3 Ways pastors’ wives can set healthy expectations

There are so many labels we put on ourselves. It’s impossible not to.

When you meet someone new, one of the first questions out of their mouth is, “What do you do?” We fumble through an answer, trying to validate our time, and our existence, as best as we can so we measure up. There is also this inward tension of trying to sound humble while still sounding interesting and worthy.

As a pastor’s wife, there is an added layer. You are often named by what your husband does, which places you automatically in this dynamic role for which there is no job description. The ambiguity often doesn’t feel fair and is hard to navigate. There are unspoken expectations that are easy to place on yourself, and then, there are the unspoken (or perhaps, spoken) expectations placed on you by others, too. When those expectations are not met, it is easy to start believing lies about who you are.

When this inevitably happens, here are three practices to remember:

  1. Pray for a friend you can confide in at your church. This may not be an immediate solution, but God honors our prayers. Lies can be loud. Even when we don’t believe them, they can easily cloud every thought. We need voices around us that are louder than the lies and point us to the truth of who we are in Christ. If you don’t have this yet, keep praying. Confide in a friend or family member you trust outside of the church for the time being, but continue to pray for God to establish meaningful friendships inside the church. You shouldn’t have to do this alone. Having friends who also understand the unique dynamic of your church and community are invaluable.
  1. List your fears. It’s okay to admit you have fears. Acknowledging these fears is an important step to handing them over to God. Write them all down. Are you afraid of disappointing people? This fear can lead to trying to please everyone around you. Are you afraid of being hurt? This fear can lead to isolation. Are you afraid you aren’t good enough? This fear can lead to resenting the very life God has gifted you with and can blind you from seeing the blessings right in front of you. Be brutally honest with yourself, but don’t leave it there. Talk this list over with your husband, pray and identify practical ways to navigate these fears.
  1. Practice giving yourself grace every day. There will never be enough time, there will never be enough resources and there will never be enough energy to do it all, but thankfully, we have direct access to our God who overflows in infinite abundance. Although we are restricted by the boundaries of time and space, God is not, and He can accomplish immeasurably more than we can produce on our own. Trust in His power, and give yourself grace.It is easy to take on the stress of who we feel we should be, but your ultimate label is not “pastor’s wife.” Rather, God calls you His daughter and His beloved. Don’t mistake your identity for Earthly labels.

Watch this episode of We Are Send Network and hear from Angie Lewis about navigating her role in the church and the expectations of being a pastor’s wife.

Published October 17, 2019

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