Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Secret Lives of Pastors' Wives-An Introduction

The 5 regular and loyal readers of my blog know that I blog in fits and starts. I have been blogging for several years. I rarely have ever blogged daily. However, sometimes I blog several times a week. Other times I will go a few months without blogging. There's not really a method to the madness. It has more to do with what is going on in my life at the moment. I always have a lot I want to say--it's just a matter of finding the time to type it all out. However, I want to do a series of blogs on the myths, misconceptions, and truths of being a pastor's wife. One must remember when reading this that I am only one person and these are MY thoughts, feelings, and personal experiences. Also, I tend to have some different, unconventional, and not so popular views on roles and ministry.

So, by way of introduction, I have been a married to a pastor for 18 years. (We've been married almost 20 years, but for a couple he was putting me through grad school working as an insurance adjuster or he was a full-time seminary student). I was one of the fortunate ones who knew I was marrying someone who was called into full-time vocational ministry. Some women marry men who are called to ministry after the fact and it's kind of sprung on them. Robert was specifically called to youth ministry. While he got an M.Div. in seminary, all of his electives were specific to youth ministry. He was a part-time youth minister in college and through most of seminary. He has served as a full-time Associate Pastor/Youth Minister at two churches in Missouri and Louisiana, where he was for six and seven years, respectively. For the past 2.5 years he has been a church planter/lead pastor.

Many pastor's wives believe that being the wife of a pastor is a calling of its own. I do not. I am not called to be the wife of a pastor anymore than I would be called to be the wife of a teacher or dentist or salesman. I am just Robert's wife and he just so happens to be a pastor. I am not only a wife. I am a daughter, a sister, a mother, a friend, a woman, a speech-language pathologist, a professor, a quilter, a reader, etc. Being a wife is one of the many hats I wear. Being the wife of a pastor does not define me or my role in the church. If "pastor's wife" was my identity, what would it mean for me if Robert were no longer a pastor?

Now that doesn't mean that I haven't made any concessions in marrying a pastor. In college I was a pre-med double major in biology and English with aspirations of being a neurologist or neonatalogist. Once we fell in love and started talking marriage, I knew that the minister-physician combo was not a good one. Simultaneously, I was in the thick of organic chemistry which I detested with the fury of a thousand suns and still had 2 more chemistry and 3 more physics classes to take. I also struggled with how being a physician would figure into being a mom as well. Through a combination of all of those factors I changed my major and never looked back. I realize that I would have been bored being a neurologist and overworked and have no family time as a neonatalogist. Instead I love, love, love my career!

The role of a pastor's wife is one that I will tackle in a later post. For now I just wanted to establish that I personally don't consider it a role or a calling. As a wife I am called to be a helpmate, a lover, and a friend to my husband. As a Christian I am called to serve, love, share, and encourage. Those are the two big roles that affect my relationship with my husband and with the local church in which he is employed.

I'll conclude this introduction with the following poem and add my comments in italics. For the record, I don't know who Judy Dycus is and I'm sure she is a lovely woman. However, the overall sentiment of this poem makes me vomit in my mouth.

The Pastor's Wife
by Judy Dycus

She's a Godly woman, she has such grace
Always a warm greeting, a smile on her face.
She's always encouraging, she knows her place.
She is - The Pastor's Wife.
She knows her place? And where exactly would that be? And, too bad I can't ever have a bad day or be authentic with my feelings. I just have to plaster on a fake smile and keep shaking hands.

She has to always look just right
Always on time, though the schedule's tight.
From early morning, 'til late at night
Always - The Pastor's Wife
Anyone who knows me that I am rarely on time and while I try to always be put together, I am not a primper.

She's such a Lady, everyone's friend
She serves with love from deep within.
All the rifts she tries to mend
Oh she's - The Pastor's Wife
Not much to say here, except the halo sure looks shiny.

She carries your burdens, she prays for you
Sometimes she cries the whole night through.
But you won't know when she's feeling blue,
'Cause she's - The Pastor's Wife
Actually, you will know when I'm feeling blue. I am an easy crier. As a fellow believer, I am not only to bear your burdens, but you are to bear mine too. How will you know if I don't tell you? And yes, I have cried for you too.

At church as she starts to walk up the aisle,
So many need to stop and talk for awhile.
Though she is tired, she has her own trials
She's patient, she's - The Pastor's Wife
I am pretty patient, but I am not one to walk the aisle or attend things just to be seen.

Her life, her time, is not her own
There's always a need, they go on and on
With a knock at the door, or a ringing phone.
That's the life of - The Pastor's Wife
One of my spiritual gifts is hospitality, so I do try to always be welcoming and meet needs. However, I can also be quite selfish with my time. I also realize the importance of needing to recharge in order to be able to serve.

Her husband she shares with a whole congregation
She humbly accepts his intense dedication.
In loneliness she kneels to see consolation
God Bless - The Pastor's Wife
MAJOR RANT HERE!!!! This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Many pastors' wives feel that they must take a backseat to the church members. I think that is a lie straight from the pits of hell. The priority is God, family (wife and children), THEN church. Any pastor who is consistently spending more time ministering to the church than his own family has some screwed up priorities. There may be brief seasons of extra time in ministry, but family has to come first.

She will someday reach the end of this race
As she meets her Master face to face
Surely our God has a Special Place
In Heaven for - The Pastor's Wife!

Stay tuned for the next installment: Pastor's Wife Job Description


  1. Oh my goodness, I have definitely missed the mark as a PW where this poem is concerned. I look forward to the rest of the posts.

  2. Thanks for your insight. I've only been a PW for 6 years, but my goodness! The woman in this poem fits right in with the Proverbs 31 woman, doesn't she? :LOL

  3. Thank you! I've been really struggling with this role as my vision was more like yours - determined that the title "pastor's wife" would not define me - but I've run into so many people who want me to fit into the mold of that poem. I no longer feel like I am completely wrong.

  4. I so enjoyed that. I started with this post and look forward to reading the others!

  5. You nailed it with this blog. My wife has unfortunately taken a backseat to the "church." This was drilled into me by well meaning people but they were very wrong. Now after 20 years of ministry I am considering leaving for the health of my marriage and the sanity of my wife. These very people pastor's sacrifice for will be the same ones who hurl insults and spread rumors if you fail to stroke their ego. This isn't the New Testament Church...this is lunacy! I just wish I had known this 20 years ago.

  6. I wrote this poem in honor of my MOM. And she was everything you see here. You have totally misinterpreted the meaning of many of the phrases written here. But, you have a right to be whatever you wish to be... even Wrong! I am a pastor's kid...and I could rant a LOT about my lot in life...but I'll save it. BTW...did I give you permission to print my poem here? I'm just asking....
    Judy Dycus

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