Updated: Feb 26
My perspective on the advice I was given on how to be a Pastor’s Wife.
Since I was a teenager, I always had the dream of serving in full time ministry. When I met my husband, we began to dream together. All the wonders of ministry: seeing people saved, watching families be restored, seeing people get right with God. We were excited! We had attended Bible College together and received training on practical aspects of ministry. After we were married, we began praying about God’s timeline for church planting.
In October of 2018, we found out that we were expecting, a miracle in itself due to a health condition I have. The pregnancy was long and difficult, full of medication, shots, and tests to ensure this baby was as safe as possible. Church planting was still on our mind, and the Lord allowed us to take our survey trip to Denver when I was seven and a half months pregnant. That’s it, reality hit. We would be moving to Denver, CO although we weren’t quite sure of the exact timeline yet. Our daughter was born on May 22, 2019 and I was elated at my new role in motherhood: caring for this baby had quickly risen toward the top of my priority list.
Only one week later we received a phone call from Denver, CO – you’ll never guess. My husband was voted in as Pastor of Fundamental Baptist Church. We would be moving, as soon as Everleigh (our newborn) was healthy enough to travel. We shared the news with our family and our home church. Suddenly, advice found its way to us from every angle. I was ‘warned’ so many times about the “Pastor’s Wife Life”. Sometimes it was from a woman that has been married to a pastor for 50+ years; other times were from well-meaning church attenders who just wanted to help. I’ve even been warned by some women from our own family who don’t have a Pastor for a husband. Some advice even came from people who didn’t attend church at all.
“Your life is going to change.”
“There are things you can’t tell them; don’t open up. You have to protect yourself.”
“Forget about family time in the ministry. Those days are few and far between.”
“You don’t understand, there are so many things you don’t know… I’m just trying to help.”
We arrived in Denver on June 29, 2019. Upon arrival, we were so excited about how we get the privilege to serve God here. One of the first things we did was set up a meeting with the current Pastor, who had plans to retire in August. That gave us an entire month to sit down with them, observe how they operate, and plan a course of action for slowly “taking over” and replanting the church. Pastor Miller is one of the most loving people I have ever met in my life, and the congregation LOVES him… Talk about pressure.
I knew that we were moving to Denver, CO for Trey to become the Pastor of the Fundamental Baptist Church. I was excited: I had literally prayed for this moment since I was 14 years old. However, the newness of motherhood was now one of my more prominent focuses. It seemed like everything was moving so fast that the timing of everything made me almost forget the role I would have serving as a Pastor’s wife. It was something that I had prepared for in college, but I knew I still needed more preparation, after receiving all that advice, I honestly didn’t know how to prepare. I was given so many warnings, but no one ever really gave me any solid advice on how to actually be a Pastor’s Wife.
I began to study my Bible searching desperately for answers. However, just to be honest, the Scripture doesn’t really give a step-by-step guide to knowing how to love your congregation. I was longing for a checklist of sorts, similar to the one I created for my hospital bag before our daughter was born. ‘Slippers. Check. Comfy clothes. Check. Baby outfits. Check.’ I’m sure you’ve already said it in your mind, “Ashlyn, that’s not how it works.” I continued searching. After all, I’ve been warned so many times about what I’m “allowed” to do and “not” to do. But here’s my problem with all that advice I received, no one backed it up with Scripture.
· “There are things you can’t tell them.”
Most of the time when I received this advice it was a woman eluding to her struggles of loneliness and depression. I’ve met at least 50 pastor’s wives and many of them seem to struggle with loneliness, depression or both. There’s a pressure to be perfect in the eyes of your people. This pressure often makes these women seclude themselves from others in the church. They focus on raising their children to be perfect little robots or try to work behind the scenes. – I decided to ignore this advice. Before you stop reading, hear me out. What do people dealing with loneliness need the most? You guessed it, companionship.
I just made the decision that my first item on my “Pastor’s Wife Checklist” was Openness. Allowing myself to be human so that people wouldn’t be afraid to be my companion. After all, people want authenticity and are much more comfortable with someone who can be on their level. Someone who can be honest with them, someone they can open up to and confide in. I know I need someone in my life like that. We aren’t meant to operate alone. Galatians 6:2 says – Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ. If you are finding yourself feeling lonely or depressed, set up coffee with a woman in your church. Plan a luncheon just because. Get involved in the lives of the women in your church, and make sure to let them get involved in yours.
· “You’ll have too much to do that you don’t have time for yourself. You will be expected to do everything.”
I’m going to use the best example I can for this one. A lot of churches have 90/10 syndrome. That means that 90% of the work/ministry in a church is completed by 10% of the people. A lot of Pastor’s wives are in charge of more than they can adequately handle: banquets, decorating, children’s church, nursery, and the list goes on and on. You know what would help the 90/10? If you started to delegate tasks. I’m not saying that you turn over your Mother’s Day Luncheon to a first-time visitor. You may have a smaller congregation, you may have an older congregation, you may have a congregation that only comes on Sundays… God can still use your people.
#2 Delegation Item number two on my checklist is to delegate. Ask someone to help you serve the meal on Sunday. Ask someone to help you organize the decoration closet at your church. Ask someone to help you with the flower arrangements. Ask someone to send out the monthly birthday cards. You only have to do things by yourself if you don’t ask someone for help. Every individual has talents to be used by God, they’re just waiting to be given the opportunity. Matthew 25:14-30
· “The pastor’s wife life may feel like an unrewarding task.”
I don’t mean to sound harsh here, but serving the Lord isn’t about feeling rewarded anyways. That’s right read it again: serving the Lord isn’t about feeling rewarded. We shouldn’t serve the Lord just to be publicly recognized by the Pastor for vacuuming the floor or cleaning the restroom. We should do those things because it’s HIS church and we are all responsible for participating and serving. Now don’t get me wrong here, from the perspective of leadership, we ought to thank our people for serving the Lord. It will encourage them, and they’ll like get involved more. But, to get off of my rabbit trail about bathrooms and vacuums, serve the Lord to glorify Him. Don’t have expectations, because sacrificing our gifts to the Lord is our “reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1-2)
Item three is to serve without expectations of recognition. The only thing we should desire out of our service to the Lord, is that HE be glorified and uplifted. 1 Corinthians 15:58 – Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
· “You won’t get as much family time. Your husband will be so busy; he won’t be able to spend much time with you and your children.” Did you know that even if your husband is a pastor, the church is not his greatest or highest priority in life? His responsibilities are still number one: his walk with the Lord and number two: your family… at least that how it’s supposed to be. If he cannot effectively minister to your household, your family cannot effectively minister to your church.
· “You’ll be stuck at home and won’t have time to participate in extra ministries outside of service times.”
Did you know that we are meant to serve as a family? So many people sacrifice their life at home for life at church or vice versa when in reality, they should be intertwined.
#4 Serve as a family
The next item on my list is to serve as a family. There’s a verse in Joshua that talks about serving the Lord. It doesn’t just mean honoring Him with your life and lifestyle. It means collectively serving as a family. Joshua 24:15 – And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. The Pastor’s family should be an example of ministering to others. Go soulwinning together. Let your children help you at a church event. Have your teenager volunteer in the nursery. Get involved as a family.
· “You’ll have to just give up on some people ‘Oh, don’t worry about insert name here: they claim to be saved but they don’t care about the things of the Lord. They’re a lost cause.”
Quickly upon arriving in Denver we were introduced to the church family. Some were members, some were regular attenders, some hadn’t come in six months or more. But all of them had a story, a background. My husband and I listened to all the information, trying to learn about who we would be ministering to. We did so cautiously though, knowing that sometimes people receive judgement from leadership without that leadership ever knowing the whole story. No matter what your perspective is, people deserve another chance. I’m not saying to give people opportunities to hurt the church, but I am saying that you shouldn’t give up on the people.
#5 Love like Jesus
Some people need one-on-one discipleship, others need to earn your trust, or maybe they just need to see your love demonstrated to them personally. They may even need you to thank them for coming to the service instead of saying “we haven’t seen you here in a while.” You could even visit them at home and take them supper one night, maybe that’s when they’ll realize that you practice what you preach. All I’m saying is we ought to love like Jesus, and he loved the very people who put Him on the cross. Matthew 18:21-22 - Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
By no means do I claim to have the perfect ministry as a Pastor’s wife, not even close. There are so many things that I haven’t learned, so many situations I have yet to face. I just remember searching for answers and not finding much solid advice on this subject. As the Lord teaches me things about this peculiar aspect of ministry, I would love to continue sharing it with you. After all, we’re all here for the same purpose: to bring glory to God.