When you hear the words, The Pastor’s Wife, what does she conjure up for you mentally? For so many she is the object of perfection in the church. She has it all together, her children are perfect, her responses are wonderful, and her life is one to be admired and emulated. For others of you, she is a working woman, playing the piano, leading the women’s group, feeding the homeless, and running the children’s ministry seamlessly. Yet for others, she is the epitome of judgment. She glances at you head to toe and makes a sad determination. Sadly, you’d be right with all three versions because she exists in all of these forms.
Back in the day there was the thought process that the Pastor’s Wife was to be set apart. She was not to mingle with the commoners of the church and she was to be held in high regard. Only that doesn’t really fly in the face of scripture does it? Jesus says he is gentle and lowly in heart. Jesus says he is set apart by believing and obeying his Father. It wasn’t about being set apart from the people, it was about being among the people and being set apart in action.
The question that has been stirring in my heart as I see this attitude is what false hope it gives to women in the body. To think that any life is really that perfect and the average woman cannot attain it because it’s for an elite group is just not realistic. There are no scriptures to back this thought process up. There is no elite group of Navy Seal Christian Woman. There are women who achieve great things and who have applied godly principles of life to their everyday walk but no one’s life is pure perfection. There are Pastors Wives who silently suffer, and because they are supposed to have this perfect image, they can speak to absolutely no one about it. So they put their makeup on and hide behind a smile and because no one really looks at each other anymore they are able to pose.
The problem with that is that we are called to mentor and to love and to help. We can’t ever say we have a problem because then we have this perception that no one will think we are as perfect as we pretend to be and therefore leave the church. So we lift up this unattainable goal to woman in the church that they too can be a perfect woman in Christ and she flounders because she never can quite get there. She feels inadequate and that’s good for us because it makes us feel more powerful.
I will never forget a story I heard Ruth Graham tell. She was Billy Graham’s wife who has now gone on to be with Jesus. Because her husband was often traveling she raised her children primarily alone. She said her son Franklin Graham, who is now an evangelist himself, gave her fits on a regular basis. One day while out and about he was acting out so much that she threatened to put him in the trunk of the car if he continued his behavior. Of course Franklin continued and she pulled the car over and stuck him in the trunk and drove on. Yes, she admits not a crowning moment for her but instead a desperate mom moment. While none of us would advocate putting your kid in a trunk, we relate to the feeling.
I have learned a few things in my life as a Pastor’s wife over the years. I know that life happens to the Pastor’s Wife. She gets flat tires on the way to a meeting. She has bad hair days. She has arguments with her husband sometimes. She yells at her kids. She sometimes skips her devotional time in the morning. She blows it at work. She gets mad at people who cut her off in traffic. She has issues. Her life is just as full and as busy as the next woman. She has flaws and temptations and everything else going on in her life. She isn’t married to a calling or a church. She is married to a man and she has been called, just as any wife, to minister to her family and then the church. So pray for your Pastor’s Wife because she’s as human as every other woman but sometimes she can’t say it.