What is the role of a Pastor’s wife? I hold the view that a pastor’s wife is a wife like any other wife. Being a pastor is a job just like being a doctor or a politician etc.The job demands a certain way of life for the husband and the wife must support him as such. I am about to be married to a pastor and I know that this issue can be quite confusing for a pastor’s wife as people tend to have various expectations of her some of which are unrealistic. Please advise me on how to approach my role. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Ms Smith - London
Ms Smith, I will try to answer your question as simply as I can while endeavoring to cover the various aspects of it.
People, tend to have strong views generally about women and their role in church. The pastor’s wife’s role is therefore an important indicator not only to her but also to other women about what is possible and permissible for them.
You are right. Your role as a wife is the same as for all wives as per the guidance of the word of God. It is to be a helpful support for your husband, to submit to him in all things and to be one with him in fulfilling God’s assignment on your lives.
Beyond this however, a pastor’s wife has both a private role as above and also a public role in relation to the flock or the church her husband pastors.
In terms of the second part, the issues are twofold as far as I can see;
The public role of a pastor’s wife: I think scripture can support the position that she can be in God anything her husband needs her to be and also allows her to be as long as he provides the spiritual covering and headship for her.
The role of a woman in ministry – now, this is where most of the contention is. This has to do not just with your role to and with your husband but also what you feel called to do as a woman in leadership. Some believe that women should not be in leadership in the church or ministry at all. That they aren’t called to public speaking or public teaching of the word of God. This view is taken from 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 which says that women must keep silent in church and if they want to learn anything they should ask their own husbands at home.
An unbalanced look at scripture however lends itself to misinterpretation and misapplication and also entrenches legalism and not grace in the church and body of Christ.
For example, if as a woman you have ever cut your hair, then 1 Corinthians 11:6 says that ‘for if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.
I do not know many women who always cover their heads. All women also know that to groom your hair you will have to have a cut once in a while and this is not disgraceful at all. As for covering of the head, note that the previous verse to this one also says that it is disgraceful for a woman’s head to be uncovered while she is praying or prophesying.
If you take these scriptures literally without contextualizing them to what was happening in the particular churches Paul was writing to, it appears that Paul is contradicting himself because how can a woman who has to be silent in church, pray and prophesy in church without speaking? And how can she even pray and prophesy with her head uncovered?
I think the problem is an age old problem of non submission and disruption occurring in the churches to which Paul is trying to bring order and structure. He is not trying to set down a legalistic rule that binds all women.
This same insubordination is evident in our times. There are certain churches I go to and I feel like telling the women to keep quiet and to sit down because the excesses are many. Whatever your calling is, especially if it is a public call to leadership, it must be entered into under the authority not only of your husband but also of the church leadership which should include women. I know women who have been licensed and allowed to step out into public ministry and leadership and are doing so under authority and are doing great where they have security and are not overly restricted and silenced. There are others also who fight to be free to do as they please and the stories we hear about them are not so great.
My advice to you as you enter into ministry with your husband is that you challenge your thinking about stereotypical roles and realise that you are a unique person. Find your own way with humility and submission to God’s word and to your husband and the call upon his life. That is your first priority. In so doing the grace to reach out and be all that God wants you to be will be available to you too. You must settle all matters of controversy to yourself and take your God assigned place in life.
Like Paul said; ‘I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain’.- Galatians2:21
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond or free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28
Note: If you have a question you need an answer to, Ps Selasie B will do her best to find the answers for you. It might not fully cover all the issues or be an expert answer but it will definitely be a good attempt. Post your questions in the comments box.