The Imperfect Pastor

By Annie Garman

Today I called my friend who just happens to be a pastor’s wife. “How are ya?” I ask casually. “Not good,” she says, not trying to pretend in the least.  

My ears perk up and I can feel myself getting excited by her rawness. “Okay, so what’s going on?” I dig a little until I run into some roots.  

“We’re just having trouble this week… I don’t feel very loved by him…” 

After several minutes of conversation, we come to the source of their primary struggle: she was frustrated that her husband didn’t respond perfectly to her meager attempts of apologizing. “It’s just that…he’s a pastor. He shouldn’t treat me this way,” she says.  

Wow. I am standing at the window now, watching snow calmly melt on the crunchy grass outside. How had she found and read my journal entry from last month? 

“Yeah, he’s a pastor….but that doesn’t mean he’s perfect,” I say with such ease that I’m kind of surprised. The moment the words leave my mouth, I kind of roll my eyes up at God who I picture getting a good laugh at my advice. Clearly my heart is thirsty for this advice first and foremost.  

I continue to work out my thoughts out loud. “I mean, in one sense, you’re right. He’s a pastor, therefore, he’s held to a higher standard…” I look up at the sky as I talk, an epiphany beginning to occur in my heart and mind. “He IS expected to be self-controlled, sober minded and above reproach. The qualifications of an elder are kind of steep. But, that’s why he needs you. He needs your love and your support because he DOES have more pressure on him.”  

Long after we hung up the phone, I continued chewing on the insights that had left my mouth. Our husbands have been called to do something unique and supernatural. Yes, we ALL are called to live supernatural lives that can only be accomplished through dependence on the Holy Spirit, but at the same time we have to recognize the unique pressures of our husband’s roles. There is a burden that they are bearing up under constantly, and it’s easy to be resentful about that instead of helpful.

We get to see the pastor of the church when he’s worn out, frustrated, overwhelmed, discouraged and short tempered. Everyone else sees him when he’s slightly shinier. Instead of being critical of that, we need to be understanding.  

James 3:2 says, “For we ALL stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.

The temptation is to hold over our husband’s head harsh reminders of their shortcomings. First, we should recognize that temptation. Second, we must confront ourselves first and foremost, remembering that “We ALL stumble in many ways.”

Pretty sure that ‘all’ includes US.

P.S. This post is meant to encourage pastor’s wives to be gracious and understanding towards their men and their imperfections, not to turn a blind eye to actual sin that needs to be confronted and dealt with through church discipline.

If your husband-pastor is in sin and is not repentant, then you should contact an elder or a staff member and voice your concern.
Most of the time, though, it’s the little things that they do (grumpiness, impatience, not responding perfectly) that really are hard to deal with because…well, He’s the pastor!  

Published February 19, 2014

P.S. Get our best content in your inbox

We send one email per week chock full of articles from a variety of Send Network voices.

Annie Garman

Annie and her husband Colby live in Northern Virginia where Colby serves as the teaching pastor of Pillar Church. Before their church ministry days, they served for two years as IMB missionaries in Iceland. Annie spends her days taking care of her four daughters, writing and ministering at her local church. She shares about motherhood, mayhem, and the meaning of life from a place of transparency at