She is faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. She stands for truth, justice, and the American Way. Do you recognize her?
As Proverbs chapter 31 says, “She speaks up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. She speaks up and judges fairly; she defends the rights of the poor and needy.” She is the life partner of one man … her husband. She is the bedrock of her family and the heart of the church. This gracious and intriguing woman is not Superman. This woman is the pastor’s wife.
The pastor’s wife has many roles and with great skill spins each role like a gyrating plate continuously moving, not missing a beat. Her husband, family, church, job and community depend on her every week to meet needs, comfort broken hearts, heal wounded knees, mentor upcoming leaders and do everything with a smile and a bionic woman’s strength.
Year after year the duties of the pastor become more intricate and challenging. His wife’s involvement in the ministry can also stretch to a point of being out of balance in the other areas of her life.
If the pastor’s wife does not keep the four principle areas of her life in check, she can easily become discouraged, depressed, beaten down and very unhealthy.
Pastors’ wives must maintain certain boundaries and safeguards to ensure a healthy balance in ministry as well as balance in the four areas of her personal life. These four areas are – spiritual, mental, emotional and physical.
The spiritual life of the pastor’s wife can be easily convoluted and the lines blurred in such a way that she begins to think ministry is her first priority. Her relationship with Jesus Christ should be her first priority, then personal Bible Study, prayer, and meditation. The pastor’s wife should not confuse ministry with personal Christian growth, application, and devotion. She should spend time daily in God’s Word meditating and feeding on its truth and promises for her personal life. She should communicate with the Lord in prayer all day to keep the spiritual fires burning and grow in her faith. Prayer with her husband is also critical and essential for their marriage as well as ministry. She should pray a hedge of protection for her husband and family every day and include the discipline of prayer and fasting. By allowing her spirit to be nourished daily by God’s Word and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, she will not feel alone in her multiple tasks of ministry.
The mental life of the pastor’s wife must be in check at all times. She is exposed to so many people’s negative opinions and unrealistic expectations. She sometimes feels helpless allowing her mind to build burning embers, not saying anything, thinking this is a normal part of her role in support of her husband. The enemy targets most threats and accusations in our thought life. When we allow our minds to wander to the path of least resistance–the negative one–we can easily slide into the abyss of past hurts, miseries, and missed opportunities. Before we know it, our minds take us places we never intended to go. Our minds take us on trips to seas of regret and disappointment if we allow our minds to think carnally and without restraint. Romans 12:1-2 states we are to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds.”
Daily, and sometimes hourly, mental renewal is essential to keep healthy thoughts and avoid negative attitudes to creep up and destroy us. The Pastor’s wife needs a point of accountability, like everyone else, to keep her thought life pure and her mind focused on the Lord and His truth.
The third area of the pastor’s wife is her emotional life. This area of her life is sensitive because women are emotive beings. We women were created to nurture, love and show our feelings. Sometimes we get off track due to past experiences, emotional abuse, feelings of inadequacy or lack of self-esteem. It is imperative we keep our emotions in check to keep from displaying behavior that is unpleasing to the Lord and to our husbands. Some questions to consider: are you a quarrelsome and fretful wife? Are you the common denominator of dissension and strife in your home? Or are you a supportive and helpful wife? Are you building your home by God's grace in order to bring it under the headship of your husband to the glory of Jesus? Or do you foolishly tear down your home with your own hands, like Proverbs 14:1 says.
If you need help in this area, seek out a mature, Christian woman mentor who can instruct you in Titus 2 and the emotional stability necessary for your role as pastor’s wife. Emotional health is very important when counseling women in the church. Remember, you must be stable before you can counsel others. Your mentor can keep you emotionally grounded with God’s Word and show you your blind spots to help you grow in your emotional responses. Emotional health can also be tied in with physical health. Be sure you inform your health provider of any sudden or severe emotional changes to ensure you are caring for this vital part of your life.
The fourth area of the pastor’s wife is her physical life. This area is affected greatly by the other areas in a woman’s life. When the other areas are off center and maligned or not addressed, they will sometimes manifest in a physical ailment or illness doctors cannot explain or treat. The biggest physical concern for the pastor’s wife is stress. Stress causes various illnesses like heart attacks, the number one killer of women in America. Other great physical concerns are anxiety, breast, cervical and ovarian cancers, osteoporosis, and dementia. The pastor’s wife must keep her physical body in check with annual exams, regular, weekly exercise that helps her keep moving! She also needs adequate sleep and rest from her daily routine along with a healthy diet that consists of quality proteins, complex carbohydrates, lots of water and limited processed foods and sugar.
The Lord has given us everything we need to live a holy life. He has also given us access to health and nutrition knowledge, health care professionals who advise us through health plans and nutrition guides and partner with us in weight loss and illness management. We are not our own! God’s Word teaches us to honor God with our bodies. Hippocrates, father of medicine, said, “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine thy food.” He also said walking is the best medicine. What do we learn, pastor’s wives? Eat healthy food that nourishes instead of food that makes your crash. Then... keep moving! Movement and blood flow through the body are great healers.
Another important area of the pastor’s Wife’s health and balance is rest and relaxation. Remember to take vacations with your husband and family that do not include ministry. Getting away from the church is critical for your refreshment and recharging. Pastor’s wives need down time to relax and enjoy God’s blessings of family and provision in order to be effective at home and in ministry.
Your husband and you have a life together. As a pastor’s wife, prioritize these four areas of your life and keep them in balance in order to enjoy your husband, your children, your ministry and have fun with each other to the fullest in the process!
Rhoda Sanchez-Gonzales serves at North Dallas Family Church, where her husband Vince is the pastor.