Many churches (and pastors for that matter) do not know what to do with pastor’s wives, how to treat them, what role they play or how important they are. While Revolution (and myself) has struggled just like every other church to figure this out, I believe Katie and I have figured some things out that we have put into place which will prove to be invaluable in the future. While this is not exclusive to pastors, any leader in a church and for that matter, any husband can do better in understanding their wives and how to engage them.
The other thing that too many churches do with pastor’s wives is not being sure what to do with them or how they should serve or be involved. Many churches see them as free labor. He’s here, she came with him, why not put her to work, for free. She leads the music, plays the piano, leads the kids ministry and the women’s ministry. Why? Why not.
What makes being a pastor’s wife difficult is that nowhere in scripture is there a job description. The only job description people know of for a pastors’ wife is what they saw their last pastor’s wife do. If she did it, they assume every pastor’s wife does that. The problem is that every pastor’s wife is not musical, many of them do not have upfront personalities, or have a teaching gift or have a passion for children or a women’s ministry.
A pastor’s wife needs to be treated like the rest of the women in the church. She needs to be encouraged to find her spiritual gift and use them. Whatever that may be. And, like every other woman in the church, her first responsibility it to care for her husband and children. That is her first ministry according to Titus 2. This is something churches can get better at as well. We need to encourage and hold up the important role women play when it comes to their role as a wife and a mom. Yes, women are not just that, but we have lowered those roles so much in our culture that it is seen as a step down if that is your role. By fulfilling this role, a woman is making the biggest impact on the world because of the impact she is making on her family (particularly, her kids).
Sorry, that was a tangent.
Once, I had a conversation with a woman at Revolution and she told me all the things her pastor’s wife had done. She had recently moved to Tucson. Her problem was that Katie didn’t do these things. What she failed to recognize was that Katie was 28 and her previous pastor’s wife was 44, with only a high school senior still at home. Katie had 3 kids under 4 at home.
While, this does not give a pastor’s wife an excuse to be lazy and say, “I have 2 young kids at home so I can’t volunteer anywhere in the church.” If someone else said that in a church, we would give pushback because we are all called to serve somewhere in some capacity in the body of Christ. She does need to be selective with her time.
Every family finds themselves in different seasons. Some are busier than others. A pastor’s wife needs to be aware of the season she is in, the season her family is in and the church needs to be okay with that and respect that. As they do with the other women in the church.
Pastors, does your church see your wife as free labor, or do they treat her like other women in the church and encourage her to find a spot to serve? You need to not treat her as an employee, she is a member of your church, just like everybody else who is a member. Have you helped her discover her gifts and what she is passionate about? In case you haven’t figured it out, this might change as she grows older, which makes it fun. You get to discover something new with her, and then discover something else with her as her season in life changes.
Churches, do you treat your pastors wife with respect, but also like other women in the church? She is going through the same things all the women in the church are going through, she just gets to go through it in a more public way.