from their sight you are forgotten, and they get on with their lives..So there are all kinds of issues that should not be in the church but are there never-the-less and we need to “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

    • Linda

      It’s really impossible to understand how much giving, giving, giving is expected, unless you’re pastors who have put up boundaries and are unapproachable about peoples’ needs and hurts or have such a small congregation that you’re not growing and reaching out. The little bit we do get back – occasional trips to conferences (do you want to spend YOUR vacation at a conference that you didn’t choose to attend? I know I’d rather not); the middle-of-the-night phone calls dealing with every kind of trouble you can possibly imagine; the never being able to relax because SOMEBODY is going to need SOMETHING every. where. you. go.; the “perks” you mention – health insurance, sick leave — those are be normal/usual for any kind of professional or administrative job/career – how is that extra or special? Besides, many, many pastors’ families do NOT get those perks. You absolutely cannot understand until you’ve done it. How dare you judge us.

    • Rita

      I do not want to whine – I am very blessed to be a pastor’s wife! But to set the record straight – I am a pastor’s wife of over thirty years – 22 years a “senior pastor” – the only staff. Our family has never had a “paid vacation”of leisure time – we would snatch an afternoon or two on the way to and from a ministry trip. We don’t have regular weekly days off, no sick days but do have 3 Sundays off per year and our “retirement plan” from our conference will be a token $50 a month. We had no maternity insurance for our kids but paid the bills ourselves monthly until paid, and our children have never had free schooling. We do report any gifts (which are more likely to be farm products than money), and greatly appreciate any money gifts that are given occasionally to help with our bills. Our church people are not even upper middle class, but we have a lower lifestyle than any of them. I don’t know what tax breaks you are referring to, other than dependents.
      I am sorry for your family’s experience, and I realize that I am blessed beyond most, because we are in the service of the King! # 1, 2, 3, and 8, are very real in our lives, but so is #9!

      • Niki

        Great testimony. I like your straightforward style. Real but not full of self-pity. Grateful for your church body and for the calling God has given you and your family.

    • Dave

      As a Pastor, husband and father, I would love to live in the fantasy world you created for Pastor’s families. It would be heaven on earth. But that is not even close to reality — I could meet you point by point with the difficult truth of the lives of Pastor’s families but that isn’t the issue here.

      The issue is how do you support your Pastor’s family? Are you really friends with the Pastor’s wife or one who critiques her and the children?

      Even if all the perks you mention were true (they are not) it would not meet the emotional and relational needs of the families. If it did all of our problems could be solved with money — however God demonstrated to us that relational love is what was needed and so he sent His Son. Relational love is what is needed here as well for a Pastor’s wife and kids.

      The Pressures on a Pastor’s family are unique
      Many don’t understand the unique pressures of ministry. . . when people read 2 Corinthians 11:16-28, most focus on the horrible hardships of shipwreck and beatings. What many fail to see is that the most significant ongoing pressures in Pauls life come from ministry among God’s people (vs. 28-29).

      So, why do we continue to do this “work” — Like Jeremiah it is because we are called into it by the Sovereign God and remain in it until such time as God removes His call from our lives. We have no choice but to be obedient to the heavenly call.

      This wasn’t an article about whining, but about sharing a reality that many would prefer to which some would prefer to remain blind.

    • M.E.

      Hi Kim, I think you may be misunderstanding these “complaints.” There are many wonderful things about being part of a pastor’s family. I’m thankful for the flexibility that my husband has in his job – it would be a rare thing for him to ever miss a soccer game or other important event. I’m very thankful for his vacation time and good insurance and benefits. However, it can be a struggle to feel like you’re in a fishbowl, being watched and judged. Pastors’ families are in a unique position in this way. I’ve been a pastor’s wife for 10 years and very early on a group of women approached my husband to let him know they thought I was dressed inappropriately. I assure you there was not one inch of skin showing (it was winter!) and I had even looked carefully in the mirror that day to be sure I looked appropriate. They just didn’t like my “look.” As someone who isn’t married to a pastor, would that ever happen to you? Probably not. But when you’re a pastors’ family, people feel more at liberty to have and express their opinions about you – personally, proefessuonally, etc. That can be very hard and make you feel very alone, hesitant to let your guard down enough to make real friendships. And even if people aren’t actually judging you, it’s very easy to convince yourself that they are. And that’s what happened to me that day – I’ve struggled with insecurity, wondering if I’ve worn the right thing, said the right thing, been involved enough, etc. I’m introverted, so it’s especially hard to make friends among our congregation. I often feel like people avoid my friendship anyway because I’m married to take pastor (maybe he knows something personal about them that they think he’s shared with me or that I’ll be judging them if the don’t “act Christian” enough?). As for the conferences – in my circle of peers, wives do not attend these overnight meetings or conferences – there are no fancy meals or hotels. We’re staying at home, caring for our children alone. We go to church and participate in church events alone because although our husbands are there, they’re working and unable to help us or even worship with us. We have rarely received any of the gifts that you mentioned and many pastors are actually underpaid. I tell you these things not as complaints, because I really am thankful for my husband’s calling. But to hopefully show you that the intention of these woman is not to whine and complain, but rather to have a safe place to vent and share and hopefully show non-pastors’ wives that we struggle too – we’re just regular people, our kids are regular kids, and the expectations of us should be no more or less than anyone else. I do hope this has been helpful and not offensive to you in any way. 🙂

    • Erika

      Because of my easy position as a minister and minister’s spouse, I am 50,000 dollars in debt, I have almost lost my daughter to bitterness and hatred two times, I have suffered from shingles and had a nervous breakdown. I don’t have a best friend and probably never will because I have been stabbed in the back too many times to count. I have absolutely no savings and no retirement plan. My family has no health insurance plan and I have never had the pleasure of taking my family on a vacation. I have honestly asked the Lord to free me from my ministry call. You’re completely right – I should thank God for my easy life.

    • Carol

      Kim, If you think that this is complaining, you didn’t read it correctly. I am not a ministers wife btw. Minister’s wives are not “allowed” to complain. They are also not allowed to dress, act, or speak the way they want. They are scrutinized for the way they keep their homes and raise their children. They are held to standards that they didn’t know existed until they have failed to uphold them.
      I grew up as a PK, and we didn’t get tax breaks. In fact, ministers pay estimated taxes each quarter that include paying their own social security as if they are self employed. They don’t get to write off anything because all of the things that could be itemized are part of their “package” and are considered income. (Boy am I glad I’m not a minister’s wife so I can say this!).
      Vacations when I was growing up fit into one of two categories: going to grandma’s or going somewhere so my dad could attend a convention or conference. During type two, we hung out with mom while dad went to meetings. There wasn’t much time for the whole family to do things together. As an added bonus, we couldn’t be gone on a Sunday because then we would be missing church. Oh, and our expenses were certainly not paid by the church.
      I’ll stop now, but I can refute every single thing you called complaining if you want mo to. Being a minister’s wife isn’t what you see on Sunday morning when you serve on your only day off. Maybe you should take the time to get to know a few before you point out things like this on a well written article.

    • Pamela

      My husband is a working pastor. We have not had a vacation in 5 years. He works 6 days a week at a secular job working overtime most days. He gets home in time to take a shower, get dressed, and leave for church. No dinner, no rest and worrying that he has the mind of God for people who are hungry and hurting who need God to help them. When they need money or anything they get it a lot of times at the expense of our own family. We paid for school out of our own pockets. We don’t get paid sick, personal, or vacation days. The church can’t afford it. When we receive a gift we are grateful for it even when it is something they got years ago because they desperately want to give something but don’t have it to give. We don’t grumble or complain. We live in glass houses for everyone to see when we make a mistake and then gossip about it. Our children must be perfect and aren’t allowed to be children. With all our hearts we love each and every person in the church. Pray for them daily and fast because it’s needed. We are working for God and that is all that matters. I feel sorry for you because that is a lot of bitterness you are carrying around. I’ll pray for you.

    • Michelle

      The role of any pastor is to watch over your soul. I don’t know any pastors that receive all you’ve stated and wouldn’t begrudge them if they did.

      Watching over your soul is not something to be taken lightly. If they fail the consequences are severe. How do you put a tag one soul? Much less a congregation of them?

      With 1500 pastors LEAVE the ministry MONTH and the wave of suicides lately what indicators are there that they are all so super satisfied, super rested, super pampered?

      Pray for your pastors! They need the prayers and you need the practice.

    • former pw

      Never got those paid trips when my husband was a pastor. And what about the church who didn’t pay my husband a salary? We got housing allowance, which we were taxed on, and health insurance, but no salary. To pay for things like food and utilities, I had to work. No free schooling. Not many gifts. No sick or personal days. I wonder what mega church you’re observing.

    • Music Minister's Wife

      I apologize for the length of this post, but I’ve been a full-time music minister’s wife for 18 years and I think there is a lesson to be learned from Kim’s post. I’ve read through all the other posts and what’s missing for me is any of the wives stating they gave their concerns over to God, or asked Him to guide them past their hurt feelings over harsh words against their spouse, or that they asked God to help them stop longing for closer friendships or less expectations of their families. Ministers’ wives are married to the “boss,” or the equivalent of upper level management, and often church members are afraid to be too friendly or open up, for fear of a “Bible lesson” over their words, actions, or living choices. The same way non-Christians cringe upon hearing the words, “I’m a pastor,” church members fear falling short in their leader’s estimation. Relationships go both ways, and we wives can seek out friends in the congregation rather than waiting for invitations. And if we’re shy, weorour husbands can let that be known, to lessen speculation or assumptons that we’re “snobby.”. Some commenters lamented not having friendships but with their next breath complained that others presumed too much, stopping by for unplanned visits or talking about “PK” behavior – but that’s what friends do. They drop by to say hello, ask if you want to serve on a committee with them, or commiserate when kids misbehave. And while every minister’s wife is not gifted in every area of hospitality and children’s ministry, we are servants along with our husbands, and it’s not too much to make a casserole for a shut-in (if you cook), be a choir member (if you sing), or teach in VBS. I’ve seen a fair number of fellow ministers’ wives with a large chip on their shoulder, almost spoiling for dislike at the first sign of someone speaking against their husband or questioning their parenting skills. While I agree that congregations need to be more realistic about staff and their families, and remember we have lives outside the church walls, we in turn need to remember churches are populated with humans, not perfected post-rapture Christians. If we don’t set the boundaries – cheerfully, honestly, and with humility – then who will? One complaint doesn’t mean the entire deacon body hates your family. One presumption that you must play the piano – because don’t all ministers’ wives play? – doesn’t mean they judge you inferior to the last wife that warmed your pew. And we wives (and minister husbands) need to shield our children as best as we can, to not let our displeasure over a situation or church member become their problem, too. I’ve met far too many staff children who can tell you which member talked badly about their daddy and what their daddy thinks of that church member. Both staff and congregations can compile “we wish they knew this” lists all day rather than have a constuctive conversation and actually resolve any problems (whether they are real or just assumptions) but these lists won’t solve anything on a local, personal level. My #1 piece of advice to both staff wives AND congregations – talk to each other. Don’t sit on opposite sides of the same issue, wondering whatthe otheris thinking. And remember that Christ is the only example to which we should look, for a guide to how we should behave in every situation: we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Let’s cut each other some slack and just love each other, as Christ loved us.

    • Kimberly

      I hear your frustration but you are mistaken on several points. Even if the church building is closed, the pastor is a phone call away. Christmas? He is there bright and early – same for Christmas Eve and Easter. It’s a full day. No day off. He missed Christmas with my family last year because a church member died and the day we had scheduled to celebrate (after Christmas because my family lives in another city and we couldn’t be there on Christmas) was the only day the family could do the service. I was more than ok with agreeing that I would go visit my family without him. No complaint. It’s his calling. But, please do not think it is a “cushy” life or minimize what he does – I don’t sit home all day – I have a full time job myself. We don’t live an extravagant life – the majority of our congregation have newer cars, bigger homes… I don’t mind. I am content.

      This was a very well written view into the lives of others. It didn’t appear to be written in complaint or whining. But, I will admit that I will not post it on my Facebook page because there are others like you who will view it as such and it could cause strife or division. So, I will pray continue to pray for my husband, our staff and our church members and simply say “I’m doing well” when asked – of course, with a sweet smile to go with it. Many don’t want to know anyway – right?

    • Nzhuzo

      Thank you Kim, for bringing some balance into the conversation. I find it hard to understand why people who make a choice to heed their call, would not point one thing they are thankful for being part of such a noble ministry no matter how difficult it gets. There are men and women who serve this country who spend less time with their families than those in ministry,and yet you never hear them complain.

    • Annie

      Kim, my husband is a second-career pastor, so I’ve been on both sides of this issue. Before my husband’s ordination, we served as lay members of our congregation, always busy with church responsibilities during the week as well as on Sundays while trying to fulfill family/work responsibilities the rest of the week. Now that my husband is a pastor, things are different, but not easier. Time off is not really time off; there are weddings, funerals, emergencies where a pastor is called to be present — often during his “day off.” While there are some tax breaks, we are also considered self-employed, so we pay all our Social Security tax, which is 15% in addition to other tax we pay. Some congregations help with that, but not all do. Pastoral ministry pays less than half what he made in the private sector, and then there is the cost of four years of seminary, which we covered. We were fortunate that our kids were mostly grown when he became a pastor. Some of the gifts we receive (like some you receive, probably) come with strings attached, or are inappropriate. We hear occasionally about pastors who receive trips to Italy or other extravagant gifts, but the gifts we receive are more in the way of a dozen eggs or asparagus from the garden (which we love and appreciate very much!). I guess my point is that ministry, whether lay or “full time,” is costly, and it is easy to get tired and burned out. I am finding that Jesus really is the reward, and if I look for any other reward I will be disappointed. I try to lean on Him, cherish the opportunities I have to serve others, and rejoice in His strength. Thank you for your service to others in His Name.

    • Jen

      Soooo….you’re whining about other’s [alleged] whining.

      Yeah! Because Pastor’s wives only work on Sundays, correct? If the church is closed, they are at home lounging in front of the TV, eating chocolates, correct? Because being a wife is not work. Because being a mother is not work. Because cooking, cleaning, etc., is not work.

      Let me tell you something else: those so-called perks you mentioned? Even if they were something to really write home about, I don’t begrudge my Pastor and his family one bit. You forget Who’s work they ARE doing!!! They are doing the work of the Kingdom! They are the head and not the tail! Get your backside off the internet and into the Word and see what God has to say about those who serve the Great I Am and tell others about the love of Jesus Christ. No where, and I do mean NO WHERE in the Word are they required to serve God under a burden of poverty, and yes, I HAVE read it cover to cover.

      To all pastor’s wives – I thoroughly understand that your job can often be a thankless and lonely one. Please know that you are being prayed for.

    • PJ

      Kim, boy I couldn’t agree more, not to mention they are paid six figure incomes, and most live in million dollar homes, driving luxury vehicles all the while some of their congregation loosing their homes, hiding their cars in fear of repossession, and struggling to put food on the table. Sadly, many of them don’t keep secrets, I myself have been told so many things that should have NEVER been shared, I have heard them talk poorly about others Pastors and Churches in the area and unless you go to their church, even as a Christian you are treated like entirely different, I guess cause your not directly paying for that fancy lifestyle. Always making excuses of ministry duties to help out with family. Most hard working Men & Women can say the same thing as this article, ask the Single Mom or Widower in your church how lonely they are? Poor Poor Pastors wives, give me a break!

      • Alicia


        The average pastor’s salary is $28,000/year.

        We have two vehicles– a 1997 pickup and a 2001 Honda Odyssey.

        There are pastors who give a black eye to the church. Yes, those pastors should be held accountable. But please don’t paint all of us with such broad strokes and NO facts to back it up. Please show me how “MOST” live in million dollar homes, drive luxury vehicles, etc. If you can show me proof– not just of one or two mega pastors– your post will hold more weight.

      • Dallas

        Wow… I thought you were joking for the first third of your post. Perhaps you are. If not please let me give you a tip that will help you out greatly in life. Don’t post or speak. For the rest of your life.

      • Constance

        PJ – clearly you are not in touch with reality and what really goes on in the life of a Pastors home. We do not live in a million dollar home nor do I know one Pastor that does and we have been in the ministry for 30 years and know hundreds of Pastors. Before you make sweeping generalizations you might want to find out the truth and reality of the subject first.

    • Audrey

      The things that you mention are NOT at every church. Most churches barely pay the pastor a livable salary. Their wives work outside of the home to make up the difference or they work a secular job and do church work after that job. Those pastor’s wives feel like a single mom MOST days and are so used to not having the help of their husbands that those rare moments when he is there are sometimes more stressful. Those days off you speak of, not all pastors have them. Many teach in seminaries on those days. For those that live in a parsonage, they want to paint their bathroom but have to have the churches permission and if they don’t like that shade of paint, she has to choose another. Not to mention if that parsonage is right by the church that many in the church and even the community think that they should be able to just walk in without knocking. Don’t forget about the strangers knocking on their door at all hours and asking for money while you’re home alone with kids, and them not leaving until you call someone from the church to come take care of it. Those all expense paid trips, yeah, they’re nice but our husbands are in meetings the whole time while we again have the kids all by ourselves. That’s why you see us enjoying the nice hotel all day, he’s got the rental car and we’re stuck. Can’t see the town and do anything more than swim in the pool. Some great vacation, right? Not to mention that there are some of those meetings that we’re expected to attend but without nursery service, we’ve got to figure out how to make the kids sit quietly in a meeting that to them is extremely boring. That retirement plan and insurance is non-existant in most churches. That free schooling, most pk’s go to public school or are homeschooled. The tax breaks, we’re taxed as being self-employed which means we pay double the SS and Medicare tax as any one else. The gifts, yeah we get some but we’re expected to give back far more for those gifts than what they’re worth.

    • Stephanie

      As a Youth minister/Preacher/Missionary wife for the past 24 years, I have no idea where you are getting your information. There is no such thing as a day off in ministry. It is a 24/7, seven days a week job. Holidays are the most likely times of the year for people need the preacher. We do not have an insurance plan and can not afford to buy insurance. Our only retirement plan is Heaven. Our kids went to public schools. We have never had a paid vacation, unless you consider going to the mission field, and our return trip was paid out of our own pocket. I wish I knew what these tax breaks you mention are. The only generous gifts we have ever received were those that made it possible for us to survive. We sold everything to go to the mission field and started over with a suitcase a piece. I fed my family on $200 a month for many years. Our children have experienced more than one Christmas where the only presents under the tree were homemade of what we had on hand. Life is sometimes hard. God never promised that everything would be easy. He promised what you need for each day. If you think that your pastors family has it so much better than you, you might want to get to know them better. You might be surprised to discover that they are real people just like you and they have some of the same trials and struggles.

    • Jodi

      Wow…your response makes me so sad! I am a pastor’s wife. Worship leader. Mother of four. I also run the private school in our church, which means my family is at the church 6 days a week. We tell our children to not complain…and then cross our fingers they don’t resent the ministry one day. I smile, greet people, make my husband ‘known at the gates’, and so many times, have to journal my feelings cause I have NO ONE I can be real with. Our church is average size…not a mega, not a little one…but yes, the church takes an offering once a year for us…which ONLY HELPS us catch up on bills that had been put off due to low salary. We don’t “get’ retirement, benefits, health insurance…and if we did, it would be because we earned it. Yes, our people work too…and they volunteer..we have GREAT people in our congregation…but they can walk away..say no..not show up.
      Please, don’t sit at conventions and lump us all in the ‘privileged’ pastor’s life. We go to these conferences to watch our husbands network, build relationships, maybe get that one Sunday away from the pulpit and be ‘fed’, and really, all the wife wants to do is go back to the cheap hotel room the church paid for and eat the food that you’ve had to bring in the cooler because the church is only paying for one meal…and it’s not in your personal budget to eat out. So, the next time you think us pastor’s wives are whining, maybe pray for us…pray favor and MORE blessing…pray us in close, covenant friends. Pray for us to have MORE opportunities to get away.

    • Alicia

      Kim, there are lots of hard working people in our church. I don’t think this article negates that at all. But, I am wondering where you got a lot of your information? We do not get paid vacations (unless you are meaning paid days off– my husband gets 10 currently). I did go to a pastors’ conference with my husband once but guess who paid for it? We did. We pay for our own insurance and our own retirement. My husband gets Thanksgiving day off, not the whole week. He doesn’t not get the week between Christmas and New Years, unless he takes vacation days. His weekend is Friday-Saturday but he always works at least one, if not both of those days. We don’t get free schooling. We pay for ALL of our taxes– all of Social Security/Medicare and federal income tax (we don’t have state income tax but if there was in our state, we would pay for all that too). We do not get loads of gifts (although someone did give me an opened package of HUGE underwear once!). Most churches in the U.S. are small, so I have a feeling that we are not the only ones who live this way.

      As for ministry, when I want to do what I am gifted to do, people get jealous. I have found that there are certain ways people want me to serve and certain ways that they don’t. That’s okay. I am learning that God can even use these situations to mold my character.

    • Barbara Lewis

      Wow! Where is the utipian church of which you speak?! Free schooling for their kids, elaborate vacations paid for by the congregation, retirement plans, gifts?!? I am a nurse who has been married to her pastor for 16 years. We have served at two churches in that time – both small and rural. While I admit that getting fresh veggies from farmers in our congretation is awesome and appreciated we can’t retire on that. Our church members understand that I am the main breadwinner in our family and that occasionally I have to work on Sundays and we have NEVER heard anything negative about that. They know I have to work sometimes long and odd hours and are glad to have me there but don’t “expect” me to be there at every meeting and function. It has never occured to me to feel belittled when someone introduces me as the pastors wife. Some Sundays my kids are the only children there but when we asked them if they would rather go to a larger church with more kids they say no. There are amazing adult role models there helping us to raise our kids to see what walking with God for a lifetime looks like. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • Theresa

      I’m guessing that you are a member of a very large church that can afford all of those extras like insurance, retirement, etc. My husband has been at the same church for 22 years. We love this church and they are our family. We are not, by any stretch, a wealthy church, however, so we have always paid our own insurance ($1200 per month now) and the church provides no retirement. While we have attended many nice conferences, the church only pays for the conference, nothing else like dinners, etc. Not sure what tax breaks you are referring to, since all full time, ordained ministers pay self employment tax at 15.3 %. My children never got any free schooling even at our denominations institutions of higher learning. You may not realize that we get invitations to every graduation, bridal shower, baby shower, birthday party, etc and are expected to attend and bring a gift. I’m sure that most of the ladies on this post are venting in what should be a safe forum with others who understand. Most of us would never “complain” in public and especially not to our husbands which would only put more stress on them. Most of us truly love the people we have been called to serve and enjoy the role of being our husbsnds biggest supporters. Every field has its own set of struggles. The ladies speaking out here are doing so among those they share similarities with. Try praying for and reaching out to your pastor’s wife…few people do

    • LeahB

      Kim, I began to read your comment and I actually started to cry. This is the point of view that wounded me so deeply during my husband’s first years of ministry.

      I wrote a long comment about how each “perk” of ministry you mention is the opposite of my experience. But I deleted it because you don’t need to hear that. But each job, each ministry, has its own struggles, and to downplay them by essentially saying, “your life must be so easy” is hurtful.

    • LeahB

      Another side of #3: part of the reason I don’t have friends at my church is that I just can’t count on confidentiality from people. Once a well-meaning friend from a previous church went to our executive pastor to share genuine concerns about some struggles our family was having. Let’s just say that having a friend go talk to your husband’s boss about your personal problems is NOT normal, and had negative repercussions for us.

      Great article, thanks so much!!

    • another PW

      Reading this comment saddens me.

      It’s these kinds of judgements and criticisms, made in ignorance, that cause so much hurt to pastors and their families. This article was not “whining” in tone, but an honest sharing of experiences. We are called to love others – how can we do that if we are not even willing to listen?

      I have been very blessed to be part of a congregation that has loved and cared for my family! But I know that this is not a universal experience. I personally know many, MANY others for whom the call to ministry has involved hardships, including financial ones. School is NOT free for our children, nor even discounted in many places. However, sending our children to the Christian school (in my denomination at least) is expected as the pastoral family. Many do not have much medical insurance to speak of, very high deductibles, and crippling medical expenses. I do not know what part of the country you live in, but in most places the “loads of gifts” you refer to are just not as common as you seem to think. I’m grieved to say that I know of many pastoral families that live below the poverty line or have had to take on second and third jobs in order to make ends meet. There are no sick days or personal days. There often is no “other day off” with the family and just because the office is closed does not mean no one is working.

      No one is saying your struggles in life are not real or challenging. Please extend the same courtesy to others. You can not know what goes on behind the scenes in other peoples lives. “Quit your whining” is not a very empathetic response when someone lets you peek behind the curtain.

    • Carol

      Let’s see, been Senior Pastor for 14 years, no health insurance, no retirement contribution, no “regular days off”,no fancy church funded vacations. Lost a lot of “things” though to help the church. But, thanks for the judgment and putting us all under one big umbrella like we’re all exactly the same and share the same situations. Aren’t you just a bright ray of sunshine.

    • Kat

      Your church sends the whole pastor’s family on trips, shuts down one day a week and none of your congregants think they’re the exception to the “please let us have one sabbath day” rule, shuts down after major holidays, gives sick days and vacation days (on top of aforementioned trips), free schooling, tax breaks, and gifts? And health insurance and retirement plans?

      I WANT TO BE A PW AT YOUR CHURCH! Where is this magical place?!?

      So far the only gift I’ve gotten was a Blessings-A-Day calendar from last year with extra large print. Apparently I’m a time-traveling octogenarian.

      • Ally

        Love it! Thanks for the laugh! I’m an Aussie PW following this post. This one made me smile!

      • Ministry wife of 15 years

        So great! You should be a comedian or a writer! Thanks for the laugh!! 🙂

    • Susan/pastors wife

      Kim, you seem to be a very bitter person! I would like to share my story with you and then you decide if I am a whining pastors wife. My husband is a senior pastor who actually does work 24/7. He is suppose to have two off days a week but that doesn’t happen because this or that person needs counseling or in the hospital or repairs need to be made on the church. We have a child with special needs that goes into the hospital several times a year but his dad, ” the pastor” can’t be there because he has to be at church so no one gets upset with him. Oh, but you better be at the hospital if it is a congregant in the hospital! Let’s talk about family vacation that is rare, you have all sorts of phone calls from the church and members and it goes like this, ” I know you are having family time, but I have a question, do we need to pay this bill now or later? Do you know where the the LCD projector is? Do you know where I can get a job or better yet I expect you to find me a job”. As for the all paid conventions and fine hotels, we do not see them, if we attend something we pay for it. If we take vacation, we pay for it by deciding what bills we can be late on. We live pay day to pay day just like everyone else. We also pay for our own insurance.
      We have been in the ministry for 24 years and our first appointment salary for a full time pastor was a big whopping $10,500.00 for the year. Imagine going from a public job making $42k to that. Would you whine. As like others we have considered leaving the ministry but in the end we know where God has led us and we persevere and when we need something He provides.

    • Anonymous PK

      Let me break it down for you.

      My dad isn’t even an ordained pastor, only a children’s minister, but still works around the clock. Planning, setting things up, printing, fixing the printer, setting up AV, fixing the router, even having impromptu all-nighters at church. And I don’t know what a paid vacation is; our church pays our pastors not that much. How can I tell? I’m on reduced lunch at school. Even the government thinks we’re less well-off.

      About conferences and conventions— I do not know how many times pastors and church staff have gone to these events for free, but our whole family can only go if it’s not during school and even then it’s only free if all of us, small children included, are “serving” or helping or volunteering in some way.

      Considering normal vacations—when we finally get away for three days in the summer, that is— my dad gets called all the time, and it always seems to be when I’m talking to him, too. It’s someone from church who needs help with their legal issues or their renovation issues or random stuff (and my dad is called in to translate from Chinese). It’s the time when we finally get to be gone for one Sunday and none of the teachers show up to Children’s Worship. Vacations are not really vacations when you’re working all the time.

      Our church is closed on Monday, but otherwise we don’t close for holidays or anything else. GG to you for serving on your day off. I hope that in serving you’re able to find what God wants for you. I’m in high school, so weekends are like my days off, but I serve in church every Sunday. In fact, most of the people I see serving in Children’s Ministry are regulars, meaning they serve every week to once a month. Seriously though, if you need a break, don’t be afraid to call in and take your break.

      The reason why these kinds of articles about ministry people pop up so often is because, oftentimes, ministry people are seen and watched by many in the church. So to help resolve some problems these articles are written, hopefully to encourage a better church. It’s actually ironic that you’re whining about people whining…

      By the way, our insurance sucks. Horrible coverage. Retirement plans? *ha* My parents’ retirement plans are basically God, me, and my siblings. Sick days and personal days don’t exist, by the way, because when your deadline is Sunday, there’s no way to put it off. You can’t adjust VBS by a day or two because you were sick. I don’t know what free schooling means to you unless you mean the public school “free” (because taxes) for everyone who pays taxes. And no, ain’t nobody got any tax breaks. By the way— the most gifts we’ve ever gotten are when my dad got laid off a few years ago. I was so scared we wouldn’t make it but God provided (through Fred Meyer gift cards and lotsa food). Other than that, we seem to be getting a lot of regifts of foods that people don’t want… xD

      Sorry but reading your comment made me want to ask you to quit complaining and be thankful for what you do have. Also, from what you said, it sounds like you serve a lot. You should start considering yourself to be a part of the ministry too— a volunteer.

  20. Dawn

    This makes me so sad. I love my “preacher’s wife”.
    I hang out at least an hour after church and gab with her. Makes my family nuts. I really wish we could hang. She has had so much sad stuff going on.
    She has told me things about high expectations and judgement. Not just from congruents but also her family. “You just think you’re better than everyone else now”. So frustrating. No she does not. Forget about having a beer in public.
    I will say she and I have a lot in common. That helps with any friendship.

  21. Niki

    This link came across Facebook today. As a pastor’s wife of 20+ years, I can’t say that these are 9 emphatic “secrets” refer to me. I wondered just how many pastor’s wives you actually did interview to come up with these answers. I can “Amen!” number #9, but the rest I would probably have to provide some commentary about why I don’t think those questions reflect pastor’s wives in general. If this was meant for shock (to gain exposure), you have succeeded.

  22. Kimberly

    Kim you shouldn’t assume all pastors family gets free schooling for their children. We pay our children’s tuition out of our pockets and as far as vacations the 2 weeks we have of vacation time are spent traveling 14 hours to visit my husband’s family one week during the summer or winter and one week traveling 12 hours either in the summer or winter to visit my family.There are plenty of weeks when my husband does not have a single day off ,not because the church forces him to do it but there are things that need to be done.Our last date night consisted of me going with him to hospital visitation and to eat afterwards. We have to make the most out of our busy schedule.Don’t get me wrong I love the ministry but you have some pretty wrong ideas when it comes to our lifestyle!!! Not all pastor’s live in luxury but all are blessed!

  23. anonymousPK

    Members most of the time expect the Pastor’s kid to be a “superkid” they often forget we are just like any other kid and not an extension of the pastor. For many years I resented the church always expecting more of me than from any other kid my age, and many times I did things out of compromise or because it was expected of me rather than because I wanted to. As most pastors, my dad spent more time at church or any other activity related to it when I was growing up, missing vacations, school plays, graduations, etc. Being the “daughter of” has not been easy for me, I can only imagine how hard it must be for the wife. For the brothers and sisters reading this, please pray for your pastor’a family and don’t be so quick to judge. When you are in need you always go to our pastor and church, when we are in need as a family (like any other family, we struggle too) we have no one to go to for advise or to ask for prayer. Often the pastors family is viewed as an example to follow, sometimes are far from being one.

    • Elaine

      As a previous PK daughter myself, I completely agree with you! Reading your comment makes me think I almost wrote it. It’s very sad when you think about it. That is not the way GOD wants ministers and their families to live but unfortunately many of mankind didn’t read the “memo”. We are all imperfect humans. To expect ministers and their families to be near perfect is unrealistic, particularly the children. We weren’t born with Bibles in our hands anymore than anyone else.

  24. Amanda

    God established the family before the church, and I feel that if a pastor’s family cannot support each other and validate one another’s feelings about these issues then maybe you shouldn’t be in the ministry. I don’t feel like a ministry should provoke such whining. Either you want to do the work God called you to do or you don’t. Get over the fact the people don’t invite you over. You should be a reflection of God, people are intimidated by that. If people felt free to let you see their sin you wouldn’t be doing your job.

    • Valerie

      I disagree. Just because they are a pastor’s wife doesn’t mean she’s going to always submit or be perfect. Regardless of whether she is a pastor’s wife or not, she’s still only human. You are right, God did establish the family before the church, which is why the pastor’s first ministry should be for his family. Even scripture says, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Tim 5:8. And when you said, “Get over the fact that people don’t invite you over”, do you know how cold and uncaring that sounds? If people don’t want to invite her over, maybe it isn’t because they are living in sin – Maybe they are just intimidated by her because she’s the pastor’s wife and therefore assume she’s perfect and expects everyone else to be also. Which is why these ladies were saying they weren’t perfect. I understand that Christianity should not be a popularity contest, but among the people who claim to be true believers, they should want to fellowship with their sister in the Lord, regardless of whose wife she is. Yes, she should be a reflection of God, but again, she isn’t perfect. God is continuing to work in her heart and life everyday just like God is with any other believer. And you say “people are intimidated by that” as though they should be. I don’t think so. If they are intimidated by that it means they are struggling with their own insecurities of thinking THEY have to be perfect. Or they are intimidated by that because they are living in their own secret sin that they don’t want anyone to know about, especially the pastor’s wife. As believers, we should be humble and think of one another at the same level, regardless if they are the pastor’s wife, senior pastor, a ministry pastor, or a congregation member. God does not love anyone of us more or less based on how we are serving Him. And what do you mean by “If people felt free to let you see their sin you wouldn’t be doing your job”? I understand that if people are practicing sin, of course they would not want to practice it in front of other believer’s, regardless of their position in church. But the reality is, we are ALL sinners – not practicing sinners, like we were before accepting Christ, but still we are sinners. Every single one of us sins every single day. We can’t help it. It is in our nature. Which is why we continuously rely on God to continuously forgive us for our sins and give us His grace. The difference is, we don’t practice the same sins everyday. We commit the sin, we confess, we repent, God forgives us, heals us, and we are on to the next lesson. This goes for everyone, including the pastor’s wife. What did you mean when you said “she wouldn’t be doing her job?” Are you to say that her job includes paralyzing other brothers and sisters with intimidation so much to the point that she shouldn’t be approachable when they want to confess sin and find a godly relationship with her? I would say her job is quite the opposite. I’d say that her job IS to form friendships with other believers, to be approachable, to be the kind of woman where a sister can come up and share something confidentially to seek prayer and godly advice. I think that if the pastor’s wife, or any believer for that matter, has the goal of being spiritually superior to the point of making themselves intimidating and unapproachable, that is very spiritually unhealthy for everyone involved. Anyway, that is my 2 cents. I hope I made sense, lol. 🙂

      • Elaine

        Valerie, as a minister’s daughter (he’s now retired), can I just say THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I truly appreciate everything you’ve said here in response to Amanda. You understand. You get it! Unfortunately there are too many Amandas out there who don’t! I do have something to add to your response as a response to Amanda:

        Amanda, should YOU not be a reflection of GOD? If YOU are not ministering to your minister and his family or befriending his wife, SHAME ON YOU. Where’s YOUR work for the Lord? Is it NOT suppose to be towards EVERYONE? THAT would INCLUDE the MINISTER and HIS FAMILY and HIS WIFE. It’s “Christians” with opinions as yours, Amanda, that shame the Christian faith.

        Bless you Valerie! Bless you too, Amanda, for you are a child of God also and a sinner, and I will pray that God lessens your narrow thinking.

      • Amanda

        While I appreciate your comments, I am offended Elaine that you would call me a sinner. I am a ministers daughter, also. I wholeheartedly support my family’s decision to be in the ministry. It is part of who we are. I, personally, have no tolerance for whiny people. Yes, everyone has feelings, but I really do feel that if you are serving each other as a family all of this whining is not important. As for my service for Lord, it is done each week in the sound room, cleaning the church, running our church website, decorating, etc. All of the things that a ministers family does that no ones knows about. But, I would never whine or complain because it’s just what we do!

  25. Lady

    I also think in this role you feel at times less appreciated than your husband. I have been pastor’s wife and when it comes to support I feel the congregation at times supports the pastor with all of his engagements and outings and does not show the same support for the wife.


  26. Mandy May

    I have a question….why do pastor’s wives (PW) feel they are qualified to do a job and because they are the PW they are appointed to do that job over someone who specializes in that particular ministry? I am on the Praise team and choir. The PW was appointed as the P&W coordinator because she has a heart to worship but is not that good of singer. She tries to tell the musicians how to play and what the parts are and she cant teach parts. I feel like the pastor is trying to keep her busy while he tends to his pastoral duties. But this is holding the music department back. We have lost MANY GREAT musicians as a result of her insecurities as a vocalist and need to run a department she only knows little about. WE ALL SHOULD HAVE A HEART OF WORSHIP BUT EVERYONE SHOULD NOT BE LEADING THE CONGREGATION. As a decent singer its SO frustrating

  27. trina hale

    It made me sad to skim through the responses to this post and see confirmed what I already know as a 30 year PK. Many pastor’s families have been ravaged by the church, the ministry, and sometimes their own sin. It is true being a pastor, a pastor’s wife, or a pastor’s kid is NOT easy. However, not all families have fallen to the “horrors ” of the ministry life. My Dad is retiring from his one and only pastorship after 30 years in August. Our family has survived, my sister and I are grown and have healthy marriages and families of our own. We serve in our churches and love doing it. My mother has stayed by my father’s side and supported him through 20 years of bivocational ministry (which is a fancy way of saying two full time jobs) and then another 10 years of full time at the same church. We have seen the church grow from a mere 20-40 to a congregation of about 200 in the last 30 years. And while many of the things above are true and well stated it never stopped us from completing what God had for us. We were in it as a family not as individuals. Thank you for your honest article. I felt it approached the subject maturely and with grace.

  28. Valerie

    All these things are understandable. For #6, the one about pulling back the flesh when members criticize the church, they are right, that can cause strife within the body, and just like yeast, work through the whole dough. For that reason, I think in situations such as number six, the matter needs to be dealt with or satan will get a foothold of that church. Of course I mean it should be dealt with biblically and tactfully, but still dealt with. When Paul was made aware of something negative about a congregation, did he simply ignore it? No! He used wisdom from God to be candid with them about the problems, why the problems would damage the body, and exhorting them to repent. Today, we should be doing the the same thing. I am not by any means saying it would be easy. Especially when it has to be dealt with by someone who hates confrontation. But when you have a problem like #6 in the church, it is like a poison that can spread like cancer and kill the church altogether.

  29. Jennifer

    PK to PW. Watched the church destroy my family. Thanks to God’s Grace, we stayed together, but great damage was done. Then I watched another church rip up my husband. I am SOOO thankful to be in a faithful, loving, caring church now that wants to know me for me and lets us all be human.

    • Elaine

      I’d like to know where you go to church! I want to come! Still looking for one that accepts everyone for who they are! I”m a former PK too! the Church pretty much destroyed my family, too.

  30. Dana

    I have been a pastors wife for 19 years. Thankfully I have had the freedom to pursue my goals and dreams these past 5 years. I rarely feel pressure of perfection. In fact our church is known to be the perfect church for people who aren’t. However I can so relate with the relationships and friendships part and hearing negativity. It’s so hard when someone your friends with or at least you thought you were decides to leave the church and not tell you not to take it personal. We fight for the simplicity in ministry of just loving people. Much love my fellow girlfriends ♡

  31. Grace

    All comforting to read this, but isn’t it time we started asking the question: Who created the church system that functions this way? Are there no other ways of presenting what “church” is, other than this whole “pastor on the pedestal” model which is very dysfunctional? The problem is beyond Pastors’ wives, but how we as believers have created a monster model called “church”. Pastors are not more important than any other gifted person in the body of Christ.

    • Mikes

      How many of these are the direct result of setting up “expert” professional pastors who are over and above the body rather than brothers called to serve one way while others equal to them are called to serve other ways? When your pastor is set on a pedastal why is anyone surprised that those around him are overly protective of him and likely to be hurt when he falls? There is no warrant for this in the New Testament.

      Besides, does nobody else’s wife feel hurt when her hubby is criticized? Is nobody else ashamed occasionally they don’t meet other people’s expectations? Don’t the people who work real jobs all week and then serve all day Sunday have a harder time than those who get paid time to prepare? Don’t families whose husbands are forced to travel or work shifts struggle with “family time”, as idolatrous as that is most times it is discussed?

  32. sherry

    Loved this article. It was very comforting to me actually. I am a youth pastors wife (equally involved in ministry on top of a high stress job). We are on 3 yrs of full time ministry and i can relate to all of the things listed in the article. I find it harder for the wife because the staff members have eachother at work, pastors meetings, youth pastor meetings etc. to talk about things, Get encouragement, vent to etc… but the wife doesnt. She can’t make a friend and be fully honest about discouragement or struggles. She hears all the negative things said and done. She hears the times pastor corrects us but isn’t in the office to hear or feel the balance of positive remarks… and us girls take way more to heart. 3 yrs in I’m feeling alone, hurt and over whelmed most days. I would like a ministry wife friend to email or Facebook back and forth with. If you are reading this and are interested please email me at [email protected].

  33. dmsl5

    I think this can also apply to missionary wives whose husbands are in leadership. It is that “she is the boss’s wife mentality”. Or he is the boss –
    We all work for God and on a team – but it doesn’t always translate to that. People that aren’t PW, or PK or missionary kid (MK) or third word kids as they are called now – can’t begin to understand what some of these comments. You have to live it really understand

  34. Vicky

    Near the end of our ministry I encountered a member who decided that I should also be working 40 hours at the church per week. She had committees appoint me to jobs and then personally told me how I should or should not do these tasks. This individual did not work outside of the home.I however, always had my own career and had always worked. It was my ministry, my calling. I sincerely hope that members do not expect minister’s wives to put in 40 hour weeks also. I never saw one check with my name on it. Was I present and supportive and involved…yes! But I was not an employee to whom members should be giving directives.

  35. Jason

    Children often don’t understand their parents and can be overly critical and misjudge them when they’re young. The great balance in life as a parent though is the knowledge that the vast majority of our kids will one day have children of their own and often it’s only when the child becomes a parent that they finally understand why their parents did what they did and said what they said when they were younger. As for Pastors and their spouses the exact same thing often happens with church members, however the greater challenge is that the vast majority of church members will never become Pastors as it’s just not their calling. This means that Pastors & spouses have to deal with the fact that many who wrongfully judge or misunderstand them may never understand on this side of eternity, that’s just a part of the cost of the call. Not everyone can be thick skinned and soft hearted at the same time, but that is what is required to be a Pastor & a Pastors wife. My wife and I have been Senior Pastors for over 15 years, we still have more to learn ahead of us than what we’ve learnt behind us and just for the record there are many church members out there who are incredible blessings and support to their Pastors, we’ve had a few of them & they are more precious than gold to us.

  36. Helen

    I’m not the Pastors wife ,Im the Pastors mother. I’m so proud of my son and I know there are people in his church that don’t appreciate him. They have there kids on holidays and special days,I don’t have my son and his family on special days. I don’t get to see my grandkids and my great grandkids when I want to. ButIm so proud my son loves god so much I!ll give up my time with them. I miss all of them but god comes first in our life. I’m so proud of my son and I wish other people were proud of their Pastor. Be a good Christian and give you’re Pastor a brake. Pray for him and his family. Thank you for hearing a mothers point of view.

  37. Renee

    PK. Managed to keep my faith, but happily NOT attending church now, and don’t feel any desire to return. It’s so broken…

    • Chelleid

      Maybe you could go with them on these special days occasionally. Best if both worlds then perhaps.

    • Chelleid

      If you look at people rather than God you will ALWAYS see brokenness. We don’t live in a perfect sinless world but we will, at least those who believe will, one day! Praise God!

    • Kaysie

      I know exactly what you’re saying renee. I stopped attending for a short time, not because someone hurt or offended me, but because my priorities were all messed up. My spiritual life was completely dependent on going to church on sundays. I was legalistic and hypocritical. When my eyes were finally open to this fact, I looked around and saw that so many people I attended the church with were in the same boat! I spent my time away to really focus on learning dependency on God and as I did that he began to grow in me a love for people – for church…because people are the church. It’s not a building or once a week thing. It’s us. I love to go fellowship and worship with people, but my relationship with God isn’t dependent on it. That’s where we get off I think. But the more we receive and learn gods love, the less we will be turned off by the people of the church and the more we will want to love on them and show them their full potential!

      • Karen Macor

        I was a PK and the most annoying reprimand I got was “What will the congregation think.?” I didn’t”t care what they thought then or what they think now. I was very vocal about this. I do care what God thinks and I try to answer only to Him. That’s my advice to all those in ministry. If you ground yourselves in serving God and not man your actions will be honourable and trustworthy and God will grant you the grace to get you through. Love your husband, raise your kids to respect and love God (the church is people) and remember God made you with a plan. If you are in ministry life He has equipped you to deal with it. As an adult I have deliberately come alongside those in ministry and it has been hard mostly because those in ministry are guarded and suspicious and it takes a long time to develop a friendship with them. This is because of all the truths you have read in this article. Our whole family survived being in ministry because welearned to trust God, not the church.

  38. Dave

    Pastor’s husband here (or former pastor’s husband – she is no longer in active ministry). I definitely agree with most of the points here, particularly about her job being 24/7 and wreaking havoc on our family time. But I think my experience highlights the deep sexism that still exists in our society: I am employed in a non-church setting, and nobody in the church ever expected me to take on “pastor’s spouse” as a role within the church. Sure, I sang in the choir and helped out with church events, but I was never treated as an unofficial church secretary, go-to person for church affairs or an alter ego of the pastor. I often did not attend church (I was responsible for Sunday morning child care, after all). The hardest thing for me was just watching my wife be put under so much pressure in her job and not feeling like I could do much about it, other than just being there to support her. So in a way, being a pastor’s husband is a different animal from being a pastor’s wife, but still no day at the beach!

  39. Freddi Booth

    My husband just “resigned” after 21 years as pastor. We are 60 years old, and it’s been a journey that if God were not in control of, we might succumb. But our God is Sovereign, and knows all things, even the hidden motives of peoples hearts. We serve a great God.

  40. Chris Marple

    Well this is awkward. The same holds true for Pastor’s HUSBANDS! This may be more true since some people tend to see the Pastor’s Husband as immasculated since this is the reverse of the stereotype. We still can’t control our children in church, we still work, and we still don’t know everyone’s names (all the time)!

  41. Karen Horsley

    A few random thoughts: In pre-cell phone days, finding time for family was easier, but you had to leave home to find it. No one could reach you without a phone!
    As for being introduced as the pastor’s wife, I think people do that simply as a point of identity just as they would introduce someone else as “our keyboard player” or “one of our church librarians.” My husband was a great pastor and I loved being associated with him.
    Our kids were not perfect PKs, but as adults all are active in their churches, though not without more cynicism than I am comfortable with.

  42. Chelleid

    it’s interesting the lack of positive ‘Secrets’. Personally whilst Prs wives are singled out here I don’t think they are the only wives, or husbands for that matter, that can be placed in this scenario at all. All wives and husbands would have similar cries at times, some often. I don’t believe a Prs wife has these secrets exclusively to herself. She needs caring for just like a lot of other relationships do. Most people feel lonely at some stage, most peoples kids can make decisions parents and others may not like, all of us can suffer lack of private family time snd so on. Simply being married, no matter who to, is going to bring similar challenges and hard times BUT we must not fail to see the blessings. They are there if we focus on them rather than the negatives. Sure care for the Prs wife – but everyone else too. Sure support the Prs wife – but everyone else too. Sure build up the Prs wife – but everyone else too. Spend more time in prayer – that’s where the power to overcome your problems, negativity and ‘secrets’ is!

  43. Sue

    I’m in agreement with you, Grace. Who created this system of “pastor of a pedestal”? I think there are deep problems in the church system.

    • Sam

      Good observation, Sue and Grace.
      Jesus never asked to set up “churches”, though he did declare that HE will set up HIS church. (Doubt if he needs any help with that.) Google church history and you will realize how we got here now.

      Christina Stolaas, regarding your thots on PW, did your Redeemer get any appreciation? He fed 5,000 miraculously. Where were they when he stumbled with his cross? He even washed Judas and Peter’s feet knowing full well what these two upstarts would be up to in the next 24hrs.
      Question for you and the PWs you have come to know, is there joy in following your Lord Jesus’ footsteps, in the area he has called you to serve? And is your joy big enough to abort your self-comfort, self-esteem and self-worth? Is that joy strong enough to help you face up to all those unrealistic expectations and harsh words of the nit-picking congregation? Your article sure doesn’t sound like it in comparison to people like Music Minister’s wife, Rita, Niki, Amanda, Jason, Helen and Pamela, with Hebrews 12:2 in reference. Sadly, your well-written article is all about how to deal with the harsh reality through the “flesh”, instead of the Spirit.

      “It is no more I who lives but Christ who lives in me”. That should ALWAYS be our guide when we are in his service.

  44. Melissa

    There was only one perfect person and that was Jesus Christ. Everyone needs to realize that these folks are just like you and I. They are human beings, and yes they will even make mistakes, just like the rest of us. They have the same feelings that we all do. Treat them like you would like to be treated.

  45. Melissa

    I’ve never seen my sister-in-law be flustered-she seems to take it all in stride, but I often think about how challenging it must be for her to be a pastor’s wife and how challenging it will be for my niece as a PK. My parents and I don’t get to visit with my brother and his family often because they live far away, but also with his being a pastor and my sister-in-law’s job at the hospital. I think people do expect the wives to be wonder women and the children to be perfect which makes them nervous to befriend the wives because they feel
    that they have to be “perfect”. There’s no such thing as being perfect.

  46. Joann

    My heart went into a knot as I read this article, and the subsequent comments that followed up. I’m not a pastor’s wife nor a PK. But my husband and I are leaders of two of the church ministries, and this is a season where God has just called me into full-time ministry (just quited my job and going through church HR process.) Just today, both of us got it really bad. While reading everything, I can’t help but feel so sad… I can almost fully identify with all that was shared… And even now Sundays are my most dreaded days.

    We love Jesus with all our hearts, we work hard because we obey His call, yet we have to face all these painful experiences. No one really appreciates what we do, and the criticism (on top of almost zero encouragement) is almost unbearable. Thank you everyone, for normalizing all the emotions and thoughts we are feeling and facing. Thank you for sharing because then I know we are not alone.

    Though I’m in pain even now, I fiercely hold on to one thing I’ve ever read: He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah 53:3 NKJV) Jesus knows exactly how we feel. He Himself is a man of sorrows. May this give every precious sister here an encouraging embrace. Press on because God will vindicate, and our reward is in heaven.


  47. David

    It the assumption that pastors only have wives? What about husbands of pastors? Any words of wisdom there?

  48. Ramon Talley

    This article is a must read for all parishioners, be they U.S. or overseas. Thank you. I sent a copy to my faithful and loving wife. It transcends cultural boundaries.

  49. Nora Ross

    My husband and I have been in full time ministry for 28 years, the last 12 as lead pastors. Something that I would like for people to know is that God gives us wisdom to lead them. Please listen to us. We can help you through many situations in your lives. We pastor two healthy churches, so I do not experience some of the secrets listed in this article. I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve God and people.

  50. R.U. Kidding ME?!!!

    Part of the problem is who pastors think they are.
    They are not God.
    They’re responsibiity is not people’s souls. (God’s territory, not man’s)
    They and their wives can say “no”. I personally know pastors who have excellent boundaries and healthy church bodies so when they say “no”, there are other mature Christians in the church that get to say “yes”. Spirtiual gifts (and therefore their accompanying ministries) are to be spread out and encouraged within the body, not by one person.
    No pastor has to cut their vacation short and when they do, their spouse and kids know in their heart of hearts that it is a choice to put other individuals above them and the seeds of resentment are sown.
    This does not make a pastor’s or pastor’s wife special. There are lots of dads out there in a variety of jobs/careers that are tempted and rewarded by society to put their jobs ahead of family. There are many jobs/careers that put a strain on family relationships. It’s the “no one understands” and “we’re so unique” that rubs people the wrong way.
    Feel like your spouse (the pastor) is doing too much? People burst into your lives because you have welcomed them to do that. Start addressing that-encourage the spiritual gifts of others in your church body, delegate responsibility, etc…
    True story:
    I have actually been at a fellow minister’s home visiting with him and his wife, when a church member stopped by to talk them about some urgent matter. Our friend firmly said no to the man, encouraged him to call a fellow church member and not to come by unannounced or uninvited again. Did the world fall apart? nope. Our friend was fine, his ministry fine, even the church member with an urgent matter was fine.

    • Anonymous PK

      Maybe that was the case for your pastor that one time. But no really, I don’t think you understand.

      But from what I have seen, pastors who say “no” are first on the list to get laid-off when the economy turns bad. When you have to cut staff, start with the pastors who are a) liked the least, b) contribute the least, or c) don’t work in a more “valuable” ministry (i.e. children or youth ministry).

      When you say “no” to someone, many people (hopefully not you) respond by taking it as a personal insult, an offense. They harbor that grudge for the perceived rude and harshness of the reply, because it becomes part of the pastor’s job to be available to help with any and all crises that they are called to. When you say “no,” the seeds are sown. And eventually, when you have to leave that church, either because you lost your job or too many people hate (or at least extremely dislike) you, you sacrifice friends and your children’s friends and your children’s spiritual lives suffer as well.

      I’m only letting you know because my dad resigned from one church and got laid off from another.

      So in reality, pastors, or at least my dad, says “yes” in order to piss off less people, to keep his job, so that our family can eat and my siblings and I don’t drown in debt from student loans in the future. He says yes so that we can live. And I know our struggles aren’t unique and that everyone faces difficulties and sacrifice with family in their lives. The problem in the church is just that, in my case, the children who grow up in the midst of this suffer as well. You sacrifice your children’s spiritual lives in a way that other jobs may or may not.

      So after reading your comment again, I have only one question for you: Are. You. Kidding. Me?

      I agree with you in some parts, that pastors are not God, even though some act like it. I also agree that setting boundaries are important, though not always possible or practical. However, there are consequences to saying no. Pastors aren’t special, but they have problems just like anyone else.

      • Anonymous PK

        Oh, and I left out an important thought:

        One thing that separates ministry jobs from others is that when the going gets tough, people can usually turn to the pastor or church or a church group for support. For a pastor or PW or his family, who do they turn to? You can’t exactly go to your fellow pastor and say, “Look, I’m going through a hard time. I just got laid off.” That’s just awkward. Or how about “I’m struggling with this sin that society proclaims is 100000x worse than all other sins.” That is what gets a lot of people pronounced unfit to lead (just by reading these comments).

  51. Michelle

    Pastor’s wives: There is hope! I do many things with my Pastor’s wife. We exercise together a few times a week. We have went shopping together. I watch the PK a few days a week and she sleeps over. I invite their family over for dinner often. She is once of my very best friends! All of this and she has been here only a year!

  52. Anne

    Loneliness is the worst. I still don’t have a best friend as an adult. Been in ministry my whole married life. I have tried to seek out women who don’t attend church or my church to be friends with, because you really cannot be vulnerable with church people. Rumors spread like wildfire unfortunately. But with all the moves to different states and different parts of the country, its hard to make lasting friends. Its lonely…

    • Nancy

      You are not alone…. My experience with personal relationships in the church was awful. When I did try to get close to another woman, just for that female companionship…she used me to get close to my husband and children. That was my final attempt. Trust in people no longer existed. I was told by a “seasoned” pastors wife to “let The Lord be your best friend.” I walked away laughing….because she had a harem of woman that followed her around like puppy dogs…there to be her beckon call girls. I understand the loneliness more than anything else. My husband no longer pastors, but his heart is still in the ministry and he still serves in our current church. But I still struggle to get close to people or to trust them.

  53. Nancy

    I totally agree with everything the author wrote in this article. I didn’t read through all the comments or the responses to the comments, so if this statement has been mentioned, please forgive me. I am speaking as the wife of a former pastor. One thing I would add is this…. Please don’t assume that we agree with the way everything in the church is handled. Please realize that we, as women, have our own thoughts, opinions, principles, standards, and values. We are not robots!

  54. Imtiaz Gafoor

    One of the most important things to consider is-
    ‘Dejected was the man without shoes..until he met the man without feet’

    We all need partnership and mentorship. If we are a preachers wife, a person raised in the church, or the only Christian in a Muslim family.

    Sometimes we feel it would be easier if..’if’. For me it was hoping my family had an acceptance of the Bible to more of an exten and it wouls be easier to introduce them to Jesus, but their Muslim so its different. So, I was coveting my friends scenario, however my same friend shared how he hopes he had a family that at least stood behind some faith and were serious about it.

    What I learned to pray, as we meet on Tuesdays to pray for our family’s salvation, is to pray away blindness. Everyone not saved has it and only LORD God can if lift it and He is waiting on our prayers and us to get to Know Him better.

    Best discipleship teachings I’ve found are on ‘God Needs You’ is an excellent sermon.

    *God doesn’t need anything to exist, but He chooses to cohabitate with you in His work

  55. Preacher's Kid

    My parents served a church for 27 years, and I grew up seeing them being tortured and taken advantage of by church members who expected both of them to be on duty all the time. Since my father had been fired from a couple of churches, they were both afraid to set any limits on what could be demanded of them. I could never be part of any church as an adult; I can barely sit through a wedding or a funeral without tears running down my face.

  56. Former PW

    This article came across my FB by way of PW friend. My background is such that I was in ministry for over 10 years married to the Senior/Solo Pastor (we are divorced now almost 7 years) and many of these ‘secrets’ surely do ring true for me. I found myself captivated while reading all of the comments as much of what has been said, hits home. I can honestly say that my time as a PW was a mixed bag of the good, the bad & the ugly.

    I was always the one to work and provide the benefits (health, dental etc…) for our family. The churches we served either weren’t able to or just didn’t. I worked full time, raised 2 sons virtually alone and was expected to be the stereo-typical PW (serving, singing, teaching etc…). I was looked upon to dress a certain way, act a certain way and even sit in a certain place in church. When I didn’t do some of these things I was seen as a rebel. To the credit of my (ex) husband, he defended my decision to put family first, serve where God called me and to just be me. The downside to that was that he put the needs of the church above family and our family & marriage suffered (more later).

    I didn’t have any close friends in the congregation and the few that I did allow to get remotely close, ended up stabbing me in the back in the end. I struggled just to have normal relationships with close friends. When people found out that I was a PW, I was treated so differently. In many instances I was placed on this high pedestal that I couldn’t get down from. There were no fancy vacation, no nice cars (we shared one tiny car for years) etc… My ‘Vacation’ from my secular job was only to attend yearly ‘required’ church conferences that my (ex) husband was required to attend. Even then, I was expected to serve in certain capacities along with other PW’s. No fancy food, no fancy hotels. We were good to have the church cover even hotel expenses. Everything else came from our personal funds. My kids went to public school, there were no fancy camps, no ‘extras’. If it weren’t for extended family helping during the summer time, we would have not survived.

    After 10 years of marriage & ministry, I chose to walk away and reclaim my life (many factors pushed me to this decision). I watched ministry life tear my family apart, I have watched my sons turn away from the structured church (they still love God but just won’t set foot in a church setting) and I have struggled just to get to a place where I can trust people again. After walking away, I was literally scorned for making the choice that I made (I had no choice if I wanted to remain sane). I literally went off the grid (and in some ways still am).

    Despite the mega-churches that we see, ministry life is no walk in the park. There is ALOT of sacrifice made and often not seen by those that judge us the most. Be Encouraged, set boundaries with in your family & the ministries you serve. In hind site, I believe that if my (ex) husband would have set healthy boundaries at home & church, we would still be married to this day. Sadly that didn’t happen.

    Almost 7 years later, I still have a heart for those that are in ministry. I long to see you all healthy & happy. Ministry shouldn’t be a stressor. I have since reclaimed my life and have no regrets of the time that I labored in the vineyard for the Cause of Christ. I am still laboring, just on the other side of the pulpit.

  57. lynn

    Good article but there is a dark side…There are those wives whose attitudes and behaviors are so off putting. You are almost afraid to approach her because of the manner in which she responds. She is demanding and complains but the it is the woe is me and no one cares. Many forget that God did not call them but it was the spouse.

  58. Katie

    I think I will just say thanks for writing this. I read this after a rough Sunday morning, parenting alone on the pew and chasing my kids (2 and 4) all over the church forever while my husband visited with congregants. Other than the other Sunday school volunteers, three people said hello. My husband leaving for a week of summer camp this afternoon (the first of three weeks he’ll be gone this summer), while I take care of my kids and work my full time job. I actually lost a tear or two while sitting in the courtyard as my kids were happily giggling away after church. I am lonely, and I am so thankful I have a job outside of ministry where I feel appreciated and valued, because I don’t really feel that way at church. Anyway, reading this article was a good bit of therapy for me this afternoon. I can get off the couch, make my menu for the week, fold twelve baskets of laundry, and love my kids through the week…because I’m not alone, really. Thanks for helping me connect with other moms and PWs in this article. The community of God’s kingdom is bigger and broader than each individual congregation, and I feel blessed to have gotten a little glimmer of its depth and scope here.

    • Ellen

      Oh Katie! That was my husband and myself several years ago. (Except then, I did not work outside of the house, now I do ). And I know what you mean, it is so nice to work and feel appreciated for it. Will be praying for you as your husband is away! Hang in there! :). Xoxo to you

  59. erma

    I attended a church that on two occasions had pastors who’s wives (gasp) worked outside the home. Now this was quite sometime ago, but it caused a real stir when people found out that, 1 the had jobs that didn’t include every committee that came along. #2 that we really didn’t pay the man enough for them to get along with only one income.

  60. James

    I am a PK and people are always expecting me to be perfect. However this has resulted in me having limited freedom to be who I want to be I have had other pastors try to use me against my dad. So please extend your heart out to the PKs at your church cause they are people who are often very lonely.

  61. Sandy

    One vital need in a pastor’s wife’s life is a close friend. She needs someone to whom she can confide, and because “iron sharpeneth iron,” she needs someone she can trust to lovingly give her constructive criticism. The pastor’s wife is told many times that she should not have a BFF in the church. I’m sure this advice comes from those who mean well, but a friend outside the church would not have the perspective that she needs. And the rest of the ladies in the congregation should understand and not feel jealous. Of course, I realize this is a tall order, but I feel this keenly. Have I ever been a pastor’s wife. Yes, I have. Did I have a BFF? No, but it would have been wonderful.

  62. Lynne

    My husband and I co-pastor. Most of the congregation sees me as the pastor’s wife. I was actually the founder of our church. I founded it before we were married. My husband had his own. We met and consolidated. One woman in our congregation blasted me one day saying that we were not true Christians because 1. My husband played FB games and he should have been sitting around praying 24/7 instead. 2. We both must work outside jobs. According to her, we should be trusting God for food, utilities, car repairs, etc. and 3. When I took the pulpit, my husband never stood up first and introduced me and called me up like he does with visiting ministers. Never mind that I founded the church and pastored it alone for a year and a half before we married. What any of these things have to do with being a “real Christian” I have no idea. I wanted to tell her that a “real Christian” doesn’t pass judgment in this manner, but that would have been unchristian.

  63. Katie

    Thank you for this article. I have been working now for 3 years with the pastors’ wives in our denomination in our province (BC). This list is so similar to what we’ve received from them as we’ve done anonymous surveys, questions on our Facebook page, and questions from our newsletter. I am a pastors’ wife and it is difficult. It is also an amazing privilege. Thanks for being willing to ask these precious women about their lives, thoughts, hopes and struggles. The ministry team I’m a part of is trying to figure out ways we can be a support to pastors’ wives – first by finding out what they need/want and then offering them different resources and connections. This year is going to be a year of research. Pray for us as we move forward. And thanks for writing this article. 🙂

  64. JC

    I am a full-time pastor and I enjoyed reading this article but I have a thought….As a Pastor I feel its my job to set the ground rules and PROTECT my wife in church ministry. Yes people call at any time with crisis, yes on Sunday morning i need to be at work early, yes my day off often get interrupted… But most of these things are something that I have ALOWED to happen. I don’t have to answer the phone all the time, and I don’t have to sacrifice family time for work, and I would never come home early from a trip. It’s my responsibility to not only set the boundaries but to equip people in our church and be organized enough to make sure I’m not the centre of the church universe. My wife understand and recognizes that sometimes you have to take the call, or go earlier then expected…but they are the EXCEPTIONS to the rule and not the rule.

    I fully agree with what has been said, but to often in my experience the fault is not with the wives… the fault is with us husbands.

  65. Nicole

    I am A PW. We are at our first appointed church (going on 6 years). It is a small church mostley older people. It can be very difficult with having a friendship for several reasons, one being if they know you could move at any time they may not want to get close. Another is people do not think we are like anyone else and think they cant be themselves…but in reality we are the goofiest fun lovingly, imperfect family who still sins like everone else. We have been very bessed that our church family is there for us and our kids especially through my little girls various surgries including open 3 open hearts. They are understanding for the most part. But I also know this is our first church and the next will not be the same

  66. Bonnie

    As a pastors wife I have to say I don’t agree fully with these points. I believe all woman have their challenges in whatever position they are in. If you look at everything in percpective of what some other women go through in their lives I consider my trials as a pastors wife minimal. I chose this position and I am thankful for it, yes it’s not always easy but I find so much joy in people dedicating their heart to Christ, seeing them baptized and grow in God totally makes up for it all. Jesus went through so much, who am I to complain about my trials. I also have to say I have never felt lonely, due to the fact I always have Christ and his Spirit by my side. Life is about percpective, please don’t feel sorry for us if anything I hope our lives shine Jesus and encourage you to go out and discover your destiny. Also the point about feeling like a single Mother on Sunday, again I have many single mum friends and really it’s nothing like what a single mum has to put up with. God Bless and go and change the world for His glory:)

    • Siobhan

      You have a great attitude but you seem to minimize any hardships you may go through. It’s ok to say you have a problem or you’re lonely. I agree with you, it’s not worth it to focus on the negatives but it’s also ok to allow others to be able to say what they need to, esp when no one human being may be willing or able to listen.

  67. Cheryl

    I am a pk and a pw of 39 years. No ones life is the same but we face similar situations. We now pastor a small financially struggling church. It hasn’t always been that way but regardless of the size of the church or the situation we face, God is always faithful. We’ve been thru 2 major splits, youth pastor for 2 1/2 years, 1 year out of the pulpit for discipline, served in every leadership position in the church, raised 4 children, worked bivocational and always full time ministry….yes, God is always faithful. I’m glad ‘people or their opinions’ don’t rock my devotion to serving God when and where I am. Maybe we need a PW’s online support group?

  68. Rebecca

    I am a pastor as well as a pastors wife. This is difficult since I’ve had to give up my ministry for a time to focus on my son (thought I would be able to do it all). This was and has been a very difficult transition for me as I feel I had to give up a passion of mine even though I know eventually things will change again and I will get involved again. Sometimes it feels like I prepared for ministry just to give it all up as soon as I just got started because I had a baby. It is difficult as well since I work part time to bring in money to pay the bills because our church plant can’t fully support us enough that I still have to work. Also, we are tired of not being able to get ahead and save money or feel like we make enough to not have to dip into savings for bills each month and tired of having to rely on people to give charity to us, we want to be able to bless people and not rely on people giving us babysitting for free, etc for what seems like the rest of our lives. I will say though that God is faithful and has never failed us in providing. It just gets tiring having to be constantly worried about things.

  69. lisa

    i think these are all valid points but i really dont the the pastors husband part that makes no sense our faith teaches it is men who are called to pastor not women and not couples who are not biblically married as man and wife im not meaning to be jusgemental just cant understand why there is a pastors husband on here we are told to be an example of true marriage and how that a church is meant to work

  70. Lynn

    We do not have a big church, but I can relate to some of these points and would like to add some thoughts. On # 2..yes…some women avoid you….but another loneliness comes for me in that it is difficult to have really deep friendships with women in the congregation because you yourself need to be guarded to a point. I have been burned by sharing my personal/marital struggles with a woman in the church who ended up stabbing me in the back with the things I had shared with her. I am ok with building friendships, but some things (for me) have to be off limits for discussion with friends from the congregation. I now save that for my friendships with women outside of my church(God fearing, spirit filled Christian women). Another point is that we often pick up the slack if someone cannot fulfill their duty or quits without notice. Even if we feel like quitting, we can’t…God called us as a couple to this….the good and the bad. In the end it will all be worth it. We have the honor of seeing people come to Christ and become transformed into HIS children!!

  71. Ellen

    I am a pastors wife, and I agree with most of these, but lately I am struggling with the financial tole it takes on the family,
    . Always a struggle. My husband is not the senior Pastor, but the associate/executive Pastor, the one always called upon when something needs to be moved or put back together, building problems, etc. we are an elder led church, and one of the elders made a comment that when we hire a new staff Pastor, he is coming like a missionary. This was after my husband was trying to push for a better salary packet for the new pastor. There is no overtime pay, and really no time for a part time job, as this us a full time and part time job all rolled into one. Our house is starting to need major repairs, and kids in college, I work part time, as well as teach Sunday School and serve in other areas if the church. I am feeling burnt out and worried about my husbands work load, and feel like few of the Elders would even really care. Don’t get me wrong, it is a nice church with nice people. Just feeling worried about the future, and tired of feeling like this.

  72. Jarrod Schrunk

    I strongly dislike the term ‘Pastors Wife’. I feel in a way, it strips them of their identity. I think more people need to realize they are a wife whose husbands happens to be a pastor. You don’t ever hear people saw ‘Lawyers Wife’ or ‘Teachers Wife’. I believe their only required responsibility is to be their husbands wives. How much or how little they get involved in should be up to them. They should never take on things for fear their husband may get fired. We see it too often- pastors putting ministry ahead of their families. That’s a big no-no. If they come up short as a husband and father, they will come up short as a minister.

  73. Becca

    I, too, have felt lonely, misunderstood and like I have had no one that truly understood, except another pastor’s wife.There are several pastor’s positions in our church and many of the congregation mix up the pastor’s wives names and even don’t know which wife goes with which pastor! That adds to the lostness feeling. I feel like I am a blob, a nameless person, who gives and gives and sacrifices my whole life for my husband and others and for the sake of the call. But it’s really okay. It’s for the sake of the call. I just never knew it would be this way until I got in the middle of it.

  74. Fr. Michael - Orthodox Christian Priest

    Well after having read both the article and the comments, I hope I might offer some comments on both. Since many here reflect comments that seem to completely lack any comprehension that Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom (John 3:29) and His bride is the Church and that two joined in marriage are one flesh (Mark 10:8), you cannot build up Jesus Christ or give Him glory by tearing down the church. The Pastor AND his wife play an important role in the sharing of the Gospel message in the life of the Church. If you believe in Grace, as many of the comments appear to reflect, then it was by Grace that the Pastor was called, and thus by Grace that he was drawn to his wife to share in that same ministry of Christ, guided by Grace. To deny that Grace plays a role in selection or the relevance of persons selected for the work of ministry indicates, at the very least, that the Apostles and the Myrrh bearers themselves were inconsequential to the life of the church (take it easy, nobody implied better). I agree that they all are persons, none with greater value in the eyes of Christ, but to deny the importance of their roles does not necessarily deny their importance, it denies that the Holy Spirit has actually called them, as well as that Christ’s selection of whom He shall call to preach the Word is also inconsequential.

    Let’s be clear, one cannot build up the church by tearing down those called to serve His ministry as sheperds, nor the wives who support their work. A theology or ecclesiology different than this has huge failings (forgive me, no insult intended, but this stuff is important, no?) If you would like to see the work of Christ in your Parishes grow, start building up your pastors and their wives (I Thessalonians 5:11). Equip them with your support, your prayers, and your understanding, and watch the Holy Spirit work in your Church like never before. They already know their faults, they already know they are sinners, if anything, they were called because they knew they were first among sinners, not because they thought themselves great.

    The notion that “we have to keep our pastors and their wives honest” is a huge failing in the church. Fallen priests, pastors and their wives are far and few between and dealt with correctly when the time comes. But they are not the norm and statistically make a up a very small part of the faith, yet most pastors are treated as if their ideas, thoughts, expectations are least among men, as well as those of their wives. Sacrifice and struggle are to be expected and anticipated by all who accept such a work. But martyrdom will come on it’s own, it need not come from within the parish or those who would dare call themselves faithful.

    Some of the comments in this blog reflect such a lack of empathy and compassion, I’m astounded and commented in reaction to this. Even if you slightly disagree with some of the reflections of this blog, even to comment in bringing down the importance of the Pastors wife in the life of the church shows a significant lack of charity and understanding. There is nothing IN THE BLOG that indicates pastors wives should be fawned over and made into minor deities, only shown some compassion indicative of their sacrifice, which is different than anyone else’s in the church (I didn’t say of greater value, only different). I’m sure if you’re pastor reflected the same kind of blase’ attitude towards your struggles, you would rightly feel hurt. Yet the same kind of love and gentleness required by the faithful seems not to be reflected back on the Pastors wife as indicated by some of the comments posted here. May the Lord grant us both a better understanding of His Will! Thanks for the blog, it reflects many struggles my wife herself endures…

  75. Gigi

    I’m a pk and a pw. I have walked this road my entire life. Has there been heartache? Yes. Have I been the subject of gossip, false accusations, and ridicule? Many times. Have we had to cancel or change our plans because of church related emergencies? Yep. I just roll with it. For me, this is just part of life. If I focus on how I am treated it will affect how I treat others. I just want to love as my Jesus loves me. Do I always succesed? Sadly, no. I forgive and ask to be forgiven, and sometimes it is hard…really hard.

    We have raised three amazing kids, and we could not have done it without our church. Were there “prying eyes” and were our children milked for information. Of course, but it taught our children discernment and how to keep a confidence. My kids joke about my “network of spies”, because there is always someone ready to tell me what my kids are up to. I just thank them for the information and for caring about my kids. I have found that this appeases those who love my kids and truly want to help and protect them just as much as it appeases those sitting in judgment of my kids. Early on we focused on “what will the church say” but we became very convicted of how fake and legalistic we were teaching our children to be. We decided to let our kids be imperfect. We disciplined them whenever and wherever it was needed. Are we perfect parents? Nope, never claimed to be, but the best gifts we could give them were commitment to Jesus, commitment to our marriage, and commitment to raise them in the fear (see awe, respect, and love) of the Lord.

    Do I work outside the home? Yes, I am a school teacher. Do I work for the church? No, I work for my Jesus. This changes my perspective completely! It is for His glory that we do anything! I sing in the choir, teach Sunday school, ladies Bible study, VBS, and whatever else I feel God calling me to. Please hear my heart. I am not boasting about myself. It has taken me a long time to get to this place in my walk. Yes, I have felt the hurt and frustration. Yes, I have been betrayed and lonely…so very lonely, but it has drawn me closer to my Savior.

    Please know, dear ones, you may be lonely, but you are not alone. For those of you who don’t feel “called”, please remember your calling is to be your husband’s wife! Focus on protecting your marriage and supporting you husband. Just be the amazing fearfully and wonderfully made woman that you are. When you boil down the greatest commandments they are, “Love God. Love people”. Please know that today, dear sister, you have worth. You have value. You were bought with a price and paid for in blood. You are a child of the Eternal King, heaven bound, and full of joy. You are loved unconditionally and without measure. You are a blessing!

  76. Steven Clark

    11. The Church people expect your children to be examples for their own children. This robs them of the luxury of finding their own way and making their own mistakes. It puts them in the roll of having to dance before they learn to walk.

    12. The Church people, when they cannot make “digs” that get to the pastor, who as an adult has a sophisticated repertoire of emotional resources will go after your children, who do not have such a defense. This will scar them for life. Some of them will overcome this; some of them will not.

  77. Ann

    I didn’t take time to read all the comments, but I did note one theme that surfaced often was the loneliness of pastor’s wives, as it seemed many didn’t have close friends in the church. It certainly can be awkward trying to establish such, but if the wife is involved in a Bible study or Sunday School class, these groups can have times of fellowship outside of meeting days, and friendships can blossom there. I know a pastor’s wife who regularly got together for lunch with a Bible study group, and the members got to know (and care for) each other intimately. Another thought would be for the lonely wife to possibly take the initiative and teach a talent/craft she loves with interested persons, inside and outside the congregation. Bonds can bloom over shared interests.

  78. Annie

    I’ve been a pastor’s wife for almost 20 years now. Once a month, I have the honor and privilege to open my home up to all the pastors’ wives in our area for a breakfast at my house. Sometimes only a few can come, and other times I’ll have quite a lot. These are arguably the sweetest, kindest ladies on the planet. I LOVE my fellow pastors’ wives. Stay strong, ladies! What you do matters! Hugs.

  79. erin

    I’m a pk. I believe that if anyone, man or woman, is unhappy or lonely in a relationship something needs to change. Family is a responsibility and obligation, if a sacrifice needs to be made it should either be the church or not start a family in the first place. I supported my father for ages even though later I found out he cheated on my mother and divorced her. She should have divorced him in my opinion. But she is still scared from the experience. There comes a time in life when you realize all the things you have been taught in life are not necessarily right and living life to the fullest is what a true god would want. A true god would want kindness and understanding, acceptance and respect to all whether man or woman, believer or non believer, immigrant or native. Equality love and respect. I see very little of these qualities and guess what the majority of people with these admirable quality have had hard lives without help and dealt with ignorance and hate. They help and easily give love to anyone in need without asking for anything in return. And these people have not been Christian and they won’t go to hell. Because a god worth believing in judges qualities not baptisms. Or how many Sundays you go to church. There comes a time in life when personal worship and religion goes beyond a set figure and becomes gratitude for living and the world instead of a questionable book. There are no boundaries or commandment there is common sense and empathy. Morals don’t need to be taught but learned and experienced. Why waste time when if you believe live everyday feeling like your living a life that was given to you. Travel the world. Learn other languages and about other cultures with excitement and acceptance. Eat all sorts of foods and read all sorts of books. Get a great education and start your own bussiness. Don’t be brainwashed by society. Everything is connected stop living a sheltered life because it isn’t living it’s a lifestyle of accepting lies and ignorance.

  80. Elizabeth

    *BIG sigh* I’m a PW and just wish that people understood that we are just trying to walk out the call of God on our lives like everyone else is. Pastoral ministry is a calling and a privilege – just like being a parent or an engineer, a nurse or a schoolteacher. It is God who calls us and God who places us. I sure don’t try to tell the nurse or teacher how to do his/her job or what I expect. Please do the same for us and trust the Holy Spirit working in us. He’s working in you, too. By the way, we’re not the Holy Spirit! We’re responsible for equipping you with the tools YOU need for YOUR growth. We love you a lot and are there for you when you need us, but not necessarily when you think you need us – Look for opportunities to grow!

  81. JoAnn

    As I read the comments I had “feelings” of saddness and happiness ( if that is possible) at the same time. My husband and I have pastored our church for 33 years. During those years I have had “feelings” of lonliness and “feelings” of being a single parent on Sundays. I was a single parent for six years so yes, I do know what it is like to be one. I am hesitant at this very moment to share in this comment any “feelings” I might have for some people out there will not understand. Yes, the term of “Pastor’s Wife” can be used as negative or positive and it depends upon who is speaking it and yes, there have been times when it was used toward me as a negative. I have scars from the times when I was stabbed in the back from gossip, betrayal, being ridiculed, critized and having my husband’s character questioned because he stood up for what was right. Oh wait, that might sound like I’m “whining”. As far as the financial part I’m not sure what world the people who have a critical view live in, but to actually think all pastors have great financial worth, benefits, and do not pay any taxes is complete nonsense. For 33 years we have paid Self-Employment Social Security wages. My husband and I both worked two jobs even after our church could afford to take him on full-time. And then it was still difficult to make ends meet, But for the grace of God we had a roof over our head and food to eat….all we needed, maybe not all we wanted but exactly what we needed. Enough of that …. for some might call it “whining”. I have been blessed in so many ways that I cannot begin to count. My calling was to be a wife and mother to our daughter and two son’s. They are now grown and serve in our church. They never heard a negative word about our congregation (we would wait till they were in bed asleep, and then we would vent to each other

  82. JoAnn

    :). It seemed to me that many maybe misunderstood that these wives/husbands were expressing their feellings and experiences. Why would we be critical of their right to do so? To critize someone for expressing their feelings tells that person they are of little importance. We are to validate their feelings not tear them down.

    There will be days when you “feel” lonely, “feel” misunderstood, “feel” unloved by your congregation but that doesn’t mean these feelings are facts. Feelings come and go just like the ocean waves. For those day, God will give you the grace and strength to endure. For all in ministry, God bless you as you endeavour to build His Kingdom.

  83. Denise

    I’m a pastor’s wife. I gave full support to the ministry of my husband and I ministered alongside him in churches in 5 different countries (Mozambique, Botswana, South Africa, Canada and Brazil), and talking and teaching other pastors’ wives that I have seen in all these places they share the same feelings reported in this article. Nice article, and most comments are worthy to read to.

  84. Lisa

    We know what you say behind our backs. Everyone feels the right to criticize ‘their’ pastor. You forgive, but the hurt remains. It’s painful. We love and seek to do all Christ has called us too, but we are not perfect either.

  85. PW and Mom

    I have to say that as a PW of 18 years, I feel very blessed to be in my position. Family time is very difficult to come by, as I work full time and my husband does extra free-lance work to help make ends meet and it’s often a very strange feeling to be surrounded by a church full of people that I know loves me dearly and all want my attention and interaction and still feel completely isolated. It is not a lack of effort on members’ part in most cases that causes this. It’s the fact that I know (extremely well from past experience as a PK) that close friendships that include shared confidences can be dangerous to my husband’s ministry or our church. An older pastor’s wife once gave me the advice ‘Be friendly with everyone, and close friends with no one but your husband.’ I have tried to remember this and keep my close friendships outside our church. With all this, I can’t imagine a better life. We are very blessed with the love of God’s people and the opportunity to serve Him!
    One major concern is always to protect myself and my children from bitterness. In every situation I try to remind myself that people are often unable to see the views and challenges of others and don’t mean to be hurtful. I also know I have that same problem and may not always see things clearly or be as sensitive as I mean to be. I remind myself how many women would give ANYTHING just to have their husband attend church with them and I’m blessed with this amazing spiritual leader as an example to my children. I tell them how loved and blessed they are and try to shield them from any negative interactions/feelings/statements. Everywhere we have been since having children I have made it clear in a nice way that my kids are off limits. When my 3 yr old’s behavior one Sunday caused disruptions and a well meaning member came to offer advice and discuss our ‘issues’, I kindly said ‘My children didn’t sign on as pastor and do not receive a paycheck. They are just kids like everyone else, make tons of mistakes and don’t always behave correctly. But I’m a very protective mother and I don’t discuss them with others. I’m sure you understand how I feel since you are such a thoughtful parent!’ I then smiled, gave her a hug, told her I loved her, and walked away. The message became clear after a few encounters-my kids are off limits. It has helped. My goal is that they grow up seeing at least twice as many positives as negatives, even if that means censoring every church related conversation we have in their presence. I do not intend to allow negativity to discourage them from worship because of experiences as a PK.

  86. Mary

    I couldn’t agree more with all the things that these pw share. I’m a pw too since I was 22 yrs old and I’m going on to 29 this year but I feel more like going on to 92. Not enough rest and stress is a serious problem. I play the piano sing in our praise team, choi,r, organizing our mothers department, teach in sunday school , and be a substitute to anyone who couldn’t make it or coming late. I also had my share on what they told me d how I should dress and sit n eat n talk and believe me it no picnic at all. I also tried to befriend them but it no used because with anything you share with them it like you giving them a weapon to kill you and I have been kill with it many times I couldn’t count . It always like you are walking on the eggshells when you’re around with them. so I learned at that early age that God call me for who I am Not people in my church, I should do my best to honor Him and Not according to WHAT the people THINK I be. My fore head is now as hard as an iron (book of Jeremiah ) so they can talk about me all they want , toss me high, low or sideways. Stomp, kick or stap But I’m still Standing! Y? Because God have favor me. So to all my PWs sisters B Strong and don’t ever let them break you because only God judge us so act, dress, talk and walk according to God’s will But screw the people s expectation or (SHOULD I SAY THAT?) 🙂

  87. Friend of PW

    Yes, my Pastor’s wife is my friend. She confides in me and I do in her. I take it upon myself to gift to her and her family any time I can and have many times helped them pay taxes, vehicle payments, and other debts. I am a single mother and work 2 jobs and do not have health insurance myself but make sure that my Pastor’s family knows that they are loved and appreciated by me.

    My sister is a PW and also has a small church. I have seen her struggle for the past 30 years much like my own PW. I was an unpaid church secretary many years ago and saw firsthand how many hurts are directed to those in church leadership. At that time, I made it a goal of mine to always be an asset to my church and a friend to my Pastor and his wife. Yes, they have been called on by me at times of need.

    I do not EVER take out my Pastor and his wife for dinner…I take out the entire family. I do not EVER go to their home unannounced and have never knocked on their door as they always know I am coming over. I gift items to their children and always remember their birthdays.

    I love them, appreciate them, and pray for them. My PW is my friend and I am proud of that.

  88. Josh

    Honestly, this could be said as well for a female pastor’s husband, or could be generalized to just say pastoral spouses…we exist, too, and the problems are often the same.

    And truthfully, some of these thing could even apply to pastors themselves…

  89. Gruffudd

    I was a son of a preacher man.

    It was tough for both my parents, the utter stress, the many times when holidays were cancelled/stopped short with no financial compensation or other substitute holiday provided, overworking. The number of personal attacks they both individually received was huge

    My dad eventually was pushed out of the ministry and much attack. A lot of suffering remaining in the memories, God graciously helping them and the stress load massively less for them – my mum looks younger than she has for years because of the lack of being a minister’s wife

  90. Kym

    Number one is sinful, I don’t care who the pastor is if he has a wife and children, his family comes first and if he can’t find a balance between his family and his congregation he needs to give up the congregation. When a pastor stands before God He is going to have to answer to Him about why he didn’t train up his own children and care for his wife “Because I had to take care of my church” is not going to be cut it.

    This list makes pastors wives sound like a bunch of whiny women who let life happen to them and have no idea how to live. If you don’t want to be lonely then don’t be, go ask other ladies to coffee yourself. Host a ladies night and open up to the women of your congregation, it makes no sense to be afraid of getting hurt, your already hurt. So stop whining take life by the horns and ride it, when you get bucked get up dust yourself off and do it again.

    • PK

      Scripture states God comes first, then spouse. When your job is to serve God and His flock, there’s a bit of confusion on where to draw the line and most church members will not understand if there IS a line drawn. Most preacher’s have no idea HOW to draw it and stick to it. How do you say, “Sorry your loved one is dying & needs to talk about God but I’m having dinner with my family” or “Yes, your marriage is crumbling and you need guidance, but mine comes first”?

      My mom didn’t choose to be a preacher’s wife. My dad received the calling when they were married for SEVERAL years and her kids were nearly grown. She was TERRIFIED, and with good reason. People expect SO much – your husband’s time without exception, absolute perfection from your family, participation in every church activity. There is so much judgement, it is difficult to know who you can confide in and so much guilt that comes from being hurt, disappointed, or even resentful for sharing your husband with dozens (sometimes hundreds or thousands) of other people whose demands are collectively louder.

      What I didn’t know until my mother died was how people would come to her expecting to be able to complain to her about conflicts with other people in the church (and especially criticisms of my father) because they don’t want to “step on the preacher’s toes”, but she was expected to fix it. I found this out because, when she was gone, they began to come to me with it. It’s stressful beyond belief and incredibly painful when pointed at my father. And it is so very difficult to feel God’s presence and find peace in Him when you have this in your ear at every turn while in God’s house. The fact that it is coming from the very people that have so much more of your father/husband than his family does can challenge your walk and relationships within your family and church family, and all while the eyes of so many watch you for any little crack in your Godly perfection.

      What our church didn’t realize until my mother died was just how much she did for my father and them. And how much they expected of her. What I often hear now is, “your father heads this church but your mother was the heart.”

      Understand – I love my church family and I love God. Without Him, I do not know how people are able to make it through the trials of life, like loosing your mother. I do not understand how people can witness beauty without seeing Him, either. Not everyone is critical or gossiping or judgmental. But there will be some ANYWHERE. My mother didn’t like being recognized for the things she did in serving God. She simply hoped to make things easier for Dad, serve God, and perhaps be rewarded with more time with her husband and more understanding and compassion from people who expected so much of us.

  91. Nerdy Mama

    My husband is wanting to get into ministry again and I’m not sure if I’m completely ready… We’re a young couple we just had a son. About two years ago when we got engaged he was the pastor of a small church it was awful! I’m a PK and I’ve already had bad experiences. I can’t go on into detail as to why it was awful but long story short nobody thought I was good enough and his mom hated me and she attended the church and spread awful gossip about me. She’s ok now since the birth of our son. But I know how it is and I know people expect things from you and your family… I’m not sure I want my kids to grow up being pk’s it was horrible for me as a child, always moving, the gossip, people expecting me to act a certain way etc… I know it’s my husbands calling to pastor but is it my calling or my sons calling to have to have to deal with all this? I’m not sure what to do. 🙁

  92. Peg

    PW for 40 years serving 11 churches. My husband was either solo pastor or head of staff. IT IS a very lonely position for a majority of PW’s. Six of those churches we served no one was interested in getting to know me. In five churches I had at least one friend. There are wonderful blessings, there are difficult sacrifices. You live in a fish bowl! Most of the comments above are very realistic except for those who have little compassion for those PW’s who are hurting and wounded because of the ignorance and insensitivity of some church members. Others have blessed us beyond our greatest hope. Unless you walk in our shoes, you really don’t know. Some churches are a delight to serve. Others are your worst nightmare. If you are reading this, do not judge your pastor’s wife, just love her, try to get to know her, discover what the needs are for her and her family and do what you can to help meet those needs. Allow her to be herself and remove YOUR expectations from her identity. Most of us are doing the best we can to first of all to serve our Lord, next to support and love our husbands, third to care for our family. After that we serve where God leads us to serve. You can support us or make it difficult. If you lift a critical voice, you will be remembered in that negative light. If you serve along side of us, encouraging, affirming, loving, you will be an immeasurable blessing. The same goes for us.

  93. Faith Like Dirty Diapers
    Faith Like Dirty Diapers

    Beside the fact that these are predominantly negative and an opposing article with positives should be considered, I will say I read this and these are my thoughts- 1. No one interviewed me (lol) and 2. I have experienced being the Pastor’s wife much differently than many others!

    Whether the husband and father of a family is a Pastor or not, it can be challenging to find family time together. (My husband was a full time Pastor of a “medium” sized body and is currently bi-vocational of a small church plant) Truth be told, Ministry should happen everywhere everyday-as children are “trained up”, as we interact with friends and family, at the workplace, etc. The “hope within” should be behind, in and shared with those around us that they, too, would come to know Christ..

    Yes, there are extra things expected of a Pastor, especially within a large body and so it can be tough, but I always tell the kids we share our Daddy with our church body. They need him just like we need him sometimes. I

    I did, however, relate most with number 6, but by the grace of God I never lived there. (Even when my husband and I were all but Ushered personally out of the church for his stance on gospel/Christ centered teaching and preaching.)

    Additionally, I was soooooooo surprised not to see some entry discussing the heart ache and heaviness that the Pastor carries behind the scenes. My husband has had seasons of intense burden and grief for the body. That is a tough thing to have to bear as a wife. When no one knows the depth of The Pastor’s care for them and then they criticize him…yes-that is difficult.

    I think what made my own experience as “The Pastor’s wife” easier was that at each group my husband has been shepherd to, I made a point to introduce myself as a church member “who’s husband happens to be the Pastor”. I worked very hard to let the congregation know that I am struggling in this Christian walk at times as well, and also worked to shed the “First Lady” mentality. By God’s grace, I was able to connect and share with women and I never really felt judged. (Maybe because I didn’t pay attention too much.) Ultimately, I am what I am by the Grace of God and am thankful for all that I have learned being the “woman behind the man, behind God”!

    Addendum-to previous, I wold LOVE to minister to any hurting pastor’s wives! I am equipped to help! We can chat or pray together or whatever! Just message my facebook page and check out my blog!

    • Siobhan

      Your reply is really encouraging, you sound like you have a good balanced attitude and focus on Jesus. I think as well that how it goes for each pastor’s wife may be a personality thing. I’m not very outgoing or extroverted but I’ve done my best to step up and host children’s events and participate in small group and have grown in this way but as someone who doesn’t make friendships very easily, being a pastor’s wife for me has not been something I would say I’ve enjoyed.

      Also, I agree with you that seeing my husband have to take unkind criticism and gossip is painful.

  94. Elaine

    There needs to be a list like this for CHILDREN of PASTORS as well. Some of the things here do pertain to Preacher’s Kids too. My father was a minister for 40 year, 29 of them at one church. Everyone always think pastor families don’t have problems or conflicts but they are just as human as everyone else. Being “called” to the ministry is pretty much like anyone else finding their career passion. I left my home town to go to college and then got married. I returned 10 years later and my family attended my father’s church. VERY FEW members really supported me or my family in times of need, always thinking someone else was doing it or that my parents were doing it. I was heavily involved in activities as were my kids and I was even leader of the women’s group for a couple years. Sadly I felt VERY lonely and alone except for my mother. IT still would have been nice to have support and some close friendships with others. We moved after 10 years and after my father retired. When he retired, several new ministers almost destroyed the church, but many members blamed it on my father (for being too good of a pastor). Imagine that. If I didn’t already have resentment about the church coming before me and my siblings, to hear people speak ill of my father and allow his almost 30 year legacy at the church crumble down through the hands of some not in the ministry except for an ego trip and it really ripped my heart out. It pretty much made me feel like all the sacrifices my family had to make during my childhood was a load of crap and all for nothing. My husband, kids and I have been in another state for 10 years now and It’s hard for me to find a church where I feel welcome and for the past 4 years have rarely attended any church, partly due to what the “church” did to my family during my childhood and partly because after attending half dozen churches, it’s hard to find one where more members are NOT judgmental, unfriendly snobs who just want your money. I find it easier to serve the Lord without organized church going. I do not believe HE wants us just serving in one building to the same people all the time and it’s just as well because it is a very lonely and disheartening way of life for many.

  95. Rebekah

    I’m speechless. Thank you so much for being the voice for these women. I will be one of them someday, and it brings peace to my heart to know the heart cry of my future fellow pastor’s wives.

  96. James

    It is a unique experience to be part of a pastoral family, and I appreciate the sacrifices. Looking more broadly, maybe 3 and 4 aside, these are reasonable concerns of any spouse or child in a family of dedicated ministry members (staff or lay), and many of them for anyone in any walk of life. No one person or group ought to think they are alone in their woes. I think the volume of nods to this signals something – we ought to be more open about our troubles, and more supportive of one another. Scripture speaks to that. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

  97. Amy F.

    I love love love this! It’s so true!
    I write a blog for pastors’ wives and women in ministry. Would you mind if I shared this post there??

    • Rachael Jackson
      Rachael Jackson

      Sure, Amy. Feel free to use it provided you link back to Shattered. Thanks so much.

  98. B

    It is sad to hear some of this. I did not read it all. It is not God’s heart for PW and PK to be hurt. Perhaps some of the problem is people’s perception of themselves. A pastor does not really have to be on call 24/7 if the church has some mature leaders who share the load. Maybe he has just been trained to see himself as more crucial than he is, though of course his calling is important. More trust in God to care for His church would be a good thing. My husband was a pastor for a number of years before he went to be with the Lord, and we always had dates and family time. In fact, he and I had a date every Monday night. He loved me as Jesus loves the church. And therefore, my life was generally a pleasure in that role.

  99. Mizuki

    I apologize in advance for having this be so long winded, but for once I’m going to let my true feelings show. Please keep in mind also that this is still just a small portion of what I feel.
    So much of this is also true for PK’s, especially after going through and reading some of the comments as well. Being a PK we are expected to be the perfect little angles that everyone wants as a child. I still remember one of the most hurtful things my mother said to me. She was very stressed at the time, and granted I had been in the wrong and misbehaving, but she had said that I needed to “think about your father’s position and what this will mean for him.” This wasn’t hurtful because my mom had said it to me, but because of what it made me realize. It made me realize that I could never be a normal child. Even at school I was expected by the other kids to be the goody-two-shoes and have perfect grades.
    Even now after having graduated from college, I’m still under pressure to be the perfect child. I don’t believe the exact same thing as my parents, but I still go to church when I’m visiting home to support them and let them know that I care. Every time I go to church it’s always the same: “Oh! You’re still going to church how wonderful! It’s good that you’re such a great example of the perfect PK.” or “Well of course you’re still going to church. Why wouldn’t you?” Everyone was watching me while I was at college as well and it made me so afraid of telling my parents that I was having trouble in school because of what would be said in the church community.
    People were always watching and always taking notes on how I acted. I’m a very introverted person and hate crowds with a passion. I always get very nervous when there are people crowding around me and constantly asking for my attention. It takes it’s toll on me and makes me feel very uncomfortable, so most of the time I don’t much talk to people after church. One woman noticed as such and, because she wanted to hurt my dad, she was able to use me to do so. She spread the rumor that my dad was an abusive father, something that was so far from the truth I actually thought my parents were joking and laughed at them when they told me. But because I was the PK she was able to try and use my introverted nature as ammunition against my dad in an attempt to get him fired.
    I’m very lucky in the fact that my dad made it very clear to the churches that he worked at that there would be ‘family time’, even if just for a little bit (normally after 9pm work days and after 2pm on his only day off). Dad always made sure that if something happened during ‘family time’ it could be handled by the correct people, but even then it didn’t always work. Even during vacation times my dad was working and was basically on-call. I would always beg my dad to play with me when I was little, but my dad could never make it a solid promise because work would always come up and pull him away.
    There is much pressure on my mother and I to be the perfect examples that I wonder if people can ever really get to see us as anything other than the “Lovely Wife” and the “Perfect PK” unless they’ve never been to church and never will be. I even see it with the young children I work with at the summer camp where I’m currently employed. Even when they are away from home at a place where all they have to do is just be kids, they’re expected to be the role models for the other children.
    There is so much more that I would wish to share, but I’ve already said to much. I’m sorry for taking up so much of your time.

  100. Bill Coleman


    Not all pastor’s spouses are women! Women pastors have been ordained in many denominations for over 60 years.

    Now, how do you think it feels to be male an a pastor’s “wife”?

  101. Farm School Marm

    This was a very insightful read. I would propose that perhaps an important element to consider is that we do not find the modern day “pastor” in the New Testament church instituted by the Spirit-led apostles…and maybe these issues are part of the reason why. God never sets any man (or woman) apart in Scripture to carry the burdens that the modern-day pastor carries…nor did He intend for the rest of His church to be rendered nearly useless as they all sit back and watch the pastor perform duties that were intended to be shared among the body.

    Just a thought.

  102. Siobhan

    Wow what a great article, spot-on. #3 on loneliness and #5 Sundays being least favorite day — I agree very much. I trust very, VERY few people. Just recently, someone we trusted and I was beginning to confide in betrayed us and left our church abruptly and then worked hard to get others to do the same. I think it’s very important for everyone, men or women, to have good friends and social support. But that is very hard to do in the church.

    Also Sundays…not my favorite day for sure. Early on in our marriage, I resented that we couldn’t go apple picking or on picnics or anything like that. Saturdays are errand days and weekdays are busy with other church events and school obligations, but Sundays…just another day at the office.

  103. lexi

    God is good and you now what a Pastor and Pastor ‘s wife have a lot of things to do everyday it is not just about them or their families , it about the church members to and the uplifting of God and receiving the Holy Ghost and being Baptized .

    Also read Deuteronomy 22 : 5

  104. Kiki B.

    I find it ironic that many of these comments only serve to prove what the author wrote in this article. People do not love and respect our pastors wives. The expectations are HUGE and the love and care are mostly missing. I have a renewed conviction to pray fervently for my pastors wife and try to be part of the solution rather than the problem!

  105. This Girl

    Any career that consists of giving, helping, ministering, supporting, and servicing, is all the same. Just because you are PW’s, doesn’t mean it’s any different than the rest of us married to spouses with these careers.

    Your husband is no different than mine, and I am no different than you. Our lives are no different from each others. God just gave us different callings. We are all lonely at times, all have been stabbed in the back, all have had gossip spread about us–this is the world and not paradise after all.

    Reading all these comments really makes one not want to go to church. Maybe the Quakers had it right. Gather in a worship building, sit quietly and meditate on God until one (anyone) felt the spirit to speak/lead.

    I also believe this is why “organic churches” are popping up again. No one has time for this stuff.

    Matthew 18:20. We don’t need boards, be an institution, or a corporation. We just need to worship and be in the Word together.

  106. Lan B.

    PW here.. I read almost every single comment. It kind of depressed me, and I pray other PW don’t do the same. The truth is, it can be lonely, it can be hard, frustrating, irritating, all of those things.. But our hope and peace should never come from people. I know this article is meant to serve as a way to empathize with pastor’s wives and I do hope people can better understand the struggle and reach out, but let me encourage the dear pastor’s wives here to bring your burdens to the Lord. He’s the only one that can change hearts, free time, give blessings and close friends, steady the emotions, stop the gossip, and ease worry. God signed our husbands up for a big job, and in turn we signed up by default;) He will give us the strength we need if we give Him our burdens. He asked us for those burdens..
    Also, to everyone here arguing their stance, know that every church is different, so it really is a waste of emotions and time to defend your position. Some churches are taught to be way more loving than others, some are way more judgemental and it’s more about putting on a show, therefore they expect a grand performance from the pastor’s wife as well.. Some churches are bigger and more work, some are tiny, some have more drama or financial burden, some are more financially established, some pay their pastor’s better, some pastor’s wives have a lot more kids than others.. What I’m saying is, all this arguing back and forth about who has it harder and who’s wrong about what, is a waste, because no one situation is exactly the same (there are these common themes, as the article listed, but daily demands will differ), and the devil loves to watch it escalate and Christians fight.. A pastor’s wife will always have a busy schedule, but some really do have it a lot harder than others and we should never generalize or belittle another’s pain. It is all subjective, but it is all within God’s power and ability. I know we all know this, but the comments had me bummed by the end of it all, so I guess this is a reminder for myself as well!

    In Christ,

  107. Pastor J

    Thanks for the article. My wife saw it online and shared it with me. Fortunately, we’ve already discussed most of these items. It only reinforced the need to be proactive in dialogue and practice. For example – I recently had a two funeral week. I asked her to choose a time the following week that I’d stay home with the kids to give her a break after her overtime week as a Mom. We protect our family day. No email, no calls (except the rare emergency). I remind her that I have no special expectations of her. If someone is criticizes me, I share it privately with other pastors (why burden her unfairly). Date nights! I don’t encourage her to attend conferences for ministry spouses….I encourage her to go laugh with her sisters. Why? Because that’s what she told me is important to her… not some idea of what should be good for her.

  108. Bob Hart

    Next month I and my wife will retire after 40 years of serving the church we planted. My wife would agree with most of the things writtened. That said, we have had a great run the past 4 decades. Our 3 boys grew up here, our youngest son is taking over as lead pastor, our oldest spent 11 years working with an incredible faith based humanitarium organization and our middle son is using his gifts to advance God’s kingdom in the business world.

    A lot of what goes on in a wives heart has to do with the attitude of teh people in the church. With few exceptions, people in our church and community have been wonderful to us and to our family. They have show grace to us. The exceptions hurt my wife much more than me. It is because she “cares”. She cares deeply and about everything.

    I know many pastor, their wives and their kids didn’t have it as easy as we did. I have no clue why we were so fortunate when others who are much more dedicated than me have had a difficult road. (BTW) I think PK’s are the best, we have several in our church and I always tried to add PK’s or MK’s to our staff when I could.

    To the pastor’s wives and kids who are struggling, look up and remember you are deeply loved. My heart and God’s go out to you.

  109. ff

    Hi! I’ve been following your site for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Tx!

    Just wanted to tell you keep up the great job!

  110. Charlie

    I have just read this article and it leaves me to ask one question. If there is so much pressure on these poor women, at what point are WE going to wake up and realise that Jesus never intended the Church to be structured in this way. It was never meant to be pyramid shape…WE are the Church and WE are all equally equipped. He is the shepherd. The modern role of a Pastor (and his poor wife) is not scriptural. Come On Church!!

  111. pat

    I am a pastor’s wife.
    all women who have trouble in their homes/marriages and talk to my husband any time of the day.
    he listens to the with compassion, advise them and make follow up…..what about me.?

  112. L. KAY

    If you are not in the ministry, you do not understand the struggles of someone who is. Period. I have been in ministry now for almost twenty years and it is a very lonely place to be. I can count my true friends on one hand. I hardly see my family because we live a couple of hours away and it is hard to get away most of the time. We haven’t had a real vacation in a few years. My husband was so hurt at our last church that he is now working as a car salesman and he is a bi-vocational pastor. He says he will never be a full time pastor ever again. We got accused of lying & stealing from the church which was so far from the truth! My adopted son is biracial and we were given nasty letters about him in our mail box. My husband almost had a nervous break down because the “Church” was so mean to our family. I was bitter for years until God set me free of all the anger and bitterness. I still have major trust issues because of all we have been through over the years. I love the Lord and will continue to do what He has called me to do and so will my husband. Ministry families, our eyes MUST be focused on Jesus, not the people in the church building or our circumstances. We are in it for Him and He is the one we serve. My son recently got saved and I pray a hedge of protection around him every day and that God will protect him from mean church people. I pray he will be everything that God has created him to be and that he will be surrounded by people who love Jesus and who will love him. Love & prayers to all those out there in ministry. One lost soul is worth it all!!


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