A Pastor’s Wife: The Toughest Job on the Planet

Published: December 12, 2012

Your husband received a near unanimous vote from the congregation when he was called but someone must have rigged the count. After his very first sermon, his approval rating started its relentless downward course, and it feels like the nay-sayers are killing your soul. And all the while, you are expected to keep on smiling and maintain civility.

This, of course, does not represent the experience of every pastor’s wife, only most of them.

You of all people know your husband is not perfect, but you also know that he genuinely loves the people in the church, prays for congregants like a parent, is always on call, and does his ministry with integrity. This, you believe, suggests that he deserves to be treated at least as well as people’s pets.

When he is maligned, it hurts you too
Actually, your situation is harder than his. It is more difficult to see a loved one mistreated than it is to be mistreated yourself. It is similar to how you feel about your kids. If someone mistreats you, you can handle it, but if someone says a word against your kids, you turn into an angry mother bear. 

Oh, and if you have children, and they begin to notice some of the congregation’s negativity, they will be hurt. 


Ten possible responses
Here are ten common responses. Your peers have tried them all, sometimes all at once.

1. Grin and hate people in your heart.
2. Forgive, then forgive again, and feel guilty that your frustrations have not yet disappeared.
3. Wonder why God is punishing you and your husband.
4. Get mad when your husband tells you what is happening. Then, as he begins to keep things from you, both of you feel more alone.
5. Nurse an “us-against-them” attitude.
6. Get mad at your husband because he has chosen a job that ruins marriages and families. Some women forgive their spouses only after years away from pastoral ministry.
7. Suffer in silence.
8. Cry (often).
9. Wonder why this never happens to anyone else.
10. Consider moving to another church.
 
This is so hard. You never expected that the church itself would be the prominent cause of hardships in your life.
 
Six better ones
Here are six somewhat better options: 

1. Try to avoid the “suffer in silence” alternative as much as possible. Satan divides, and this is an ideal scenario for him to do such things. Talk to your spouse and share your predicament: you want him to share from his heart, but don’t want to make life more difficult for him by your reactions. You want the spiritual gift of unity, but maybe you don’t need all the details of what people are saying to him.  
2. Take a look at an earlier blog that was directed to pastors (see link below).
As someone joined with your spouse, the observations of the Apostle Paul are for you too.
3. Talk to the Lord about the things on your heart. “They do not cry to me from the heart, but they wail upon their beds” (Hosea 7:14). Crying out the Lord from your heart is hard work. 
4. Make Psalm 55 your own. Please know that Jesus is the ultimate author of this psalm, and he was its first singer. Join him where you can.
5. Care about being fruitful. Abide in Jesus and he will make you so.
6. Bitterness is a killer. Be vigilant with it. Don’t let it go unattended. Combat it with the gift of humility.
 
Being a pastor’s wife may be the toughest job on the planet. You expected to be on the outs with the local drug dealer when you signed on; you never expected to be on the outs with brothers and sisters in Christ. But Scripture anticipates your struggles, which is a great gift to you. It means that your God and Father is in this, and he will use it to build his church.

Read "Pastoral Ministry: A Sure Way to Be Dishonored" here