I’m having second thoughts about those “serving your pastor’s wife” articles.
In 2011, Mark Driscoll wrote “Loving the Pastor’s Wife”; then, just a few weeks ago, a pastor named Ryan Huguley wrote a popular, and related, post called “6 Ways to Serve Your Pastor’s Wife on Sunday.” His list is very practical, especially tailored to the needs of women (like me!) who are married to the pastor of a small church and have small children. His six suggestions are: remember that Sundays are different for her, pray for her, have realistic expectations of her, encourage her, go talk to her, and don’t forget she has kids.
These articles are valuable. Thinking about how to serve one another, even thinking about how to serve certain groups of people with specific needs, is the way of Christ. I appreciate the compassion being advocated by these posts, and, when Huguley tells church members to bring their pastor’s wife a cup of coffee on Sunday morning, well, I certainly wouldn’t turn a dark roast down.
But, as a pastor’s wife, I’m not sure these kinds of posts establish a helpful way to think about myself.
First, they can aid my temptation to feel entitled. (Hey! Why don’t people in my church give me a hospitality allowance, save me a pew, designate my parking spot?)
But I think they can also create a false impression: pastors’ wives are disadvantaged.
Driscoll and Huguley both rightly say, “The pastor’s wife is simply to be a Christian church member like everyone else.” Agreed. But, coupled with the lists of needs and challenges, this statement seems contradictory. The pastor’s wife in their articles appears both deserving of special treatment and, at the same time, crippled in her efforts to be a Christian. True; you are not “more” because you are a pastor’s wife.
But you are not “less,” either.
I’d like to supplement Driscoll’s and Huguley’s well-intentioned posts with Five Precious Truths for a Pastor’s Wife on Sunday (or Any Day):
(1) You are not alone.
Do you dread worshipping without a husband beside you? Yes, says the elderly widow, three rows back, and the single woman who always slips in late. Do you struggle to be generous on a small budget? Yes, says the wife whose husband was laid off in October. Do you feel like people have unrealistic expectations of you?
Yes, says every woman everywhere.
Instead of allowing your struggles to isolate you from the body of Christ, feeling yourself to be in a unique category, you can use them to find connection with dozens of others who seek grace in the same situations.