Pastor’s wife roles

Straight Talk

The Question:

My husband will have an ordination next week and I need to know what is the role of a pastor’s wife?

– M. from Hearne, TX

The Answer
Part 1: Limitless possibilities
Part 2: Don’t be intimidated

Limitless Possibilities (Part 1)

Looking at this strictly from a Biblical perspective, I see no specific job description spelled out for a pastor’s wife. There are roles for a virtuous woman (Proverbs 31:10-31), for wives (Ephesians 5), for mothers, for older women as mentors but nothing for the wife of a pastor. The absence of instruction may actually help you. You are not “expected” to do a particular thing simply because you are married to a pastor but your possibilities for work in God’s kingdom are limitless.

The way I see it you have two major opportunities. The first is through your marriage in which you and your husband are joined as one. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Matthew 19:5)

Becoming one flesh is very powerful in the spiritual realm. “And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12) In marriage, God can be invited to be the third cord and with him, nothing that you pray and work for is impossible to achieve. You can approach the specific area of ministry to which your husband is called as a team. How you divide up the work will be up to the two of you based on your personal gift sets and prayer as you seek God’s plan.

That’s not all. There is a second opportunity for you as an individual. God has a plan for YOUR life, separate from your marriage though I’m sure part of that plan encompasses the marriage. There are people you alone will touch. There are situations and ministry opportunities that will be given just to you by God. YOU have Holy Spirit given gifts to be used for the edification of the church. Pray and find out what those are and take every training opportunity to develop them.

Next: Avoiding some common pitfalls

Don’t be intimidated (Part 2)

My greatest suggestion to you as you enter the ministry field with your husband is that you reject stereotypical roles and not be intimidated by your church’s “expectations.” If you are in a well established denomination there are probably unwritten rules about how the pastor’s wife dresses, acts, and functions within the church. Resist!

I remember being at a conference once where there was a high proportion of pastor’s wives of a certain denomination in attendance. I could spot them a mile away. They all had a certain “Barbie Doll” look. I’m sure they had no idea but to an outsider it was easy to see the unspoken “rules.”

You are your own person and you need to find your own way. This can be done with grace and gentle determination. You will succeed to the degree that you are comfortable with yourself and to the degree you sense God’s destiny for YOU. Don’t worry about being a man pleaser; be a God pleaser.

Another piece of advice is: BE REAL. You are entering into ministry with your husband a flawed human being and you need God’s grace as well as the ones you serve. Don’t pretend that you don’t struggle; that you don’t have doubts; that you’ve got this whole thing nailed down because that probably isn’t true. Ministry happens best in an honest and open environment.

I hope you have a spiritual mentor for yourself. If you don’t yet, pray God will send one soon. This should be a woman of spiritual maturity and experience and one with good common sense who is also trustworthy and safe. This is someone who will challenge you spiritually, will dole out wise advice and who will keep your confidence.

As you enter into the service of our King I pray this for you: “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:18)