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Being a Minister's Wife

My Beautiful Mother-in-Law and Our Son

I started something new on my Peacefulwife Blog Facebook page yesterday!  For those of you who prefer to learn by listening – I have posted a few of my first VIDEOS!  Now you can be in “my class” – even though you’re not at my church. 🙂  Let me know if you like that medium and if you find it helpful.  Thank you!

 

I have not been a minister’s wife myself.  But I have been a pastor’s daughter-in-law for 18 years, and although I was not quite as much under the spotlight and scrutiny that my mother-in-law was – I definitely was close enough to see how wonderful and how difficult it can be to be in the “glass fish bowl” – as my husband likes to say.

A number of ministers’ wives have written to me.  I know that being in this position of influence and pressure is a DIFFICULT and CHALLENGING place to be.  There is nowhere to go to hide when things aren’t going well.  Those who are in a pastor’s/minister’s family, but especially his wife – will be held to MUCH higher standards by those in the church, those outside of the church and also by God Himself.  So it is REALLY critical that the ministers’ wives out there become as godly, holy, mature and Spirit-filled as possible.

OTHER PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS WATCHING

A pastor’s wife is under a great deal more scrutiny about everything than almost anyone else in the church (except maybe the pastor): her attitude, speech, tone of voice, behavior, habits, spending, parenting, modesty, cooking, eating, clothing – EVERYTHING is monitored.  She is constantly watched.  If she makes a mistake – everyone will know about it. Some may follow her ungodly example, or they may talk about her behind her back, confront her or the pastor about it or her husband may lose his job.  If she does something godly and sets a beautiful example, people will model after her, too – especially the women in the congregation.

THE POWER OF A PASTOR’S WIFE TO DESTROY

I have seen pastors’ wives (not my mother-in-law!) use their position of influence and exposure to completely and utterly destroy their marriages, their husbands’ ministries and entire churches.  One woman in the position of a minister’s wife can do all an incalculable amount of damage.  All wives can cause complete devastation and damage in their husbands’ lives on some level.  But for a pastor – his wife’s sins, rebellion, idolatry, discord, hatred, unforgiveness, etc… carry much more weight than they would in most marriages.

How could a minister’s wife destroy her husband and his ministry?

  • showing blatant and/or subtle disrespect for her husband in front of church members or other leaders in the church
  • gossipping about her husband or other church members
  • slandering someone in the church
  • using her words to tear down her husband in public and in private
  • calling people in the church and trying to handle personality disputes or leadership disputes herself
  • being very critical of her husband’s abilities as a pastor, demeaning his abilities, calling him lazy or a hypocrite (even if only in private – that is incredibly demoralizing)
  • correcting her husband in front of others
  • having hatred, resentment, contempt, animosity, anger, bitterness and unforgiveness in her heart towards people in the church or her husband
  • cherishing sin in her own life
  • wearing immodest clothing
  • flirting with other men
  • questioning her husband’s decisions constantly – especially in front of others
  • refusing to cooperate with her husband’s spiritual authority in church or in the marriage
  • trying to control the church herself or control her husband as a puppet for her own agenda and desires
  • having an emotional or sexual affair
  • undermining her husband’s spiritual authority at church, in the marriage or as a father
  • not having the love of Christ in her heart
  • having a critical, judgmental, condemning spirit
  • embezzling money or being involved in a scandal
  • refusing to go to the church service
  • arguing with her husband in front of church members
  • bad mouthing her husband to others

This is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully wives can see the idea.  This stuff applies to ALL wives – but ministers’ wives must ESPECIALLY be on guard against this kind of disrespect and any attempts to usurp their husbands’ God-given authority in the church, the marriage and the home.

THE POWER OF A PASTOR’S WIFE TO BUILD UP

There are wise pastors’ and ministers’ wives in the church who understand the enormity of their responsibility before God to obey Him and to show respect for their husbands and to cooperate with their husbands’ leadership.  They understand God will judge them more strictly.  They understand the eyes of the congregation and community are on them all the time.  They know that they are co-laborers with their husbands – they are teammates – to minister for the gospel together.  They know that their husbands’ ability to do his job depends on their wives’ ability to behave themselves in a Christlike way.

A BEAUTIFUL, GODLY EXAMPLE

My mother-in-law has been an incredibly godly pastor’s wife for about 50 years now.  She was able to watch her own behavior, speech, dress, manners and respect for her husband and I have NEVER known her to cause a problem in one of her husband’s churches.  The beautiful qualities I observed in my mother-in-law that other ministers’ wives ( and really, ALL wives) may want to imitate:

  • She always takes care to dress in a feminine, conservative, modest way (beautiful long dresses or skirts with jackets and a blouse, usually).  She knows that she represents Christ, their church, her husband and their congregation when she is at church or even just out in public in town.  She makes sure she looks decent and put together because she knows she is a reflection of her husband and she wants to be sure she makes him look good.
  • She willingly plays the piano and/or teaches children’s Sunday School classes. She is always a genuine helpmeet to her husband, using her talents and abilities to contribute to the needs of the church.
  • She doesn’t complain or argue in front of others.  I am not aware of a time when she complained about the church or about her husband or someone in the church to a church member.
  • She always upholds her husband’s decisions and cooperates with him and shows a united front at church.
  • She does NOT get involved in gossip or drama.  It is difficult to have close friends when you are the pastor’s wife – you know so much about what is going on and private affairs of so many people – especially in a smaller church (100-300 people).  But she was always SO VERY careful not to create divisions, contention, gossip or spread slander.
  • She always smiles at each person at church, hugs them, is friendly to them, welcomes them and shows as much hospitality as possible in every situation.
  • She always comes to church to support her husband – unless she was sick or in pain.
  • She doesn’t begrudge him the many, many hours he spends away from her and their family (when their children were at home) visiting the sick in the hospital or going to someone’s house where there was a death or counseling people or working on the leaky faucet at the church or someone’s house.
  • She is a wonderful cook and always had a delicious lunch and supper ready for her husband each day and enjoyed the time she got to share with him.
  • She lets her husband lead the conversation about spiritual things with people.
  • She doesn’t do anything that might cause someone to stumble – no alcohol, no working on Sunday, no inappropriate behavior or questionable activities – she avoids even the appearance of evil.
  • She is very responsible and takes good care of her home and was (and still is) a great mother to her boys.
  • She never tells her husband what to preach or how to preach.
  • She trusts her husband to handle his job and calling with wisdom.
  • She knows her husband is responsible, capable, dependable, intelligent and able to do his job well and she shows faith and confidence in him.
  • She always dressed her children well and made sure they behaved well in church.  They also behaved well outside of church, too!
  • She stands by her husband when there is strife in the church.  She is quiet and doesn’t try to defend him herself.  But she is there and offers her supportive presence, showing her respect for him and her belief in him.  But she doesn’t take over in business meetings or try to control things or fix things herself.

Lord,

I lift up all wives who belong to You, but especially ministers’ wives.  Help them to choose to live by Your power to be the wives You want them to be.  Let them honor You and their husbands in their speech, attitudes, behavior, priorities and choices.  Let them point many to You by their obedience to Your Word and their willingness to follow Your design for marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33.  Bless these women richly in their walk with You.  Satan would like to destroy them.  Protect them and their husbands from evil.  Keep them close to Your heart.  Use them to gather a large harvest for Your kingdom and to teach, preach and live well with Your Spirit of power, love, courage and self-control.

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

15 thoughts on “Being a Minister's Wife

  1. This is a wonderful post, April. Both the “Power to Destroy” and the “Wonderful Example” listings are right on target. What a blessing for a pastor to have a wife who really “gets it,” concerning the pivotal role she plays in his ministry. From personal experience it seems that the area which can be the biggest snare for a minister’s wife is to engage in loose talk and gossip of any nature regarding the work of the ministry or any church members — simply thoughtless comments or even giving the appearance of agreeing with or condoning sinful chit-chat of others. A wife, or any Christian, can get drawn into such destructive conversations in a flash. And, how to avoid appearing to be a “holier than thou, straight-laced prude,” while remaining approachable and friendly is not easy to accomplish. I believe it can be done, and your godly mother-in-law seems a perfect example of this, by a commitment to continuing prayer and reliance on Holy Spirit to guard one’s speech and communication with others. Certainly having a godly reputation will deter many who would otherwise be given to gossip from engaging in such sin in the hearing of the godly person. Still, persons in the habit of idle backbiting, slander, and careless gossip will always pose a threat to those desiring purity in their conversations. However, where there is sin, there is always the possibility for exposing it for what it is with meekness and humility and yet with a boldness born of spiritual power. Again, this will only be accomplished through prayer and a deep dependence on God for the right words and attitude.
    Regarding your videos on Facebook — would it not be possible for you to share those with us on Peacefulwife Blog? Again, April, many thanks for your ministry to us.

    1. Ronfurg,

      Thanks for the great comment! Yes – it is a very difficult balance to not get involved in gossip but to be loving, friendly and hospitable. My mother-in-law has always done this really well in her churches!

      I am trying to figure out how to get videos on my blog. I have one ready to go right now – but I’m having technical difficulties! I hope to have it up soon. Thanks for the encouragement and the suggestion!

  2. Thanks for your post. I would love to think my daughters-in-law could say the same things about me. I have been a pastor’s wife for nearly sixty years. I am planning to start a blog and also to write a book for and about pastor’s wives.

  3. That you for this post,I really needed to read this! I’m a minister wife going through some things. God has convicted and correct me, I’m on a new journey to please my Father and my husband in all I do.I haven’t been doing everything I need to please GOD and my husband! This post is for me,thanks again..Blessings!!!

  4. God help me, I have not been the wife or leader that you called me to be. Let me hear from you and no one else who does not know your word or your ways. Keep your hedge of protection around me and my husband so we can live a Godly life together, the way that you have ordained us to live. Forgive me for acting childish and not knowing what it means to be a first lady, but more importantly your daughter.

    1. TL,

      I lift you up, my precious sister, to the glorious throne room of our sovereign Lord! I pray that God might work powerfully in your heart, to reveal anything that is unpleasing to Him and to completely transform you into the image of Christ by His Spirit’s power and His grace alone. I pray for you to abide in Christ and to allow yourself to be the instrument of God to bring healing, hope, joy, faith, strength and godliness into your home and church. I pray that you might fully submit to God and that every stronghold of sin and the enemy in your home and marriage and church might be demolished by the power of our Risen Lord, Jesus!

      I can’t wait to see what God has in store for you, your husband and this precious congregation.

  5. HI April,
    I just read this article and I love it! As usual, you are on point! Excellent advice for wives of Ministers. Not that I know all but, I did get to witness up close and personal a lot in my ex husbands family. Almost every one of his male family members was Minister, Pastor or Bishop. I know some insider stuff; strengths and weaknesses that are known at home but not at church in detail. Not to hide as if wrong but, wisely not to be publicly known as if the church members should be privy to every detail. I know pretty well the call and sacrifice on a Pastor and the effect that responsibility has on his wife and family. I personally never wanted to be a ministers wife. NEVER! After my divorce, I turned down any request for coffee or dinner by any minister that asked me. Why? Because I knew very well the sacrifice and responsibility his position caused for his wife and family. I did not want the responsibility or a husband I had to humbly and patiently share like that! Selfish? yes! But after seeing what I saw that is what I avoided and why.

    When I met my husband he was a deacon, faithful and committed. A deacon, that was fine with me. I had many conversations with ministers and their wives that somehow seemed to lead to the topic of being a ministers wife and I always told them my position. After we were married for about 1 or 2 years my husband was called to preach.WOW! I said to God, “OKAY! YOU GOT ME!” LOL What else could I say.

    So even through my difficult times I already knew not to share with or complain about anything in my marriage that I find distressing. Not even with ‘friends’ at my church. No matter how close. They too need not receive the word with potential hesitation or maybe not at all due to what I may be ‘temporarily’ feeling and expressing. AGAIN, wisely not to hide but, for my husbands sake and the sake of those he leads so not to destroy, discourage, deter, jeopardize the message/teaching through him or the receivers of that message.Now, later as a testimony to help someone? Yes! But during??!! ABSOLUTELY NOT!!

    God Bless you richly April!

  6. This post hit home for me. I have been the daughter in law of a Pastor and his wife for 18 years, but my mother in law does pretty much all of the bad things, and few of the good. She’s great at dressing nice, but she bad mouths others that can’t afford good clothes, and girls that don’t wear makeup she calls homely. This is all whispered to me during service.
    Then she corrects my Father in law at the pulpit, and callously belittles him in front of family only.. I have honestly never met someone willing to completely destroy their husband as she does.
    My Father in law seems helpless against her. Other senior church members have distanced themselves from her. She is unapologetic and proud.
    Out of honor, I keep attending, trying to remind my mother in law that we should not look at the faults of others… But my admonishment is met with indifference. My husband of 18 years won’t speak to his mother about this. The whole family lives in denial.. To compound matters, they have no retirement, are over 70 years old, and have no where to go once they leave the free parsonage house. I keep telling her Dad is a great Pastor, but she’s convinced the lack of attendance is his fault. They’re both getting bitter, and now expect my husband and I to fund their retirement and let them move in.
    I feel backed into a corner of manipulation… But what’s sad is that none of the church has ever confronted her. Im just a daughter in law.. And from my view, it’s her that scares off many women who start attending. She’s just plain rude and bitter. I come home from church feeling angry and confused after being near her… And now Dad talks like he wishes he was dead.. I can see why. I’m getting to the point where I will either clam up and never speak again, or scream at her. This person has left me in tears for years.. I have known many Pastors wife’s, but never one that was critical, and cruel to the Pastor himself. She treats him so reproachfully. I want to help her, but how? The Pastor wishes he was dead because of his wife… Help us God

    1. Sad,

      I hurt with you over this situation. 🙁 My heart is so grieved! I understand this dynamic. I have seen it, too. In marriages and in churches. The enemy gets a foot hold when we cherish pride, self-righteousness, idolatry of self, disrespect for our husbands, control, bitterness, and contempt. When we allow these things to fester over decades – then the enemy has a base camp and operates from our lives, speaking directly through us into the lives of those we love and those around us. We become the voice of the enemy. We become his ally.

      A daughter-in-law is in a great position to see the sins and strongholds of the enemy in her mother-in-law’s life. But most of the time, a daughter-in-law is not going to be someone a mother-in-law will be willing to receive a rebuke from. Sometimes, it may be necessary. But I would rather see the rebuke come from her husband, son, or the leaders in the church, if at all possible.

      What does your husband believe y’all should do?

      I can tell you this – God’s Spirit is what is needed here to bring conviction. Let’s pray together for that to happen.

      Lord,
      We lift up this dear woman for whom Christ died. We thank You for her. We see that she seems to be ensnared by the enemy and that the enemy would love to use her to help tear apart this marriage, this family, and this church. She cannot see right now. She is spiritually in a coma. We ask that You might wake her up. Expose her sins to her. Bring someone to confront her. Or just convict her privately – however You see fit, Lord. Your Spirit is the only one who can open her eyes to her sin and bring her to godly sorrow. Your Spirit can raise her to new life in Christ. Set her free from this captivity of Satan, Lord! Use her for Your glory. Let her be willing to repent of these sins and yield to Your Lordship that You might make something beautiful from her life and from this family and church body.

      Give my sister who is sharing this concern the ability to lay this at Your feet and to not try to fix it herself. Let her seek You with all her heart. Empower her. Fill her with Your Spirit. Let her let go of any bitterness against her MIL that she may have – realizing that if her MIL could love with the Spirit of God, she would. She can’t because she doesn’t have the Spirit of God in control right now. When the flesh is in control, this is what happens, it is not personal against her daughter-in-law or her husband.

      Bring healing to this MIL, FIL, daughter-in-law, and son. Let them have a healthy, God-honoring, agape love kind of relationship that brings great joy to Your heart. Dispel the great darkness. Let Your Light shine brightly and blaze to expose the sin in this situation and to bring about spiritual abundant Life.

      In the Name and power of Christ,
      Amen!

      Much love and the biggest hug to you!

      Please search my home page for:

      – control
      – controlling mother
      – bitterness
      – forgiveness

      I don’t want you to allow the enemy to set up shop in your heart. You can see the results of what will happen if you look at your MIL. I don’t want that for anyone!

      Much love to you!

      1. Thank you so much for the prayer. I really have no one to share any of this with, my husband works 16 hours a day – 6 days a week, so he’s barely aware of anything going on in our home life. It’s pretty crummy.. Plus we have 2 young children. So, thank you so much for the thoughtful prayer, it means a lot to me. I still love my MIL, despite the bitterness. I too don’t think it’s my place to confront her. We don’t have a close relationship. I try to keep quiet or only say happy things to her, or point out good when she points out bad. It’s very draining. I have no one to encourage me except reading the Bible and looking for kind folks like you that understand. I’m just at a loss of how to cheer someone up that has stopped leaning on the promises God has made to those who love him. My MIL needs a miracle. Thank God he specializes in miracles. 😊 Thanks Again

        1. Sad,

          Goodness, your husband has a grueling schedule. That would be a challenge for both of you. Congratulations on your two young children! 🙂

          I understand that you love her. I’m glad you do! It is sometimes very impossible to be close to someone who is that bitter. They repel everyone who tries to get close to them. They are often not able to receive or give godly love. I do understand how draining it would be – I have had some relationships like this in my life, too.

          But I want to be sure you know – you are not responsible for her spiritually. You are not responsible to cheer her up. She is responsible for herself spiritually and she will be accountable to God. Each of us will.

          You may be able to bless her or point her to Christ. You can offer godly love. But you cannot make her receive it and you can’t open her eyes. Only God can open her eyes. You can pray for her fervently. You can lay her at Jesus’ feet. You can respond to her in the power of the Holy Spirit and His love. You can get rid of any bitterness you find in your own heart against her – because being around a very bitter person is contagious – we begin to want to be bitter at them. You may have to have limits on how much contact you have with her.

          Leslie Vernick has some great resources for dealing with toxic, critical people that may also be helpful. Here is one “How to Interact with a Destructive Person.”

          Praying for God to work in your heart, your MIL’s heart, your FIL’s heart, and the family and the church for His glory! Praying for God to set her free from the snare of the enemy!

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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