One of the more pleasant surprises of this blog the past few years is the opportunity to interact with the spouses of pastors. I use the term “pastors” to refer to the lead pastor of a church most of the time, but my comments are not limited to that one position. It could also refer to other staff positions at a church.
Many of the comments I have received have been shared in anonymity, and I certainly understand the need to keep names confidential. But the comments are real and verbatim. And many times I can feel the hopes and hurts that come with these comments. Here are the eleven most frequent thoughts from pastors’ spouses:
- “I’m lonely.” This statement was the most frequent by an overwhelming margin. It overlaps with some of these other statements, but it needs to stand on its own as well.
- “Your critics hurt me too.” Pastors are criticized regularly, even frequently. While the pastors are indeed hurting, they need to understand their spouses are hurting as well.
- “I wish you would give me more time.” Many pastors’ spouses feel like their marriages were not healthy because the pastor put church members first.
- “Please don’t use me as a negative sermon illustration.” Even when it’s spoken in humor, pastors’ spouses can be hurt by such illustrations.
- “Let me be me.” Many spouses don’t think they can be themselves because their spouse/pastor expects them to speak and act in ways that do not reflect their true selves.
- “I love it when you spend time with our children.” Many spouses are hurt because they feel that neither they nor the children are a priority.
- “I worry about our finances.” This sentence was one I heard frequently. Too many pastors are underpaid. It not only hurts the pastor; it hurts the entire family.
- “Please stand up for me when I’m criticized.” It pains me to hear from pastors’ spouses who have been criticized, especially when their spouse does not come to their defense. If it pains me, I can only imagine how it hurts the spouse.
- “I wish you would focus on your family when you are at home.” Spouses generally understand the distractions of real emergencies. But some pastors never “turn off” and focus on their families.
- “I worry about our family when we move a lot.” Vocational mobility is the norm for many pastors. But understand that such mobility often comes at price to the pastor’s family.
- “It’s hard to make real friends in the church.” This statement was one of several reasons why pastors’ spouses feel lonely.
I often ask our readers to pray for their pastors. I need to be asking you to pray for the pastors’ families as well. Most of these family members are obedient to the call of God in their lives; and they do so without complaints. But that doesn’t mean they don’t hurt at times.