Select Page

For several years Tina Thompson was a pastor’s wife, but her husband now serves churches as a consultant, so she’s a non-traditional ministry wife. As a biblical counselor, however, Tina says she’s seen both sides of ministry, since she counsels ministers’ wives. “There are five or six basic things that we all have dealt with,” Tina says, “and I see the same things coming up again and again.” So here’s a list of some common issues that most ministry wives struggle with and Tina’s recommendations for managing them.

If you’d like to hear my whole conversation with Tina, click here to listen to Episode 21.

Struggle #1: Friends at church

Don’t have your closest friends in the church because women get jealous and women can be petty. (Surprise!)

Tina recommends: 

Find another minister’s wife in the community where you could sit and have coffee and cry together, pray together, that kind of thing. But, if you do have a close friend at the church, I would ask them if they could maybe just hold back at church, and then y’all have your time away from the church. Just because it does create hurt feelings. Other women may wonder, “Why is she close to her and not me?”

Struggle #2: Friends with agendas

Sometimes women will want to get close really fast, and they’ll do everything for you, but there’s an agenda behind it. Maybe they want to be able to get information to your husband—if they want to tell him something, they’ll think you can do it for them. Or maybe they want you to run something the way they want it run, or you to be in the ministry they want you to be in. 

Tina recommends:

Be very discerning as a pastor’s wife. 

How do we develop discernment? This is going to sound very basic and very simple, but it’s so true. James 1:5 says, “If you ask for wisdom, I will give it to you, and I’ll give it to you generously.” And I thought that is so amazing that God says, “I will give you my wisdom, and I’m just glad to do it.” That’s my interpretation, “I’m thrilled to do it because you’re asking.” And literally, and I have to do that today because of my position at the church, “God help me to see who is genuine, help me to see who has an agenda, so that I can be prepared when I have to deal with this person.” He’s very gracious, the Spirit in me, and I know He works differently in each person, but He is in us, and I think we rob ourselves of that. That’s a gift from the cross, that was bought for us, is the Spirit in us. And I think we rob ourselves, because we don’t ask Him for the discernment. “Lord, what’s your wisdom in this situation, in this person, or that person?” 

I also tend to hold back a little bit and watch that person. I will watch their interaction with others. I will watch their faithfulness to church. I’ll watch how they parent. I’ll just watch their character, not that I’m the judge of them, but just to see if there’s inconsistencies.

Sometimes people will try to use you to get to the pastor—they tell you what they want you to tell him. A lot of times it’s not even that important in the big scheme of the church, but it is to them. They only see what’s important to them. So I simply say to that person,”Thank you for bringing this to my attention, but if you feel the pastor needs to know this, you need to tell this to him yourself.” It gives you a chance to tell your husband later, “So-and-so’s going to come and see you, and this is the gist of what they’re going to say.” That gives your husband time to pray about it if it does get brought up. 

Now, what I have seen is a lot of times is if you’re not going to tell him, they’re not either. So it’s been dropped and not brought up, whatever the situation is. And that’s been a blessing. But at least you’ve gone home and said, “Well, I talked to so-and-so…” 

Struggle #3: Relationship with the Lord

The number one thing you can do as a pastor’s wife is have your relationship with God be so tight.

Tina recommends:

Don’t study the Bible for to be a pastor’s wife. Don’t study it to be a good Christian. Study it to know who God is. In Jesus’s prayer, right before he went to the cross, in John 17:3, He prayed for the future saints, that we would know Him. He didn’t pray that we’d be great Christians, or be great at this, or that. He prayed that we would know Him. And as I do counseling, I realized the more the women know God, know Him and His attributes and His personality, the calmer they are, the fears subside. That’s where their struggles start to lessen. Their problems don’t go away, but they see it differently.

Struggle #4: Relationship with the husband

Then the second thing I would say is your relationship with your husband. That’s hard as a minister’s wife, because you feel like they’re being pulled in every direction a lot of times. 

Tina recommends:

One of the best things you can do for the church is to let them see a good marriage. Sometimes that means, “Nope, we’re not going to do this ministry,” or “No, our children and I are going to stay home tonight.” But the best thing you could show them is how marriage works: we’re God first, then spouses, then children, then church.

Struggle #5: Expectations at church

Some church people want you in every ministry that they’re involved in. 

Tina recommends:

Nobody can do that. I finally picked two things. I’m doing counseling and I’m teaching women’s Bible studies. Well, I also take a Bible study, so that I’m being filled too. So you need to be filled, whether you’re listening to sermons, that’s above and beyond your quiet time. I couldn’t do anything else, because they want you to be involved in everything. I think a good response is, “I love that you are called to this. I love that so much, but I’ve prayed and I’m doing what God has called me to do at this time. If I feel interest though, I’ll be sure to come to you about this.” And that’s just a good response to a woman who says, “You should come to this, or you should do that, or you should do this.” You don’t have to do it all.

Church is a ministry. It’s not your relationship with God. So ministry comes behind your relationship with God. But because there’s so many needs, you tend to want to just do it. “Let’s fix it.” But then something else comes up. There’s always going to be something else.

Struggle #6: Burnout

The four pastors wives I’ve counseled in the last couple of years, two were younger, two were older. So there’s a danger that I see on both sides. The younger ones do everything all the time, and they burn out fast. The older ones go to the extreme of, “I’ve already done that. I’m not doing it, I’m not getting involved, I’m not doing anything.” And so both sides are wrong. Both sides are not balanced.

Tina recommends:

That’s why I said earlier to pray, to again ask for discernment. By the way, He has all resources in heaven and earth, so why wouldn’t I ask the Person with all resources and wisdom? He can see the future that we can’t see. So ask Him for discernment. What do You want me to be involved in with the church and what do You not want me to do? 

But it also goes with, “I’ve been involved with this for so long, it’s easy. Is it time for me to pull back?” Because that’s another thing that’s hard to get out of, is things that you’ve done for so long. And sometimes that takes some clever planning by getting someone in there, and you show them all the ropes, especially if you’ve been in charge of a certain, say women’s ministry or nursery. You get someone in there and you show them what you’ve been doing, train someone up, start showing them the ropes. Then you can allow yourself a week off, or two weeks off, whatever the ministry is that you’re involved in, to the point, if you know God is calling you out of it, you can ease out of it. Don’t just say, “I’m done,” and leave them.

If you’d like to connect with Tina or want more information about her counseling, you can find her at (Email:  Click HERE for her book Released: Setting Your Spirit Free from Depression and Anxiety.

Have a blessed day, sister!