The 'Unemployed' Pastor’s Wife – Part 1

Quite often the pastor is the only individual in a family who is actually – and officially - employed by the church. About the time I married my pastor, 30+ years ago, there was a tremendous shift happening in what was automatically expected of the pastor’s wife. Long gone (for most) are the days when a church family welcomed you and assumed you’d be the new pianist, children’s ministry leader and serve as the hostess for all events held on the church grounds and off site. 

When both the church leadership and the church family are able to embrace their pastor’s wife as a fellow team member the pressure to perform is greatly lessened. Even in the more rare situations when a pastor’s wife (or their adult children) is employed by the church, a healthy understanding of authority and expectations is invaluable. Learning and living within healthy boundaries is vital to sanity and success as the demands of life and ministry ebb and flow. 

Whether a volunteer, or an actual employee of the church, every pastor’s wife has a variety of unique dimensions within her world. How we express our love to God and mankind is as vast as the distinctive circumstances of our churches, our marriages and our individual personalities. Linked together, as women married to our pastors, we have many commonalities as co-laborers in Christ. While not an exhaustive list, here are some perspectives worth reflecting on to seek a fresh perspective on where God has you now and how you can make the most out of the opportunities He gives you each day.

1. Ministry
God has given you talents and spiritual gifts to be used for His glory! Look for opportunities to use those gifts within your home, to encourage the church body and to make a difference in your community. What opportunities has God placed before you in this season of life? How can you uniquely help in the local ministry and keep your pastor’s home a place of comfort and peace?

2. Distinction
We are no better than anyone else in our congregation, but we are also no less valuable than any other. Tread slowly when facing the mantle of responsibility others may want to gift you with. Instead, focus on helping to carry the load that is most beneficial to bless your pastor and lessen his load. Take personal inventory every six months or so to keep you both on track together.

3. Individuality
Just as your husband’s ministry style has its own distinct characteristics, so too will your ministry. God created you with unique giftedness and natural strengths. In each age and stage of life we grow, learn and develop. If we allow it, our weaknesses can become assets, and a lifetime of learning can help us to mature and develop a healthy level of self-confidence that brings great freedom.

4. Sanctuary
Whether you live in a parsonage, rent a room with another family or own your own house, it is invaluable to create a safe haven within the pastor’s home. A peaceful harbor, but not the home of a hermit. Healthy boundaries can be set in any living situation, but make sure you appreciate what you’ve been given, are a good steward of what God has entrusted you with and that you open your doors to those in need.

5. Connection
Navigating the myriad of ways we can now communicate with others can be both mind-boggling and instantly devastating. From the old fashioned grapevine to today’s social media platforms, people love to share life together – but often at the expense of others. Godly discernment to quickly identify unhealthy communication styles, such as self-absorption and triangulation, is essential. Knowing your audience (and their preferred connection mode) is key to communicating effectively. Creating healthy connections takes time, but is well worth the energy. Doing life with others brings greater understanding, and with increased understanding comes deeper insight into how we can more effectively interact and truly connect.

This week, as you consider the first five distinctive frames of reference God has given us as The 'Unemployed' Pastor's Wife, may we anchor our thoughts with the challenge of Ephesians 5:15-16. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (ESV) We have each been given a tremendous privilege in being handed an instant platform of influence in our homes, our churches and in the world around us. May God's wisdom guide us each and every day!

Visit for more articles like this and a voice of understanding and encouragement. 

Note: This post is an adaptation of an article I authored years ago for the Church of the United Brethren in Christ


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