I would like to share a post that a friend of mine who is a pastor’s wife shared on her Facebook page back in September. This post breaks my heart because three pastors’ wives thought there was no way out, but her post also encourages me because she is sharing her heart on the unrealistic expectations that are put on us as pastors’ wives.
When I woke this morning, the very first thing I read was on one of my Pastors’ Wives pages, three – THREE – Pastors’ Wives took their lives by suicide THIS WEEK. It’s only TUESDAY, friends! I just started sobbing. THIS IS NOT RIGHT. Pastors’ Wives have a unique set of responsibilities, and the kicker is, most of the time they don’t get a dime for their work. Which is okay because they do what they do with a servant’s heart and they work for God, not man. But, MAN, it’s hard.
Here are some things that Pastors’ Wives are NOT:
- They are not financial planners, but they are expected to provide for their families on the income their husbands receive from the church. With that income, they need to look presentable, keep their home and family presentable, drive a nice car, and put beautiful meals on the table for guests.
- They are not professional counselors, yet they are expected to listen and counsel all the people in their small universe and do it competently and for free.
- They are not mind readers, yet people CONSTANTLY get offended (AND LEAVE THE CHURCH) by things like, “She knew I was having a difficult time, yet she never came, called, texted, emailed, carrier-pigeoned a response to me.”
- They are not professional chefs, yet they are expected to drop it all and whip up a gourmet meal for someone in need.
- They are not qualified to teach, lead worship, play an instrument, make slides for the service, or head up the children’s program – but they DO. Why? SERVANT’S HEART.
- They did not go to Seminary, yet are expected to teach a Bible study for women several times a year and be engaging, provide the snacks, and answer ALL the tough theological questions.
Three beautiful women with families took their lives by suicide (three that I KNOW of) – and for what? For being thrust into an impossible set of expectations. It’s too much. Just too much sometimes. These are usually mothers with children, and they have two responsibilities: Their kids go to public school, and they work full time, but come home to make dinner, take kids to sports, help with homework, then prepare for Bible study, their Sunday School class, do the bulletin and then encourage and be a helpmate to their husband, who has his OWN set of unique problems and responsibilities. OR, she homeschools and gets, “Since you’re home, surely you can do THIS or THAT.”
And I have another question: Would you even DREAM of going up to your boss and complain that his spouse doesn’t dress to your expectations, his kids don’t behave like you think they should, tell the boss he doesn’t do enough, do it right, do it like you think he should? Never. As in EVER. But we think it’s our responsibility to tell our Pastor these things. No, no, no, no, and NO. Bottom line – your pastor and his wife and family are HUMAN BEINGS just like YOU. They have feelings, feel impossible pressure to get it all done, struggle to be everything to everyone – just like you.
I am putting it out here because women are my PASSION. They are my HEART. And I love my fellow pastors’ wives. Victory Chapel has been an unusual congregation in that they have ALWAYS loved us and made us FEEL loved. They have provided for us. They have loved us through problems with our children, issues with our health, and so much more. To say I am fortunate is an understatement. I am BLESSED. My entire family is.
What I would love to suggest is, send your PW a card. Bring her a coffee at her office. Take them a meal FOR NO REASON. Give her a gift card to get her nails done or go out for lunch with a friend. Show her and TELL her that she is doing a great job and ask if you can lighten her load. My mom often said one thing to us when we were leaving or talking to her on the phone, “Thank you for loving me!” And that’s what I have to say right now to my church family and my PW friends, “Thank you for loving me.” You do it well.
— Georgia M.
I pray what Georgia shared will encourage you to set boundaries for yourself and that you won’t allow those unrealistic expectations to be put on you. And remember you aren’t alone; we are here to walk with you on your ministry journey. Please let us know how we can help!
Cried at the sadness these ladies felt go take such a drastic step.