When I was a girl full of Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Janette Oke books, and the romantic comedies of the 90s, I thought the most romantic fate was that of a minister’s wife. Of course, to me that meant living in a parsonage next to a tiny stone church, having ladies over for tea, wearing white dresses and wearing lavender in my hair, gathering heather on the moors, and having roses in my garden all year long. My mother wrote the following in my baby book:
Blythe declared that she will marry a minister, live in a pink house with white shutters and a white picket fence, have six children, and name two of her sons Ashley Graham and Ellery Prescott. Will her plan come to reality?!
Praise God my plan did not come to reality! For that would mean no Rockstar (in fact, when we were dating, I made sure he didn’t feel called to the ministry–that would have been a deal breaker for me!), and a difficult life of self-sacrificing, selflessness, and sharing my husband with an entire church. Women who marry men in the ministry have a very demanding, high calling, and I think we often think that their lives are lovely or everyone likes them or they have all the support they need or their marriages are perfect.
I have had a few readers request prayers for ministry marriages, and so I asked a very close friend of mine whose husband is one of the pastors of a local church for some help. So today, I am praying for these marriages in these ways that she suggested, which have given me such a better understanding of what these couples face every day:
- Protection from spiritual warfare
- Stewardship of time and energy
- Ability to handle graciously and with love criticism from church members
- Stress from the sacrifice of long hours, low pay, and little medical or personal benefits
- Implications of constantly being under a microscope with people always monitoring their behavior and looking to them as an example
- Wisdom to set appropriate marriage boundaries to protect against over-working
- Quality time as a couple (and dependable babysitters if living far from family)
- Practical help for the family
- Grace to respond in love and forgive a church culture often lacking in gratitude for their pastors and families
Graciously, my friend also shared with me ways to support and encourage our pastors and their families:
- Take care of your pastors (sadly, after a decade in ministry, this friend can count on one hand the amount of times people have remembered them during pastor appreciation month [October])
- Respect your pastor’s boundaries
- Pray for your pastor and his family
- Remember that in many cases, your church has hired the pastor and not the wife; pastors’ wives can easily feel immense pressure to be at church all the time, fill in the missing ministry gaps, etc. Pray for pastors’ wives to feel grace and freedom.