A Salute to the Pastor's Wife

What can make being a minister's mate more of a joy than a burden?

H.B. London One question is, "What is the greatest frustration you face in church ministry?" At a recent gathering, one minister's wife wrote, "Loneliness, lack of spiritual kinship with other women, 'single' parenting, powerful women in the church bossing my husband around, lack of finances, and identity crisis. I am a non-person, not my husband's partner in ministry, not a full-fledged member. I'd like to get a lot of stuff going in the church, but I have to defer."

A few weeks after that gathering, I received a letter from another minister's wife. She wrote, "In three months time, my husband has had only two full days off. I know this is wrong, and half our battle is weariness. We've found ourselves wanting to quit or run. We fight a lot lately. His escape from reality is the computer; then I feel even more left out. I nag, which makes him want to escape more."

As I reread this letter and thought about the heartbroken woman at the pastors gathering, I wondered how many ministers' wives feel the same way.

Conversations, letters and surveys tell us the concerns you wives in ministry have. About 45 percent of you fear physical, emotional and spiritual burnout. Nearly 60 percent of you work outside the home. Some 45 percent of you tell us you have no close friends. And more than half of you worry about raising your children.

I don't have quick answers. However, let me offer four basic principles many pastors' wives find essential in their roles.

Stay strong spiritually.
"Sometimes I'm afraid that I became a Christian as an insurance policy against hell," a pastor's wife wrote to me. There's so much more to the faith than that. Deepen your relationship with our Lord; it is especially vital during trying times.

Guard your marriage and family.
If you do not build in some protection, your congregation will consume nearly every moment of your day. Your husband will lose himself in his assignment if you do not intentionally carve out time to be together.

Use your best gifts most often.
Find an area of ministry that brings you purpose and joy.

Find a friend.
I know doing so takes time and energy, but make a friend who can share your journey in confidence and sincerity. You will find she is a gift from God.

P.S. Our Pastoral Ministries staff can help you with counsel, information, prayer or a listening ear. Please call our toll-free number in the United States or Canada: (877) 233-4455. We may not have all the answers, but we will do all we can to help you find them.

Taken from Pastor's Family magazine, Oct/Nov 1998.
Article Copyright © 1998, Focus on the Family.
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Dr. H.B. London is the vice president of Pastoral Ministries for Focus on the Family and the author of numerous books on and for pastors. He served as a Nazarene pastor for over 30 years in several churches in Oregon and California. He and his wife, Beverley, live primarily in Colorado Springs, Colo., and have two sons and four grandchildren.