Yes, life in a fishbowl, a phrase often used when describing life in a pastor’s family. Displayed to be admired or found wanting, high expectations can drain even the most eager of God’s servants.
Actually, times have changed. Used to be, a congregation expected the pastor’s wife to fulfill most of the roles now covered by the education and hospitality committees. In many cases, she taught Sunday school, organized VBS, played the piano at all the services and was expected to entertain company at the drop of a hat. Oh, and her children’s attitudes/behaviors directly reflected her level of spirituality. Many pastor’s wives have decided that’s not such a great side job.
When candidating, they answer the famous ‘What role will you play as Pastor’s wife?’ question with aplomb. Proudly they might announce that they’ll support their husband in his career but they have a career of their own which keeps their schedule packed. Or they gulp and stammer that they’ll serve wherever needed, while on the inside they wonder how they’ll ever ‘do it all’.
Should we be surprised that pastor’s wives burn out, or that preacher’s kids have such bad reputations? After all, they’re a part of the congregation themselves, one of the flock. Their priorities should be the same as ours: God, spouse, children, ministry/job, self. Being a helpmeet, raising Godly children, and simply being available to volunteer or mentor is a full-time job!
My mother, veteran PW of almost 50 years, managed to graciously leave her heartmark on all the churches my father pastored. Gracious, being the key word. Loved by all, my mom had the kind of personality most PW’s covet. Non-confrontational, yet unafraid to gently guide, her unconditional kindness invited hearts to unburden themselves fearlessly. And since she lived her faith, her wise counsel was heeded.
A godly pastor’s wife follows God’s injunction to take care of her family. Her husband relies on her intuition and discernment, and she protects him from stress. God is her best friend, her comfort from almost certain loneliness, her lifeline to sanity, and her escape from the daily cesspools.
Her public persona is fed by her private relationship with God. Her quiet time, hidden from prying eyes, gives her the strength she needs to do God’s work, in a way that glorifies Him.
An iceberg evokes awe and respect not only for its majesty–but for its unseen width and depth. Did you know that only one-seventh of an iceberg is visible above the surface? That ‘beneath-the-surface’ faith needs to be nurtured for great effectiveness in ministry.
Ask not what your pastor’s wife can do for you; ask what you can do for your pastor’s wife.
Pray for this woman. While you’re at it, tell God the negatives and later, encourage her with the positives. If you’re older, take her under your wing. The fish that aren’t cared for fade into the murky water. And it’s no picnic always being on the inside looking out.