I still remember the first day I drove up to our new church as an almost-pastor’s wife. We were a month away from engagement, six months away from marriage. Music from a strumming guitar drifted out of the church’s front doors. It was our new home, our new adventure.
Fresh out of college, I entered the “real” world and ministry with bright eyes and anticipation. The six years since that day have been marked with struggle and joy incomprehensible as I’ve treaded through the spiritual trenches side by side with my husband. Being in ministry challenged me more than I ever imagined on my first day sitting in the pews as a newlywed. Exclusively by the grace of God, I’m still here, still a pastor’s wife, and still ever in love with the church.
I learned early in ministry that holding a leadership position in a church draws a giant target on your back for spiritual attack. To be clear, a pastor’s wife isn’t any more valuable in God’s eyes than the woman who stumbled into church off the street. But, if Satan can take down a pastor’s wife, he can at least confuse hundreds of people, if not implode an entire church.
So, here are 5 ways to pray for your pastor’s wife:
1. Pray that her love may abound.
Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13 that even if we prophesy or exercise tremendous faith, but have not love, then we are wasting our lives. So it is with ministry. If I am going to all of the meetings or volunteering for all areas of the church, but have not love, then I’m wasting my life.
With an absence of love, bitterness can nestle into an unsuspecting heart. It is a crafty foe, waiting patiently to saturate with every hurtful remark. Pastor’s wives are often in the “thick of it,” hearing, and oftentimes entering into, every manner of pain and chaos. As soon as bitterness latches, its cancerous tentacles can cling for years or even a lifetime.
Pray that her love may actually increase with each betrayal or hateful word. Pray that she would lay down her hurts and heal properly from them. Then, get back up from her knees and continue to love fiercely, just as Christ has loved us.
2. Pray for courage in conflict.
As an introvert, I hate conflict. I despise not only seeing sin destroy, but also the knowledge that now I have to confront it. Being early in ministry, I also had little idea how to encounter the impending clash. I envisioned the worst, lamenting that I would be the downfall of someone else’s faith. I would study Scripture but become overwhelmed.
I can recall several gut-wrenching conversations with students in our youth ministry. They were girls that I loved, visited, encouraged, prayed through tears. Some of those discussions over steaming cups of coffee yielded to confession and relief from sin, while others decided it was time to bail.
Pray that your pastor’s wife would have courage to handle conflict resolution with grace and truth. Pray that the Spirit would speak through her knowledge of Scripture and from the overflow of her heart.
3. Pray that she will find her place in the church.
This may certainly not be an issue for your pastor's wife. She may have found her niche and is serving to her heart’s content. But, for me, it took several years to feel settled into ministry. I often felt like I was wearing an itchy, obnoxiously ugly sweater. I stuck out and it was uncomfortable. I placed unnecessary expectations on myself because of my husband’s position. I pursued ministry opportunities in which I wasn’t gifted and hesitated to truly get to know other women in the church. I fearfully constructed boundaries and barricaded myself from real friendships.
By God’s grace, he leveled those walls and rushed in women who knew me and loved me. Lots of them, for that matter, in every stage of life. They still encourage me, challenge me, inspire me out of love and not out of a quest for gossip.
Friendships when you’re in such a unique position as a pastor’s wife aren’t easy. Pray that she would create genuine relationships where she can talk honestly. If you aren’t already friends with her, pray how you can make a meaningful connection.
4. Pray for humility.
It’s easy to believe you’ve got it all pulled together as a pastor’s wife. Somehow, in between listening to your husband’s sermon, teaching a Sunday School group, and counseling a hurting teenager, you believe all sorts of lies. People tell you how holy and wonderful and perfect you are that, although you bat away the praise externally, you sometimes covet it internally. Without realizing it, somehow you’re gladly stepping up on a pedestal, expecting more praise. Sin creeps in and you find yourself thinking that it’s no big deal because hey, you’re the pastor’s wife. Suddenly, you’re selfish and coveting and materialistic and bitter.
Speaking from experience, finding harbored sin is a painful and embarrassing realization, even if discovered privately. Sometimes, when you’re in the spotlight, it can play out publicly.
Pray that your pastor’s wife would have a soft heart to see her sin and courage to confront it. If she ever opens up to you about it, listen. Commit to pray for her regularly to conquer that sin in the name of Jesus. Keep her accountable. She’s just like every other Christian waging war against sin.
5. Pray for hope.
Ministry can be discouraging. Watching sin wreck havoc in a family’s home or not seeing fruit in a student’s life can feel like taking two steps forward and three steps backward. Some days, I’m tempted to throw up my hands in anger and walk out of the church forever. Whispered lies drum up disheartening thoughts of past failures. The future seems bleak.
Thank God for Jesus. Whether in those moments or when I finally break days later, I am reminded of the hope given in Christ. He has authority over all and in all and through all. My job is not to change lives or make converts. That is the Spirit’s job! He is asking me to be faithful in telling about Christ, loving the unlovable and encouraging the downtrodden.
Pray that your pastor’s wife would not give into despair. Pray that she would be reminded of the hope given in Jesus and that he has and will conquer all things.
Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer based out of Dallas, TX. She’s written for Spirit magazine, the Galveston Daily News, and several websites. She was most recently the editor of a local magazine. When not writing, Mikaela loves spending time with her husband, setting goals, reading a good book, or munching on a Chipotle burrito.