5 Things Your Pastor’s Wife Wishes You Knew

 In service/ministry

It was 5 minutes until service started and I was chugging up the walkway to church, 3 kids in tow. Already that morning I’d lost my temper and yelled at them to hurry. We can’t be late to church. People will notice. People will make snarky comments. Heels clicking on the pavement, I plastered on my fake smile and took a deep breath. In. Out. I can do this. I’m not new to this.

I’ve been a pastor’s wife for over 12 years and a pastor’s kid and grandkid before that. I am no stranger to the idea of being an example for the eyes that are upon me at all times. I’m usually quite good at playing the role. Actually, most of the time, I don’t even have to play the role, I’m just myself. I genuinely love people and care about them. It’s why my husband and I got into ministry in the first place.

But that day…that day, something was off.

I walked into the church lobby and immediately burst into tears. Except, I’m the pastor’s wife so I can’t just burst into tears in the lobby of my own church. People will notice. So I ran behind the ever-present pipe-and-drape area and had a full-on meltdown. My husband found me and, eventually, through tears, I managed to get out two words: “I can’t.”

Many phrases could have followed those words: “I can’t be perfect today,” or “I can’t keep this smile on my face today.” I was past the point of explanation, though. My soul was groaning. I was tired, mostly of myself. I was sad, even more so because I felt like I shouldn’t be. I was simply done.

Ministry is probably my soul’s great passion. I love helping people and showing Jesus to the world. But, can I be honest in this space, friends? I’ve struggled on days to keep it together for the sake of others. There are things I wish I could explain or say, but it’s never the right time, or I allow my fears and insecurities to silence me.

So today, I’m taking time to let it all out. The true reasons why I sometimes feel like “I can’t.” In preparing to write this, I felt more than a little vulnerable, so I went to some of my most trusted fellow pastor’s wives and asked them this same question: What do you wish your church knew about you? The answers made me smile and broke my heart simultaneously. Today, together with my own thoughts, I offer our top 5.

  1. We love you. It brought me so much joy to see across the board that this was the #1 thing we pastor’s wives hope our churches know about us. I remember when our church first started, I knew every single name, every single issue. As our church grew, it became physically impossible for me to know everyone, but I love every single person that walks through the door each Sunday. I pray for our church all the time. I smile when I see your face. I pray blessings on your children. I simply love you.
  2. Because we love you, it hurts when we don’t see you. The bigger our churches grow, a misconception can be that each member is only a number or a faceless seat-filler. That could not be further from the truth. We do our best to connect to as many people as possible on Sunday and throughout the week, but it is not possible to reach each one personally. We notice a lot more than you think, though. When you miss a Sunday, your absence is felt. Further (I’m going to be incredibly open here and let you in on one of my biggest hurts), when we invest in you and your life for weeks, months, years and decades, and have to hear that you are going to another church via Facebook check-in, that simply guts us. For us, church is family. We see you as a part of our family. When you leave without so much as a note, it feels incredibly personal and hurts us. More than hurts us, it wounds us. No, church is not a competition, but it is a relationship, and we have loved you and prayed over you. When else in life would you “break up” with someone and not even have the courtesy to tell them? It hurts because we love you.
  3. Please take us off the pedestal and out of the box. I’m going to say something that needs to be said: pastors and pastor’s wives are just regular people. We are doing our best to listen to and obey God’s direction for our lives. We will make mistakes. We will disappoint you. We serve a perfect God but we are far from perfect, and when you expect us to be, it makes us want to pull away from you so you can’t see just how flawed we are. Similarly, we’re sorry if we don’t fit in the box you think a pastor’s wife should be in. I’m probably far more sarcastic than I should be. I joke too often. I’m loud. But I am a pastor’s wife and will do my very very best to love you the truest way I know how. Thank you for allowing us to try to live the lives God has called us to without the added pressure of unrealistic expectation.
  4. Our families need us, too. We know you need us. We want to be with you, but our families need us, too. If it seems like we’re not available in the times you want us, please extend grace. We are wives, mothers and friends who really do want to balance it all. We want to talk with you and hear what’s on your heart, but the right time for that conversation is probably not when I have 3 kids all trying to talk to me at once. I want my kids to know that they are more important to me than anything other than God Himself, and it’s hard when I have to constantly shush them or push them aside for the sake of “ministry.” I love you, but I love my family more.
  5. We can never thank you enough for praying for us. It brought tears to my eyes when a fellow pastor’s wife brought up this point because it’s so true. Pastors and pastor’s wives will face attacks both verbal and mental that you will never ever know about. We don’t just desire your prayers, we flat-out need them. It never ceases to humble me when I hear from someone that they are taking time to pray for me and my family. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to read this. It’s been on my mind for months and months, but I wanted to check my heart repeatedly before writing it. After speaking with pastor’s wives that I look up to and admire, I knew I was not alone in feeling this way. My purpose for publishing this was simply to offer another point of view. I remember being younger and viewing all pastor’s wives as some sort of perfect robots who mothered their churches with perfect smiles and perfect hair. I didn’t understand why they’d walk into service late and leave early. But then I became a pastor’s wife myself and I got it. When we’re hurt, our instinct can be to shut down and never open ourselves up again. I don’t want to do that, but some days I’m tempted. Instead, I decided to write it all out in hopes that maybe someone else feels the same way. Thanks for listening.

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Showing 7 comments
  • Lisa
    Reply

    Lis, this was a wonderful article. Thank you for always being open to us and showing your vulnerability. It’s one of the hardest things to do and it definitely helps to know others are feeling similar feelings at times.

    One thing I loved when I found Access that really made me come back week after week was seeing just how real you and Jason were. You showed it in your messages and seeing you with your kids and greeting people through the galley area. I love seeing you guys with your family and how you share them and your everyday life on social media.

    Lis, your personality fits you perfect. You say you are loud, but when you take the stage and no matter whether you are talking or singing, we see your love and excitement for the Lord and it is contagious to all those in the audience.

    I love you and your family and have always loved that any interaction at church is the same kind received whether seeing y’all out and about or interacting with you online and such. 🙂

  • Melissa Goncalves
    Reply

    THANK YOU for your honesty, it’s truly a breath of fresh air! I can relate to many things you shared. The putting on the pastor’s wife face can be so tough, feeling like we have to have it together and be an example, when we are actually struggling, or hurting, or just plain exhausted from it all. My heart has wept many a times behind closed doors or on the drive to/from church because, what if someone saw me or knew what I was really feeling. Thank you for your vulnerability and transparency. Please continue to share your heart, it is liberating for those of us who walk in similar shoes.

  • B PERRY
    Reply

    There is something to be said about truly having a heart to give your all for others! ❤️ It’s exhausting in any field and people need to stop hiding behind their facade of “religion” for judging pastors and expecting everyone to be perfect just because itsGod’s House! You are a shining example of a REAL woman and mother AND wife making choices with the REAL conviction of someone who is inspired and called to lead others closer to Jesus, and that creates REAL change. I hope Everyone in your congregation uplifts and care for you the way you do for them, you are the shining light on a hill 💖💖💖💖💖💖

  • Andrea
    Reply

    My dear you articulated feelings and concepts perfectly. I was a pastor’s wife for 44 years, now a widow for the last two. Son perceptions never change. Thanks for this. Be you, do you.

  • Karlene
    Reply

    As a PM I have often felt judged. I pray for my pastor and his family because it is soooooo hard to live in a glass house etc

  • Tammy
    Reply

    Thank you for sharing, it’s great! I’ve heard this from my own pastors wife, we have talked over the years. And I pray for her and her family all the time. It’s important for me to go that that.

  • Kiki
    Reply

    Love this. Thank you for your transparency.

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