October has been designated Pastor Appreciation Month. I trust you are seeking to show your appreciation to your pastor for leading, teaching, guiding, comforting, consoling, reminding, holding accountable, and all the other numerous ways that God has blessed you through your pastor.
We would suggest that as much as your pastor should be appreciated, so does your pastor’s spouse and family. In the following article, Ron Edmonson shares something of what a pastor’s spouse can experience and 7 ways you can honor your pastor by honoring your pastor’s spouse.
Pastor John & Debbi Kasper – Central Bay District Clergy & Spouse Support
7 Ways to Honor Your Pastor’s Spouse
By Ron Edmondson – September 7, 2018
One of the toughest jobs in the church is being the spouse of a pastor. It has been called the loneliest job in the church.
No doubt I had one of the best pastor’s wives in Cheryl. By trade, Cheryl is an accountant, an excellent mom and wife, but the demands on her as my wife were some of the most overwhelming to her in the 16 years I served in the pastorate.
Still, she always handled her role with grace and a smile. And, if you knew her, with a hug. (In full disclosure, Sunday was actually Cheryl’s favorite day of the week and she has grieved the absence of her role.)
In this post, I want to help churches know how to honor and protect your pastor’s spouse.
Thankfully, we were mostly in a good church environments, as far as the way our staff and spouses are treated. Plus, we came out of the business world into ministry. We were older and more seasoned by life, so we’ve always approached things differently. We protected our personal time more. We knew we had to, because the church wouldn’t.
I know, however, because of my work with pastors that many pastors’ spouses are facing burnout, a sense of loneliness, and some even struggle to come to church. This should not be.
I will speak from my perspective, as having a pastor’s wife, but these would also apply if the pastor or minister was a female.
Seven ways to honor your pastor’s spouse:
Do not put too many expectations on your pastor’s spouse.
Regardless of the church size, she/he cannot be everywhere, at everything, and know everyone’s name and family situation and still carry out his/her role in the family. She/he simply can’t. Don’t expect him/her to be super-human.
Do not expect pastor’s spouse to oppose the pastor.
She/he will be protective of his/her spouse. (Hopefully, you understand as you would equally protect your spouse.) If you bad mouth your pastor the spouse is likely to respond in a way you don’t want her/him to, but should expect him/her to. Don’t put pastor’s spouse in a situation of having to defend her/his spouse. That’s never a fair predicament and causes unhealthy tensions.
Protect your pastor’s spouse from gossip.
Check your motives in what you share with pastor’s spouse. Don’t share what you don’t have permission to share. Don’t put him/her in the middle of drama. She/he likely does not need to know the “prayer concerns,” which are really just shared as a way of spreading rumors.
Help your pastor’s spouse protect family time.
The pastor is pulled in many directions. The family understands the nature of the job. Life doesn’t happen on a schedule. But, in reality, there are often unreasonable demands on the pastor and they always impact the family. If you can, limit your demands to normal working hours for the church and the pastor. Send an email rather than calling at home if it’s not an immediate concern. It will help the pastor have a family life.
Include your pastor’s spouse without placing demands or expectations on him/her.
That’s the delicate balance. The pastor’s spouse is often one of the loneliest person’s in the church. The spouse rarely knows whom to trust and often is excluded from times, which are “just for fun.” Cheryl always knew when someone had an agenda they wanted to push rather than simply wanting to be her friend. Don’t be afraid to treat pastor’s spouse as a normal human being. If he/she says no to your invitation don’t hold it against him/her either.
Never repeat what your pastor’s spouse says without permission.
Ever. If the pastor’s spouse happens to share personal information with you about the church or his/her life, keep it to yourself. Always. There will be temptation to share her/his words as “juicy news,” but you will honor him/her by remaining silent. And, over time, you will build trust and friendship. Most pastors’ spouses have been burned many times by what they thought they were saying in confidence.
Daily would be awesome, but certainly as much as needed or they come to your mind. There really is no better way to bless a pastor’s family than to pray for them.
As a bonus suggestion, if your church really wants to honor the pastor’s spouse, find ways to give your pastor time away with pastor’s spouse and/or family. This is probably what they need most.
Feel free to give a shout-out to your pastor’s spouse and share practical ways you can honor your pastor by honoring your pastor’s spouse.
(Closing note: I’ve been told numerous times, since I first posted about this issue, that in certain churches the pastor’s wife IS the problem in the church. Or that she stirs or keeps stirred the problems in the church. That’s the subject of another post, but I do understand and recognize that there are times this is the problem. It is very difficult for a pastor to be effective without a supportive spouse.)
Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he’s been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.