The Secret Ministry of Pastors’ Wives

The Secret Ministry of Pastors' Wives

Within a local church, the lead pastor’s ministry is the most visible to the public. Antithetically, the pastor’s wife’s ministry is the least seen. She may be visible, but her ministry often is not.

Growing up as the son of a minister of music, who then became an executive pastor, and now serving as a pastor, I have a unique perspective of the ministry of pastors’ wives.

The purpose of this post is not to gripe about any personal issues, but more so to express in generalities what I’ve noticed with the plethora of pastors’ wives I’ve known over they years.

Pastors’ Wives Have Stressful Sunday Mornings

On Sunday mornings, pastors’ wives essentially live like single moms. I know that for my wife, she awakens the kids, and takes them through their morning routine, etc. I’d love to help, but I’m working starting early on Sunday mornings. This is the case for a large majority of pastors’ wives.

This is a ministry to the church. She’s taking the weight of familial responsibility off her husband’s shoulders every Sunday morning for the sake of the overall church having a pastor who is prepared and focused to preach.

Pastors’ Wives Minister to Women with More Confidential Matters

My wife is not a trained counselor, and didn’t have the luxury I experienced of going to seminary and taking counseling courses. I noticed that with my mom (executive pastor’s wife), my wife (pastor’s wife), and mother-in-law (pastor’s wife), that all of them experience times of ministering to other women who are pouring out their hearts.

This is a ministry to the church. Often, women want to talk to another woman instead of to their male pastor. So, the only person they see whom they feel they can trust is the pastor’s wife.

People Often Treat Pastors’ Wives Like Pastors’ Secretaries

When Charity and I first got married, and I started pastoring a year and a half later, she would write down various things people would ask her about, pertaining to my schedule, or if I could do something for them, but she eventually got to the point of just habitually encouraging people to either email me or call the church office. As much as she tries to get away from it, there is still an element of secretarial treatment to a pastor’s wife.

This is a ministry to the church. She helps people learn how to easily schedule appointments with the pastor.

Pastors’ Wives Are Often Left Out of Social Functions, but Then Asked to Help in Times of Need

The same is true of pastors. My late friend, Dr. Tommy Teague, and I talked about this one time. He watched the Super Bowl at his house, and the next Wednesday a group from a Sunday school class was discussing their party where they watched the big game. They asked Tommy where he went to watch it, and he said he was just with his family in their living room. They told him they just assumed he was invited to a bunch of parties, so they didn’t bother asking him.

I’ve had several similar instances over the years. For some reason, I’ve noticed this happens even more with pastors’ wives. They’re not invited to functions as often, but are asked to help more. I have always compared relationships to banking, and it is hard to have fewer deposits while having more withdrawals.

This is a ministry to the church. It is a relational sacrifice to serve in the role of pastor’s wife.

Pastors’ Wives Deal with their Husbands’ Venting When They Don’t Feel Open to Talking to Anyone Else

This may not be the case for every pastor’s wife, but I’m sure it is for many. I know that my wife helps calm me down and gives me a more balanced perspective in making decisions for the church. This is a ministry to me personally and to the church family.

I really enjoy being a pastor, and am grateful for my wife’s ministry. Do you have any additional thoughts on pastors’ wives and their ministries?

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Jeremy Roberts
Dr. Jeremy Roberts is the lead pastor at Church of the Highlands, Chattanooga, TN. Additionally, he is an adjunct professor at Midwestern Seminary and Liberty University. Make sure and check out his blog and leadership podcast.