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What Not to Say to a Preacher’s Wife

preacher's wife

(I wish Margaret were here to help with this one. As my wife of over 52 years and through our six pastorates with her as a preacher’s wife covering 42 years, I suppose she heard it all. As of January, 2015, she’s now resting in the arms of her Savior. In her memory and in her honor, I send this forth to encourage church members to bless this dear lady married to the shepherd whom God sent to your church. Please see the disclaimer at the end. —Joe)

“Encourage one another and lift up one another…” (I Thessalonians 5:11, somewhat, and a favorite line in an old chorus)

“You cannot use my name.”

That’s how the typical private note from a preacher’s wife begins.

Marlene introduced herself as the wife of a pastor. She had come across our article from a year or more ago on “59 things not to say to a preacher.” Back then, I had solicited input from Facebook friends and ended up with that number of comments which preachers do not need to hear and which affect them negatively. The article got a good bit of play and drew more than a fair share of controversial reactions.

Preachers loved the list. And so did their wives, incidentally.

There’s a lot of hurt out there.

Marlene appreciated the list, she said. But she added that I had quit early. We need a list of what not to say to the wife of a preacher.

So, I asked her to get me started. Here is her reply:

Joe,
I accidentally deleted your email. Sorry, must have been the
turkey overdose. (This was around Thanksgiving.)
Here are a few of the things that we PWs do not enjoy hearing:
–Numero Uno…Do you play the piano?
–Our former pastor’s wife did it this way.
–Where were you this morning?
–Why weren’t you at the meeting?
–Do you sing in the choir?
–If we call your husband, what do you bring to the church? Getting a good preacher’s wife is like getting two for the price of one.
–Since you work, your husband doesn’t need a raise.

–Since your husband wants a raise, maybe you should get a job.

–Anything that begins with “We knew you wouldn’t mind…” is never good. 
–We knew you wouldn’t mind if we borrowed your husband for a while.

 –We knew you wouldn’t mind if we volunteered your home
for a meeting, party, etc.

 –We knew you wouldn’t mind filling in for the missing nursery
worker.

 –We knew you wouldn’t mind filling in for the missing Sunday School teacher.

 –We knew you wouldn’t mind overseeing (insert project here).

 –We knew you wouldn’t mind making the angel costumes for the children’s choir.

–Anything that begins with “But you’re a preacher’s wife”…
you don’t have any problems…just ask your husband to pray for it…you
can’t wear that…you’re not supposed to be sad…you’re not supposed to
have fun…you’re not supposed to get angry…you’re not supposed to say
no…you will just have to grow thicker skin.

Anything that begins with “I don’t mean to pry but…”
…you could improve your housekeeping skills…you could improve your
yard working skills…you could improve your (insert whatever here).

Anything that begins with “I just think you should know…”
what so and so said…what someone said about your husband…what
someone said about your children…what someone said about your
hair…what someone said about your dress…what someone said about your
(insert anything you do or do not do here).

I even had someone tell me that I was not wearing “preacher’s wife
shoes” one time.

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Joe McKeever has been a preacher for nearly 60 years, a pastor for 42 years, and a cartoonist/writer for Christian publications all his adult life. He lives in Ridgeland, Mississippi.