Upon my introducing myself as The Pastor’s Wife on a recent Sunday morning, a woman looked so delighted that it made me feel wonderful. And then she said, “It’s so nice to have a pastor’s wife. I’ve missed having a pastor’s wife.” I didn’t mention that she might not see me again for several months.
Needless to say, I am not in my spouse’s worship service very often because 1) I too am a pastor and 2) my own job involves visiting other churches on Sunday mornings. So far in 2015 I’ve preached or taught classes or moderated meetings in fifteen different churches on Sunday mornings. That leaves six Sundays and – on a couple of those – I’ve been out of town for some reason or other. [Note: one of the joys of being a non-parish minister is that I have more control over my weekends. I’m a big fan of Sundays off.]
Another truth of Today’s Pastor’s Wife is that the wife might be a husband. Or The Clergywoman’s Spouse might be another woman or even another Clergywoman.. Or the Pastor could be single. So there you go.
My first field education supervisor was married to a clergywoman and I remember him mentioning that one of the reasons that he and his spouse knew that they could love that congregation was because of this conversation:
Clergyman Candidate During Interview: What are your expectations for my wife?
Pastor Nominating Committee: (confused facial expressions)
CCDI: Do you expect her to fill a certain role?
PNC: (Still looking confused.) What would she like to do?
What I love about being The Pastor’s Wife:
- HH’s congregation is wonderful and I love them. They like having me around but they also support my own ministry. (Thank you, folks.)
- I love getting the sermon preview.
- I love talking about art and worship and Church World with HH.
- I love the opportunity to preach in that pulpit occasionally.
There are still pastors’ wives out there who are expected to direct the choir and bake the brownies and teach Sunday School and good for those who enjoy that part of being married to the professional minister. But keep in mind, gentle parishioners, that your pastor’s family lives a different sort of life. Her/his children are not members of the staff nor are her/his spouse. And if you pastor is single, please be respectful of her/his free time. (I remember as a single pastor that people regularly started late night phone calls by saying, “I’m sorry it’s so late, but I knew I wouldn’t wake up anybody but you.”)
Our culture has changed, both domestically and ecclesiastically. Your pastor’s spouse could be a local professional or a stay-at-home parent or a commuting partner living in another state. One of the best things you can do is accept this and be nothing but encouraging. And if your pastor is single, bless her/him with privacy – unless your pastor authentically wants your matchmaking assistance.
This post is dedicated to two favorite pastors’ wives from my childhood: DHB and HM.