Are You A Lonely Pastor's Wife?
If you are a leader, then loneliness could be something you experience from time to time. Why is that? When God calls someone to leadership, He is calling that person to authority and responsibility. This article is written specifically to women who are married to a man who is a lead pastor, or senior pastor. I believe women can be lead pastors too; however, I am married to a lead pastor, so I am writing to women who share my perspective.
I have a calling on my life to pastor alongside my husband. I am not called to be the lead pastor, but I am very involved as an associate to my husband with oversight, administration, and pastoral care. Maybe you don’t have such an involved role, but nonetheless, if you are married to the Lead Pastor, your position is one of a leader.
I would like to illustrate this spiritual role by comparing it to a natural one. Like natural mothers, we have loving relationships with our children, but we also carry responsibility for the children. The role we have is different from the role they have, so the bond is different. The relationship a pastor’s wife has with the church family is that of a spiritual parent to child, not sibling to sibling. We still love each other very much, but people need a spiritual leader, not a best friend.
In addition, in a church family, you have different levels of maturity. With the more mature, like a teenager, make sure they respect your authority instead of challenge it. If someone has a rebellious streak, they will disrespect your authority. Rebellious spirits often will leave you and, at the very least, try to maintain relationships with their friends. Some will even try to pull their siblings away to follow them. If this happens, you have something similar to an Absalom spirit.
As pastor’s wives, we have to have confidence in our authority. If we don’t rise up and take our place, there are other strong women who will see the open position and try to take it. Some are only trying to be helpful, but others carry a Jezebel spirit who appear to be helpful but are really looking for influence (it could be a male or female). They have an agenda of what they want the church to be, and they are a bit deceptive in the way they get it. They aren’t always forthcoming with their agenda, using influence as a leader to manipulate the pastor. They like to get close to the head, so they can be the neck, turning it this way and that.
Identify the role, define the role, and then take responsibility for the role. If you don’t recognize WHO you are, then you won’t be able to navigate the role as well. If your husband or the church team do not recognize your role, then you will struggle with where you fit in. If the church congregation does not recognize your role, then you will not be valued and received as you should.
As someone who understands the leadership role, you will need to function as a leader, a leader who is submitted to her man as her husband first, and pastor second.
In order to stay healthy and avoid loneliness, you may have some suggestions. I would love to hear your ideas or your stories! Here are some of my thoughts:
1. GOD: Church is about people, and serving people can become tiresome. Make sure to pull away from the world and spend time with God. If you are going through a spiritual battle or struggling mentally or emotionally with a situation or relationship, spend more time in the presence of God. He’s our father, and He sees the people who could be weighing on you. He understands it. He wants us to cast those cares onto Him.
2. SPOUSE: Do ministry with your husband. You should define those responsibilities, but whatever they are, sharing that world helps us stay involved and not isolated. Talk with your husband about the things weighing on his mind. We need to have spiritual maturity to encourage and support our husband with such matters, but just as in any job, if he’s going to share how he is feeling or looking for someone to partner with, you want it to be you. Also, set up dates with your husband where there are no conversations about church. Make sure you protect your intimacy.
3. CHILDREN: Set aside family time. Try to have meals together. Put electronic devices in a basket for the time you have together. Take vacations. Involve your children in ministry, but keep them close to you. They need your protection.
4. FRIENDS: Have at least one close friend outside of the church family, preferably another leader in ministry or the marketplace. If it is someone in the church, it could display favoritism, causing feelings of insecurity in your staff or even feelings of jealousy and envy.
5. IMPARTATION: Get away to conferences or meetings where you can be refreshed, make friends, make connections, grow.
6. ACTIVITIES: Talk it over with your husband, but getting involved with an activity or job outside of the church is helpful for some women. It helps expand us into our community, as well as diversify our interests. It’s sometimes healthy to have relationships with people for whom we are not responsible.
7. SOCIAL MEDIA: Social media is a great tool for reaching people, but be aware of the dangers of social media and stay away from drama.
In conclusion, I want to talk about busyness. As you know, we can be busy and still feel lonely. Busyness may distract us, but it can’t replace our need for human relationship, friendship, and support. If your husband or you are too busy, it will increase the feeling of loneliness. Talk with your husband about your needs, ask him about his, make a plan, and do the plan. Your children may feel lonely, too. Have conversations about family and leadership, support them, train them, and make sure they know they are your priority. Put some boundaries on your time. Some people will be demanding and not understand your boundaries, but some have lost marriages, children, friends, and ministries because they didn’t put their health first. I hope my thoughts were helpful to someone. Let’s continue to support one another!