You don’t have to be in ministry very long to realize as a pastor’s wife you must become very “thick-skinned”.
I remember as a twenty-year-old pastor’s wife sitting in one of our first business meetings hearing a deacon say to my husband, “The problem with you preacher, is you don’t have enough stripes on your back and it is up to us to put some on you.” And they proceeded to do so over the next three years.
At that same church, when my husband asked the head deacon to step down because his wife had left him, just until they could work things out, all hell broke loose. He had another deacon say to him, “Preacher, you are probably right in your decision, but John has been my life-long friend and I am going to side with him.” Wow, where does the Bible and truth come in? Those were three very long years at that particular church, but we were determined to “grow through them” and not just “go through them”. However, I wouldn’t want to repeat them again.
Through the 37 years of being a pastor’s wife, I have had some crazy and sometimes cruel things said to me, as I am sure you have as well. We just have to sit back and laugh at these things at times. I don’t think people think before they speak many times.
Here are just a few of the things that stick out in my mind over the years:
- Don’t you think it’s about time you start having children? You’re not getting any younger. (I was 25 at the time.)
- That’s the gaudiest necklace I’ve ever seen.
- Since you don’t have kids, you don’t have anything to do.
- One of your husband’s pants legs is shorter than the other. Why don’t you fix that suit?
- Do you ever wear the same clothes?
- If you had children, you would understand life more.
- During the greeting on a Sunday morning, a church member said to me, “You have a big dip in the back of your hair.” Like I was going to run to the bathroom and fix it!
- Couples without children are not a complete family.
The list could go on and on and I’m sure you could add several to the list also. My encouragement to you is, remember who you are serving and ask God to help you be gracious to people even when they may be unkind to you.
Thank you for the post. I needed to see and feel I’m not alone. I have been in a very huge rut of feeling extremely lonely and seems like nobody cares or understands. I know this is so obsurd. I feel bad I feel this way. But I need supportive prayer to get me past this time.
Courtney, Thank you for your post and I will be praying for you. We would love for you to join our FB group for pastors’ wives.
I think we all could put together similar lists whether or not we are pastors’ wives. People often speak without thinking how their words are impacting others. I think your encouragement to be gracious as Christ followers applies to us all. Thank you!
Thank you Diane for your response to the blog. Yes it could apply to others besides pastors’ wives and we must learn to keep a soft heart while having thick-skin.
I understand that as pastor’s wives we need to have “thick skin.” However, it should not have to be that way. I am not sure that God intended for us to have to go through the scrutiny that we do on a weekly basis in our churches. My husband is a second career minister, so I knew a life and marriage before ministry. We are ten years into full-time ministry and I still find myself amazed at how many unrealistic expectations that churches place on pastors and their wives. I will not even start on the rude and critical spirit so many have.
You said that you do not think that people think before they speak, I am not sure it matters enough to them to think about whether what they say will hurt or not. I too have a list of things that have been said and done. A few of them I can now shake my head and laugh about however, there are many that still hurt. My favorite is the church member that used our home, the parsonage, without out our knowledge as a dressing room for her daughter’s wedding for the entire bridal party. We found out when my husband walked in on them dressing and they started yelling, “I hope everyone is dressed some man just walked in.”
I just wish that church members could walk a month in our shoes in order to better understand the struggles and criticisms we face living life in a fishbowl.
Julie, Thanks for responding and you are so right it should be this way, but unfortunately when dealing with humans it will be. The one thing we need to remind ourselves that in becoming thick-skinned we must keep a soft heart. I’m not sure I have heard one to top yours there with the parsonage being used without your knowledge. Wow! Unfortunately I think there are some church members that think they own the pastor and spouse since they pay his salary. We have to just shake our head. Thanks again for replying.
My husband “pastor,” works full-time, outside the ministry of the church. I seem to get the complaints from people who aren’t happy about the way some things are done. One woman, in particular, who doesn’t attend church, rips me to shreds on her phone’s “Messenger” cause she’s not happy about the way we have been trying to deal with her boyfriend’s addiction to beer. He does attend church, and we have been ministering to him for 3 years, trying to help him to overcome his addiction. She is relentless in her cruel and mean words of criticism. I tried to not respond back to her in a harsh way, even though I really wanted to lash out back at her. It wears me out! I finely found a way to block her from my iPhone. Why are people so cruel? We in ministry sure need prayer to stay strong in ministering and showing Jesus to others.
I think sometimes people could be well-meaning but think they’re the only one offering an opinion. When it’s everyone offering their opinion or disapproval, it can feel overwhelming. I’m an introverted pastor’s wife and always feel the weight of everyone’s expectations on me to be like their former pastor’s wife, who was very outgoing. I know it’s not who I am, but all I feel is disapproval from those who have a preconceived notion of how I should be. And thick-skinned when it comes to me is one thing, but then I hear lies being spread about my kids- that is almost unbearable. I’m thankful I work for my Savior and not for man.
Jan, Thanks for replying and yes remember who you are serving and don’t let people put unrealistic expectations on you nor put them on yourself! Blessings, Rodetta