What is the role of the Pastor’s Wife?

My PW friends and I constantly hash this one out. It’s probably one of our most talked about subjects actually. What are the expectations others in the church have for us? Are they realistic? It’s fair to say, across the board… it’s a NO!

The other day a bunch of us (Pastor Wives -PW’s) were chatting and one shared a really funny story about expectations.

“At the first meeting with the ladies in the new church her husband was brought in to lead, she had them all write out their expectations for her. What she should be expected to do, wear, sound like, how should she respond to their demands? How was she expected to be involved? Did she need to befriend them all? Meet them all for tea and how often? She gathered them all up front and without reading a single one, she lit them on fire.”

Now we all laughed and it’s still being talked about and mostly I’m sure it’s because deep down inside, we all wished we would have been the one to come up with that first! They are all expectations that have been put on us at one point in our life of being married to a man of the cloth. All performance based I might add…

It’s not an easy thing, this being married to the Pastor. I didn’t have many expectations of what it would be like to be married to my husband, we only spent 40 days in each others presence before we got married, not enough time to create a world of expectations I guess. What I really didn’t prepare for and really… how can you? Prepare for the expectations others would have of me as the wife of their Pastor. I have had no time just as Dave’s wife – I do not know what it is like to be just a wife. I know someone is asking themselves, is there a difference? Yes, by golly … there is!

I had a bunch of thoughts running through my head and it sounded so wonderful but then I came across this article, by Pastor Dan Miller on what the role of a Pastor’s Wife is. It’s best you just read it for yourself, it’s too good to pass up.

“The pastor’s wife is certainly a rare species with a very peculiar calling. She is one flesh with the pastor. And if he is worthy of the title, this means she is one flesh with a difficult man. If she is worthy of her calling, it also means she has laid down the “normal life” on the altar and slit its throat in sacrifice to God.

The pastor’s wife will often keep her husband’s long hours, shoulder his pressures, feel his disappointments, and suffer his defeats—often as profoundly and as deeply as he does. She will be thrust into the role of chief analyst of both his sermons and his administrative innovations. She may well be called upon to catch grammatical errors and to sniff out inconsistencies in his letters to the church, to befriend that woman in the assembly others prefer to avoid and to brainstorm solutions to problems no one else can solve.

She is often the single human agent of God who can accurately evaluate her husband from God’s perspective—the single voice that helps him navigate safely through the beclouding opinions of those, on the one hand, who see not a single weakness in him; and those, on the other hand, who cannot bring themselves to admit he has a single redeeming quality. God only knows how many days a few well-chosen words of encouragement from her lips are all that stand between her husband’s perseverance in the pastorate and his permanent resignation from the ministry.

I do not think pastor’s wives are to be pitied, nor is pity what most of them seek. I do not propose to shield her from her responsibilities nor to eliminate the painful experiences she is called to endure for the glory of God. Such trials are intended by the Great Shepherd to deepen her faith and character. Let us make no vain attempt to exempt her from the Refiner’s fire.
Yet it is fitting to recognize that her relationship to her husband places her in a uniquely vulnerable position—a reality that will concern those who genuinely love the church of Jesus Christ and long for its health. She is one flesh with the pastor, yet she is not a pastor. She is a member of the flock, yet uniquely susceptible to the pressures the shepherd of that flock endures. In this unique position she is exposed to peculiar pressures, and to not a few stray bullets.

But I submit that one of the most significant trials many pastor’s wives suffer is a needless trial for which her well meaning husband is ultimately responsible. Many a pastor places upon his wife, or permits others to place upon her, ministry expectations that are not rooted in the wisdom of Scripture but are staked in the quicksand of human tradition and our cultural milieu.

The Bible pointedly addresses the functional ministry of the pastor. He is to be a man—a “one-woman man.” He is to lead the flock of God, to protect it, to care for it, and to feed it. He is to restore the fallen, to seek the lost, and to pursue the spiritual health of the assembly he serves. But what specifically does God want his wife to do?

I exhort those who shepherd, or someday will shepherd, the flock of God to faithfully shepherd your wife by purposefully and biblically steering her ministry in the local church you serve. By extension, I also challenge those who are actively involved in a local church to embrace a biblical philosophy regarding the ministry of the pastor’s wife and to influence your assembly in that direction. I exhort you to do this for the glory of Christ and for the health of his church.

In pursuit of this goal, we ask the question: What is a pastor’s wife supposed to do? What specifically is her divine calling in her unique role?”

I recommend you read it further, at least past the popular but deficient job description.

What expectations have you placed upon the wife of your pastor? Take some time to re-evaluate all that she does, all that they do as a couple and say “Thank You” this Christmas season. According to a recent study done by Focus on the Family, 80% of PW’s polled felt under-appreciated and discouraged. Show your gratitude – a little love goes a long way!

p.s. this wasn’t for my church to read to get a point!! lol 🙂 I love my church!!!


I'm the Cool Mom of 4, Married to the Preacher Man, but at times I'm a little more Sass than Saint!

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  1. I love reading your blog posts and people should appreciate their pastoral team always.

    Thanks for being yourself and being a friend first always!!!

    Friendship before Function right!!!

  2. fascinating… where do you find this stuff?? So true.

  3. WONDERFUL POST. I forwarded it to some former church members. stillgrowing

  4. Thanks the blog Shasher. Many people pray for their pastor…but umm…Who Prays For The Pastor's Wife?: http://wp.me/pEVJ0-hb

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