Warning! This blog has been hijacked…by a pastor’s wife

Hello there blogging world.   My name is Cara, I am Brian’s wife, and today I am hijacking his blog.   Many of you have been encouraged and challenged by my husband’s blog and I am thankful for that.  However today I thought I would give you the wife’s perspective!

Men, ministry is hard.  I know that, you know that.  It is no secret.  It is a life that demands sacrifice, wisdom, time, and energy.  What you may not know is that it is also hard for your wife and your families.  Yes, you carry a huge burden, but we have to watch you carry it- which is our own burden.  Yes, you feel discouraged when you are criticized, but we have to endure the pain of watching you be hurt, figure out how to help encourage you in the process, and still try to love the person who hurt you and not tear their eyeballs out! (sorry, I go a bit into momma bear mode when my husband is under attack)

You have to try to balance the burdens you feel to care for your flock with the burden to care for you family.  We have to try to use wisdom to know how much to let you go and care for our church and how much to encourage you to draw boundaries and protect our family time.  We have the unique challenge of trying to be gracious with your crazy schedules and help our children to be gracious as well.  I have come to realize that probably my biggest challenge of all has just been to let my husband know when I am feeling overwhelmed with our life.

You see the last thing I want to do is to add one more burden on my husband, especially when I see him already carrying so much.  Yet there are times when life is just hard for us too, and we are in this together after all.  I want to know when he is struggling so I can help him and I know he wants to know the same about me.  But it is hard to speak up sometimes.

So wives, here is your chance.  I want to know (and I am sure your husbands do too), what is the biggest challenge in ministry life that you face?  What has been the most surprising struggle?  What has been your biggest joy?  Let me know ladies…..who knows, it may end up in a book someday (hint…hint)!

Posted in Home and Family
34 comments on “Warning! This blog has been hijacked…by a pastor’s wife
  1. I have heard the wives say dealing with the limelight and all the expectations involved–having a “perfect” family, being an adequate homemaker, having good answers as the pastor would. Some churches think they are getting two people for one with all though expectations on the wife.

  2. Anna Dyck says:

    Cara, thank you so much for posting this. It made me cry and encouraged me to hear another pastor’s wife express exactly how I am feeling. I can relate to all those challenges you described. Guarding time together to nurture our marriage is always our biggest challenge. For me right now it is how to be the support and encouragement he is needing during a very stressful time while I myself am equally exhausted and worn out from caring for our very busy young family. So excited to hear there is a book in the works. Your husband’s blog has been a huge support to us both.

  3. Anna Dyck says:

    One of the greatest blessings and joys for us has been the privilege of coming alongside marriages that are struggling and seeing first hand the work of the Holy Spirit in renewing and restoring those marriages! Our marriage is also always blessed and grown when we have the opportunity to work with other couples together.

  4. Chelsey says:

    My husband is not a pastor – yet – but is finishing up his second year of seminary (likely with two more to go). He also works at our church and teaches one class there regularly and does Sunday School occasionally. Everyone at our church loves him and his teaching (as do I, of course!) but it is very, very hard when people are constantly praising him and telling me how wonderful he is when I know that it often came at great cost to him, me and our children and the time we have together. We have two little boys (they are currently 26 months and 11 months; our older son was about 7 months when my husband started school) and my husband commutes 1.5 hours for seminary classes each week, so time is so precious. I know that this will only become more difficult as he goes into true ministry, so it is something I am really having to lean on the Lord about in this trying season.

  5. Steve says:

    Cara, what an important blog article. My wife of 18 years divorced me ultimately because I placed my church and ministry ahead of her. My church was my mistress. And I am still paying the painful price for my lack of having right priorities.

    Pastors, don’t make your church and ministry your mistress. You too will be sorry if you do.

  6. Amy says:

    Cara–thanks for hijacking the blog. All that you said was so true! While I struggle with all those things also–I guess my main struggle has been discouragement. Ministry itself is so exciting and I love how it causes us to be so dependant on the Lord–but sometimes in the deep discouragement it’s hard to see cleary. Comparison to other “successful” ministries can be a challenge–women are pretty good at falling into the comparison game!

  7. Mike says:

    I am currently am currently a “part-time” seminary student and “part-time” college pastor with two kids under 3. It feels like I have full time jobs and a young family that I am trying to shepherd. I really would like to know some of the things that helped the pastor’s wives who read this blog. How has your husband help to shepherd you and your family in the midst of the difficult time requirement of ministry?

    • Amy says:

      Mike–what I love is a regular, weekly date night with my husband. If someone asks him to do something on that evening, he says no!!! (I must say we did not do this when our kids were young because of the babysitting expense–so if you have family around that would help!)

    • Anna says:

      Mike- I think the biggest thing for me is for my husband to verbalize that through all the things happening at church, he’s most grateful for his family. Then he shows us how important we are by purposefully seeking to spend time with us. When he schedules things around our set times of family time is very telling of where his priority is. :)

    • Ann Stringer says:

      Having been in your wife’s position just a few years ago, I totally understand what that looks like and you are super busy! The thing that helped all of us get through it and stay connected as a family through the choas was when you are there, be THERE. Focus even if it’s just for five minutes on the things that fill your wife’s day, or your children’s day. Even if you have mounds of homework, have to rush off to your job, when you do have those moments, make them count. Wives and kids don’t need quantity time, which you can’t provide anyway, they need quality time so instead of quick kiss goodbye in the morning, KISS her ;0) it will last so much longer that way!

  8. Debbi says:

    We have a weekly planning meeting and a weekly date night, too. It has been a struggle to handle hungry and tired babies while my husband talks with people late–we just had to work it out. I had to let go of their schedules and pack snacks and toys and just let them get tired. They always made up the sleep later. He’s more sensitive to their schedules now, too. I’m a quiet person, so I didn’t think I had much of a problem with gossiping until I was in a position to hear about really big things and couldn’t talk about them! One of my friends told me the phrase “What I can’t talk about it killing me!” So I can say that to her and she’ll understand and be sympathetic without asking any questions.

  9. kim says:

    Cara – well said, every word. E does wonderful at it. Hardest is seeing him come home after a hard day and me not being able to “make it all better”. That is pride on my part – so the constant struggle with sin – and then being pregnant on top of that. Its been a glorious sanctifying 6 months, friend. I’m thankful for your husband’s friendships with mine!

  10. Gina says:

    Thank you so much for sharing these words of encouragement. It means a lot to know that other women are facing the same emotions.

    I still very green at supporting my husband in ministry. Because of the way our Mennonite church calls ministers, there was very little time to emotionally prepare for my husband’s ordination. I am thankful the Lord has given very clear confirmation that this is how we are to serve, but it has still been an up-and-down nine months.

    I too struggle with the pressure to have the perfect family, to have words of counsel (when I need counsel myself) and to not complain when my husband’s family time is stolen because of the needs of others.

    I know it is a joy to serve the Lord. I have already seen the blessing of serving God’s church. But it has opened my eyes to the warfare and attacks of our enemy. Watching people grow in their walk with God is the greatest joy. But seeing those who turn from God can be devastating if I feel that we were responsible or should have done something more. Somehow I need to not get proud at the successes or depressed at the downfalls. To give only God the glory – and to cast our burdens on Him.

    I’d love to read more on this topic!
    Gina

    • margaret dunne says:

      You don’t have to have a perfect family …it’s actually impossible. Our children have to be free to make mistakes and learn from them (of course, we hope there won’t be too many for their sakes!) I’ve found people appreciate seeing real life people who aren’t afraid to share their struggles and how God brings you through them. Take the pressure off yourself … none of us can be perfect xx

  11. Donna says:

    Great post, and so perfectly timed for me! Our biggest struggle has been apathy within the church. My husband studies and preaches and takes very seriously his calling. We went to SBTS later than most, we were in our 30′s with three older children, we left the only home we had ever know and moved our family because we knew we were being called to do so, now that our time in seminary is over, we have been at this church for three years, the sad reality of the condition of alot of churches has been heart breaking. We are trying so hard to be humble and true to the gospel and love the people, but the lack of seriousness where the gospel and the church is concerned is really sad. We know we are blessed as well, our children, by God’s grace, have done well here, and our family has drawn closer. Thank you again for your transparency!
    Donna

  12. Frederika says:

    Dear pastor’s wives,
    As the wife of a pastor who has been in the Christian ministry for many years and who, although retired, still preaches most Sundays (away from home), I have difficulty relating. Did you not count the cost when you joined your husband in ministry? Did you not look at Scripture and see how often God’s special servants, both in the O.T. and N.T. suffered hardships and had to deny themselves? Maybe it is a generational thing and does not only touch ministers’ wives but Christians of this generation in general. I cannot remember this kind of “complaining” in my generation of ministers’ wives. We knew and accepted that we would have to sacrifice and deny ourselves. That is the cost of following our Lord as His disciples, not only for ministers but for everyone who follows Him. Jesus said to His disciples: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it…” And what a reward there is for all who do so by God’s grace: “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works” (Matt.16:24-27). I feel so privileged that the Lord called my husband to be a pastor. And our children did not suffer because ministers often are home more than today’s Christians who have a hard time finding a job near home. Count the cost, yes, but also the blessings!

    • briancroft says:

      Point taken Frederika. I would assume you would agree that many of the hard commands of Scripture are easily understood, but harder to impliment. I would agree the younger generation has a bit of a softer disposition than the older generation, but that does not mean that suffering comes easy to anyone. I am glad it appears the Lord strengthened you through many years of ministry, but my aim, as is my wife’s in this post, was to meet pastors’ wives where they are, and many of them are struggling and feel they are alone in their struggle. Even though I am grateful your family was not deeply effected by the rigors of ministry, most are and many pastors in your generation I personally know put their families on the altar for the sake of ministry and the wreck of their families reflect it. Your tough-mindedness portrayed in your post is admirable, but I do not believe is the resolve of most in pastoral ministry, especially those today. Nevertheless, a little tough love never hurt anyone, so thanks for serving in that way.

      Thanks for writing,
      Brian

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thank you, Frederika. You have encouraged me to look beyond my Self and my Family (so prone to becoming an idol as well) to Christ, and I can use that reminder every day. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God ….” – He supplies the grace from start to finish. How excellent is His Name!

  13. Anna says:

    One of the recent struggles form me has been to see my husband discouraged not by the congregation but from fellow staff. That is particularly difficult because we should be a team but it doesn’t always seem to be. I expect issues from the congregation but not from our own co-laborers. I have to learn to not take up his battle and allow him to deal with it – and to forgive daily. I find that particularly hard when there is no resolution to the conflict.

  14. Clare Hunt says:

    Hello, I am a Pastor’s wife in the UK. Everything is relatively new to me so far, although my husband was ministering ‘unofficially’ for some years before his formal call. My biggest difficulty was to see my husband attacked straight after a service, when he had put his heart and soul into ministering the word, and having to stay quiet, and still love the person that did it. My greatest joy is seeing my husband preach freely with clear joy in his own expression.

    I am looking forward keenly to any book you might produce – I think there isn’t enough ‘out there’ to encourage and guide Pastor’s wives.

    Clare

  15. Kim says:

    I am not a pastors wife. However, watching one of the best one’s on the planet for the past nine years and being raised by one other greats. I have learned one must set your boundaries and stick to them. You don’t have to be everything to everyone. What you need to do at all times is love your husband and your children and do what is truly best for them, then take the next step of caring for others in the church. The Body of Christ when in the image of Christ is Beautiful, on the other hand the Body of Christ can be down right ugly when in sin. In those moments you must seek the God’s truth through His Word and not try to focus on what others are saying especially when it simply is not true. The biggest thing is to love and to submit to your husbands and care for your children, and when the going gets tough talk about it to your husbands when you are in the thick of ministry in such a sinful world you must be honest and communicate. Utlimately always..always speak the Truth of God’s Word as we all know His Holy Word is Perfect and Complete and will never steer any of us wrong.

    • Frederika says:

      Kim – you are so right. The Lord doesn’t require great things – just that we walk humbly with our God and follow Him where He leads, whether our husband is a minister or an engineer whose work requires him to be away often from his family, or a faithful labourer. I believe that the Lord doesn’t require more from a minister’s wife than that she is his faithful helper and helps him to be the best minister he can be and that she loves the people of God. While doing this, you will learn that the Lord is faithful. No one likes criticism – I always found that very hard to take because I knew my husband was doing the best he could. But it taught me humility and understanding. Such “criticism” often had a grain of truth, or it meant these people needed you to talk to them because they had personal problems or were hurting, or the Lord was working on them and they didn’t like what the Lord was telling them through the preacher. The Lord Jesus died for His people when they were still in their sins – so how much we need a similar love for sinners in the church, outside the church. The best way to keep a perspective is to study Scripture and you will find that God’s people – the church of Christ – has many “not nice” characters in it, but the Lord can convert them. The life of Joseph is a good example. Look what his own brothers did to him! He probably was spoiled and he had to learn the hard way, and so did Jacob, his father. In the end, the Lord worked it all out for the good of them all – establishing His chosen people from this dysfunctional family. The most important thing is that we realize none of us is good by nature and if we’re believers – we’re a work in progress. I still need to learn this today because I tend to be impatient by nature and maybe too quick in giving my opinion. Anyway, whatever I wrote that was perceived as “tough love,” is how the Lord often teaches us, especially in Christian ministry – it’s a real learning curve for spiritual growth.

  16. Laura says:

    My biggest challenge is to remember to pray, pray and keep praying…. when my husband is burdened, discouraged, criticized. It really is so much ‘easier’ to go on the defense and try to become my husbands protector and want to ‘sort out’ the problems myself! I need to remember…. he is the one CALLED to shepherd the flock, and I am the one privileged to be his wife, the mother of his children, the one he laughs with and his best friend. The Lord has well equipped me for THAT role :) What a joy! :)

  17. Ann Stringer says:

    Loved this Cara! Thank you! I loved how you put it about wanting to claw the person’s eyes out who hurt your hubbie. I totally relate! But I especially don’t like it when those exact same people treat me completely normally as though I don’t know how they treated my husband. They seem to separate me from my husband because he is the one they have the problem with, not me. This truly makes it even harder to be kind to them simply because they act towards me as though nothing happened! The other thing that truly surprised me was how lonely I get. I am a complete people person and love people and I love being there for other women in my church but 99% of our conversations are one-sided and I’m encouraging and uplifting others which is wonderful and I love it but there are too many times where I wish to just be able to pour out my heart to someone else but the people (especially women obviously) are too busy pouring out their heart to me. There is only so much that I can pour out to my husband simply because of obvious reasons, he is a man and men don’t communicate the same ways as women do to each other. My hubbie has been wonderful with this however and when I explain that I truly just need him to LISTEN until I stop, he can typically do this for me on occasion, but it’s still not quite the same. :0)

  18. Jen says:

    Cara, thanks for the post. My husband and I planted a church nearly ten years ago. HE has done great things to His glory and it has been our honor to serve. Howver, I have been feeling frustrated for several years..experiencing burnout because we have not had a vacation since before we had children..not more than a few days here or there. And never a break from cell phones. There have been many times I have wanted my husband to resign, and then someone would need us and we feel drawn back to service, because you can never truly walk away from your calling. It feels like a tug-of-war. It’s good to know that I am not alone. I believe that anyone who has been in ministry for any length of time has “counted the cost”. We would not still be ministering if we were not in it to see lives changed by the power of God, to His glory. However, I have seen many of the generations before neglect their families in the name of ministry, and their families were destroyed or have been deeply wounded. As parents, our first ministry is to our children, then to others. If we lose our own children and gain others due to neglect, we have spiritually aborted our children. For us, we just need to share the ministry burden with others or let some things go in order to build more time for personal rest. Thank you again for posting..you expressed so many of my feelings. God bless you in your ministry!

  19. Ewife says:

    I am not a Pastor’s wife, but an Elder’s wife. The time commitment is somewhat the same, my husband has a full-time day job, and then spends an average of 20-30 hours a week on work for the church–meetings, studies, teaching, visits, etc. We guard and cherish our time together. My discouragement is that I seem to live in “Opposite Land”. Our Pastor’s wife is a driven, Type-A personality, and expects all other church leaders’ wives to be as such. I serve the church in multiple ministries that I am gifted in, yet she expects me to do things I am not called or gifted to do simply because I am an Elder’s wife. I have not found that office in the Bible. I am a Christian, a wife, and a mother, homemaker, and all that that encompasses. I am gifted in hospitality, administration, and mercy. But none of that is “because” I am an Elder’s wife. Churches call Pastors, Elders and Deacons because of their unique maturity, gifts and skill sets. The man’s wife is the man’s wife. She is not part of the office, and should not be expected to do the same things he does.

    • Frederika says:

      Dear Ewife – All that is required of you is what the Bible expects from any wife – to be the husband’s helper in whatever vocation or calling the Lord has placed him. Especially when your husband is called to be an elder or deacon, there is an even greater need for the wife to spend time with the family at home. You have to help your husband to make sure the “home front” is in order according to 1 Timothy 3. I have a suspicion that you are not the only one who this minister’s wife makes feel guilty. You could either let this go and accept her the way she is, or when she asks you to do one more function, express to her first of all how thankful you are that she is going the “extra mile” for helping her husband and the church. Then you can mention that you have thought about your calling as an elder’s wife and explain that you have all you can do at home so your husband can do his work as office bearer in the church. Be gentle because she may have extra time and energy on her hands and believe she can use this best by helping her husband – and the church can always use more workers! It could also be that she is driving herself because of some perceived need. It may also be that she has not considered that most office bearers already spend extra time away from home for the church in addition to their daily employment. That is why the church employs full-time “teaching elders” (pastors) to relieve the other elders who have more of an “overseeing” function. (There are lots of good books for explaining the biblical work of office bearers in the church and wives can benefit from these as well.)

  20. Dawn says:

    One major difficulty for me was when the members of the congregation received the best parts of my husband and I received the reality. If he was exhausted at church, the church people still had the attention of. Kind and friendly pastor. At home, things were different. Sometimes, of course, we all “let our hair down” in our own homes. The problem comes when basic common courtesy is forgotten.

  21. R says:

    My husband is not an overly busy pastor. We are in a very small church, and he works from home some days, so I see him more than most pastor’s wives see their husbands, for which I am very thankful.

    My biggest challenge is that I don’t have freedom. Freedom to pursue my dreams for myself (they are not big, trust me). Freedom to pursue what I know is more healthy for my family. Freedom for my husband to change jobs or relocate simply because we want to (as is the guilt-free case with other occupations). My husband is a very gifted pastor, but I desperately want a normal life – to be a normal family within a church. I want the freedom to be a real friend to another woman in a church, and she be that to me (which almost never happens for a pastor’s wife). I want the freedom to share my depression with someone who really cares (with anyone, for that matter!). I want the freedom to visit my family whenever it’s convenient for us (and especially at Christmas) or even to live near them and not have to fly 25 hrs to see them at most once a year. I want freedom from being stuck in a country and culture I don’t resonate with. I honestly want freedom from being a pastor’s wife. I want to have a say (and have it count).

    • Brian Croft says:

      Thank you for pouring your heart out here. Now, find some way to share this with your husband. He will want to know, even if it is hard to hear. May the Lord give you grace and you seek for your husband to hear your voice.

      • R says:

        Thank you for your kind words. I have stayed by my husband and really tried to support him even though my heart is no longer in the ministry. He knows my heart, and he is torn. Even though he doesn’t feel like his time is up here, he is increasingly feeling like the time to leave may be getting closer. But he doesn’t like change and tends to procrastinate making decisions. There is not much out there to read about what to do when a pastor’s wife or child is struggling. We both believe William Carey was not a good example of loving his wife and putting his covenant with her above his ministry. In that way, we think he is an example not to emulate.

        A question I’m wrestling with now is how much suffering is too much? God will not give us more than we can bear, but God also calls us to love and care for our spouses to the best of our abilities. So if a spouse has mild but recurring times of depression (partly brought about due to loneliness, isolation, and culture), or other mental or physical illness, when, if ever, is it ok to leave the ministry without a “God called me to a different xxx”? My gut tells me it usually depends on the situation and that there’s no rule of thumb. But I think he just needs to find out that sometimes it’s ok (which I believe), and then it might be easier for him. We both believe there is great freedom in Christ. Yesterday I sarcastically joked with him that someone should write a blog post entitled, “Freedom in Christ… Except for Pastors (and Especially Pastors’ Wives).”

        Do you know of counseling for pastors and their families that we both might benefit from? Someone or a group that can counsel pastors’ families both biblically and vocationally?

        Blessings.

        • Brian Croft says:

          If you would like to write me to discuss this further offline, feel free to use my email address on the blog: brian@practicalshepherding.com

          I have also mentioned your situation to my wife and would love to try and connect you to some resources once I know a few more details about your particular situation.

8 Pings/Trackbacks for "Warning! This blog has been hijacked…by a pastor’s wife"
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