Have a Great Life as a Pastor’s Wife

Whitney Hopler

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Lisa McKay's book, You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes: And Other Great Advice from an Unlikely Preacher's Wife, (David C. Cook, 2010).

Your life as a pastor's wife is meant to be a great adventure - not a grim existence.  You don't have to wear sensible shoes and polyester clothes, play piano, or keep a spotless home to be a pastor's wife.  You can just be yourself and trust God to work through you in powerful ways.

Here's how you can have a great life as a pastor's wife:

Answer God's call.  When God calls your husband to be a pastor, He calls you, too.  Face your fears by countering each one specifically with biblical truths and praying for the courage to follow where God leads you. Trust God to use your own life just as powerfully as your husband's to make significant contributions to His kingdom.  Participate in the church's work as much as you can during your current season of life.  Invite God to use you fully to bring much-needed hope to people in your congregation and surrounding community.

Develop the qualities of a servant leader.  Serve others with a cheerful, winsome attitude.  Think before you act and pray before you speak.  Be a faithful person that others can truly count on to help when they're in need.  Hold private information in confidence and never slander others.

Give your husband the support he needs.  Respect your husband's God-given role as the head of your home and church.  The quality of the bond that the congregation perceives you and your husband have to one another will impact every area of ministry.  If your husband needs you to help support the family financially so he can continue his work on a minister's salary, be willing to earn some extra income.  If your husband is struggling with the level of stress in his life, talk and pray with him about it, and plan times to rest and have fun together.  Do whatever you can to support your husband, remembering that you're both on the same team working on God's side.

Deal with church conflict wisely.  Conflict - even in church - is part of life in this fallen world.  But when it happens, you can prevent it from harming relationships and actually use it to build stronger relationships.  Learn to separate people from their words and actions, so you can love them despite how they might hurt you.  Rely on God to help you forgive and work for reconciliation.  When people criticize you or your husband, honestly consider whether any of their concerns might be valid.  If not, rely on God's justice in the matter.  If so, seek wise counsel to make healthy changes and grow.  Every time you encounter conflict, ask yourself: "What does this mean for today, and how will it profit tomorrow?".  Keep in mind that God will never let injustice reign.  If you maintain your integrity under conflict's pressure and allow the Holy Spirit to guide your words and actions, God will convict the hearts of everyone involved, changing them for the better.

Feel free to make friends in your congregation.  Don't restrain yourself from getting close to the other women in your church.  The friendships you can build with them are definitely worthwhile.  While you'll naturally have more in common with some women than with others, don't isolate yourself with one person or group of people.  Be open to relationships with everyone.  Accept invitations to events like Sunday school parties and baby showers whenever possible.  Keep in mind that, as a pastor's wife, you're an example of faith in action - whether you want to be at any given time or not.  So do your best to live with integrity in all situations.  When one of your friends disappoints you, remember that you have the ultimate friend in Jesus Christ.  Look to Him to meet your needs so you won't expect more of other people than what they can reasonably offer.

Discover and use your spiritual gifts.  Focus on what God has most gifted you to do rather than trying to do too much and losing your effectiveness.  Think and pray about what you most enjoy doing and what you do especially well - those are clues to your spiritual gifts.  Consider what ways you've struggled in the past and then experienced God's healing - God can bring beauty out of your brokenness in the form of a unique way to serve others.  Stay in touch with God often through prayer and reading the Bible so you can discern His latest guidance for you.

Raise your kids to keep the faith.  Hold your kids only to the same standard as other kids for their behavior, remembering that it's unrealistic to expect them to be perfect just because their dad is a pastor.  Give your kids the freedom to make mistakes.  Let them know that your love for them is unconditional and that they're not responsible for the success or failure of your family's ministry.  But still remind your kids that they're accountable to God as all people are, and encourage them to keep growing closer to Christ.  Be open to discussing your kids' behavior with caring people in your church and welcome their support.  Do all you can to create an environment of great love for your kids within your congregation.

Move on well.  Many pastors' families move frequently.  If you're moving to a new assignment at a different church, walk out of your old church with dignity no matter what conflicts might have occurred in the past.  Don't say or do anything that will hurt people.  Keep in touch with good friends; you can continue your friendships across miles.  Remember that you'll always be part of God's family even while worshipping in different churches.  Instead of pining over goodbyes, embrace the joy of hellos by building new friendships at your new church while still maintaining your previous close friendships.

Give the laypeople in your church the greatest gift - love.  Express your love for the laypeople in your church often, in ways such as: following up on their requests for prayer and talking with them about their concerns, openly and authentically sharing your struggles, socializing with every person equally, serving often through acts of kindness, giving them unconditional love when they've failed, welcoming them with hugs, ministering to them in crises, learning and remembering their names, and taking a genuine interest in their lives.

March 16, 2010

Adapted from You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes: And Other Great Advice from an Unlikely Preacher's Wife, copyright 2010 by Lisa McKay.  Published by David C. Cook, Colorado Springs, Co., www.davidccook.com.

Lisa McKay and her husband, Luke, serve at a thriving church in Alabama.  Lisa also is the wrangler of three rowdy boys, and shopping companion to one princess-in-training. She has followed God's call and Luke's U-Haul across five states for 15 years.

Originally published March 11, 2010.

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