Put on your Big Girl (or Boy) pants, 'cuz we're going to talk about how to treat your pastor's wife. If you go to a church, you've probably got a pastor's wife. Unless you're Catholic. If you're Catholic, you don't have one. You guys can stop looking. The rest of you should keep hunting for her until you figure out who she is. You may not have noticed her, but she's the one smiling in the background. Now that you've located her, I'm going to tell you some things to do (and not to do) to take care of her. Believe me, as much as you may or may not like her, she is a major reason your Pastor keeps tugging along. Learn how to be a blessing rather than a hinderance to her.
I have personal experience with every single item on this list -- usually far too much experience. In the beginning years, I found some of them very hurtful. Now, twenty years into this journey, I find most of them comical. Some of them will never be comical, though, because they hurt more than just me. They have the potential to destroy a church. That is never funny.
If you see your own behavior as you read this list, don't despair. Pastor's wives are a very forgiving breed. Very likely, your pastor's wife was able to see past your actions and look at your heart. But, um...Stop it, m'kay?
9 Pet Peeves Your Pastor's Wife Didn't Tell You She Had:
1. When You Don't Give Her Space -- As wonderful as you are, she probably doesn't have time to be your best buddy and spend every waking moment with you. If she gave her time to everyone in the church on the same proportion you want her to give her time to you, would she have any time left for her responsibilities? Just because she doesn't hang out with you over coffee every other day doesn't mean she doesn't love you. She has a lot on her plate. She often has to be both Mom and Dad to her kids, take care of running her own household and any other responsibilities she has (which are MANY), AND take care of you. So don't be overly needy. At one point in our ministry, I had so many people calling because they were "bored and just wanted to chat" that I had to stop taking calls at all except during certain hours and for certain reasons. Save some room for the real needs.
2. When You Don't Let her be who SHE is. -- Don't expect her to be like your last pastor's wife, or the one you see on TV. Don't expect her to emulate YOUR personal idea of the "Perfect Pastor's Wife". Everyone in the church has a slightly different idea of what a "Perfect Pastor's Wife" looks like. Your pastor's wife simply can't please everybody, so just let her be who God made HER to be.
3. When You Snoop. -- I don't know why it is, but many people are over-the-top curious about the pastor's home and family. I can't tell you how many times people have roamed my home uninvited. They go in & through closets, cabinets and drawers and wander around looking for who-knows-what. I've had people corner my kids when they think I'm not looking and question them on everything from who the first president was (to make sure my homeschooling is up to snuff) to where we buy our groceries and how much we spend. I've had people eavesdrop on private conversations and look through private papers. Somehow they think I'm too dumb to know what they're doing. Silly people. I don't confront you because I have nothing to hide, not because I don't know. Often, I've actually watched you do it and simply walked away to let you finish. But it's RUDE, folks. I doubt you would like it much if your pastor's wife began snooping through your private things. Don't do it to her.
4. She Doesn't Like it When You Poke Her. -- Really. You wouldn't think you'd have to say some things. I've had people poke (literally) at a zit and ask what it is. They've poked my belly and asked when I was due (I wan't pregnant at the time. I was just having an issue with severe bloating). I've had them poke my hair when they didn't like how it was styled. I could go on. Don't poke your pastor's wife.
5. Remember that she sacrifices as much as the pastor in order to serve you. -- Maybe more. Often pastors are the only ones anyone thinks of when they think of ministry, but your pastor's wife not only takes care of her home and the church, but she gives up her husband for you. Just remember that.
6. Give the right gift. -- If you want to show your pastor's wife gratitude, you don't have to thank her with gifts. You can just tell her or write a little note. It will mean a lot to her. But should you want to give a gift, let me give you some tips on how to give the right gift:
Be sensitive to what she actually likes. She may not like Beanie Babies or angel pictures as much as you do. Find out what SHE likes. If you don't know, give her money or a gift card.
Giving a religious book to someone in the full-time ministry is a lot like buying legal pads for a lawyer -- He's probably already got a storage cabinet full of more than he could possibly use. Pastor's and their wives already have shelves and shelves full of incredible religious books that they haven't had a chance to read yet. Unless the book you are giving her is really, really special, just give her a gift card to a coffee shop instead. Ditto for the religious pictures, plaques and nicknacks.
Don't give her your cast off junk. Unless you already know that she is a collector of such things, it's probably safe to say that she won't get much out of the Precious Moments figurine collection you want to get rid of. And those chipped dishes you just replaced with a brand new set? She doesn't want those, either. Take your old dishes to Goodwill (or maybe a dumpster). If it isn't nice enough for your house, what makes you think it's nice enough for hers? Special side note: If she has so little that your broken, dilapidated dishes look like a God-send to her, then you should fall on your knees and repent. A church that has so little care for the messengers God sends it will surely have to repent before God sooner or later. Better now than later. Once you're done repenting, take up an offering, buy her a brand new set of dishes, then give that pastor a big raise. Just saying.
7. When You Forget that She Has Flesh, Too. -- She isn't perfect. If you put her on too high a pedestal, she will eventually disappoint you. But that may be your fault as much as it is hers. You should never have looked to her natural abilities anyway. Any real help or example she can give you will come from the Lord as He anoints and uses her. She is a human being just like you. The only difference is that she has been called to and anointed by God to stand in the place of a pastor's wife. Look to God. If you are tempted to get offended at her because she didn't meet some preconceived standard you had, realize that she lives under a lot of pressure trying to meet the differing standards of each person in the church. Cut her some slack. Give her the same mercy you expect to receive from her.
On that note, people often get mad at God or fall away because of something the minister and/or his wife did or didn't do. Come on. So, because that person acted in the flesh, GOD is no longer worthy to be served!?! Because the ministers acted carnal, GOD'S WORD isn't true!?! That's like punishing your dog because the cat knocked a plant over. Or putting the father in jail when his son breaks the law. It isn't logical thinking. So go ahead and forgive God for what your pastor and his wife did, 'Kay?
8. When You Won't Be Sincere. -- If she's been doing this very long, she can see right through "religious speak" and false flattery. She probably isn't nearly as impressed as you'd hoped. Those tactics probably aren't going to help you get what you want unless she was already planning on doing what you wanted anyway. Oh, and she probably won't tell you that she sees right through your attempt to manipulate her. But she will mention it to the pastor. And then you'll just look bad, so don't do it.
True story (I could tell others, but that might not be nice): Once, I had a lady come to me wanting to put an old dilapidated desk in the back of our church sanctuary. She had some wonderful purpose it was supposed to serve, but I don't remember what it was now. So she was super sweet and complimentary to me as she let me know what she wanted to do. I knew my husband wasn't likely to go for it and vaguely wondered why she was asking me instead of him, anyway. So I just said, "You'll need to check with the Pastor." She got a funny look on her face and walked away -- in the OPPOSITE direction of the pastor. Odd.... So later, I told my husband (aka the pastor) about it. He said, "Yeah, she had just asked me about using the desk and I had told her no." Funny. He had told her no, and so she came to try her luck with me. See how bad she just made herself look?
9. She Doesn't Like it When You "Discuss" Her/Her Husband Behind Her Back. -- Your pastor and his wife are doing the best they know to do, but they aren't God, Himself. They are human beings just like you, and they are flawed, just like you. Realize that every single person in their congregation has a different idea of how things should be done, what should be preached and what programs should be emphasized. When you're happy, someone else is not. When you are unhappy, someone else is thrilled.
There are thousands of easier, better paying jobs out there that result in universally satisfied customers. Pastoring isn't one of them. If you don't like something, talk to the pastor about it, but don't go around spreading your discontent by talking to other congregational members about it. That goes for talking in front of your children, too. (Don't you realize that your kids pick up on your attitude about the pastor and that it affects how they treat his kids? And that they repeat what you say? And that the pastor's kids hear it, too? And that the pastors eventually hear all about your talking from somebody somewhere? Just saying.)
What would it take to satisfy you? A perfect leader? You do realize, don't you, that there was only one perfect leader -- Jesus -- and the Pharisees came to His meetings looking for fault and discussed Him behind His back, too. That isn't good company to keep, honey.
A lot of people complain about having one boss who is difficult to please. Imagine having a whole crowd that is ready to pounce on your every perceived fault or misstep. Your pastor and his wife have a difficult job. Give them some mercy and understanding.
If you aren't man or woman enough to say it to your pastor or pastor's wife's face, then for heaven's sake, bite your tongue. Those people you are grumbling to can't do anything about the things you don't like, so all you are doing is sowing discord. If you can't keep quiet, then go find a church you can be happy in. But don't use your mouth to destroy the church you attend (or any other church, for that matter). Don't use your mouth to destroy the pastor and his family. Don't use your mouth to destroy the work they have given their lives to build. Like your mama used to say, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."
Please remember, your Pastor and his wife do this job because they love you. They really are trying to make your life better. They won't be perfect, but they are giving their lives for the perfecting of the saints. You can make that job a little easier by checking this list and remembering they are human, too.
Have a great day!
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