The Pastor’s Wife Is Simply a Wife

by | May 6, 2016 | Church Leadership


I had a hard time finding in Scripture where it explains the role of a pastor’s wife. I dragged out every concordance I could find. I looked at my Greek and Hebrew Lexicon. Some day I might even get it off the shelf. I consulted Wikipedia (the academic version, of course), and even the urban dictionary, yo.  I couldn’t find it anywhere. Maybe this idea of the pastor’s wife as a “First Lady” is a cultural thing and not really a biblical thing?

Women who are married to pastors often receive guilt-ridden traditions and rules and roles and associate pastor-like expectations. My wife has been married to a pastor for over 30 years. We met in church and I was licensed as a pastor a year before we got married and I have served as a pastor in a church for our entire marriage. She has known nothing else since she was 18 (yes, she got married at 18, get over it). My wife’s role in the church is not to lead women’s ministry (unless she wants) or children’s ministry (unless she wants) or serve on a committee (even if she wants). Her role in the church is to be a worshiper of Jesus, a faithful church member, to serve where she wants (except committees) and be my wife. She doesn’t have to count, copy, coordinate or collate anything. She doesn’t have to counsel anyone, cajole volunteers, and she especially does not confirm rumors about elder’s meetings—no matter how hard those same people ask.

My wife is the sweetest person I know. She has an infectious laugh and a persistent, compulsive dependence on chocolate (Pastor’s wives don’t have “addictions”). She is faithful, loyal, hard working, devoted to Jesus and the church but she was never good enough for a few older congregant’s inspired vantage point because she didn’t “act like a pastor’s wife.” That’s when I dragged out my research tools. I needed a biblical definition for pastor’s wife.

What I discovered was that there is no such thing as a “pastor’s wife.” Lists exist in Scripture for elders, for male deacons and for female deacons (deaconess, if you prefer) but nothing for pastor’s wives. I found lots of helpful principles for wives in Scripture. But these principles are also applicable to wives of plumbers, or attorneys, or salesmen, or businessmen, or congressmen, or even to pastors. Maybe all that God requires of wives who just happen to be married to pastors is to simply be a wife.

Jesus is portrayed in Scripture as the Bridegroom and the church is the bride. The bride does not earn the Bridegroom’s love by her actions. She receives it by grace. Her responsibility is to simply respond to the Bridegroom’s love. Wives of pastors do not have to earn the affection of the congregants. Don’t let others impose extra-biblical expectations on you. Your Bridegroom Jesus, your husband and your children already love you, even though you are not perfect, First-Lady-like. Be the wife to one pastor that God is calling you to be and stop trying to be the perfect pastor’s wife.

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