Your Pastor’s wife doesn’t belong on a pedestal. She belongs on the pew next to you. She is like you—a sinner in need of grace. Yet many of you have a false idea of her perfection. You think she perfectly submits to her husband, cooks hearty meals without a mess, disciplines her children with little work, mentors every woman in the church, and serves mightily no matter how busy she is. This sounds like Mrs. Proverbs 31, but perhaps we are missing the point. Your pastor’s wife may do a lot of the things mentioned above, but she only does even the smallest thing by the grace of God. And she does not do it perfectly or without hardship. Just ask her. The point of the woman in Proverbs 31 is her fear of the Lord (v. 30). She trusts in God, fears him, and he gives her the grace she needs to serve him and others. I encourage you (and your husband) to not elevate your pastor’s wife or compare yourself to her. And in understanding her, may your relationship with her flourish for the good of the church and the glory to God.
Pray for Her
One way you can seek to understand your pastor’s wife is to pray for her. In Genesis 2, God creates woman to be man’s helper in a one-flesh union of marriage. Pastor’s wives are no different. Here are three ways (of many) she helps her husband—your pastor—in serving the church and how you can pray for her:
- She helps him be hospitable.
- In the qualifications of overseers in 1 Timothy 3, the pastor must be hospitable. Thus, pastor’s wives do not practice hospitality alone, but they do help prepare the home and the meals in which their husband can, too, practice hospitality by happily welcoming members into their home without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9). This activity enables the pastor and his wife to get into the lives of the church body—both male and female—together.
- Pray for God to give her strength to keep welcoming others into her home when she is tired or feels inadequate (Heb. 13:2, Phil. 4:13). Pray for God to use this time to equip members of your church through the leadership of your pastor and the mentorship of his wife to serve young women (Titus 2). Pray for them to portray the gospel in their marriage, and in how they raise their children (Eph. 5). Confess to God any sin of comparison in how they do this (1 John 1:9). Ask him to help you see it is by his strength and grace and not their own ability (Rom. 5:20). Ask God to give you the desire to see your brothers and sisters grow more than trying to live up to a standard. Lastly, ask God to help you show hospitality in the same way.
2) She acts as his messenger.
- The pastor’s wife seeks relationships with the women of the church and relays information back to her husband who ultimately oversees the women’s souls regarding the health and well-being of his church. She also may inform him of specific needs. Then, the pastor can choose how to proceed in caring for women in whatever capacity having the full support of his wife.
- Pray for her as she longs to care for the women of the church. Pray for God to give her wisdom in what to relay to her husband for the good of the church and the health of the ladies’ soul (James 1:5). Pray for God to lift the burden of others’ burdens off her as she lifts them up to Jesus (Matt. 11:30). Ask God to give women in the church the desire to also care for her soul, well-being, and needs.
3) She gives him feedback on his sermon.
- Your pastor’s wife often gives your pastor feedback on sermons or his leadership. She also acts as his main encourager, comforter, and source of love. She may rebuke him of certain sins as well. In addition to what was just mentioned, the pastor should welcome feedback on his messages from church officers and other lay people.
- Pray for God to give her wisdom of discernment to help sharpen his teachings and leadership over the body (Prov. 27:17). Pray for God to give her a supernatural ability to encourage, comfort, and love him in a way that enables him to continue in his calling (Gal. 5). Ask for him to help her to point him to Christ and to rebuke him with humility, love, and gentleness when he needs it. Ask God to show her own sin and to repent before seeing his and pointing it out (Luke 6:42). Pray for God to help you humbly offer feedback to your pastor’s wife if you feel it would benefit the church.
Listen to Her
Your pastor’s wife seeks to please God by loving him and others. She cannot do this without the help of the Holy Spirit. She also sins and needs grace to fight towards holiness just as you do. Just ask her. She most likely longs to have someone to confess her sin to and pour out her struggles and hear encouragement, but she often sits on the other end listening to other women seek her counsel. This is great, but she needs other women to care for her in the same way as she cares for others.
The role of a pastor’s wife gives much responsibility. It is hard, but it is vital to your church’s health. She isn’t perfect because she married your pastor. She also doesn’t belong on a pedestal. Most importantly she doesn’t want to be on a pedestal either. Please pray for and listen to her. She will be truly grateful for your prayers, and your church will be thankful. And at the end of the day, God will be glorified.