The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 13, 2012

Treat your pastor’s wife with kindness

Keeping the Faith

— Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published Nov. 11, 2006. Davis passed away Aug. 1, 2010, of a sudden illness.

Churches celebrated Pastor Appreciation Month by honoring their spiritual leaders with cards, gifts and other tangible tokens of thanks.

I’ve often thought there needs to be a Pastors’ Wives Appreciation Month.

I don’t know if the husbands of female pastors face the same kinds of pressures, but I know the role of a pastor’s wife is one of the most challenging I can imagine.

There are as many expectations of her as there are people in the congregation.

The pastor’s wife is either too frumpy or too trendy. She either wears her dresses too long or too short.

She wears so much makeup she looks like a mime, or she’s an “old barn that would look better with a little paint.”

She’s too friendly, not friendly enough, shows partiality or doesn’t care about anybody. Her manner is too abrupt, too reserved, too outgoing, too introverted or too reticent.

She speaks her mind too freely or won’t give anybody a straight answer about anything.

She is high-strung and temperamental, or she’s a wishy-washy pushover who can’t take a stand on anything.

She’s either too involved in what goes on at the church or she’s showing partiality to her favorite groups.

If she’s too well-dressed, her husband is obviously making too much money.

If she’s working outside the home, she shouldn’t be. Her husband and children need her more.

If she doesn’t work outside the home, she needs to be more involved at church. She should attend every meeting, be part of every women’s group that meets, teach a ladies’ Sunday school class and find time to prepare a dish or bake something for every get-together.

Get the picture?

Pastors’ wives who succumb to the criticism leveled on them by others will soon find themselves living tremendously fragmented lives. No one person can meet that many expectations. No woman alive can meet all those demands.

Cut your pastor’s wife some slack. Realize she can’t be everything to everybody.

If she’s abrupt with you or seems distracted, pray for her. She may be carrying a heavy burden that she can’t share because of confidentiality issues. Like your pastor, she has to carry the hurts, fears and troubles of parishioners as well as her own — and the pastor’s.

Include her in your prayers for your pastor. She is part of the ministry team, and she has a spiritual calling on her life as well.

Don’t be quick to criticize her or judge her. You haven’t faced her unique struggles, and you don’t know what particular load she is carrying.

In fact, we should treat our pastor’s wife the way we would like to be treated. Hmmm. It’s that Golden Rule thing again, isn’t it?

Pastors’ wives, whether they ever designate a special month for you, many of us admire and respect you, and we don’t envy that fine line you have to walk. And ladies, we really appreciate you. You make a difference.