When your husband takes a call in the church, there is a job description for him and expect ions of what the church wants, hopes and dreams about for their congregation. The wife, unfortunately, gets no such write-up.
I’ve only been the official pastor’s wife for 4 months to date, but I can tell you that there are a lot of unwritten expectations – much like that of family expectations for each member. I say that they are unwritten only because it appears, thus far, that these expectations are unknown…until said person does not live up to one of the expectations. This could be an expectation of the congregation, the pastor’s family, a certain member, or the spouse. Either way, while there are expectations of the wife, you’d be hard pressed to find a formal written job description.
Having a background in career services, I thought I’d take a stab at what I’ve experienced and witnessed thus far. Again, I’m new at being married to the solo pastor, but I’ve been married to the youth pastor for nearly 8 years. Below you will see my take on a job description for the pastor’s wife based on experience.
We, the congregation and the pastor of ________ church, seek a candidate’s wife who possesses the following characteristics and skills:
Calendaring – the candidate’s wife should be a genius at maintaining multiple calendars and keeping them all in line. This skill requires the ability to direct your husband when he begins to make plans with members, staff, new friends and the like, so that he will not schedule himself or your entire family to be in 17 places at once. This skill also requires the ability to remind your husband in a timely manner of upcoming deadlines, both personal and professional, even when the candidate’s wife has no clue of the professional deadlines or appointments ever being created or existing. Additionally, the candidate’s wife needs to be able to maintain her personal calendar and those of her family member flawlessly. She must be able to recall any item on said calendars at any moment that the information might possibly, on a snowy day down south, be needed…immediately.
Time Management – along with the ability to manage calendars, the wife should be able to generate time on a standard clock. The normal day includes 24 hours, but the candidate’s wife should be able to make the day contain at a minimum, 27 hours. She must also be able to show up to any event on time or early, and must never show up late. All children and family members should be cleanly dressed, fed and in happy moods at all times, of course, sticking to her promptness of arriving at any event or worship service a minimum of 20 minutes early. She must maintain her husband’s personal clock as well, making sure that he arrives to his appointments promptly; dressed, fed and in a good mood. She must be able to encourage him to arrive at stated destination promptly, even she is to be in a different destination at or around the same time. She must adequately maintain her children’s schedules also.
Babysitting – in the case of a child that will not attend the nursery during worship, she must be willing to forfeit her need or desire to hear the sermon or participate in the worship service in order to juggle her child, his toys, his lovey and his morning snack/bottle with a mere two hands. She must also be willing to leave the service and walk in circles in order to console her child, should the need arise. The diaper bag must always be fully stocked with adequate supplies in order to entertain, feed, change or clothe her children while her husband leads the congregation in a worship service that she may or may not be able to fully attend or enjoy.
Janitor – this skill extends beyond the congregation to the home. The wife should be ready, willing and equipped to clean up any messes she, her husband or her children make within the church grounds or the homestead. If children require babysitting and she does not have adequate supplies for entertainment and her child pulls all of the pew supplies out of the pew backs during the worship service, she must be able to clean them up and restock them, as necessary, immediately following the service. On the home front, her husband will most likely need her to maintain a toy-free zone where he attempts to write a sermon so that he may focus on the business at hand rather than worrying about a squeaky toy under foot. Her children, should she have them, will require her to clean up their messes, and will often resort to the age-old game of throwing items off of the food tray in order to make “mommy” clean more when the meal time has ended.
Cheerleader – your husband will need cheerleading. He will deny this, many times over, but he will need his wife to cheer him on in his profession. When he struggles with writing a sermon, you will be expected to remind him of his excellent writing skills. When he is unsure of how his stole will look with his robe/shoes/clothing, you are to remind him of how stunningly handsome he is. When he doubts his ability to adequately minister to his flock, you are to remind him that “if God calls you to it, God will pull you through it,” or something of the like. Your are expected to encourage him, pray for him, laugh at his corny jokes during a sermon, smile at him during worship when he looks your way…anything that will boost his confidence in this scary calling named “ministry.”
Administrator – you will need to balance home books, proofread sermons and marketing materials, remember deadlines (see calendaring), remind your spouse to turn in receipts for reimbursements, calculate mileage reports, register him for conferences/events, make sure his clothes are laid out and that he doesn’t walk out the door without his laptop, sermon, session minutes, etc. Basically, you are responsible for running every aspect of his personal life, minus his “guy time,” and also manage several aspects of his professional life as assigned and needed.
Other Duties As Assigned – this speaks for itself, but for the sake of clarification, you may be asked to take on additional duties with a moment’s notice.
In all seriousness, the most important job skill the pastor’s wife can possess is to pray for her husband, thus encouraging him in his ministry. Support is the greatest gift that you can offer, and it’s the most well-received. Being willing to take on other duties as assigned is a bonus that can only make his life, and ultimately your life, easier. Reminding him that you are willing to help him as needed, serve the congregation as needed, and care for your child alone when he needs to be away helps to ease his mind and know that all will be taken care of while he tends his flock. However, don’t forget to remind him that you too have some needs as a wife and a few expectations of him where the family is concerned, and don’t forget to ask him to live up to those expectations as well. Personal/couple time is very important, as is family time, in helping your husband maintain adequate boundaries between personal/professional lives.
What skills would you add to a job description for the Pastor’s Wife?