I don’t think preacher’s wives are understood by most people. Before knowing anything about her, people will always have expectations, sometimes unrealistic ones, of her. Some people will judge her unfairly if she doesn’t turn out to be exactly what they were expecting. Some people will be shocked when they discover that she, just like everyone else, is very much human—full of flaws, quirks, and antics…but also talents, skills, and most of all, feelings—as vulnerable as the next girl.
I was richly blessed to be able to grow up watching what I consider to be the very best example of what a preacher’s wife ought to be. My mother was the epitome of selflessness, courage, wisdom, and grace. She was a constant help-meet and homemaker for her husband and children, a wise leader of women—both by example and in leadership roles, a caretaker for the sick, a passionate evangelist for the lost, and so many other wonderful things. She made it all look so easy, and she never complained about the many roles she filled.
Now that I’m in the preacher wife shoes, I admire her all the more, because there are some things that I really didn’t realize as solidly before as I do now. Here are some things I presume most preacher’s wives wish someone had told them before they became such:
- Prepare to be criticized a lot, and prepare to comfort your husband when someone criticizes him. You will always be the perfect target for those looking for someone to blame. When you sign up to be a preacher’s wife, you sign up to place yourself in the constant line of fire.
- You WILL be watched all the time. That “my life is a fishbowl” thing is no joke. Whether or not they mean to, members of the church will always be critiquing you.
- There are some really mean people who claim to be Christians. Don’t be shocked when a member or two of the church where your husband preaches don’t turn out to be the picture of kindness and love toward you.
- Your husband needs you to be his cheerleader WAY more than you can even imagine. You are his rock—his support—his shoulder—his refuge. Your support, respect, and encouragement means more to him than anything else in the entire world. He needs to know you’re on his team, every step of the way. And sometimes he just needs a backrub. Don’t slack on this point.
- Make your home a fortress of peace and security. I struggle with staying on top of keeping a clean and orderly house, but an organized haven of rest and security is a desperate need of my neat-freak husband who labors tirelessly for the cause of Christ. Make sure your living room is the kind of place your minister can dream about coming home to while he’s slaving away at the office. Burn those candles and welcome him home with open arms and a kiss when he’s ready to leave his stress behind for the night. This isn’t just about him—when he’s able to relax, you can too, and, if for nothing else, that makes it so worthwhile. In addition to making it livable for your man, it’s also super convenient for you whenever your husband calls and says, “Hey, can we have Jane Doe over for a Bible study? She’ll be here in 20 minutes” or “Hey, I just got a call from Brother Jones from Elizabethtown and he’s passing through…can he stop by for a cup of coffee with us?” Don’t get mad—just try (keyword try—we all have our messy days) to be prepared for spontaneous drop-ins. Which brings me to my next point…
- Your schedule will never be normal again. If you plan on being involved in your husband’s great work, expect the unexpected. Don’t be so focused on an hour-by-hour schedule that you’re completely sidetracked when a need comes up that you’re called upon to meet. Flexibility is an absolute MUST. Time is something you just have to be willing to sacrifice frequently.
- You will need to expand your comfort zone in a major kind of way. Try not to say “no” when given opportunities to serve or to lead. Your husband needs you to minister alongside him, not just clap from the sidelines. While you’re always his cheerleader, sometimes you have to get your hands dirty and just be a team player. Be willing to say yes to things you never thought you’d be able to do. With every “yes,” that servant type of commitment will become easier and easier. And inevitably, the rewards, though rarely material, are rich.
- Make time for just you and God every day. Plain and simple prayer and Bible study. While this is important for everyone, it’s especially vital for people heavily involved in the work of the church. Without some daily perspective of why we do what we do everyday, you will doubtless get burnt out and just want to give up when things get hard.
- Down-time is essential. While you will find yourself busier than ever before with things you (and everyone, really) should be doing for the church, you can’t successfully handle it all without some sincere relaxation every now and then. Allow yourself little luxuries sometimes. Do something you really enjoy doing every week. Vent to your best friend sometimes. My husband (who is also my best friend) and I like to cuddle on the couch and just talk and maybe watch one of our favorite shows while we unwind from the hectic events of the day. When we do this, I am able to relax, sleep SO much better, and am much better prepared to face whatever stresses are awaiting me the next day.
- Just be yourself. Cliché, I know, but so important. If you’re like me, you will find yourself trying to please everyone at the same time. You’re human. You want everyone to look at you and think, “Now THAT is the perfect minister’s wife,” but, I’m sorry to tell you….this will never happen. You will never be able to please everyone, but if you are sincerely doing your best to be kind and love God more than anything, people will see that and true Christians will love you for who you are and Whose you are.
Preacher’s wives, remember why we’re doing this. Romans 10:15 says, “…how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” If you have a God-fearing preacher who loves souls as a husband, count it at the top of your blessings.
Thoughts? What would you add to the list?