Thank you pastor’s wife.

You may have one of the most thankless roles in the world. You receive no compensation, but there are many expectations of you. At times you are expected to be omnipresent; and other times you are expected to be invisible. Rarely at any of those times does anyone express gratitude to you.

Thank you pastor’s wife.

You may have one of the most selfless roles in the world. You are expected to be at the beck and call of church members, regardless of your own schedule. You are expected to adjust your life to the life of the pastor, who just happens to be your husband. You really have no independent life of your own.

Thank you pastor’s wife.

You may have one of the most challenging roles in the world. You are the only person in whom your husband can truly confide. When he is down, you are expected to encourage and exhort him. You try to provide balance for your family and children, especially since some of the church members expect them to be perfect.

Thank you pastor’s wife.

You may have one of the most painful roles in the world. You have discovered how hurtful some church members can really be. You listen to criticisms of your husband, and you are expected to be stoic. And when you are hurt, you think you have to keep it to yourself. You internalize it and hurt even more.

Thank you pastor’s wife.

You may have one of the loneliest roles in the world. People in the church seem afraid to get to close to you. Friendships are rare, if not non-existent. There are times you want to cry out in your need and pain, but there is no one to listen to you. In your darkest moments, you wonder if it’s all really worth it.

Thank you pastor’s wife.

We who stand on the sidelines may not know your hopes, hurts, and needs. We may not realize the depth of your times of pain and loneliness. But we know Someone who does. And He is with you. He is your strength. He is your comforter. He is your confidant.

And one day you will see that Savior named Jesus face to face. One day you will get your rewards for your labor, sacrifice, and love. One day He will look at you with unstoppable love and piercing eyes. One day He will say, “Well done good and faithful servant. Well done.”

And then you will know it was all worthwhile.

Thank you pastor’s wife.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.


  1. David Highfield says

    Thank you for this. And in my denomination where women are called and ordained, we are also thankful for pastors’ husbands.

  2. Micah says

    Thank you for this article. It is very true and how I feel many days. The most important part is I wouldn’t ever want to be anything else even on those hard days. I love my pastor!! He’s my husband and my best friend!!

  3. Jerry Schoenenberger says

    Thank you Thom,
    I’ll print out your post for my wife. She probably doesn’t know how much I appreciate her, even though I try to tell her. She didn’t sign up for this, but she’s followed along. I hold her up as a great example of a submissive wife. She isn’t a “pastor’s wife”, she says she just happens to be married to the pastor. May God bless her for her commitment to him and to me.

  4. says

    Thank you, Thom. How I wish I could say this myself without embarrassing my faithful wife and inciting guilt among the unaware, (or guilty).

  5. Christina says

    Thank you for this post. As a young pastor’s wife, I have faced almost everyone of these scenarios. But as the lady before me said, I would not want to be anywhere else than right next to my husband as he lives out his God-given calling. He is my rock, my best friend, and my confidant. I can’t imagine life without him and our ministry.

  6. Amy Schull says

    I’ve experienced the best & worst, and while I thought I might have to wait till I see Jesus to be valued & appreciated, I found out I was wrong. Leading and Loving It, a community for Pastor’s wives,saved me! No competition, no “this is who you ought to be,” just come as you are and be. As a matter-of-fact we have our 3rd retreat this Tues-Thurs in downtown Nashville! (I’ll be staying right next to the LifeWay bldg)
    Thank you for your words & your example.

    • Thom Rainer says

      What a great community Amy! Thank you for your life and ministry. Tell the other wives LifeWay and I appreciate them so much.

  7. Beth says

    Thank you. This is exactly what I needed today as I’m stressing about having our Sunday school class to our house and my husband’s at the church all day and kids are crazy. I love this “job” and wouldn’t change a thing, so thank you.

      • Bonnie Muir says

        I was married for 28 yrs to a man who pastored for 22 yrs, had & raised 5 kids – 4 sons & a daughter. I stood by him, faithfully supporting him in every way, only to find out he had been sleeping with a married woman on staff for 5 yrs, He divorced me, the man who took over as pastor officiated the wedding of my x & his new 28 yr old girlfriend. My church did nothing to help me & told people to stay away from me & don’t talk to me. A lawyer from a nearby church helped him take custody of my daughter away from me. I have no home & no family. There should be an advocacy group for pastors wives.

        • RM says

          So sorry for the pain you went through and lack of support you were given at such an awful time. Not what Jesus would do. Bless your dear heart. My heart goes out to you.

        • Kasey Burt says

          This is a terrible trap that many pastor husbands fall into. The Church secretary or pianist spend long hours together and suddenly she looks better in his eyes. She “ADORES” him and doesn’t lay any of her real life issues on him, making him feel like a king. However, that scenario will change quickly enough when she is no longer treated like a princess and is expected to care for his child, clean the house, cook meals, do laundry, run his errands and deal with her real life crisis. Right now, my husband has a pianist about 15 years younger than him in her sights. It is a troubling road to travel being a Pastor’s wife, watching women throw themselves at a married pastor. The only thing I know to do is pray and talk frankly with my husband about what I see. However, only God knows if I will end up in your shoes. Praying for your comfort in the one who can heal all things. Kasey

  8. says

    Thom, Thank you! What you shared is so true. I have just returned from a short pre-holiday vacation with my wife where we had the opportunity to just talk to each other. I came away with the realization that I am blessed beyond measure.

  9. Laura says

    Amen. I was a pastor’s wife until about two months ago. The same day my husband resigned, I went into labor with our second child. The pain and frustration of what led to his resignation means I probably won’t ever be a pastor’s wife again. But I thank God for the experience. No matter what church I join next or where I go with my husband, the pastor’s wife will have her biggest cheerleader and defender in me. I will be the one praying for her every Sunday, squashing gossip in the congregation, sending her notes in the mail, dropping by with chocolate, offering to babysit, and talking her up to everyone in the church.

    That seat on the front pew is scary sometimes, and you feel like there are arrows being shot in your back. In our next church I intend to shield that front pew as much as I can.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Laura –

      You are an incredible example of someone who experienced great pain, but used it for good. Thank you. After I finish this response, I will pray for you, your husband, your family, and your ministry.

  10. Mary Bowery says

    Growing up as a daughter of a preacher and then being married to one, I’ve spent almost 50 yrs in the parsonage. It’s been the best of times and sometimes, the worst of times. But what an adventure!!! Guess that old statement fits here: You can’t scare me…I’m a preacher’s wife!!!! (BTW, I was a counselor in a maximum-security 1900-bed prison and that wasn’t nearly as scary as some business meetings I’ve attended. ‘Nuff said. :)

  11. says

    Awesome post. I have a pastor’s wife:) She is awesome and has experienced each one of these. It brought gratitude and some sadness in my heart and eyes as I thought about our ministry serving Jesus together for the last 9 years. I love my wife and want her to know how much I appreciate her and thank God for her.

  12. Allen Calkins says

    Without the unconditional support of my ‘Pastor’s wife’ I would have left the ministry long ago…God only knows what the resignation and dropout rates would be for pastors were it not for the pastor’s wives out there that keep their called husbands committed to their call and give them the support they need to carry on through difficult times and be even more effective in the more fruitful times. After this posts I am definitely copying it to my wife’s email.

    • Gayle O'Hara says

      Thank you so much for your post. My husband is going through a very difficult time right now and I’m not sure how to handle it. I keep telling him to hang on and pray though it and wait on the Lord. It is hard, he is discouraged but isn’t that what the enemy wants? I pray we make it through this and the Lord direct his ministry. Again, thank you for your post, it was helpful to my spirit.

  13. Terry Brown says

    Thank you for the encouraging words. I have been a pastor’s wife for over 10 years. It’s refreshing to see something so true about the life of a ministry wife. I have good and not so good days but I wouldn’t trade my life. You gave me strength to continue in the path God has laid out for me.

  14. Adolfo says

    My wife (a missionary’s wife) invited other pastor’s wives (15 ladies) to have a little retreat, where they will study the Word and will encourage each other. I will share these words to them. Thanks for your words, It helped me to understand more her feelings. Blessings from Mexico.

  15. Lois Smith says

    Thank you, Thor for your encouragement. I have been a pastor’s daughter, have a son who is a pastor, and 2 brothers that are as well as a step-son that is and I have been a pastor’s wife for over 10 years. I love it and I love interacting with the congregation. I love going visiting members with my husband in their homes, hospital or rest homes. There are times when my heart is crushed when my husband is criticized or berated by a member at business meetings. (I hate those and always have.) They are a necessary evil as far as I am concerned. I would not want to be anything but a pastor’s wife, just want to skip business meetings. lol

  16. Sis. R. says

    In the short time God has granted me the privilege to pastor right along my husband…I must admit is has been bitter sweet….long lonely nights, the uncertainty of not knowing the right words to say in many cases i rest to sleep alone desiring my husband’s shoulder just to feel accepted and confirm that I am doing the job correctly. As I have witness in many comments….we smile from the outside with our heart crying on the inside…I have learn to lean to depend on Christ in those difficult days when it seems that I can no longer go on…But is in my knees before the throne of God with tears in my eyes, and His gentle touch comes to reaffirm me that he is walking this journey right along my side…..God bless your Heart for all the wonderful words of encouragement that brings comfort to me and all my dear pastor’s wife that wall the same road i walk…. Gby.

  17. Rachel says

    Thanks for the article. My deacon chairman’s wife passed this article on to me. Being a generational PK (grandfather and father) and a pastor’s wife has definitely allowed me to understand this firsthand. Thankfully the church we are at now is very supportive of my husband and me. When they come up to me and say I’m the most active pastor’s wife they’ve ever known it is kind of sad to me. I know it is meant as a compliment but I am just fulfilling the passion God has called me to.

  18. says

    Them, so well said and thoughtfully put. Very appreciated. I am married to a pastor who does it full-time and I work another job to support us, but because of my gifts and calling, I do a lot of pastoring too. So much that I call myself a pastor and not a pastors wife because 1) it is what most wives of pastors do and 2) because my calling is not just to stand behind my husband. I have my own calling too. One of the saddest things women can do is lose their identity in their husbands calling. I know more women who pastor with their husband would feel more resilent and fulfilled if they did not feel their sole purpose in life was for their husbands. I know we need to acknowledge the role of the unpaid partner in ministry – it’s quite demanding – but I am a writer and mom and have many other roles that help give me balance. I hope other spouses are able to develop this as well.

  19. says

    My husband sent me this. I love love love my “job.” I have learned to depend on Jesus Christ more than I could have imagined. I don’t despise the hard times but cherish them. As you mentioned there are behind the scenes situations but my church family does things for me as well.

  20. Rev. Betsy Haas says

    Oh, Thom. What beautiful words, and so often we don’t ascribe the credit to our clergy spouses that they deserve and need to hear! But why, oh, why, did you have to be so gender exclusive? This lovely tribute has had the unintended consequence of pouring salt in the wounds of every female pastor who has watched her husband go ignored and dismissed simply because he chose to be a Pastor’s husband in a world that doesn’t recognize him. My husband has had to cheerfully respond to invitations to Clergy Spouse Gatherings only to find out the program was on Apple Jewelry Making. He has sat in the church that he supported faithfully with his tithe and his service as the coordinator of the homeless ministry AND the Confirmation teacher AND a weekly youth ministry small group leader AND trip chaperone, only to hear each of the Pastors’ wives be lifted up by name in worship as part of clergy appreciation week and hear not one mention of him. He has heard the Senior Pastor’s wife praised by a church member in a joy moment for her nurturing support of her husband and her volunteering at the church, and then had to show appreciation when after this tribute, the Senior Pastor thinks to say, “Oh, and we appreciate Kenn, too.” Please, please, remember these faithful, sacrificing men who have learned how to make pigtail braids on Sunday mornings, who do without Mom’s presence at the table on Administrative Board meeting nights, who cook, clean, worship and serve alongside their wives with little or no recognition. Not all of us have a Pastor’s Wife.

  21. Ron says

    In my denomination, both husband and wife complete seminary and both are ordained. However, the weekly living allowance comes in the husband’s name – the wife who works just as hard as the husband is considered a volunteer. As you can deduct, this has been a ‘sore spot’ with wives for a long time. However, if the calling and the mission are foremost, it is not an issue – it never was with my wife; she had her own unique ministry and her devotion to God’s call to her was much more important that separate 1099 forms.

  22. Clotee says

    I truly love, adore and appreciate my First Lady Errica Washington, wife of Pastor David E. Washington Jr. Canton Christian Fellowship, Canton, MI. She is so amazing at how she lives her life for Christ, her husband, children and family. I encourage her to stand in spite of, because God knows her trials and tribulations. When the weight of the members comes upon her, she carries it like the cross that Jesus carried and continues her journey of leading us along side her awesome husband.

  23. Danielle says

    Thank you for this. As a pastor’s wife I am hurting right now. I would not wish my situation on anyone. Having been reconciled with my husband, I and our children are back at his church. It’s been almost one year now and things haven’t changed much. I have to deal with a disrespectful ‘associate’ minister who is great friends with the former mistress who is also disrespectful yet sits on ‘my pew’. Add in the fact that she has a huge family who also hate me and kids, the fact that she has many positions of leadership and you have quite the party. My husband tells me to rise above it while refusing to address it. He claims that he has addressed it privately (without me?) and nothing has changed. I’m sincerely longing to go back to my former church where I and my children were well-liked, but most importantly, were at least treated with common courtesy, as one would be even among those who are ‘un-Christian.’ He has created a mess yet refuses to stand up for his wife & family PUBLICLY, because he ‘says’ it would be stooping to their level. But he maintains a friendship with them, former mistress included. I tend to think he’s playing both sides. His other excuse for not ever addressing anything is because he doesn’t want things to get crazy. I say he’s running his ministry in fear. Needless to say I (& two DAUGHTERS, 6 & 16) are in a hostile atmosphere week after week after week where we maintain our silence and continue smiling. I’m worried about how this is all affecting the 17 yr old who is as sweet as any teen ever was. I have done nothing. I don’t confront anyone. I used to say hello and attempt to hug everybody, but now I just say hello and it’s sometimes returned. My husband contends that he needs no counseling and if I would ‘rise above it’ i.e. ignore and say nothing, as I have for a whole year, then it will all work itself out.

    • Rhonda says

      Dear Sister Danielle,
      I don’t know if this will get published, but I really am feeling for you right now. Your husband should be confessing to the congregation and step down for a while and she should not be allowed to come to your church. He is hiding because he knows it is a grave sin and he doesn’t want to lose his position of “power” instead of a very high calling from God. This is very serious and he is making light of it, but the Lord is not. I’m praying you will not fall into deception and will do the right thing. It seems as tho’ you should not attend that church until this is handled in a godly correct manner.
      I am praying for you dear one. You are not alone!

      • Danielle says

        Sis Rhonda,
        Truly I appreciate your kind & wise words. You’ve only confirmed what I’ve always known in my heart. My decision was already made by the time I posted this. All that you’ve said is what I’ve said to him. Of course I was ridiculed because he’s been doing this for over 35 yrs & I haven’t, therefore I don’t understand ministry or ppl & mistreatment is all a part of being a leader. That’s certainly true but not to this extent! :) He’s 18 years older, by the way. I won’t get into anymore specifics. We all have a story to tell. I’m just grateful that I haven’t lost my faith in the Lord! May the Lord bless & keep you & everyone called to a life of ministry. I will forever support & pray for you all!

  24. Rhonda says

    My husband sent me this website and your kind words for Pastor’s wives this morning. I hadn’t had time to read it until now. Good therapy just reading all the posts. My husband pastors a small church in a rural area. I should say WE pastor. It is a team effort for sure. He feels he couldn’t do it without me and I feel of course, I wouldn’t be here without him. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t here. I think, how fellow brothers and sisters have hurt us is more painful then anything there is, because you feel they should know better and we hope they see how much we love the Lord. We have just come thru a trial but the Lord used it to “prune” our church and right now we feel very blessed and refreshed. But I’m realizing after being here almost 8 yrs, if we expect to skate thru ministry unscathed we are naive. The Lord uses all we go thru to strengthen us and make us better people and glorify Him. I can’t say I’d rather be here then anywhere, but I surely would rather be in the Lord’s will then anywhere else. Thank you for thinking of us PW’s.

  25. Ros Mayfield says

    Just wanted to share a blog post I read today – both honest and inspiring on this issue and how the whole world wins when women live into their real God-given gifts (which may or may not include ‘keeping house’ and ‘pastor admin’) Hope it blesses you.

  26. An older PK says

    Charlotte Gebauer Koelling likes an article.

    From a PK’s perspective, I can vouch for the loneliness and pain of being a pastor’s wife. As I observe now, it seems to have improved greatly since my mother’s days in the parsonage (1937-1979). To the challenges mentioned I would add the poverty in which we lived and with which my mom struggled through their whole ministry. It was brutal (and the reason I would not date anyone going into the ministry). Also, these wives can at least have some identity of their own now, thanks to our culture’s increasingly enlightened view of women over the years. (When my folks retired, my mother said she had to keep quiet all those years so as not to cause a problem for her husband, but finally she could say what she thought … and she did!)

    I rejoice that she has entered heaven. The words of the writer: “One day you will get your rewards for your labor, sacrifice, and love. One day He will look at you with unstoppable love and piercing eyes. One day He will say, “Well done good and faithful servant. Well done.” I weep with joy for her reward.

  27. Erin H-M says

    It makes me sad to read this piece and all the negative experiences of those commenting. My experience as a pastor’s wife has had perks I could never have imagined, and the support I receive from the congregation still amazes me. When my husband volunteers me for a job I want to do, he has to assure the people in charge that I asked to do it. We have numerous families waiting to babysit for our son…for free. One family provides us with all the farm fresh eggs we could ever want and they won’t let us pay them. When we’ve tried to hire parishioners to do odd jobs around our property they accept the work, but rarely let us pay them. I’ve taken to paying them with homemade pies and preserves. My young son’s antics during church are always the subject of conversations during fellowship time, but members tell me over and over how much joy those antics bring. When my son fell head first off the pew (he was caught by the teenager on the other side of him) I expected criticism. Instead, no less than eight people shared similar stories of falls and accidents by their children, and each one told me that it happens to everyone. Some of my best friends are people I met at my church. Sure, we have our share of frustrations, but they are minor. I don’t know what exactly makes my church different, but they are amazing. They recognize that my family isn’t perfect, that my son will do things that kids do, and that I am not an extension of my husband. I’m not writing this response to gloat, but to say that being a pastor’s spouse doesn’t always come with so much baggage.

  28. Angela B says

    Don’t you think this is kind of sad? Shouldn’t we be calling for and believing for something betteR? Something different than this? Or is this her lot in life? I think as Christ’s followers, we can and SHOULD do better than this. I appreciate the thank you. But I also think we shouldn’t settle for this…

  29. says

    Thank you from my heart! I needed this today. We are new in the ministry and it can seem awfully lonely at times. I know God is always there, it’s just so reassuring to read something like your post.


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