The Pastor’s Wife

Let me begin by saying that what compels me to write this is not personal frustration with church members, but a pure desire to consider this great woman in the life of our church and point us to a more biblical view of the pastor’s wife.

There is perhaps no greater calling in the world than that of the pastor’s wife.

That being said, there is perhaps no more difficult calling in the world than hers. While the pastor gets the accolades, his wife often gets the odd looks and questions. While the church loves a pastor they can call on 24/7, his wife must get accustomed to saying goodbye to him at the drop of a hat. While the pastor is busy sharing the eternal gospel, leading sinners to Christ, and counseling struggling Christians, his wife’s ministry is behind-the-scenes and often considered less important. Some even take the liberty to say things to their pastor’s wife they wouldn’t dare say to the pastor, but for some reason they think she needs to hear it. Because of this, I think it would be helpful for us to consider a few questions together about this woman in our church…

Who is my pastor’s wife?

I must sadly admit that I never gave much attention to my own pastor’s wife growing up. In my mind, she didn’t even exist until the pastor called attention to her. Thankfully, I had a pastor who didn’t call negative attention to his wife as I’ve heard some heavily influential pastors do. Yet my pastor’s wife was never an individual soul, but always scrutinized through the lens of her husband. She wasn’t Ellen in my mind; she was Pastor Larry’s wife. As a matter of fact, I was kind of disappointed when I did see her occasionally (it was a mega church) for some odd reason, and I think it was because she didn’t meet my expectations of a pastor’s wife (and I didn’t even think I had any!). After talking to many church members, pastors, and pastor’s wives, I don’t think I’m alone here. Over the years of my life, I’ve lived in various places for college, seminary, and ministry, and have learned an important lesson: No two pastor’s wives are alike. One may be a type-A personality who is gifted in teaching the Bible to women or hosting events each month for the church; another may be introverted and quiet, more interested in one-on-one discipleship. But who is your pastor’s wife? I think the best thing we can do is first consider her to be another church member before we attach some label to her.

Why do I view her so differently?

I think if we’re all honest, we view the wife of our pastor differently than that of another church member’s wife. There are good and bad reasons we do this. Some expect that the pastor’s wife is to have similar spiritual gifts as her husband, but this is nowhere taught in Scripture. Others view the pastor’s wife as another overseer in the church, but this also is unbiblical. Still others have a biblical understanding of the pastor’s wife and yet still treat her as an employee of the church. Now that I’ve been married and in ministry for the last five years, I’ve seen this weird dynamic of a pastor’s wife from firsthand experience, and even I’ve struggled to understand her role at times. Mostly well-meaning people have told my wife things about how she can do a better job raising her children, how she needs to serve in the church more, on down to how she needs to wear her makeup. All of these statements to my own wife over the years have revealed that people expect their pastor’s wife to be someone more than God calls her to be. From comments like, “Hey, the toilet is overflowing in the women’s restroom!” to, “I’m sorry I wasn’t here last week. I’ll try to do better,” pastor’s wives are often put in awkward positions.

So then what are the biblical expectations of the pastor’s wife?

Are you ready for it? Okay, here it goes:

They are simply the same as that of every other believing wife in the New Testament, and praise the Lord for that.

God places on each of us no greater burden than that of faith in Jesus and the lifestyle that aligns with such faith. In the Pastoral Epistles, the Apostle Paul doesn’t address the pastor’s wife in his qualifications for overseers, and what he says about deacon’s wives is nothing monumental. Paul says deacon’s wives, “must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things” (1 Timothy 3:11). I think it is safe to say these qualifications are expected of every Christian, not just those serving in church ministry. Why does Paul pinpoint deacon’s wives? Perhaps because he knows the position of their husbands means others will see their lives in a more public way. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t expect anything more from our pastor’s wife than we would from any other godly woman in our church. She is to love and submit to her husband’s leadership in the home (Ephesians 5:22-24), nurture and disciple her children (Titus 2:4-5), love and serve her church family with her unique gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-7), and be a godly example in this lost world (Titus 2:3-5).  

What can I do to be an encouragement to her?

This is perhaps the most important question for us. The pastor’s wife and family live in one is commonly called a “fish-bowl.” Since the wife of your pastor is viewed differently, you and I should make it our priority to be an encouragement to her as much as possible. One seasoned pastor’s wife in a church in our town shared how a church member had greatly encouraged her at the beginning of their ministry with one small statement. This statement was so uplifting that this pastor’s wife held it dear for decades, and it was this: “I want you to know that you are free to be Randy’s wife.” Now that may not sound like much to you, but it meant the world to this pastor’s wife. Have you ever spoken into your pastor’s wife’s life with a word of genuine appreciation like this? It could change her world or even the future direction of your church.

But perhaps the greatest thing you can do for your pastor’s wife is to pray regularly for her. What should you pray? The same thing you would for any other godly woman: to abide in Christ, to love her husband and children, to shine for Christ in this world.

Besides encouraging her and praying for her, you can also consider ways to serve her. I spoke with another pastor friend today who said his wife hasn’t been able to enjoy a church service in weeks because no one volunteers to help her children. This was really sad for me to hear, but sad to say I wasn’t surprised. One woman in our church noticed my wife had to take our toddler-aged children out of the sanctuary one Sunday when children’s church was canceled and she simply offered to watch the children. This is one simple way to truly encourage your pastor’s wife. You could even get her a small gift or write a note to her that expresses how much she means to you and your church. On top of all this, you could simply befriend her. Many pastor’s wives feels isolated from the regular ministry of the church, so you could just get to know her as a friend and sit with her during church services. Who doesn’t want a friend who cares about them like this?

A word to the pastor’s wife…

I know there are pastor’s wives who read these blogs. If you happen to be one, let me encourage you. Don’t let the current spiritual health of the members in your church discourage you. Don’t let your husband’s endless demands on his time discourage you. Don’t let the awkward position that you’re in each week discourage you. When the kids are climbing the walls of your house like chimpanzees and your husband has to leave five minutes after he walked in the door to make a hospital visit and when the only things you hear from other members are ways you can do better, don’t get discouraged. How? Keep drinking from the enriching milk of God’s Word. Keep your soul saturated in the life that is yours in Christ. Keep your eyes fixed on the certain and sure hope of heaven that awaits all God’s suffering saints. Keep finding your life in Christ and Christ alone. Only then will you be the woman God has called you to be instead of trying to be the woman others sinfully expect you to be.

Moving Too Much? Or Not Moving Enough?

In Genesis 3:16 God tells the woman that her “...desire will be for her husband.”

The original Hebrew carries a weight to this word “for” that is not always present in the english.  It could very well mean,“…your desire will be against your husband.”  Against?  Yes.  Prior to this point in history, the woman was Adam’s helpmate, submitting to him for the sake of spreading God’s image throughout the world.  Now, it is not so.  Sin has come, and has radically impacted and reversed the roles of men and women.

Where men originally were leaders, they now follow Adam and shrink away from doing what they were made to do, leading.  Where women originally were followers, they now follow Eve and move forward too much toward taking Adam’s role as her own.  In both cases, it is sin to act out of our natural roles.  Men are too quick to hide and be passive, and don’t act like men.  Rather than encouraging men to do what they were made to do, women too quickly take over the reigns, and don’t act like women.

Don’t hear me as a woman-hater or a man lover, but as Biblical.

There are massive truths that manhood portrays about God, like His justice, and His faithfulness to always show up in time of need.  Also, there are massive truths that womanhood portrays about God, like His mercy, grace, love, and tenderness.  Manhood cannot show certain things about God that womanhood gloriously does, and visa-versa.  Larry Crabb has seen this as well and made a comment I agree with, “There is something in Biblical manhood that needs to start moving and there is something in Biblical womanhood that needs to stop moving.”

So I ask you, are you not moving enough, or moving too much?

Pastors’ Wives 101: A Must Read for Every Christian

Crossway is still going strong with their March theme of the Pastor’s Wife.  Below are some of the videos they’ve made.  They are good, and will no doubt break through many misconceptions about a the ‘first lady’ in our churches.  These videos will help you love her well.

Misconceptions about Pastors’ Wives

In this video, pastor’s wife and blogger Jen Thorn confronts some common misconceptions related to being a pastor’s wife. Misconceptions about Pastors’ Wives from Crossway on Vimeo. This video is »

Dealing with Hurt as a Pastor’s Wife

This is guest post by Tara Barthel and is part of Pastor’s Wife Appreciation Month. Tara is the coauthor of Peacemaking Women: Biblical Hope for Resolving Conflict. Pastors’ wives »

Ask a Pastor’s Wife: Friendships

In this video Q&A, Gloria Furman responds to Pam who writes, “How do you have friendships that are open and honest when you are having marriage problems?” Ask »

Raising Kids as a Pastor’s Wife

This is guest post by Heather Platt and is part of Pastor’s Wife Appreciation Month. Heather’s husband, David, is the best-selling author of Radical and Radical Together and »

How to Befriend Your Pastor’s Wife

In this video, Jen Wilkin, author of Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds, offers some advice for befriending your pastor’s »

Pastor, Love Your Wife

This is guest post by Dave Furman and is part of Pastor’s Wife Appreciation Month. Dave is the pastor of Redeemer Church of Dubai. His wife, Gloria, is the »

A New Book By Gloria Furman

Being a Pastor’s Wife Is a Noble Calling In her new book, The Pastor’s Wife: Strengthen by Grace for a Life of Love, Gloria Furman offers wives of »

4 Dangers for Complementarians

Gavin Ortlund:

I am not ashamed to be complementarian. It has never been a dirty word for me, because I’ve grown up seeing godly expressions of it in my family, and hearing compelling arguments for it from my ministry heroes. More than anything, C. S. Lewis books like Perelandra have shaped my thinking about gender. (For anyone curious, I’ve summed up why I’m complementarian here.)

Though I don’t particularly emphasize this point in my theology, it often generates a strong reaction when it comes up. In my setting in Southern California, actually, it is often regarded as antiquated and inherently sexist. And throughout our culture, it seems to be getting only more and more controversial to affirm, with the TGC Confessional Statement, that “men and women are not simply interchangeable, but rather they complement each other in mutually enriching ways.” We might expect even stronger backlash in the years and decades ahead.

But as I’ve grown in my friendships with people on different sides of this issue, I’ve observed many who are less hostile to the idea of complementarianism but nevertheless avoid the term. People in this demographic fall somewhere between complementarianism and egalitarianism; they often have a high view of Scripture; they often oppose aggressive feminism; they often like some complementarian ministers (say, Francis Chan or Tim Keller); they may even line up pretty closely to complementarianism on paper.

Why, then, do they reject the term? Sometimes they are simply confused or conflicted on the issue, but most often, they had a bad experience with a particular person or group that goes under the “complementarian” label.

I think we need to engage with people in this middle demographic differently than we do with more aggressive egalitarians and feminists. And I don’t think it’s a sign of compromise to listen to some of their critiques. After all, some of the problems they are reacting against are real. At times complementarians have used provocative and unhelpful language; at times we have been ungentle in our tone; at times we have overstated what complementarianism entails; and tragically, in some complementarian cultures the gifts and contributions of women have been squelched or at least muted.

Of course, many people will disagree with complementarianism—often quite vehemently—no matter what we say or do. But the truth is offensive enough without our help. We don’t need to add to its offense with our own faults and foibles. I therefore list four dangers to which we should be particularly sensitive, even while we stand firm in the face of pressure from our more aggressive critics.

1. Stereotyping gender roles.

In cultures where complementarianism is embraced, it can be all too easy to confuse the essence of masculinity or femininity with one particular expression of it. But marriages and church cultures patterned after complementarian convictions will not always look the same; they take on shape and beauty as expressed through particular personalities, cultural locations, and relationship dynamics. The foundational principles do not change, of course—but the exact feel does. Kathy Keller puts this well in The Meaning of Marriage: “the basic roles—of leader and helper—are binding, but every couple must work out how that will be expressed within their marriage.”

In a recent interview about their helpful book on the topic, Andreas and Margaret Köstenberger put it like this: “Scripture doesn’t give a lot of detail as to how God’s design for man and woman is to be worked out, so a traditional division of labor (women in the kitchen, changing diapers; men at work letting women do all household chores) doesn’t square with the biblical design.”

For people who have grown up in a home in which the wife tends to do the dishes, laundry, and cleaning, and the husband tends to work a job, mow the lawn, and get the oil changed, it can be only too natural to simply assume that this is what complementarianism should always look like. So we should be careful to clarify for people—most of whom have not studied this issue in depth—that embracing complementarianism need not always require embracing these kinds of culturally conditioned roles.

Moreover, household divisions of labor are not the only area where this principle applies. To take just one more example, consider the potential for stereotype with respect to personality or temperament. Among those operating with a more traditional mindset, one often hears claims like these:

  • guys are less sensitive or less emotional than girls
  • guys are less talkative than girls
  • guys like sports more than girls

And so on and so forth. It is unfortunate when people stumble over complementarianism because they associate it with such assertions; they are stereotypes, not biblical mandates.

2. Failing to clearly distinguish complementarianism from various kinds of patriarchalism and hierarchicalism.

Many people in our culture think only in two categories on the meaning of gender: conservative vs. progressive. But in truth, biblical complementarianism—like the gospel it pictures—will subvert both progressive, egalitarian mindsets as well as traditional, hierarchical/patriarchal mindsets that tend to assign men a more basic role in society than women. It will stand out as different, as beautiful, as an alternative, not merely in 21st century Manhattan, but also in ancient India, medieval Europe, and 1950s America.

Because we may err in multiple directions, it is not enough simply to affirm complementarianism over and against egalitarianism. We must also affirm complementarianism over and against any other alternative to the beauty of Ephesians 5. If people only hear us pushing in one direction, we make it easier for people to lump us together with others pushing in the opposite direction. We say, “egalitarianism is wrong”; they hear, “patriarchalism is right.” If we distinguish the biblical view of gender from both its progressive and conservative alternatives, we position people better to perceive its nuance and beauty and depth.

3. Defending complementarianism zealously, but failing to live it out beautifully.

There is a real danger at hand when the (difficult) goal of defending complementarianism becomes so prominent in our vision that it sidelines the (even more difficult) goal of living it out in a beautiful, life-giving way. Theological integrity is hard and important; godliness and love equally important, and probably harder. But to affirm the truth without also applying it to ourselves is not just incomplete: it is actually a step backward.

We should labor to show that complementarianism is not merely biblical, but beautiful. Our target is not merely “faithful” or “right”; it is also “wise” and “winsome.” Insofar as depends on us, our church cultures should be places where people genuinely feel welcomed, valued, safe. Doubtless some will see any expression of complementarianism as a threat. But others may say, upon experiencing church cultures following the example of Christ (including his respect for women), “This is beautiful. This makes sense. I see how this can work.”

4. Failing to celebrate the contribution of women.

We should be enthusiastic about the myriad ways that God calls and uses women. Too often this comes across as a concession from complementarians, rather than something to rejoice in. And too many complementarian churches are not just “male led,” but “male heavy” in their various ministry spheres.

In the Bible, women are involved in ministry in many different ways. Just to pick out one example: many women throughout the Old Testament were prophets (Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, and so on), and in the New Testament the gift of prophecy is clearly given to both men and women (Acts 2:17-1821:91 Corinthians 11:5). In our complementarian settings, do we seek to accommodate anything like this example? Even if we are cessationist, do we seek to implement the principle? Do we make equal room for both genders to exercise their spiritual gifts toward the body?

May we not be more afraid of affirming what is forbidden than we are of forbidding what is affirmed. And whichever error we are tempted toward on this issue, may the Lord give us grace to find the narrow path marked by both courage and humility, the path that leads to both truth and beauty.

Gavin Ortlund is an editor at The Gospel Coalition, associate pastor at Sierra Madre Congregational Church, and PhD student at Fuller Theological Seminary in historical theology. He and his wife Esther live in Sierra Madre, California. They have one son and a daughter on the way. Gavin blogs regularly at Soliloquium. You can follow him on Twitter.

Ray Rice, Roger Goodell, & the Easily Swayed “Mob”

Surely I’m not the only one confused about how people are responding to the Ray Rice fiasco right?  I mean, really?  At the moment you cannot find out anything else about the sporting world.  ESPN, almost every news network, all over the web, blogs going nuts, etc.  It is puzzling to me that so many people are reacting so strongly against Ray Rice (and now Roger Goodell) when just a few days ago they were giving him a standing ovation as he walked into the stadium.  What did these fans, applauding Rice, think happened in that elevator?  That she tripped?  He was pulling out the unconscious body of his fiancé, yet now everyone has turned against Rice since we’ve all seen the video of what took place.  It’s amazing to me how quickly the “mob” of public opinion can turn against someone.  This reveals, to me, that public opinion really is a mob that is easily swayed.  This mob doesn’t care about truth, life, death, abuse, murder, (etc.) it only cares about what other people tell them to care about.

Matt Walsh has a few words of wisdom for us all:

This week, the entire country erupted with outrage after watching the video of (former) Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancée unconscious in a casino elevator. I won’t link to it here. I’m sure you’ve already seen it. If you’ve watched ESPN for any five minute span in the last 48 hours, you’ve likely been treated to the footage 17 times or so.

As you’re probably aware, when the incident happened several months ago, the league, the Ravens, and the New Jersey criminal justice system initially determined that it was minor enough to warrant either a light punishment or none at all.

Then on Monday something changed, and now Rice has been fired from the team, indefinitely suspended by the league, and admonished by every famous athlete, media member, celebrity, and politician in the hemisphere. As usual, a giant game of “I’m More Outraged Than You!” has broken out all around us, with Keith Olbermann taking the prize by calling for the ‘expulsion’ or resignation of the NFL commissioner, the senior vice president of the NFL, the chief counsel of the NFL, the GM of the Ravens, the president of the Ravens, the judge who presided over the case, the prosecutor, and the assistant prosecutor. Next, presumably, we’d go after the prosecutor’s secretary, the secretary’s housecleaner, and the housecleaner’s pet gerbil.

So, what changed, you ask? Well, to be specific, nothing. Nothing at all. We already knew that Rice struck a woman so hard that she lost consciousness. We’ve known that for months. The only difference is that today we can see it happen on video. The footage is disturbing, but it’s also exactly what anyone with five functioning brain cells would expect it to look like. If you weren’t calling for the NFL to be disbanded, Atlantic City to be demolished, and Ray Rice to be publicly flogged before this video leaked, I’m not sure why you’d be calling for it now. Unless, of course, you’re the type who looks at the trending topics on Twitter and calibrates your ‘outrage’ accordingly.

In any case, put the media’s theatrics and the NFL’s incompetence aside, and you’re left with, perhaps, some reason to be encouraged by the reaction to the Ray Rice drama.

The public at large has been pretty well ticked off about all of this from the very beginning. Go back to February or March of this year and you probably heard your coworkers, neighbors, friends — basically any normal person, anywhere in the country — insisting that Rice ought to face swift and harsh punishment for his heinous crime. Sure, a few knuckle draggers here and there might have defended his actions, claiming that his fiancée ‘had it coming’ or some such nonsense, but the majority view was, is, and always has been extremely opposed to Ray Rice and his shameful deed.


It seems like a stupid question, I know — but why?

Is it because Rice is a famous athlete and should be a better role model? Yes, but athletes quite frequently do things unbefitting their alleged role model status, so why the shock and exasperation over this? Is it because Rice is a strong, physically imposing football player and his victim was so completely outmatched? Yes, but sports stars get into fights in bars and clubs relatively regularly, and nobody ever stops to compare the weight classes of those involved. Is it because Rice and his victim were supposed to be in a loving relationship? Yes, but a man is also in a loving relationship with his brother (though not in the same way, one would hope), yet I doubt Rice would be enduring this degree of backlash had he punched his male sibling in the head.

So what is primarily driving this storm of righteous and wholly warranted indignation? Simple: Ray Rice is a man and his victim is a woman. Take away that one detail, and nobody would be talking about any of this.

There is a clear double standard — or at least a different standard — applied to men in these situations, and there should be. We all, or most of us, seem to have arrived at a consensus on this.

But why?

Why do the genders matter here?

In this day and age, when we can’t seem to come to an agreement on any ethical question at all, why do we remain so predominantly enraged at the idea of a man beating a woman? With all of our progressive sensibilities and our ‘evolved’ understanding that there aren’t any inherent differences between the sexes, why do we explode with so much ire when a man lays his hands on a person who is not a man?

I suppose if you ask the average Joe or Jane to explain their feelings, they might offer up some vague sermon about how no human being should ever hit another human being, and all violence against anyone is unacceptable.

It’s true, of course, that unjustified violence against an innocent person is always wrong and never excusable, but why do we all feel such a particularly strong disgust at this kind of violence?

We speak so fervently of the equality of the sexes; we talk about how men and women are the same and chivalry is outdated, but we still see something exceptionally disordered and perverse about a man striking a woman. We can tell that it’s different from a man hitting a man, or a woman hitting a man, and we treat it differently, just as we should. That’s not to say that these other forms of violence are acceptable — just that they’re different. We all know it.

But why?

Why is the situation worse because he’s a man and she’s a woman? Why does that make it more despicable, more brutal, and more intolerable? Violence should always be discouraged, but we do so with much more urgency in cases like these.

Keep in mind: the fury directed at Rice isn’t rooted solely in the fact that he knocked her out. Had she emerged from that elevator conscious and uninjured, Rice would still be persona non grata, and deservedly so. We are repulsed at the very idea of a man beating a woman. We loathe it on principle. We say we are equally as appalled by all other forms of violence, but that’s a lie. After all, by my reading of that video, Rice’s fiancée did attack him first. She walked by him on the way to the elevator and smacked him. Then she appeared to have possibly struck him again inside the elevator.

[**Update: according to a few reports I’ve read, Rice spit on his fiancée twice, provoking her to hit him. He’s an abusive, violent bully either way, but this detail just makes the whole thing all the more despicable.]

Any honest person must admit that if the gender composition had been different, but everything else about the incident remained the same, we would not be nearly as upset about it. What if a man had slapped Ray Rice, then got into an elevator with him, hit him once more, then, after Rice retreated to the other side of the elevator, the man aggressively came after him again? Would Rice still be Public Enemy #1 if he knocked the guy to the ground?

No, of course not.

What if Rice and his fiancée switched sides in this? Unlikely, I realize, but follow the hypothetical. What if Janay spat on Rice and he smacked her in retaliation, and then, after some kind of altercation in the elevator, Janay leveled Rice and left him unconscious on the floor? Would we be equally as furious at the woman in that situation?

Not a chance. You know it. I know it. Everyone knows it.

So if men and women are equal and everything is exactly the same, why would the reaction to this scenario be dramatically different if we changed the sexes of those involved?

There’s no use pretending that our reaction wouldn’t be different. You won’t fool yourself, or me, or anyone. There is a double standard. A different standard. Why?

We might as well just confront this question. It’s a scary thing to do, I realize. We don’t want to look any closer at this because know that the answer will devastate nearly all of our egalitarian leftwing feminist principles.

Why? Well, finally, I’ll propose an answer to the riddle: when we heap extra scorn on the abusers of women, we acknowledge that men and women are separate, distinct, and unique creatures. And we know that to acknowledge our separateness and distinctiveness is to contemplate the possibility that men and women have different roles in society, different duties, different responsibilities, and different purposes.

And, though few will say it anymore, we know that among a man’s duties is that ever-important charge to protect and honor women. Men are meant to use their strength to defend women against harm. When a man betrays this responsibility, we act as though he’s turned the world upside down, because he has. The man is not just a generic ‘aggressor’; he is a traitor. He has deserted his post. He was given his strength for a reason. It is supposed to be a shield for the women and children in his life, but he has used it as a weapon against them.

To use what is uniquely masculine in a humble, serving, and protective way — that is the essence of chivalry. We become this expressly furious and impassioned about a man’s abuse of a woman because he has so shirked and abandoned his manly, chivalrous duty. That is what drives our response to this kind of thing, no matter how progressive we otherwise pretend to be.

Dig to the bottom of everything — ignore most of the modern liberal “gender theory” rhetoric — and you will still find the remnants of chivalry. And if not the remnants of chivalry itself, then the remnants of a desire for it. Despite all of our academic arguments to the contrary, still most of us know, at a deep and visceral level, that men and women are different and this difference means something.

That’s why men should not hit women. It’s more than just ‘they’re people.’ It’s also that ‘they’re women,’ and that distinction is as significant as most of us already treat it.

And then comes the inevitable retort: “But women shouldn’t hit men!”

Yes, obviously.

Nobody is condoning violence against men just by condemning violence against women. Not everything is a competition. It’s just particularly and specially important that we instill in our men the commandment that he should never physically abuse a woman. We must plant in him a code of honor that propels him to defend the women in his life.

If men were ever to collectively determine that they can and should use their physical advantages to oppress and subjugate women and children, our civilization (or what’s left of it) would collapse. Barbarism and brutality would reign supreme, and our society would eat itself from the inside. Just look at some of the countries in the Middle East and you’ll have a good idea as to where things can go when the males in a culture decide to act like brutes and tyrants rather than gentlemen.

Still, plenty of people will contend that the anti-violence message should be more broad and inclusive. We shouldn’t specifically and categorically instruct men to keep their hands off of women; we should instead universally tell people to keep their hands off of people. All violence is the same and all people are the same, they’ll argue. But let this even-handed pragmatist get a call from the principal informing him that his son punched Susie in the face and broke her nose, and we’ll see if he feels exactly the same as he would if the victim’s name was Johnny or Billy or Steve.

If he does, then there’s something wrong. But he probably won’t, because no amount of liberal feminist brainwashing can ever really erase our instinctual and innate understanding that men are not women and women are not men. And whatever else that means, it certainly at least means that it is the man’s job to be the protector.

So in the end it seems that chivalry is not quite dead, no matter how hard we try to kill it.

And thank God for that.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, please seek help. Here is the number to the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1 800 799 7233

Nine Things Your Pastor’s Wife Wish You Knew

Christina Stolaas:

She’s always there. Sometimes in the background, sometimes with a welcoming smile up front, sometimes noticed and appreciated, sometimes being silently judged. Your pastor’s wife; the powerful force behind most church leaders often perceived as a mystery by the rest of the church. It doesn’t have to be that way.

What if we just asked our pastor’s wife to candidly, honestly, even anonymously share some of their secrets? What if we invited them to share their hearts and tell us what they wished the church knew?

I posed a simple, open ended question to a panel of pastors’ wives in different states, from different denominations, with various years of service, “If you could tell the church a few things about your role as a pastor’s wife, what would you say?”

The women selected are the wives of music ministers, children’s leaders, senior pastors and youth pastors. Some of them serve in churches with large staff and even larger budgets, others in newer church plants, and even some from old and barely surviving congregations. Despite such different backgrounds, their responses were strangely similar and in several cases, almost identical.

I’ve sat for coffee, exchanged emails and had lengthy conversations with many who freely shared their secrets with me in exchange for the promise of anonymity. What follows is a condensed collection of their words.

1) “I wish people knew that we struggle to have family time.”

There was one common response that I received from every single pastor’s wife. Every. Single. One.  Over and over again, many pastors’ wives shared numerous occasions where planned vacations had been cut short (wouldn’t that be hard?). They told me tales of family evenings being rearranged for crises of church members, middle of the night emergencies and regular interruptions. A true day off is rare; even on scheduled days off their husbands are essentially on call 24/7.

2) “Almost every day I’m afraid of screwing it all up.”

They don’t have it all together. They battle many of the same issues every other woman battles: marriage issues, extended family difficulties, sickness, finances, children who make poor decisions, fear and insecurities. Some seasons of life are obviously harder than others; but remember, ministry wives are not Wonder Woman with special powers. Please have a little mercy and extend grace.

3) “Being a pastor’s wife is THE loneliest thing I’ve ever done and for so many reasons.”

Personally, I think this is surprising to many (it was to me). Several ladies shared the difficulties of finding friendships that are safe, being looked at (or treated) differently and even the desire to be invited for an occasional ladies night out. One woman shared, “Invite us to something just to get to know us. We like being known.” People in the church often assume that the pastor’s wife is always invited and popular. In reality, for whatever reason, many ladies fear befriending them. On Sunday mornings pastors’ wives are often sitting solo and those with children are essentially single parenting.

4) “It is okay and welcomed to have conversations with me about things that do not pertain to church, or even Jesus. There I said it!”

They have a variety of interests. Believe it or not, many pastor’s wives went to college and had full time careers before becoming “Mrs. Pastor’s wife.” They have hobbies, likes and dislikes, and though they often serve beside their husband, they are individuals with their own unique gifts.  Do not make the mistake of assuming your pastor’s wife has the same personality as their husband. One wife shared that as newly weds when they announced their engagement people regularly commented on how good of a singer she must be (because her husband to be was a music minister). When she shared that she sounded more like a dying cat than an elegant song bird the shock on their faces was evident.

5) “Sundays are sometimes my least favorite day. Wait– am I allowed to say that?”

Sundays are hard. And long. And there is no rest. To a pastor’s wife, Sunday means an early morning of rushing around to have the family ready in their “Sunday Best.” Although you may not see your pastor’s wife on the platform, rest assured, Sunday is equally tiring for most (all) of them.

6) “It’s hard to not harbor resentment or to allow your flesh to lash out at members who openly criticize his ministry.”

They hate church criticism more then anything. It’s hurtful. Offensive, and yes, it’s very hard not to take it personally.  It is one of the most damaging things they witness regularly inside the church whether it be through emails, social media or gossip. They wish people understood how serious God’s word speaks on the danger and power of our words. And how much it injures the pastor’s family.

7) “Please don’t look down on me or assume I don’t support my husband just because you don’t see me every time the churches doors are open.”

Most wives are not paid staff. They are wives, mothers, and some are employed outside the home and need to be allowed the freedom to pray and choose ministries they feel called to.

8) “I wish people knew that we taught our children to make good choices, but sometimes, they don’t.”

Jokes about pastor’s kids should be avoided at all costs. The risk of rebellion in a “preacher’s kid” is no secret. They aren’t perfect, and never will be (are yours?). They have to learn to walk in their faith just like other children and need encouragement and love to do so. Again, extend grace.

9) “What I can tell you is I have been blessed beyond measure, I have been given gifts, money, love and prayer, so much prayer… by so many.”

They love their church and understand the role comes with special challenges and special blessings; it is fulfilling and brings them great joy.

One Extra Thought

Though it was not a common response, there was one that stood out. The top of the list of one seasoned pastor’s wife simply read, “I deleted my number 1.” Some secrets are so difficult to share, even the promise of complete confidence is not enough to bring them out.

These Godly women have something they want us to know and as a body of believers working together towards the same goal I think we might gain a better understanding of how to appreciate our leaders by listening. All of these responses point to a singular truth. Your pastor’s wife is a human being that desires to be known, just as you do.

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full – Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms.

9781433538889mAnother on book recommendation Monday is upon us, and this one is for Mom’s :).  It’s good, and hopefully all you Mom’s out there will be eager to get this one.  It’s called “Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full – Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms.”

Publisher’s Description:

Grocery shopping. Soccer practice. Dirty dishes.
Motherhood is tough, and it often feels like the to-do list just gets longer and longer every day—making it hard to experience true joy in God, our children, and the gospel.

In this encouraging book for frazzled moms, Gloria Furman, a pastor’s wife and mother of four, encourages us to reorient our vision of motherhood around what the Bible teaches. Showing us how to pursue a vibrant and ever-growing relationship with Christ—even when discouragement sets in and the laundry still needs to be washed—this book will help you treasure Christ more deeply no matter how busy you are.


About the Author:

Gloria Furman is a wife, mother of four young children, doula, and blogger. In 2008, her family moved to the Middle East to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai, where her husband, Dave, serves as the pastor. She is the author of Glimpses of Grace and Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home, and blogs regularly at The Gospel Coalition, Desiring God, and


“These pages are filled with such helpful honesty and gospel centrality as we’re invited to look at the wonderful and messy world of motherhood! Reading it was like opening a window in the stuffy room of pretense, guilt, and self-focus that often press in on us as mothers. Let the windows fly open and come breathe the fresh air of grace!”
– Kristyn Getty, hymn writer and recording artist

“As mothers, our to-do list is never ending, and many well-meaning people pile on how-to lists to try to help us manage it all. Here’s good news: Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full refreshes the soul with gospel truths and is not a how-to book. Gloria Furman shares the liberating gospel on every page, helping us fix our eyes on eternity rather than on our circumstances. You won’t come away with yet another thing to do; instead you’ll know the one who gave it all for you and has much to say in his Word to sustain you.”
– Trillia Newbell, author, United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity

“Moms do not need another book telling them how short they fall or what they can do to ‘be a better parent.’ Moms need a book that will lift their eyes away from themselves and onto Christ. Gloria Furman has delivered just that book. Her honesty about her daily struggles and her hope in her strong Savior are a delightful encouragement. The grand picture of God and his redeeming love that Gloria paints gives courage to face each day. We will be recommending this book to future moms, new moms, and moms that have been at it for years.”
– Jessica Thompson and Elyse Fitzpatrick, co-authors, Give Them Grace

“Oh, how I wish I had a voice like Gloria Furman’s to whisper such sweet gospel truths into the frustrations and discontent of my younger mothering days! There’s nothing simplistic or syrupy here. This book presents rich and deep wisdom that is sure to generate joy and peace in the homes and hearts of many moms.”
– Nancy Guthrie, Bible Teacher; author, Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament Bible study series

“A stunning invitation to see Christ in and through the everyday mundane. Every mother needs to read this book, to bathe her soul in the truth of the gospel, to ‘stamp eternity on her eyeballs,’ and then come back tomorrow and do it all again. This book should sit on every nightstand of every weary mother wondering if there is anything more to look forward to than another sink full of dirty dishes, another day full of cleaning and wiping, cooking and scrubbing. The answer Gloria points us to is Jesus. And he is more than enough. I will be buying this book by the case and giving it away to all the moms I meet!”
– Joy Forney, missionary mama; proud wife; blogger at

“I was wonderfully blessed by this book. With personal examples and teaching immersed in Scripture, Gloria invites us to savor Christ, the deepest need and joy of every mother. I certainly will reread it and look forward to recommending it to others.”
– Trisha DeYoung, happy wife to Kevin DeYoung, author, Just Do Something andCrazy Busy!; stay-at-home adventurous mother of six

“We need this book. In the frenetic and sometimes overwhelming task of parenting, it’s hard to remember the gospel. Thank God for Gloria Furman! She helps us worship Jesus in the midst of chaotic commotion and see ‘interruptions’ as invitations to joyfully trust him. Both mothers and fathers will find deep encouragement here!”
– Jon and Pam Bloom, President, Desiring God, and his wife