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Wives of pastors face plenty of battles, too.

As a pastor’s wife, I find myself fighting the same old internal battles that have plagued me from year one, only now I recognize them more quickly and have tools to combat them.

Do you think or believe these lies, too?

1. My identity is that of a ministry wife.

It doesn’t take much. Your husband is called to a church or you announce to your friends and family that you’re headed to the mission field, and suddenly you are labeled and introduced everywhere you go as The Pastor’s Wife or The Missionary.

The labels so quickly enter the heart, causing a subtle shift from identifying as a child of God, a Christian, to identifying as a role, a status, a label, a category.

As our identity wraps around our Ministry Wife label, we start questioning what a ministry wife does. What are the Ministry Wife’s activities? How do we measure our performance as The Missionary Wife?

This subtle shift tweaks our motivation and reason for ministry. It leads us away from the heart of God and our primary identity to pride and performance.

Christine Hoover My husband, Kyle, and I have been married since 2000 and have three boys. Kyle is the church planting pastor of a church in Virginia, and I am a stay-at-home mom, writer, and ministry sidekick to Kyle. My first book, The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart, is a book specifically for church planting wives.

More from Christine Hoover or visit Christine at http://www.gracecoversme.com

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  • http://www.turnaroundpastor.com/ Bud Brown

    Thank you for this; I’m going to include this as part of the training I do with the pastor search teams in client churches. I’d love to see a D. Min. project done on item #4. My theory is that there is something distinctive about the role of ministry wives that contributes to their pastor-husband’s ministry effectiveness. Maybe your article will spur someone to do good research on this issue.

  • Dayo Akintunde

    Great write-up!
    This will certainly comfort many Pastors’ wives.
    More grace!

  • Torbjørn Aamli

    Many good points. But from a Scandinavian point of view I feel like being in a siciety that was more common a generation ago. In Norway most wifes of pastors have a full job, a carrier as a teacher, a dentist or something else. Is this book only reflecting a middelclass America in certain areas, or…? Since I have not read the book, I can only hope there are chapters about “What If the pastors wife loses faith, or have serious doubts about her husbands priorities?” And what about a chapter about being the husband of a femaile precher/pastor? :-)

    Pastor from Norway

  • Hank

    It’s not easy being a ministry wife. I really believe that a woman needs to be sold out and and committed to the full time ministry before she marries a man that is going to be a pastor or missionary. My wife knew the man she would marry would be going into the full time ministry. This was her “career” choice I guess you could say. This means being willing to move far away from family, reaching out to hurting people, serving with programs at the church, and the most important role is raising our children. I’m a youth pastor, and my wife plays a vital role in reaching out to the teen girls. Also, if I need to counsel a girl, my wife can be there with me. Things have gotten tight money wise so instead of her having to get a job on top of all this, I took a 2nd job. I’ll work a 3rd job if I have to so that she can focus on her family and ministry. I’m not against women working, but our kids are not in school yet and if she got it job it would just basically be paying for daycare. The husband’s role in the life of a ministry wife is critical. I need to be willing to listen to her. I need to be there for her. I need to be a leader of our household. If I fail in that, then I fail as a pastor too and she will be a very unhappy ministry wife. I don’t have it all figured out and I make plenty of mistakes, but I need to have her well being on my mind often and not forget about her in the craziness of ministry.

  • Reginald

    I’m a bit confused…..When you say “You are called to a man who is called into the ministry, therefore you are called into ministry”, do you mean that the wife’s ministry (service) is her husband?

  • Buddy

    trying my best not to be mean-spirited, I did introduce my wife at each new church by telling them I was the pastor and she was my wife and a school teacher… that was her calling and her relationship to the church was the same as any other member, to find her own calling and ministry as God was leading her
    she was neither an employee of the church nor a part of my salary package. :)

  • Tony

    As a single man about to embark upon the study towards a life of ministry; I am very concerned with the effect that my choice to serve the Lord will have upon my future wife should the Lord be so kind as to send me one. Recently, I have been studying Spurgeon’s life and the name that should go right next to his in the mindset of those who love him isn’t Moody or Calvin or even (if we believe the rumour) Queen Victoria. It’s Susannah. She was his support in dark places. It was her who physically held him as he wept over the foul things that were written about him in the press. It was her who soothed him when he awoke from awful dreams. It was she who went through the tragedy of the balconies collapsing with him and dealt with the aftermath And it was her who edited his sermons.

    My point is this. One thing I’m learning as I’m researching this is that many Pastors seem to take on the role of the protective wall, attempting to shield their wives from the stresses and evil that comes of being in ministry. For wherever Christ is best worshiped Satan will be sowing seeds of discord.

    My plan is going to involve a different strategy. Rather than protecting her from harms way I’m going to show her how I deal with it. Rather than leading a separate ministry and home life, there will be ministry in the home. And rather than protecting her by being a wall, I’ll show her a library of information on how to deal with the issues that may arise and allow Jesus to fill the role of shield. I’m not trying to judge or belittle anyone elses comments but it just seems to me that A man cannot shield his family and minister to his church and write his books and study for the next 2 years sermons and… and… and…. alone. He needs help. Elders and deacons play a pivotal role in this. Jesus is central and the Gospel is key… most problems can be solved by looking to scripture, interpreting scripture and then enacting scripture. However after Christ comes the Lords gift to man. His helper. The one who is involved in the mans life, the one who loves the man, the one who cares how the mans service of the world affects him most. His wife.
    There are two types of protection from sin, and I’m going to use Sexual sin here as a metaphor because it makes for a good analogy. You can lock up your daughters and your son’s, protecting them from the big bad nasty world and thus leave them vulnerable when temptation comes later on in life to wish to explore their sexualities; or you can educate them on the subject and arm them to be able to fight off advances and to see right through to the sin nature of those who are offering the sin and perhaps they will be used to win that other persons soul to Jesus.

    The attrition rate for Pastors has given me massive pause for thought. I’m looking to the home therefor and am wondering what defences we can put in place to combat that sin. We need strategy’s and a good understanding of how difficult and arduous the life of a Pastor is. The beautiful woman who is to become the Pastor’s wife (Daughter of God) also, perhaps even more than the pastor, needs to be armed and ready for whatever comes through that door. Good ministry starts at home. 1 Tim 4-5 explains this best. If a man cannot manage his home, he will never be able to manage his church. Part of this is understanding that his wife can deal with things too and that he needs to let go and stop being such an insufferable control freak!
    It is the easiest thing in the world to turn away from the Lord in ministry and to focus on getting everything right. We all, as a Christian family need to focus solely on Jesus first. I wonder if the attrition rate is so high in the first few years for the same reason that the divorce rate is so high in the first few years? And I wonder if it’s for the same reasons. Great post, gonna buy the book I think. And a few more like it so that my future wife Lord willing will be able to see what she is letting herself in for from the start.

    God bless you all. May his shield come over you and may he comfort and guide those pastors and their wives in a nurturing way through the hard time that this ridiculously difficult job demand. I have been called into service and I’m not wearing rose tinted glasses. Frankly I’m looking and thinking that less people would be gleeful of my failings if I was the England Manager! We all need to focus on plodding with the Lord and like the 82 year old Marathon runner who was knocked over on mile 26 by the terrorist blast, we get up and we finish the race! To raptures applause and a chorus of “well done Good and faithful servant you won the race now take your rest.”

    T x

  • Kristina

    Thanks so much for this! We need more women writing on this topic! It is so true. Only being in this “unspoken role” that happened to me suddenly for almost a year, I never thought I would struggle through some of these topics. This was very helpful! Please keep this kind of topic coming.

  • CHERI

    cherid1967@lIive.com
    am a Pastor’s wife and there is a lie that I should be like my husband. He is EXPRESSIVE AND friendly; while I am straight forward and to the point. I believe we compliment each other and the work God has is a just balance.

  • Tim

    Gospel-centered and practical. Thanks Christine.

  • Pastor’s wife in Illinois

    Christine, I love your blog. It has been a life saver to me the last 6 months or so. The Lord allowed me to stumble across you just when I needed your wisdom and encouragement. No one understands a pastor’s wife’s life unless they’ve lived it themselves. You “speak my language”, and for that I am so very thankful. Keep on, dear sister! You’re making an impact!

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