If you are a pastor’s wife, chances are you’re toggling between the overwhelming responsibilities of church and home. From Bible study and prayer ministry to managing homework and, well, being the wife of a pastor, the list of demands can be exhausting.
But Scripture shows us that Jesus carved out intentional time to retreat, pray, and visit with friends. Even today, a retreat is a calculated time-out, and events or conferences geared to ministering to ministry leaders is a great way to get filled up before pouring out.
October is Clergy Appreciation Month, a time for the church to acknowledge the extraordinary contribution of pastors and their families. It’s a calling that places unique demands on a spouse.
So, pastors’ wives, we honor you, and thank you for your service to Christ and His church. Here are three reasons a directed getaway may be exactly what you need.
To remember your identity
Pastor’s wife and author Mary Southerland is a featured speaker at women’s retreats, and she says effective retreats help pastors’ wives simply remember they are loved, created, and chosen by God.
“God loves us unconditionally, not because of what we can do but because of whose we are – His. Perfection is for heaven, not Earth. So many pastors’ wives feel like they have to fit a certain mold.
“When God called her husband to ministry, He also called her – to be exactly who God created her to be – not who the church members, deacons, or elders want her to be.”
While backgrounds and doctrine may vary, connecting with other women who understand the nuances of your unique role and its expectations is profoundly helpful.
“You’re already coming in on common ground,” says Jen, who has been a pastors’ wife for 20 years. She attended a conference last year and says the experience left her wanting more.
“Everyone in attendance has an identification in the gospel, even though they’re all coming from different flavors of Christianity. But, it’s such a sweet spirit of fellowship —you’re all there as daughters of the King, and you kind of exhale a little bit.”
To refill your tank
A great retreat experience should leave you feeling ministered to. Mary says a conference that caters to pastors’ wives or those in ministry should provide the following:
- Chunks of free time
- Speakers who are the wives of pastors (you cannot lead where you have not been, she says) and who are willing to be real, transparent and vulnerable
- Small groups where attendees connect with other women in ministry
- Prayer time – both self-directed and guided
- Fun – (Mary suggests something that makes women “laugh from their toes up”)
Against the backdrop of this experience, key, long-lasting friendships are built, and the role seems less lonely, according to Jen.
“You just visit one on one – it’s a chance to talk about what your life is like. More than that, it’s a brief reprieve where you can be vulnerable and encouraged.”
To reset your expectations
“What’s expected of me?” is the resounding and silent question of many pastors’ wives. Managing overlapping roles and expectations while staying emotionally and mentally healthy creates a challenging Venn diagram.
“A pastor’s wife can unknowingly sacrifice her family on the altar of a church,” says Mary. “Whatever gifts she has fit the needs of the church where her husband is serving. And that is different in every church. A pastor’s wife needs to embrace both her strengths and her weaknesses, knowing God will use them all for good.”
And for any woman in a leadership or ministry role, taking time to pause and just “be” among new friends who have no expectations can be life-giving.
“When you look at a score of music, the rests are just as important as the notes,” says Jen, who recommends a break at least twice a year. “It makes the whole of your life much richer.”