10 Things I’ve Learned About Being A Preacher’s Wife

I don’t think preacher’s wives are understood by most people. Before knowing anything about her, people will always have expectations, sometimes unrealistic ones, of her. Some people will judge her unfairly if she doesn’t turn out to be exactly what they were expecting. Some people will be shocked when they discover that she, just like everyone else, is very much human—full of flaws, quirks, and antics…but also talents, skills, and most of all, feelings—as vulnerable as the next girl.

I was richly blessed to be able to grow up watching what I consider to be the very best example of what a preacher’s wife ought to be. My mother was the epitome of selflessness, courage, wisdom, and grace. She was a constant help-meet and homemaker for her husband and children, a wise leader of women—both by example and in leadership roles, a caretaker for the sick, a passionate evangelist for the lost, and so many other wonderful things. She made it all look so easy, and she never complained about the many roles she filled.

Now that I’m in the preacher wife shoes, I admire her all the more, because there are some things that I really didn’t realize as solidly before as I do now. Here are some things I presume most preacher’s wives wish someone had told them before they became such:

  1. Prepare to be criticized a lot, and prepare to comfort your husband when someone criticizes him. You will always be the perfect target for those looking for someone to blame. When you sign up to be a preacher’s wife, you sign up to place yourself in the constant line of fire.
  2. You WILL be watched all the time. That “my life is a fishbowl” thing is no joke. Whether or not they mean to, members of the church will always be critiquing you.
  3. There are some really mean people who claim to be Christians. Don’t be shocked when a member or two of the church where your husband preaches don’t turn out to be the picture of kindness and love toward you.
  4. Your husband needs you to be his cheerleader WAY more than you can even imagine. You are his rock—his support—his shoulder—his refuge. Your support, respect, and encouragement means more to him than anything else in the entire world. He needs to know you’re on his team, every step of the way. And sometimes he just needs a backrub. Don’t slack on this point.
  5. Make your home a fortress of peace and security. I struggle with staying on top of keeping a clean and orderly house, but an organized haven of rest and security is a desperate need of my neat-freak husband who labors tirelessly for the cause of Christ. Make sure your living room is the kind of place your minister can dream about coming home to while he’s slaving away at the office. Burn those candles and welcome him home with open arms and a kiss when he’s ready to leave his stress behind for the night. This isn’t just about him—when he’s able to relax, you can too, and, if for nothing else, that makes it so worthwhile. In addition to making it livable for your man, it’s also super convenient for you whenever your husband calls and says, “Hey, can we have Jane Doe over for a Bible study? She’ll be here in 20 minutes” or “Hey, I just got a call from Brother Jones from Elizabethtown and he’s passing through…can he stop by for a cup of coffee with us?” Don’t get mad—just try (keyword try—we all have our messy days) to be prepared for spontaneous drop-ins.  Which brings me to my next point…
  6. Your schedule will never be normal again. If you plan on being involved in your husband’s great work, expect the unexpected. Don’t be so focused on an hour-by-hour schedule that you’re completely sidetracked when a need comes up that you’re called upon to meet. Flexibility is an absolute MUST. Time is something you just have to be willing to sacrifice frequently.
  7. You will need to expand your comfort zone in a major kind of way. Try not to say “no” when given opportunities to serve or to lead. Your husband needs you to minister alongside him, not just clap from the sidelines. While you’re always his cheerleader, sometimes you have to get your hands dirty and just be a team player. Be willing to say yes to things you never thought you’d be able to do. With every “yes,” that servant type of commitment will become easier and easier. And inevitably, the rewards, though rarely material, are rich.
  8. Make time for just you and God every day. Plain and simple prayer and Bible study. While this is important for everyone, it’s especially vital for people heavily involved in the work of the church. Without some daily perspective of why we do what we do everyday, you will doubtless get burnt out and just want to give up when things get hard.
  9. Down-time is essential. While you will find yourself busier than ever before with things you (and everyone, really) should be doing for the church, you can’t successfully handle it all without some sincere relaxation every now and then. Allow yourself little luxuries sometimes. Do something you really enjoy doing every week. Vent to your best friend sometimes. My husband (who is also my best friend) and I like to cuddle on the couch and just talk and maybe watch one of our favorite shows while we unwind from the hectic events of the day. When we do this, I am able to relax, sleep SO much better, and am much better prepared to face whatever stresses are awaiting me the next day.
  10. Just be yourself. Cliché, I know, but so important. If you’re like me, you will find yourself trying to please everyone at the same time. You’re human. You want everyone to look at you and think, “Now THAT is the perfect minister’s wife,” but, I’m sorry to tell you….this will never happen. You will never be able to please everyone, but if you are sincerely doing your best to be kind and love God more than anything, people will see that and true Christians will love you for who you are and Whose you are.

Preacher’s wives, remember why we’re doing this. Romans 10:15 says, “…how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” If you have a God-fearing preacher who loves souls as a husband, count it at the top of your blessings.

Thoughts? What would you add to the list?

32 thoughts on “10 Things I’ve Learned About Being A Preacher’s Wife

  1. Great post 🙂 One thing I’d add is that just because we are preacher’s wives doesn’t make us preachers ourselves 🙂 Not all preacher’s wives are talented public speakers. We all have different talents that we can use in different ways, and we shouldn’t expect a square peg to fit into a round hole. Just my 2 cents!

  2. Love it! I’ve been a preacher’s wife for over 5 years and I’m still learning daily! I would add that while you shouldn’t shy away from opportunities to lead and serve in ways you may have never thought you would, also remember that you aren’t super-human. It’s okay to decline something if you need to. Don’t you wish you had about ten more arms to get things done?! Or maybe ten clones. 🙂

    Great post! Love you!

  3. Thank you for a well written article. My husband graduated from the Memphis School of Preaching which offers wives classes. I have always been thankful for these classes as a lot of what you wrote about was told to us. I felt prepared when my husband graduated, but you never know exactly how it will be until you are working alongside your husband at a congregation. I think it is important for our husbands to be very upfront with the elders and/or men of the congregation in stating that they hired him not his wife. I want to serve in whatever capacity I can, not because I’m the preacher’s wife but because I’m a Christian. Thank you for your encouragement through these articles. Makes us feel not so alone!

  4. Hannah, great points! I am a preacher’s daughter and a preacher’s sister x 2 … I’ve always said that I will never be “that person” to either a preacher’s wife or kid. There are many blessings that I didn’t see while at home, that I see now married to a man who holds down a secular job. God bless!

  5. Great job! I’ve been a preacher’s wife for 24 years and you are learning fast! One thing I always wanted to do was be able to sit in on the hiring process…I’m a christian first in all things, but Elders shouldn’t expect the “preacher’s family” to take care of everything! Now that my husband is an Elder he is overseeing the preacher! It does ready you for the future treatment of others. 😉 Needless to say we have one happy preacher!
    Pray without ceasing is my motto along with Be Flexible!!
    God Richly Bless You!!!

  6. I appreciate you and Ben so much. My wife may have already read this but I will share it with her to make sure. From a preacher’s perspective I would make one comment (which is just piggy backing on point four above)… Wives! Don’t let your husband give up. I believe the ability to do this is a gift from God. My wife has encouraged me many times to just hang in there. I am oftentimes my worst enemy because I let criticisms get me down. I’ve never wanted to quit but I often question whether or not I am the right person for the congregation. Thanks again for the post.

  7. Hannah,
    Wonderful article! May God continue to bless you and your husband!
    Your father gave a talk to our class of “preacher’s wives” at MSOP several years ago. One piece of advice he gave was to “keep your faith separate.” I admit, I didn’t understand his meaning at the time. I thought, “But, we’ll be working with Christians? Why would they ever treat us badly? We’re only trying to help them.” Thirteen years into being a PW, I now understand. Sometimes you work with the brethren; sometimes you work in-spite of the brethren. For the past 10 years we have been blessed to work with a congregation that treats us not just like a P & PW, but as family. However, had it not been for the advice received from your father about how to protect and preserve our faith as a family, I have no doubt we would have never withstood those first tumultuous years. Glad to see the gene for common-sense Christianity, faithfulness, and a love for Christ so strong that it reaches out to help others is securely intact! 🙂 God bless!

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  9. Wow! So needed since Lord willing my hubby will begin preaching school in the Fall of this year. He will be attended Heritage in Florence Alabama. We are looking forward to this time of learning. However, this gave me some prep for the future. Thank you for being so upfront.

  10. Maxie Boren wrote a book about the problems faced by the young preacher. One that really caught my eye, was “Beware of those who just eat you up when you first come, because they will be the ones to eat you up later.”
    I also read of something that is guaranteed to lead to failure, “Try to please everyone.”

  11. People have been so good to me that I have never understood the stigma. I know there are places out there who isolate or distinguish between the preacher’s wife and everyone else, but I just have never picked up on it where I have been. I dread the day I learn it firsthand, and I pray for those who already have.
    Since the first century church, there have been some human family struggles within the blood-bought family, but I think we all experience them, preacher’s wives or not.
    Love the article, though, and especially point #4. Thanks.

  12. Excellent post! Elaine, your comment is so true. My husband was preaching when we married and preached 10 years after we married…I begged him not to quit. He could not handle the politics that go on in many congregations. Both my grandfathers and my daddy had preached, and many of the women I admired growing up were preachers’ wives. Blessings on all of you whose husbands are still preaching…you are an inspiration to us!

  13. Hannah, I agree with you 100%! All of those are great, especially the part about you being his cheerleader. I have been married for 20 years and it took me longer than it should have to clue in to that.
    One thing I have come to realize is that I didn’t marry the preacher. I married a wonderful man who happens to preach, and he should come before any church programs. Notice I didn’t say before God. I used to think that was the same thing, and it’s not. I realized I needed to put God and my husband before church activities. Or as my husband told me, “I need you to help ME, because anyone else can do the things you’ve been doing, but no one else can be my wife.” That was a wake-up call for me! It was very easy to fulfill others’ wants and needs and think I was “serving God,” when really I was meeting others’ expectations at the cost of neglecting husband and kids; and here I was thinking I was being a “good preacher’s wife!”
    My mother-in-law, also a P.W. who had four kids and who struggled with this, told me: “Be careful, because people will let you do as much as you can possibly do.” Some things are “urgent” but not “important” (from Covey’s 7 Habits). So now I set reasonable boundaries and put God, hubby, family, church in that order.
    I love working with the church, and yes, it can be difficult, but I’ve always found that if you genuinely love the people you work with, they will see that and respond to it.
    May God bless you and your husband with many years of service to him! 🙂

  14. Very well put. I wish I had known a lot of things before becoming a preacher’s wife almost 44 years ago. I learned as I went and had many more positive than negative experiences during that time. My husband retired last July, but he still receives invitations to preach for many of the congregations in and around our county. I am still a preacher’s wife, but I am enjoying being less in the spotlight nowadays.

  15. You hit the nail on the head! It is an honor to be the wife of a man who has the most important job on the earth! Love you!

  16. Thank you for this article. Wonderful to read!!! I have been a preachers wife for about 4 years and its hard sometimes. I tend to get discouraged easily when some things happen. I really wanted to teach a ladies bible class and I am letting the disapproval of one person halt me in my tracks. I am the “cheerleader” for my husband, and it’s hard to see shots taken at him. How do you stay focused and not want to give up? We both try too hard to help people learn more about Gods Word when sometimes I get the feeling they don’t. Not sure i handle things right.

  17. This was so encouraging! Thank you so much! I’m learning so much about how to grow while COURTING my boyfriend (called to preach and on an internship finding the Lords will). I’m 23. I want to spend all my time wisely and take advantage of being teachable with wise women. We know with the Lords timing it truly is the Lords will for us to be married and serve the Lord together. Reading this helped open my eyes towards how I am to always be his cheerleader.. I feel so challenged! Growing closer to the Lord I see I can only be who my future husband needs THROUGH Christ. I don’t see submitting to him (down the road) as slavery or anything of such.. It brings me joy to think about being their for him, catering to His needs, giving him something wonderful to come home to and making the difference. Gods good to let me come across this. I want to continue to read more of what you write!!! Thanks again!

  18. I have been a Christian all my life and had a brother that has been a pastor for over 20 yrs. I seen most of his struggles probably more than his wife did. I recently married a good Christian man and he has just became a Pastor. Needless to say I had lots of mixed emotion. We are several years into it now and I really really struggle with stupid stuff. Like at church everything is always about the pastor. I feel like I’m always taken for granted, never ever recognized for any of the hard work I do. I know this sounds like I need to grow up or something but I Pray all the time about these feeling I have quite regularly. Is this normal for a new pastor’s wife or am I being totally selfish?? I welcome any advice. I hate feeling like I’m a absolute nobody.

  19. I love all the points. I’m 20 and my boyfriend who has been courting with me expresses how much he wants to become a preacher. I love the idea of it but for now I would like for our relationship to grow and blossom. Thank you for these points I’ve been taking them into consideration. 🙂

  20. Useful insight to the calling of a preacher’s wife. I am new to the call myself as my husband has been in ministry for about 5 years. I have a WONDERFUL LEADING LADY (SIS. RUBY COOK) who has blessed me with helpful suggestions and covering in the areas of ministry as a preacher’s wife. I will say that it is not for the FAINT OF HEART. You will learn quickly the only tower you can lean on at all times is Our Creator. God Bless your Ministry.

  21. Thanks ladies I am courtingng with my boyfriend and not really sure how to handle this or what to excpect. So your words of wisdom are so helpful I’m so to my self and it’s like everyone watches his every move and now mine. It’s not a bad thing but definitely different.

  22. Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading it, you will be a great author.
    I will make certain to bookmark your blog and may come back someday.
    I want to encourage you continue your great job, have
    a nice day!

  23. Thanks, Hannah, for sharing this with all of us…I am beginning the new adventure of “pastor’s wife” late in life so I am trying to learn and prepare in every possible way. Blessings on your home and ministry.

  24. Wow! Wonderful write up. This article has really helped me to straighten my thought and opinion about preachers wives. Thank you so much and God bless you.

  25. My husband has been call to teach and preach the word of the Lord and I know o have to be behind him 100% and that is my plan but something o get so nervous . I just love the lord my God so much I think I’m losing my mind.

  26. Thank you Hannah for the tips…
    Im about to marry a preacher and your pointers are really valuable…
    Ill really keep this in mind put it to good use..
    May God bless you and your family.

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