With Joash making his way toward an assistant pastorship at Grace, people keep asking me what my role will be as a pastor’s wife. Those who know me know that I dread this question, because I really don’t know what to say. Smile, and say I aspire to have big hair and save the homeless?
Instead, I take these opportunities to politely state my intentions to lead Sunday worship while playing the drums and smoking a cigar.
The idea of the pastor’s wife holding ladies’ tea socials and being the unpaid assistant to her husband makes me want to hurl. Granted, there are women who want to do these things as part of their life’s purpose, but many pastors’ wives these days have their own jobs, their own interests and passions.
I am one of them. I’m an editor, web-addict, djembe drummer, swing dancer, and lover of Bollywood’s Thriller and DC comics. What’s worse, I suck at leading Bible studies and am terrible at making people feel comfortable during small talk. I swear when I’m mad and find theology boring. Nobody ever said a pastor’s wife couldn’t have such qualities or deficiencies. But some little voice tells me that being like this is inappropriate and unacceptable, that I should be proper, wise, the perfect wife and, someday, mother. Looks like I’m on my way to a big pastor’s wife FAIL.
Some folks definitely have an idea that the pastor’s wife is an unofficial position in the church. Expectations of her role can range from teaching Sunday School, leading Bible studies, hosting countless people for supper, singing in the choir to attending every Sunday service and taking in every word of her “brilliant” husband’s sermon. Some even expect the pastor’s wife to yield perfect children or be ready – whenever – to pick up the slack in the church with a smile. In such churches, it seems the pastor’s wife is under uncompromising scrutiny and duty.
Thankfully, my church has no set expectations on pastors’ wives and neither does my husband. And though I react strongly against the pastor’s wife stereotype, I understand that our marriage will affect my husband’s work, and his work will affect our marriage. That being said, I can’t completely separate myself from his work, especially being so personally invested in our church community.
What I'm saying is that I don’t believe pastors’ wives must fit into a specific mould or be given higher expectations than anyone else in the church. But I'm glad to help the hubster within reason (and our discussed boundaries) and offer help to the community I love. Yes, there is some duty involved, because that’s part of marriage and friendships, but most church stuff I do is a voluntary desire to contribute in ways that I can.
So if you take anything away from this long-winded rant, just remember to give your pastor’s wife a break. If the rest of the congregation can have unruly, smelly kids and have the freedom to take off on certain weekends, so can she.