Hey committed church member. How are you doing? Good? Great!
So thanks for taking the time to read this article because I want to talk to you about your pastor and your pastor’s family. You might know this, but your pastor’s job is really, really hard. You know that joke about how pastors only work one hour a week? Yeah…that’s not true. The pressure a pastor feels every day to guide the church’s vision, the burden he or she feels from a pastoral counseling conversation with a couple on the brink of divorce, the energy he or she pours into the sermons that come every…single…Sunday. All that stuff is really hard. But pastors also love it! They care so much about you, your health, your family, your community and the world. Each day they get out of bed ready to tackle a spiritually strenuous job because they’ve been called by God.
But sometimes this passion and drive can be unintentionally abused by their congregations. Your pastor probably has a family too, and the burden of being a good spouse and parent while trying to pastor can be crushing. Check out this Lifeway study that came out recently to get a sense of what pastor’s spouses say their lives are like. It’s not easy. There are a lot of pastors whose marriages are quietly crumbling, but no one knows. There are so many pastor’s kids who suffocate under the pressure of being the “good kid” that in some circles the term “PK” (pastor’s kid) is shorthand for someone who now resents the church.
But here’s what I know about you: You love and care about your pastor. You want to see your pastor and his or her family thrive. Here are five things your pastor wishes you knew about his or her family, and how you can help.
MY SPOUSE ISN’T THE CHURCH’S PASTOR TOO
Some church cultures treat hiring a pastor like a two-for-one deal: get a pastor, and the spouse thrown in for free. And so the spouse is expected to join a committee, lead a small group, lead the women’s ministry, and/or be available for counseling at a moment’s notice.
Imagine if one day your boss at work told you he expected your spouse to work 20+ hours for the company for free, and if he or she didn’t it would reflect poorly on your job performance. That wouldn’t be very fair, would it? That’s how some churches treat their pastor’s spouse. And here’s the deal: The spouse probably wants to be involved on some level, but depending on his or her season of life that involvement will fluctuate.
Make sure your pastor’s family knows that’s okay.