Why My Wife is Not a Good Pastor’s Wife

I had just asked my wife, Pam, to marry me when I heard through the grapevine that someone who knew her well was sure she wouldn’t be a good pastor’s wife. Maybe that person was right. Here’s why:

  1. She doesn’t lead women’s groups. To use a cliché, that’s not her cup of tea. She’ll teach young children all day long, but not adults. 
  2. She doesn’t play an instrument. She started playing the piano soon after we married (just because she’d always wanted to play – not because she felt any pressure to do so), but she stopped her lessons at “When the Saints Go Marching In.” 
  3. She’s not that interested in theological discussions. For nine years, she was an administrative assistant for a seminary president, so she’s certainly been exposed to theological discussions. She’s just not interested in engaging the theological debates that reverberate among theologians.
  4. She’s not likely to share her testimony publicly. She would if the Lord so compels her, but standing in front of adults to speak would seriously stretch her. I’ve seen her speak publicly only once in almost 25 years of marriage.
  5. She mentors girls without doing Bible studies. She loves spending time with young ladies, but she sees her role as simply to hang out with them, love them, encourage them, and help them live life. She’s not going to lead them through an expositional Bible study.
  6. She’s not interested in denominational heroes and politics. In her own roles wherever I’ve served, she’s met many significant evangelical leaders. They neither impress her nor intimidate her; in her eyes, they’re no more special to God than she is.
  7. She doesn’t always want to be beside my side. Sure, she always wants to be with me just because she loves me – but that doesn’t mean she always wants to go to every conference or meeting I attend. If the event will likely bore her, she’s fully comfortable doing something else.
  8. She serves behind the scenes. It doesn’t bother her to minister where nobody sees; in fact, she prefers it that way. Her good works are quiet ones.
  9. She doesn’t say “yes” to every need in the church. She doesn’t want anything to go undone, but she knows her gifts and her limitations. She’s not afraid to say “no.” 

So, there you have it. Maybe my friend was right – my wife doesn’t fit the role of a pastor’s wife.

Here’s what she is, though. The most honest, pure, faithful person I know, a woman in whom there really is no guile. A woman whose gift of hospitality is enormous, who will open our home and roll out the red carpet to anyone. A mentor whom young ladies immediately flock to. A servant impressed by no one, but who treats everyone like a king or queen. A lover of missionaries (in fact, a former Acteen queen, for those who know that language) who would give everything for cross-cultural workers. A fun, loving, laughing friend whose humility, humor, and “realness” draw people to her. A children’s teacher, “Miss Pam” to little ones who adore her. An incredible helpmate with whom I could not do all I do, who’s committed more to being my wife than to playing the role of a pastor’s wife.

Put that all together, and Pam makes a phenomenal pastor’s wife. She is God’s gift to me – and to the church.  

37 Comments

  • David nies-berger says:

    Awesome piece Dr. L thank you.

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    Blessings, friend.

  • Brandi says:

    Oh how I love and miss Pam! She is truly such a humble servant and woman of God. What a blessing it is to have her by your side to “do” life with! Such an honor to know the both of you.

  • Ron says:

    Finally!! My wife has a twin!! Love it and wouldn’t have it any other way

  • J. Michael Palmer says:

    Well Praise the Lord! I have one similar to that. My wife was never the “social queen” of the church; in fact her introverted personality and quiet spirit was misunderstood by some. But her integrity and love and judgement was and is impeccable. And she was always ….always supportive of me. She has a pure gospel centered heart and that friends is ESSENTIAL for a pastor’s wife. I speak in the past and present because I have had the privilege of “enjoying” her heart for nearly 43 years of marriage and 42 years of seminary and church ministry. And now in transitional/revitalization work she is still by my side. I am one who is intensely grateful to God for this wonderful gift! And Chuck you ARE a blessed man!

  • Meredith says:

    Doc, I love this post!! Thank you so much for writing it. I resonate with this on so many levels. It’s very liberating and freeing for me as a pastor’s wife! Bless you and Ms. Pam!!

  • Carla says:

    I love and miss Pam so much! Her love and heart for teaching children always shines! Thank you for posting!!

  • Elizabeth says:

    My husband served in the ministry for over 42 years, Served 3 churches as pastor before the Lord called him home. A young woman once told me that she went to a christian college to find a “Pastor Husband”, because she wanted to be a Pastor’s wife.I told her she was crazy. At that time I hard been a pastor’s wife for 17 years. I never felt the “call” to be a pastors wife. I always felt my role was to be there to support my husband, raise our children. Holding a “role or position” of service in the church itself took a back seat. Our first two pastorates, pushed me into rolls I was never comfortable in and I struggled with trying to fit into a mold I didn’t belong in. Our last church family, however, let me be myself. Never did they pressure me into the “pastor wife” roll and I thank them for it. Great article.

  • My wife has a role as a Pastor’s wife. She attends one worship service a weekend and her primary ministry is to keep me sane. No one else can (or wants to ) do that ministry.

  • Diane Prior says:

    I have nothing but wonderful memories of Pam as a Pastor’s wife. Unfortunately, many do put unreasonable expectations on them! She is perfect for you in every way!

  • Emi says:

    Loved reading about your spouse Pastor Lawless, both your comments & others. I understand better now why many young pastors I know chose their wives, especially two that I know quite well.

  • Pat Godbey says:

    Lovely lady and being just what she needs to be in the place where she needs to be it. Blessings to you both.

  • Pam is a shining example of a Christian woman.

  • Mary LaChance says:

    This is such a refreshing Post, after serving besides my husband for 30 years in Ministry, I have seen and heard it all!! It has taken years to come to a place where I do not have to please anyone in our Congregation, I still struggle at times, but Pastor’s Wives have a unique role in ministering along side their husbands to love, and support, to pray and intercede, no one else can do that job. I am honored to do just that! I applaud your wife and appreciate the role model she is for the rest of us! God Bless!

  • Liz Laughlin says:

    Loved reading your article about your wife. Sounds to me that she makes your life complete. So happy to hear of a pastor’s wife who dares to be herself….exactly what women in church need to see. I like this woman!

  • David Watson says:

    Thank you for this! I would describe my wife the EXACT same way. Why would it not be good enough for a congregation if the pastor’s wife was serving with her gifts in the way God created her?

  • Skip Cook says:

    Being a Pastor’s wife is one of the hardest rolls in the church! My wife plays no instruments, can’t sing a note and leads no women’s groups. But she loves children and people in general and fully supports our ministry. I believe the wife is also called that’s why we are a ministry team. May God bless our wives.

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    Indeed, Skip. Thanks.

  • Dereck says:

    You have described my wife to a “T”. I am a man blessed beyond measure by the woman God gave me. Thank you for these words of much needed wisdom in an age when activity is often confused with spirituality.

  • THIS IS SO FANTASTIC!!!
    I am a youth pastor and children’s director’s wife and today, I am laying in bed when I should be at church, helping set things up. Why? Because I had a really bad morning and I’m not perfect. I have anxiety and depression and I’m the one being ministered to the most out of all “the wives”. It seems to me that everyone expects me to be wherever my husband is, at all times and to know all the details of his ministry. I’m heavily involved in youth group, because THAT is my calling. I am near tears,reading this. Thank you!

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