The Truth About Being A Pastor’s Wife

by | Feb 14, 2014 | Identity


Yesterday, H and I wandered between rooms of the house, watching tree limbs become weapons of glass, boulders falling from the sky, creating craters in our roof. After returning from a week long trip to the British Virgin Islands and sun-kissed, he was bundled up in a coat while telling us to unplug electronics as lights flickered throughout every room and transformers popped in the distance. I found the juxtaposition comical.

We’re not used to the weight of ice snapping the tops off trees at the beach or seeing his tan face in the middle of winter. But we are used to the way he takes care of us.

When someone refers to me as a pastor’s wife it often makes me feel uncomfortable, though it’s the truth. I don’t think about myself as a role unless I’m filling out a resumé. Instead, I consider myself as a woman fulfilling her divine destiny on a unique path. (That will bring a smile to the face of my coach. Hi Terry!)

H was on a trip with several men for the purpose of renewing their call as ministry leaders. The development of leaders is a high value for both of us. We invest ourselves in the lives of others and create opportunities that cultivate personal growth. H just happened to be doing that on a sailboat, in a beautiful place under the canopy of tropical warmth last week.


It never occurred to me to be resentful or jealous about his taking the trip until I heard the contempt in the voices of women when they asked questions about why I didn’t go with him. When someone mentioned that a woman should feel God’s pleasure in serving as a pastors wife, referring to the sacrifice women make to stay back and take care of responsibilities on the home front, I’ll admit, the hair on my arms raised a bit. Because that statement makes an assumption.

I don’t think of myself or my husband as the roles we fill.

I am married to a man of great influence and consider being his wife an honor. Watching him flourish in the way God has made him is a gift, something I appreciate and don’t take for granted.

In the same way, H sees me not as a pastor’s wife but a woman equally gifted in leadership with influence that looks unique to my personality and gifts. We aren’t in competition. I serve H, not because he is a pastor but because he is my husband and it gives God pleasure when we serve each other.  How that looks is unique to each couple, I realize that.

The assumption that a woman must take a back seat to her husband in the role of a pastor’s wife, or any role for that matter, is flawed thinking. It is not a burden we must bear while pretending to be joyful about the sacrifice. If you believe that, then the undercurrent will always be the prison of resentment that keeps you stuck in an unhealthy place.

If a woman asks me how to be a pastor’s wife, searching for some hidden secret, I always respond with the same answer. Be Yourself!


God has created us in His image as man and woman and if we are fortunate we fulfill many roles in this life. When our perspective is backwards, we forget that our identity is in Christ, not an image with a title attached to it.

When the sun shines, melting the ice into waterfalls from tree limbs, we will clean up the mess those ice laden branches made of our roof together. I’m sure of that. And aren’t these photos awesome, better than bringing a t-shirt back for me, don’t you think?


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  1. Eyvonne

    This is good stuff Shelly. As a fellow pastor’s wife, I also can say this, “I don’t think of myself or my husband as the roles we fill.” Thank you for your ministry here!

    • Shelly Miller

      It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who feels this way Eyvonne, thanks for letting me know. I appreciate that.

  2. Lori Harris

    Bless you Shelly! When I was first engaged to my man, our senior pastor asked me what I felt led to do as a pastor’s wife.
    Without batting an eye, I told him I felt led to be Thad’s wife.
    Your words beat close to my heart, friend.

    • Shelly Miller

      Of course you responded that way Lori. You’re awesome, you know that?

  3. Kelly Greer

    Love your insight Shelly.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thanks sweet Kelly, appreciate you.

  4. DeanneMoore

    I had someone tell me once that she didn’t like me at first. I asked her why? She said it was because I was a doctor’s wife. She must have seen my face because she quickly told me that she let go of her preconception after she got to know me. I highly value my husband the son of a “pastor’s wife” and a precious woman of God who greatly influenced me to live for Christ and for those he loves. And I love you. So thankful for your ministry in the kingdom and for H’s as well.

    • Shelly Miller

      Wow, I can’t imagine someone saying that to you Dea. You’ve been on my mind today. I’m headed to Dallas tomorrow but we need to catch up soon. Missing you.

      • DeanneMoore

        And sorry about the ice storm. This has been a crazy winter. Safe travels. 🙂

    • Shelly Miller

      Thanks for sharing this Anita, look forward to reading.

  5. Nancy Ruegg

    ‘Loved this post that hit so close to home, about our roles as pastors’ wives. I found myself nodding my head in agreement–a lot!

    I, too, “consider myself as a woman fulfilling her divine destiny on a unique path”–even as a pastor’s wife. My husband has been highly influential in the attainment of that goal. He has allowed me freedom to fulfill God’s unique plan for me as an individual, and he has been my advocate to the critics. But I also feel compelled to be his strongest ally, to support him and his ministry in any way I can.

    To echo another of your statements, Shelly, “I consider being his wife an honor.” But whether I became the wife of a pastor or a plumber, I would have been active in the church, probably involved in the same tasks that I’ve been doing for thirty-plus years–just because that’s who I am, not because of a role with pre-determined expectations.

    I HAVE concerned myself with being a good example. (Success has been intermittent!) If I had not been a pastor’s wife, I might not have been as conscious of that goal. In that way and others, my role has had its advantages in developing Christian maturity.

    • Shelly Miller

      Yes, I think you bring up a good point Nancy. It is in those places of leadership and influence that we mature and find our true selves. I agree, that is an advantage.

  6. David Rupert

    No matter who you are married to, the expectation doesnt change. There is no Scriptural mandate for any kind of increased duty if you are married to someone in ministry. We ALL must love, respect, and bear the burdens of our mates — no matter their titel

  7. sandy

    Smiled as I related to your article Shelly. My husband is not a pastor, he is a man who for the last 3 years has been fighting an intense battle with cancer. I have had the honor to not only be his wife for the last 45 years, but also now his caregiver. Our lives have revolved around this battle. Many who truly do not understand are so concerned about my wellbeing. I am right where my Lord wants me to be and what an awesome place to be!

  8. Meghan

    Really needed this today as I was feeling a little back burner-ish. Thank you!

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