While amazingly rewarding, being a pastor’s wife is one of the most difficult jobs on earth. There is no job description — no operations manual – and the previous pastor’s wife is no where to be found.
And one might assume being a founding pastor’s wife would certainly remove the comparisons with the previous, non-existent pastor’s wife, right? Wrong. There will always be a former pastor’s wife — at least in the minds and hearts of the people. But I soon found out that my greatest challenge wasn’t the former pastor’s wife — my greatest challenge was finding me as a pastor’s wife.
I was 20 years old when I first became a pastor’s wife. Though my mom and my grandmother were pastors’ wives, that simply wasn’t enough vicarious experience for me. Our churches are different; our geographic culture is different; our generation is different and we are different.
What kind of pastor’s wife are you? Are you comfortable in your own skin? There are pastors’ wives who excel in raising families and supporting their husbands as pastors. Some pastors’ wives engage in service within the pastorate in addition to their supportive roles as wives. Some are involved in church administration, education, worship, media, children’s ministry, youth ministry and women’s ministry. Some are called pastorally to teach
and equip their congregations along side of their husbands.
What about the bi-vocational pastor’s wife? Does a nurse stop nursing when her husband becomes a pastor? Does a dental hygienist stop cleaning teeth because of being a pastor’s wife? Well maybe some have left their vocation, but many I know continue in their vocation just as some of their husbands do. And in my book, by the way, nursing and dentistry are ministries. The bottom line is God designed the call and the gift of the pastor’s wife when He created you. There is no set pattern and no set model and do not allow anyone to tell you otherwise. You are uniquely created and called. (Psalm 139, I Cor. 1:26-28) You ARE free to be you.
It is true. The expectations of others can create a burden, but I have found OUR own expectations are far weightier. Be free to have seasons that are less or more involved. Be free to raise your family or go back and finish your education. Be free to develop the call to teach or to take a job. Be free to write that book or to engage in short-term missions.
Whatever you do — be free to be you!
- website: The Global Pastor’s Wives Network (www.gpwn.org)
- article: Ten Principles to Assist and Encourage Your Pastor’s Wife
- book: Being a Minister’s Wife — And Being Yourself, by Nancy Pannell
Nancy Clark joined her husband Jeff in a pioneer pastorate in 1980. Over the last 32 years the Clarks have founded and pastored churches in New York and Texas and provided leadership to three Bible schools. Today the Clarks coach and resource pastors, leaders, ministries and organizations within the global Christian community. Nancy is an embraced friend of the ministry and serves as the W.I.L.L.O.W. Women’s Ministries Director.