7 Ways To Honor Your Pastor’s Spouse

One of the toughest jobs in the church is being the spouse of a pastor. It has been called the loneliest job in the church.

No doubt I had one of the best pastor’s wives in Cheryl. By trade, Cheryl is an accountant, an excellent mom and wife, but the demands on her as my wife were some of the most overwhelming to her in the 16 years I served in the pastorate.

Still she always handled her role with grace and a smile. And, if you knew here, with a hug. (In full disclosure, Sunday was actually Cheryl’s favorite day of the week and she has grieved the absence of her role.)

In this post, I want to help churches know how to honor and protect your pastor’s spouse. 

Thankfully, we were mostly in a good church environments, as far as the way our staff and spouses are treated. Plus, we came out of the business world into ministry. We were older and more seasoned by life, so we’ve always approached things differently. We protected our personal time more. We knew we had to, because the church wouldn’t.

I know, however, because of my work with pastors that many pastor’s spouses are facing burnout, a sense of loneliness, and some even struggle to come to church. This should not be.

I will speak from my perspective; as having a pastor’s wife, but these would also apply if the pastor or minister was a female.

7 ways to honor your pastor’s spouse:

Do not put too many expectations on her. 

Regardless of the church size, she cannot be everywhere, at everything and know everyone’s name and family situation and still carry out her role in her family. She simply can’t. Don’t expect her to be super-human.

Do not expect her to oppose her husband

She will be protective of her spouse. (Hopefully, you understand as you would equally protect your spouse.) If you bad mouth her husband she’s likely to respond in a way you don’t want her to, but should expect her to. Don’t put her in a situation of having to defend her spouse. That’s never a fair predicament and causes unhealthy tensions.

Protect her from gossip.

Check your motives in what you share wit her. Don’t share what you don’t have permission to share. Don’t pit her in the middle of drama. She likely does not need to know the “prayer concerns”, which are really just shared as a way of spreading rumors.

Help her protect family time. 

The pastor is pulled in many directions. The family understands the nature of the job. Life doesn’t happen on a schedule. But, in reality, there are often unreasonable demands on the pastor and they always impact the family. If you can, limit your demands to normal working hours for the church and the pastor. Send an email rather than calling at home if it’s not an immediate concern. It will help the pastor have a family life.

Include her without placing demands or expectations on her. 

That’s the delicate balance. The pastor’s wife is often one of the loneliest women in the church. She rarely knows whom to trust and often is excluded from times, which are “just for fun”. Cheryl always knew when someone had an agenda they wanted to push rather than simply wanting to be her friend. Don’t be afraid to treat her as a normal human being. If she says no to your invitation don’t hold it against her either.

Never repeat what she says without permission. 

Ever. If the pastor’s wife happens to share personal information with you about the church or her life, keep it to yourself. Always. There will be temptation to share her words as “juicy news”, but you will honor her by remaining silent. And, over time, you will build her trust and her friendship. Most pastor’s spouses have been burned many times by what they thought they were saying in confidence.

Pray for your pastor’s family.

Daily would be awesome, but certainly as much as needed or they come to your mind. There really is no better way to bless a pastor’s family than to pray for them.

As a bonus suggestion, if your church really wants to honor the pastor’s wife, find ways to give her time away with her husband and/or family. This is probably what she needs most.

Feel free to give a shout-out to your pastor’s spouse here and share practical ways you can honor your pastor’s spouse. If you are a pastor or pastor’s spouse, I would love to hear your thoughts.

(Closing note: I’ve been told numerous times, since I first posted about this issue, that in certain churches the pastor’s wife IS the problem in the church. Or that she stirs or keeps stirred the problems in the church That’s the subject of another post, but I do understand and recognize that there are times this is the problem. It is very difficult for a pastor to be effective without a supportive spouse.)

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 54 Comments

  • […] This article originally appeared here. […]

  • Alex says:

    Amen Ron. Good post. Our wives surely have tough even though they still love their part of our ministry. Btw, I too have one of the bests! 😉

  • Mark says:

    Very sensitive and sensible article. As a PK, I know my mother often felt isolated. But she also felt 'called' to be a Preacher's Wife, as much as my father was called to the ministry (it's an almost impossible situation if she does not share that calling). One of the best ways to show you love your Pastor, is to love his wife. Thank you, Ron, for helping folks see practical ways to do this.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thank you Mark. I understand your parents did it quite well.And, you’re right. Most pastor’s spouses feel every bit as much a part of the call.
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

  • Wayne Stiles says:

    Super encouraging, Ron. Thank you. Your post reminds me of a recent post by Chuck Swindoll to pastors' wives. Thanks.

  • […] time at home. Let the family time be honored as much as his church time. Read THIS POST and THIS POST for more thoughts on this […]

  • Phyll says:

    am very impressed with either the wife or husband who loves enough to announce it publicly. Then you add protection and suggestions on how to help the spouse be strong and loving to all. Wow. To not expect the attention and adoration of the congregation and to acknowledge how important your spouse is to you, the family and then the church is a huge unselfish step and so gratifying to see and hear. Hope this attitude spreads far and in all circles.

  • Sal Rodriguez says:

    Can you please post or email teachings or some wisdom and advise for someone getting close to marriage.

  • Nancy Reece says:

    Did you know 80% of pastor’s wives wish they weren’t married to a pastor?

  • Victoria York says:

    Wow, this made me cry. I'm not the "typical" pastor's wife b/c my husband is not the typical pastor (as our "congregants live in housing projects and under bridges), but I can relate to all the above. Thank you SO MUCH for posting this. I would make a longer comment on it but i'm think I'm going to have myself a nice healing cry and then thank God again for this crazy, wonderful role that He has so graciously assigned to me.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thanks Victoria. You fit the description of a pastor's wife…Kenny is a true minister. So are you!
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

  • davidmeldrum says:

    …and of course much the same could be said of pastor's husbands…

  • Lolly says:

    The worst kind of loneliness is being lonely in a crowd. That is a ministry wife. It can be painfully lonely.
    I would hope that all pew people could read this and truly understand the ministry wife's challenges.

  • Avis McCowan says:

    I am a Pastor's wife also and I agree with a lot of the above comments and the last one Norman Jenkins Sr

  • Avis McCowan says:

    I am a Pastor's wife also and I agree with a lot of the above comments and the last one Norman Jenkins Sr
    amen!! It is a lonely walk sometimes but I thank God that there are a handful of women in our congregation that really love God first and me as a Pastor's wife. As a matter of fact that just surprised me with a beautiful breakfast in my honor w/gifts. I tell you I was overwhelmed you all!! I needed that. So I want to say that I loved this article and hopefully there will be more like this one that I can relate to. It is nice to know someone else feels the way you do. God bless!

  • Norman Jenkins Sr. says:

    I am a Pastor and I know that Pastors have to plan time for there wives just like they plan for service. Many Pastors neglect there spouse and are married to the church. Every pastor knows that some times things happen in church that is beyond there control. People leave the church and leave a burden on the pastor , but his wife carries that burden also. Charity begain at home ,so as men of God lets not save the world and loose our home. If we show honor and respect to our spouses , the congragation will also.

  • DisneyCyndi says:

    •Include her without placing demands or expectations on her. The pastor’s wife is often one of the loneliest women in the church. She rarely knows whom to trust and often is excluded from times that are just for fun.

    Great post! Thank you for sharing. I think sometimes people forget we are a normal regular everyday person like them (who like to have fun also). And yes it does get lonely sometimes.

  • diane chavez says:

    I would like to say something about my pastors wife, she left her home in San Jose a million dollar home at that, her husband as accociate to an Elder in the ministry, You could say they were sitting pretty. her daughter was in her last year of High school. THEY came to our city sold everything even Pastors boat he just had for awhile. Here they found the church in debt, people that had been hurt, lots of baggage.. The people expected so much of her also myself included. God recently showed me i was basing spirituality in works as like the street ministry, discipleship, mentoring women and so forth, But was in her selfesh act that she gave of herself selling all to follow Jesus… So who was the spiritual one? I had to repent. today I am standing behind her I follow her as she follow Christ.

  • JKH says:

    My pastor's wife is a gossip. She will make negative statement about other women in the church. I have also learned that it is best (not) to say a whole lot of personal stuff about myself because she can't keep a secret. She is critical, controlling and manipulative. Ladies bible study turns into a talk fest about their husbands ( negative stuff) and at times about other people in who are weaker in the faith. I hate it!

    Can anyone tell me if this is a normal church setting? I'm frustrated and dislike the whole situation that I'm in. I know that I need to pray for her and I understand that being a pastor's wife is difficult. I understand that maybe she needs a friend? I'm frustrated for her! Please, please understand…………

    In no way do I think I'm any better than her or anyone. HowI can I approach this with wisdom?

    JKM

    • ronedmondson says:

      Honestly I have seen this many times. It's difficult to address this and a lot will determine how the pastor handles correction/criticism. Obviously this is his wife. I would say that if this is that strong on your heart though that maybe you need to approach her directly and share your concerns. If she won't listen, maybe you bring it up as a matter of concern in one of the Bible studies. One way I like to handle awkward settings like this is to allow myself to be thrown under the bus with the rest of the people. I might say, "God has really been convicting me lately about this area and I want to personally apologize for being a part of gossip…." Being vulnerable like that may open the door for conviction on the pastor's wife's heart. If she's not open to that then there isn't going to be a lot you can do except pray unless you want things to get ugly. That becomes a bigger issue then and one that may have to be addressed by the leadership of the church if it is playing a part in destroying God's work for the Kingdom.
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

    • Diane Chavez says:

      Is to pull her aside and share your concerns.

    • Enette says:

      First of all, any true Godly person would not be gossiping about anyone, let alone their husbandsa normal church setting. The Word of God (Bible) clearly states that gossip is a sin, and especially to the the leader(s) of a church—they should know better. They ruin any witnessing to anyone who is not sure about coming to Christ,. That mundane behavior will surely push someone away. Shame on that pastor's wife. God can punish the husband too for allowing that garbage (he cannot be clueless) in God's house. That pastor's wife better not forget what Paul said to the churches of Corinth. And to answer your question, NO, that behavior is not right at all!!! That is not of God nor the 'norm' of a Godly church. No church is perfect…but GET OUT OF THAT CHURCH AND FIND ONE THAT BEARS THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT AND WHERE THE PEOPLE SHOW WHAT' IT'S LIKE TO BE LIKE CHRIST–NOT THE ENEMY!

      • Enette says:

        On the other hand…after talking and praying with the pastor's wife, share with her your concern and back them up with sriptures. But pray first! We know that God turns all bad things to good for His honor and glory!

      • ronedmondson says:

        Thanks Enette. Gossip has no place in the life of a believer.
        Twitter: Ronedmondson

  • •Never repeat what she says. If the pastor’s wife happens to share information with you about the church or her personal life, keep it to yourself. There will be temptation to share her words as “juicy news”, but you will honor her by remaining silent.

    I'd have to say that for me, this is pretty important. I'm not fragile, nor are any of the other pastor's wives on staff at GCC, but no matter what we do, how we act, etc, our words and actions are already magnified by a thousand. If I say something to a friend, I need to trust that it will stay there. I can honestly say that I can count on one hand the number of friends that I have like that….outside of the other Pastor's wives on staff.

  • Cameyg says:

    I am a pastor's wife. Definitely agree with the majority of your thoughts on this. I think the best way really to honor any pastor's wife is to remember that they are loved by God first… then by their husband. Also that each couple/family are not the same in how they approach things.

    I could go on.. seriously could write a book on this.. but I'm in the middle of making a cake for a baby shower tonight that I'm a hostess of at a church I've never even been to. That's a prime example of what I mean.

    Thanks again for your thoughts on this.. and for how it also shows your love for your own wife. You and Cheryl have been prayed for! Praying for all who comment and/or read.

  • […] How to treat a pastor’s wife. Every elder, church member and pastor needs to read this. If you want a healthy church, make sure the pastor’s wife is taken care of. It makes the pastor’s life and his family’s life that much better and that much easier to serve the church. […]

  • […] across this today about how a church should treat a pastor’s wife. So grateful for Revolution and the elder team who treat Katie in unbelievable […]

  • Cynthia Sexton says:

    I thank God for you, Cheryl. You always have a smile and a sweet manner when dealing with people. I know from being pastor’s wife for 30+ years how thankless and demanding it can be. Yet what blessings God gives you and your family. Thanks for being so compassionate last Sunday when we had lost our Dad. esp dealing with all you and your husband are going thru. I hope we can become better acquainted, but I love you already and pray for you and the ministry at Grace.

  • Julia says:

    Wow! Only a Pastor could describe exactly how his wife, or other Pastors wives feel. You have hit the nail on the head. I struggle with all of this and more as a Pastor’s wife. It can be very lonely at times. My husband was a Pastor for 25+ years before we married two years ago. While it was all old hat for him, I was stepping into a position that I had never been in before. We have been truly blessed to start our marriage in Erin United Methodist Church…what an awesome group of people that have loved me through all the transistions in the last two years.

    Thank you for this article….amazing!

  • Sherrie says:

    As a Worship Pastors wife I agree with everything you said! It is a very lonely position to be in!

  • Emily Chappelear says:

    just want to say that I think Cheryl is awesome! ;o)

  • Denise Moore says:

    I agree! You nailed it!

  • Theresa says:

    It was hard. I can honestly say I’m glad the Lord gave us a rest from leading. He blessed with a wonderful worship experience at Grace. That’s not bitterness…just honesty. As wives we don’t always have a say in what our husband is going to do for a living…especially when his boss is our Savior. Be obedient. If it’s hard, don’t quit. When you are allowed rest, take it. Be prepared to work again.

  • Faye says:

    Our pastor’s wife, Rhonda, is a woman I admire. She is so filled with God that it just oozes out of her! She has been one of those hurt by being the pastor’s wife, and trust is still difficult for her, but she’s learned to let a few of us get close. It is such a blessing for me to be able to let her share her burdens with me as often as I share mine with her. She is a true friend and loves unconditionally. Someday, when I grow up, I wanna be just like her.

    Faye’s last blog post..Elephants & Church

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