How much does a pastor share with his wife in regard to confidential matters?

Because every wife is different, the answer to this question will vary depending upon your own wife.  Regardless the kind of wife you have, balance is the key with any pastor’s wife.  Balance to protect them from that which would be unhelpful to their soul.  Balance to include them in that which would help us discern a particular situation they may have a keen insight on.  For example, It is not helpful for my wife, or any wife for that matter, to know the men who struggle with pornography in our church, but she may be a valuable asset in caring for a woman who is battling depression.

Pastors, we must lead our wives well to capture a fruitful balance.  Stray too far to one side, and we are keeping our heart from our wives and cutting her out of our inner circle; stray too far to the other side, and she can feel trapped about situations in which she has no voice or recourse.  The most important reality to remember in finding this balance is that she is your wife, not your fellow pastor.  Include her for her benefit and the benefit of others, but she is not called, nor required to carry the same burdens we are.

Love your wife by knowing your wife.  The Lord will give you discernment on those many, unique, and challenging situations that all pastors are faced with on a regular basis.

Posted in Home and Family, The Pastor's Soul
21 comments on “How much does a pastor share with his wife in regard to confidential matters?
  1. Chris Wilson says:

    Very helpful as always, a needed correction for this pastor (who probably shares more than he should with his wife).

  2. Jeanine Fogler says:

    If I go to speak to my pastor and his wife is not included in the conversation I expect that communication to be kept between him and The Lord, unless he asks my permission to discuss it with her. If I wanted her privy to anything personal about my life I would discuss it with her.
    The fact that “sharing” confidential information is a topic makes me reluctant to ever go to my pastor again! I was blissfully unaware that any pastor would even consider sharing confidential information with anyone, including his wife.

    • briancroft says:

      If you trust you pastor, you should be able to trust his judgment on if any others need to be brought in to help you. If you asked for none others to be brought in, I would hope he would honor that. I would also say, if you said anything in a setting of confidence (counseling, personal matter, etc.) he would need to ask your permission to involve his wife or anyone else. That is what I do. This post was not meant to imply a blanket involvement of the wife, quite the opposite.

    • F says:

      Jeanine. I am a pastor and never have a woman come to to speak to me when I am alone. I always have my wife present.

    • Paul says:

      My sentiments exactly. As a rural pastoral team (as well as a veterinarian team) my wife and I are in and around our community and congregation nearly every day, so little escapes our purvey. However, if someone were to come to me in private for counseling, and knowing the relational dynamic I have with my wife, confidentiality would be discussed then kept as agreed. I would never consider breaching someone’s request for confidence…I would come up with a work-around of some nature.

  3. Jolene says:

    My husband once spoke to our assigned elder at our gormer church regarding his pornography addiction. The next day, the elder’s wife emailed me offering advice. I was flabbergasted and both of us felt very betrayed.

    When he informed the elder of how taken aback and embarrassed I was, the elder replied, ‘Oh, I tell my wife everything.’

    Damaging, to say the very least.

  4. Jolene says:

    *former church

  5. Michael says:

    I personally think it is a wise policy for a pastor not to counsel a woman without his wife also being present and involved in the counseling session, as a safeguard for both parties involved.

    • briancroft says:

      Agreed. My wife cannot be available for all my counseling, but I will not counsel a woman alone. If she is unavailable, another pastor or mature woman in our church can sit in. This also takes the pressure off our wives to have to be there for every counseling need women have in our church. Pastors, do not counsel women alone…that’s another topic.

  6. M. Joy says:

    How much does a pastor share with his wife in regard to confidential matters? The answer should be nothing. Absolutely nothing. I’m a little stunned at the “it depends” remark. No church member who goes to a pastor seeking counsel should have to wonder how much of their personal counseling session is being shared with the pastor’s wife.

    There are occasional situations where the pastor might need to refer for outside intervention, for instance if someone is threatening suicide or is a danger to others. But that should involve elders, healthcare professionals or law enforcement. NOT the pastor’s wife.

    Jolene, I am mortified at your story. How completely unacceptable.

    • Jolene says:

      Thank you. I was still reeling from his confession and very ashamed and embarrassed among a swirl of other emotions. Definitely not ready to confide in anyone. The couple was friends of ours as well whom we frequently saw socially. The relationship was never the same.

      If he wanted to tell his wife everything, then that information should have been disclosed before the conversation went anywhere.

  7. J Camacho says:

    Thanks for writing on this practical issue! As a wife, I also appreciate when my husband avoids sharing information that he knows will cause me to stumble into sin (a Gospel Coalition wife compared it to avoiding information that will give the devil a foothold in wives’ hearts). My husband knows the types of information that make Eph. 4:2-3 hard for me, and avoids sharing information that will provoke my flesh because of my own sinful struggles, either with specific people or types of issues. Again brother, thanks for writing.

  8. Solomon says:

    My comment is a bit of a digression really but I need help. I am about to restructure the church I pastor and choose my heads of department. But my wife wants to be in charge of them. She had had altercations with quite a few of them and some of them have begged me privily not to put them under her. She on the other hand blames me for the disrespect she claims to have recieved because the church is not structured properly.How do I handle this matter without offending her.

  9. Jamie says:

    I have been a wife to my pastor for 29 yrs. now. I see and understand myself as his helpmate and then a member of our church. So he shares thoughts and ideas and issues that affect him because I am his partner. Counseling sessions aren’t about him and are other people’s private and personal issues so I don’t need to know because my job is to be his helper and not the whole churches; which I could not fulfill even if I wanted to. In counseling situations if he needs my assistance he will direct that woman to contact me personally and at that point I become involved. The calling is from God to him and God’s calling on my life is to be his helpmate.

  10. Patsy says:

    I am a pastor’s wife who is finding out what a controversial topic this is. My daughter wrote two posts about this subject. The most recent one, “What Your Pastor Tells His Wife About You,” was on the Aquila Report where it got the most hits for the day.

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