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Unsung Heroines

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One day, through a misunderstanding, my husband and I arrived at a pastor's home for dinner. Five minutes later the family arrived home from a two-week holiday at the beach! They would not hear of us leaving, nor would they allow us to order a Pizza or any other fast food item. I must admit I was most impressed by that pastor and his wife.

In hospitality he was everything a pastor should be, she was everything a pastor's wife should be. She not only made us welcome, she cooked a lovely meal while organizing her household, answering the telephone, and attending to her children.

He unpacked the car, made us coffee, set the table, and entertained us with lively conversation. It was all done seemingly effortlessly. Their names? Richard and Chris Murray of Canberra.

We have been entertained in many homes because of our travelling ministry, and pastors and pastors' wives are always gracious, kind and hospitable. Hospitality is a part of the gifting of God for a pastor and his wife.

But it is not the only part of the unique life of pastoring a church and attending to the flock of God. In recent months psychiatrists and counsellors have been examining the life of the pastor's wife and they have come to some startling conclusions.

Here is one of them!

"As those in the ministry know, Protestant pastors' wives are unique in the extent to which they are impacted by their spouse's vocation. Clergy marriages are highly visible, closely scrutinised by community members, and frequently looked to as the models for Christian marriage." (Alleman D., art. WMM's A New Kind Of Model, Theology News and Notes. December 1990).


One of the most interesting results of the survey that pastor's wives have completed for me this year has been the number who have discovered, as I did myself in the first few years of ministry, that it is impossible to please everybody in the church. In fact the more you try the less successful you become! The reason is fairly simple. Everyone wants something different from you and so in trying to please all you finish by annoying everyone.

My conclusion, and that of many others, was to be true to yourself and God's will for your life and leave everyone else to accommodate themselves to that as they are able. In fact the single most frequent answer to the question, "What helpful advice would you give to a new pastor's wife?" was "Be Yourself!"

The truth is, pastors' wives are just the same as all other Christian women, with some strengths and some weaknesses, the same needs, emotions, trials and responsibilities. Their difference lies in two directions: one is that their congregation expects so much from them; and the other is that their marriage and family are so highly visible.

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