The Difficulty of Learning to Be a Pastor’s Wife

I can’t sew. Outside of pre-made chocolate chip cookies popped in the oven for 11 minutes, I can’t bake. I definitely can’t sing. I actually enjoy a good whiskey. I’m far too passionate about college football.

And yet I’m the wife of a pastor.

Soon after our wedding, my husband, Tanner, and I moved to Kansas. He began serving as a pastor, and I began navigating the role of pastor’s wife. A new marriage combined with a new state, new job, and new church—let’s just say there was a lot of new. And while there’s been much joy in entering this role, there’s also been much fear, anxiety, and grief.

New Challenges

I’ve been far too fearful of failure and rejection, of not living up to expectations—those of my husband, those of church members, even those of the Lord. I think, Am I failing in this new role? Am I disappointing Tanner? Do the members of our church really like me?

I’ve often been on the brink of an anxiety attack entering the sanctuary on Sunday mornings. I’ve frequently jetted to the bathroom to avoid genuine interaction with people. I’ve strategized to relieve my discomfort: If I can just avoid eye contact with that elder and his wife or not run into that lady who will probably talk my ear off for the next 30 minutes. . . .

In these moments it feels like I’m insulting my previous life of full-time ministry as a single woman. In my new role, discipleship meetings remain minimal, leadership opportunities sparse, and my influence seems insignificant.

But the gospel compels us to walk in seasons of transition with humility and hope—humility before God and others, hope in the work of the gospel to sustain and sanctify.

Here are three exhortations God is using to sustain me that might help others weathering transition.

1. Enter with Courage

Whether it’s walking into church alone on Sunday mornings and being met with several strangers who seem to know you well, or simply learning to use a crock-pot, enter into this new role and season with courage. (Yes, attempting new crock-pot recipes often requires courage.)

The Lord goes before you. His Spirit upholds you. He will be sufficient in the midst of your insufficiencies.

2. Endure with Confidence

For seven straight weeks, I cried every Monday morning. Why? As Tanner left for work, I faced the reality of all that had changed. I wasn’t in vocational ministry anymore. Solitude and sadness surrounded me.

But you know what? Those days have passed. I still have difficult moments, but not all days are hard. Most are joyful. Endure those difficult days, and do so with confidence. Confidence not in yourself and your supposed ability to have it all together, but confidence in the Lord.

He has you. He is for you. He is with you.

3. Let the Bench (and Perhaps the Food) Get Cold

When I played high-school sports, I was a benchwarmer. It wasn’t exciting, but I did feel safe avoiding potential failure on the court. I’ve recently felt the same way, believing the lie that I don’t have much purpose in this season and am not good enough for this role anyway. But the Lord has called me to engage in this role with purpose.

Before God called me to be the wife of Tanner, to be the wife of a pastor, he called me to be his daughter, a kingdom ambassador, a gospel minister, a disciple of Jesus. It’s out of this unchangeable identity in Christ that I engage in this season. The Lord didn’t only call Tanner to Kansas. He called me. He has gifted me. He will equip me.

If you’re a pastor’s wife, you’re called to the Lord, your husband, and your church. You’re called to serve. So get off the bench and don’t be afraid to let the meatloaf get cold while you prepare a youth lesson or call a struggling worship volunteer. After all, the body of Christ (and your husband) needs you even more than they need warm casseroles and ironed laundry. Your presence and participation mean more than you know. Whether you’re a singer or a fervent prayer warrior or a gifted counselor, serve the body of Christ as you walk in your calling, both as the wife of a pastor and also a member of the church.

Whatever you do, and wherever you are, you’re a disciple of Jesus. And while you may feel insignificant, afraid, or ill-equipped, the Lord will use you where he has placed you. Your ministry is worth it. And God isn’t wasting any of it.