Living your life in the public eye is a greater burden than most people can imagine. (Justin Trudeau)
“For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.” (Psalm 92:4)
I promised you that we would dive into stuff that might be a little taboo. Elephant-in-the-room things. Behind-closed-door chatter. You may want to click away if you don’t want your world shaken a bit. Or feel free to stay here and get some nuggets of the true struggles and joys behind the world of those who live their lives in a fishbowl. Maybe you are that person and you need the encouragement that you are not alone.
Whether it’s a pastor, a politician, a missionary, a CEO, a professional athlete, a musician/actor or even a small-town leader in the community or church, his/her spouse and family have many eyes on them (and cats ready to pounce…I am referencing the cute cartoon picture above). Having grown up as a missionary kid where my parents and us kids felt the pressure of being role models and living (or appearing like we’re living) mistake-free lives, my heart has a special place in it for those who are living the dream (or the nightmare).
I came across a brave pastor’s wife who peeled back the curtain so we might catch a glimpse of what it’s like to live in this place. (Obviously, there are pastors’ husbands out there as well, so don’t get all up in your grill…it’s the principle, right?) Here are some excerpts from her blogpost entitled Things Your Pastors’ Wives Wish You Knew. Please welcome Everyday Natalie to the Dolly Mama.
I find the role of a pastor’s wife to be both marvelous and challenging. Pastors’ wives carry a heavy load of responsibility as we care for our families and the people in our churches, and participate in activities of the church and community. There are high expectations for our families and us.
I posed an open-ended question to some pastors’ wives I know who live all over the USA, from different denominations, with various years of service to get some answers. I asked them how they would respond to this question: What do you wish people knew about being a pastor’s wife? I received varied responses about the secret struggles and joys of ministry. I promised anonymity for all who answered, and was so thankful for their honesty.
Here you will find the things we wish you knew but can’t say out loud:
Struggles of Ministry
- Friendships are hard for me. I don’t feel that I can fully be myself. I have trusted and been betrayed, so sometimes I choose loneliness for safety’s sake.
- There’s no way a pastor’s wife can fulfill the high standards people put on us. There is this pressure to be perfect.
- My husband has to be a husband and father before he is a pastor. It seems that people want him to have a healthy family life while giving the church all of his time. Both the family and the church need to show grace to one another while we live in this tension.
- Because I minister to many, keep many confidences, and am very busy, it may seem like I don’t want to be as close to you as you want to be to me. But really, I am often lonely and desire to have a close friend.
- I don’t enjoy being visible and up front. I only do it by the grace of God.
- Almost every day I’m afraid of screwing it all up.
- We taught our children to make good choices, but sometimes they don’t.
- I am a people pleaser and worry/know others are judging my clothes, my hair, my family, the car I drive, and my home.
- I don’t enjoy living in a fish bowl. There are some aspects of my life I prefer to remain private.
- I enjoy talking about other things besides Jesus and church.
- It is very hard not to take church criticism personally. It hurts, especially if it is toward my husband. At times, they come from people that I think I trust and feel safe with, people that I love. This makes it often difficult to trust anyone.
- I find it hard not be resentful towards people who expect my husband to be available 24/7.
- I do not have a thirst for power or even a desire to lead.
- My life is not perfect. My husband isn’t perfect. My marriage isn’t perfect. My kids aren’t perfect and most of all, I am not perfect.
Joys of Serving
- I love my job, and I love my church.
- I have been so blessed by gifts, money, love, and much prayer.
- Let your spiritual leaders know how you are doing- it is an incredible encouragement!
- Jesus is the answer to everything- really, He is!
- It is an honor to minister alongside and I take it seriously. I want to love people as Jesus does.
- It is a blessing and privilege to be trusted with other people’s secrets, joys, and intimate details.
- I love when my when my husband shares insight from his study/sermon prep time.
- I am challenged every day to depend utterly upon God.
Our hope, as pastor’s wives, is that you would understand we are regular people just like you. We are not special or unique. Please keep all the above responses in mind when talking to us and about us. We try our hardest to love God and love people the best we can.
Please feel free to comment below and share with those who might need this encouragement today! I already shared it with one of my pastor wife friends.
Sign up to get my emails if you haven’t already as well. It’s right there on the side (if you are old-schooling it on your laptop) or the bottom (for you fancy tablet or smart phone users). Easy-peasy!