By Rodetta Cook

Rodetta Cook has been a pastor’s wife for over 40 years. She and her husband, Ron, have actively served the Lord together in ministry during the entire time and are co-founders of Care for Pastors. She understands the expectations, loneliness and how hard it is to find balance in ministry as a pastor’s wife. Rodetta also leads the pastor’s wives initiative at Care for Pastors called The Confidante and ministers to hundreds of wives each week. She strives to share blogs with other pastors’ wives that will help them in their ministry walk.

    Looking Out from the Fishbowl

    Monday, October 19, 2020

    The expectations put on pastors’ wives are many times very unrealistic, yet we still live under those expectations trying to please people, when in reality we need to be okay with speaking up for ourselves. I want to share a blog with you today written by one of our pastor’s wives here at CfP that I believe will bless you.

    No one likes to be watched with the expectations that they are being unfairly judged. Such is the case of the pastor’s wife being viewed and often judged in the fishbowl of her ministry role as the wife of the pastor. It seems all eyes are on her for judgment and voices will actively proclaim at any given moment as to what is viewed. There seems to be no boundaries in this clear, round, 360 degree viewed fishbowl she finds herself in.

    So, I asked the question of myself several years ago; “What do I see from the inside looking out?” Yes, I do see some unfair judgment when my motives are called into question, when my choices are analyzed and when my private life is brought public for gossip and assessment by those who do not live in my personal private sphere.

    But over time I also see curiosity of this role that only one or two hold in any given church. For me, I was the only pastor’s wife in the midst of over 200 church attenders. So, I started asking myself, “What is it that they are after?” Certainly not my role, so what were they trying to accomplish by tearing me down and hurting my feelings? I started with thinking they may not be aware of the things they were saying, those judgments proclaimed had somehow not reached my ears, and ultimately hurt my heart. Maybe they did not know I heard, and I hurt.

    So, I made the decision to speak to these when I heard them and actively let them into my motives, my choices, and a personal peek into my private life. All from me, not from hidden speculation or unkind gossip. From me. The fish. In the bowl.

    Here is how it started to look. I take notes when my husband preaches. I had heard speculation as to why did I take notes if I knew what he was going to say and “had the sermon” ahead of time. So, I started with that. I started the conversation…about me…from me. Not a particularly hurtful statement, but one from a place of ignorance of my actions. I figured I was safe with that one. I began to explain that the reason I took notes was that I went back to my notes to do further study, to ask my husband things I may not have understood, to affirm his points if they were especially pointed and memorable. Given time, I started to hear those that I had shared with repeat those very words to others. I thought maybe I am on to something.

    So, I took another stab at it with explaining our choice of vacation spot. And then explaining why we rent a house and no longer own a house. I explained why I serve in the kitchen during fellowship times, and sometimes I do not. I delved into the reason why I sometimes sit alone, don’t sing in the choir, don’t play the piano and why at some times during the years we have been at this church the reason why I have not worked and the reasons why I have worked. I explained why we do not visit our parents (both sets of parents are deceased).

    Slowly, the judgments have become less, the whispered gossip over motive and speculations as to my choices have all but ceased, if they were there, I would here it eventually. We always do. Instead I am starting to hear good, accurate and complimentary things about me. The fish. In the bowl.

    Recently I heard one new attender speaking about “her old pastor’s wife from another church.” It was not complimentary, and it was not true. I knew this pastor’s wife and I knew the circumstance. I spoke up. I felt good about speaking truth on behalf of another pastor’s wife. A fish. In a bowl.

    Proverbs 18:17 says, “In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross examines.”

    I decided it was time for me to come forward and speak. In truth. In love and with confidence.

    A fish. In a bowl. Looking out. Speaking up. Speaking out. Helping the curiosity in my unique role as a pastor’s wife to be understood. From the fish. In the bowl. Standing up and speaking up for other pastors’ wives.

    Has it changed my life in the fishbowl? Some.

    Has it changed my perspective when I look out at those looking in? Some.

    Give it a try. Start small. Be kind. Speak up. Speak out.

    A fish. In a bowl. A pastor’s wife with a voice.

    – Patti

    It is okay for us to have a voice and to use it. We can speak up in the right way and not live under those unrealistic expectations!

    We are here to walk with you on the ministry journey. Please let us know how we can help you.

    Help us continue providing resources of care for pastors and their families.

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