Being a pastor’s wife is seldom an easy role but can be even more complicated if you fail to do these 7 things!
1. FAILURE TO EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT THE ROLE OF A PASTOR’S WIFE
Statistics have shown that somewhere between 80% to 90% of pastors’ wives feel “unqualified” and “discouraged” in their roles. Who wouldn’t feel ill-equipped to fulfill a position she had not been adequately prepared for?
Use what you have learned to craft a role that fits what you have to offer, your personality, and the churches needs, but yet feels right for you.
Create your own personal pastor’s wife mission statement for your role as a PW and share it with your husband. If he is in agreement, let your mission statement be your guide.
2. FAILURE TO HAVE PROPER EMOTIONAL SELF-CARE
In case it took you longer to get this memo (like it did me), know this: your emotional health is not your husband’s responsibility. In fact, it’s not anyone’s responsibility except your own. With that being said, take some time to get a clear understanding of how the unique role of being a PW effects you emotionally. What part of this role gives you the most stress? Joy? Fulfilment? Anxiety? Self-doubts? Frustration? Create an emotional self-care plan for yourself. For example, one introverted PW stated that, after she has socialized with the flock after church, she waits in her car and reads until her extroverted pastor husband finishes mingling with the congregants--sometimes over half-an-hour later. Another PW shared with me that, during a particularly stressful time in her and her husband’s marriage, she suggested to her husband (and he agreed) that she focus less on being “a pastor’s wife” and focus solely on being “[his] wife.” She dropped 95% of her ministry responsibilities for that season, until she, her marriage and family were in a healthier place. What are your emotional self-care needs? Discover them, and begin implementing them.
3. FAILURE TO MAINTAIN “OUTSIDE” FRIENDSHIPS
Unless you were born married to your pastor husband, you likely have friends (outside your ministry) who you knew long before you became a pastor’s wife. While the dynamics of premarital friendships almost always change after marriage, it is still important to have them, to help to keep you grounded. Life is not all about church, parish, or ministry life, and it is important to have “outside” friends who help you to remember that.
It is likewise important for PW’s to maintain their friendships for their emotional wellness.
“Numerous studies have shown the necessity of women friendships in the face of stress and challenges.
“Every time we get overly busy with work and family, the first thing we do is let go of friendships with other women, explains Dr. Josselson. We push them right to the back burner. That's really a mistake because women are such a source of strength to each other.” (Source)
The takeaway is this: friendships are a necessity for women, but can be even more so for a pastor’s wife! Don’t abandon them.
4. FAILURE TO EFFECTIVELY DEAL WITH MARITAL PROBLEMS
If your marriage is struggling, your ministry is struggling, period. Pastor’s wives often go through seasons of bitterness and resentment towards their husband and church life, when marriage seems to have taken a back seat to ministry. While you may not always be able to convince your spouse to get help during marital crisis, you could and should still seek help! “Couples counseling for one” is proven to provide PWs with numerous benefits. One piece of advice I often share with PWs in “couples counseling for one”, is to keep growing in other areas (spiritually, physically, vocationally, etc.) despite marital challenges. I also teach PWs the importance of healthy emotional boundaries during marital crisis. That is-- taking complete ownership of their own feelings, while also guarding themselves against the need to take responsibility for their pastor husband's emotions and feelings, or those of their congregants. Marital problems are to be expected; but instead of allowing them to be all-encompassing, use this time for personal growth.
5. FAILURE TO DESENSITIZE YOURSELF TO THE “FISHBOWL” EXPERIENCE
The Fishbowl Effect – a feeling of or reality wherein every move you make is observed, noted, scrutinized (source). Living in the Fishbowl means --all eyes are on you. While your pastor husband may like or even enjoy the spotlight, perhaps you don’t. Here are a few things to keep in mind that will help you to guard against taking the fishbowl experience too personally.
6. FAILURE TO MAINTAIN YOUR PERSONAL IDENTITY
You are more than the roles you fill. Your role as a pastor’s wife (or any role for that matter) is simply another avenue through which you can express who you are. Because you will be looked at and looked to, as a PW, it is even more important for you to understand your personal identity, and how you will express that in your role as a woman in leadership.
If you lack clarity in your personal identity, you may find yourself:
7. FAILURE TO MAINTAIN A FULFILLING PRAYER LIFE
I would be remiss not to include the necessity of prayer in fulfilling the role of a wife, pastor’s wife and ministry leader. One of my PW mentors told me once, “You can’t do it in the natural.” What she was saying is that, it takes One greater than me, a Supernatural Source, to help to effectively fulfill the calling of pastor’s wife!
While almost all PWs understand the necessity of prayer, it is not uncommon to find oneself guilty of talking more about God, than to God. In order to avoid having your role as PW become a nightmare, make sure to keep prayer as a primary practice. Here are 3 ways in particular prayer will aid you as a pastor’s wife:
What practices have you found that make being a pastor’s wife a nightmare? What practices do you employ that help you succeed in your role?
This blog is intended to provide supportive counsel, to hurting women, women in ministry, and pastor's wives.
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