Pastor’s Wife A, B, or C

I had been a pastor’s wife for about three years before I discovered there aren’t two types of pastors’ wives (as I’d assumed), but three:

• Type A is the PW with her own specific call to ministry. I assumed she soared — anyone with their own “God-mantle” surely didn’t battle the same doubts and fears that I did.
• Type B married a man with a specific call to the ministry. In this category are actually two sub-categories: those who are thrilled to share their husband’s call and those who feel that their husband’s call is just that — their husband’s – and spend their life busily drawing the boundaries between his call and their life.
• Type C, however, are pastors’ wives who didn’t marry a pastor at all. They married an electrician or an accountant, maybe a bus driver. However, sometime after the marriage their husband admitted to or received a call to the ministry and their life changed drastically.

I have great empathy for what they must go through. It is one thing to get on the road of life and aim your car for a specific destination. The road may be bumpy, but there’s security in knowing where you’re going. To suddenly be driving to one destination and have the driver wheel onto an exit and head in exactly the opposite direction must be catastrophic to the emotions. Jill Briscoe, in “Renewal on the Run” has encouragement for those who fit Type C. She uses Peter’s wife as the example. This is a woman who married a fisherman. It was a lifestyle she knew, it had a stable income and was socially accepted. However, God had another agenda for Peter’s life and took him down another road.

What this boils down to is it does not matter if you have a personal call, you’re sharing a call or whether you were drafted mid-season, for in whatever situation you find yourself you can rest in the knowledge that God foresaw it, even foreordained it, and with His help you can succeed.

The Problem with Pedestals

It catches me off-guard whenever it happens. And it happens in varying degrees to all pastors’ wives. What is it? I call it the Pedestal Syndrome. It’s the belief by some that the pastor’s wife is, or should be, perfect. They’re shocked to discover that you and the pastor fight … struggle spiritually … can’t do or don’t know everything.

When comparing this attitude between younger and older Christians, age isn’t necessarily a factor. Although, older parishioners may believe this myth more because of the silence that was common between ministers and laity in the past. Decades ago, pastors suffered in silence (and died young) for their stoicism.

As much as it dismays me to find parishioners who want us on a pedestal, I’m even more concerned when I meet a pastor’s wife who believes it’s her obligation to be perfect. I’m saddened to think about the struggles and pain she’ll face alone. For one of the tragedies you’ll endure by placing yourself on a pedestal is isolation.

Pedestals are lonely places. They don’t lend themselves to horizontal sharing. They circumvent emotional access between you and your sisters. When you live on a higher plane, you can’t admit: “I’m depressed, please pray with me,” or “I’m struggling with my kids, can you help?” It also works against you by forcing your parishioners to keep a distance. They’ll avoid sharing their battles because they assume you can’t understand their problems.

Pedestals also become a spiritual stumbling block. Just as some people may not come to you for help because of your perfect ness, conversely others may come to you for the solutions to all their situations, circumventing seeking God’s answer for them. They may look to you for approval and accept it as God’s approval. It has happened before when people followed their earthly shepherds, even into heresy, because they didn’t have their eyes on the Great Shepherd or their feet firmly grounded in God’s word.

You can check your pedestal position every once in awhile by asking yourself these pertinent questions:

1. Am I acting honestly in my relationships?

2.  Do I serve people in order to point them to God or to gain their approval?

Just something to ponder,

God’s blessings,


[Reprinted from 1998 TPW]