In seminary, circa 2006, they offered a workshop for spouses of ordination-bound students on the topic of being a pastor’s spouse. I myself was the wife of presumed future pastor but did not attend the seminar because what was there to learn? I felt liberated from the traditional label “the pastor’s wife.”

Plus I was a working mother and wouldn’t have time to be pushed into a corner of expectations. I barely had time to brush my teeth.

My husband’s first pastoral call would be to a large congregation with a female senior pastor, whose leadership is strong and preaching is mighty. And now, seven years into this call, I believe my instincts were right about what it would be like to be “the pastor’s wife,” in part because of the tone set by the senior pastor.

I can do my own thing because no one expects me to act a certain way, or read certain books, or discipline my children with certain deft – anecdotes I’ve heard from more experienced pastors’ wives I know, whom I greatly admire. One told me how years ago she had been admonished for reading Maya Angelou because her books were “inappropriate material for a pastor’s wife.”

I do not face such reprimands, at least not openly, but I’ve come to realize that there is a catch to being a pastor’s wife.

Seven years into my husband’s first call and I’m living in a city where I know no one but the people in my congregation, who have become authentic friends not because I’m the pastor’s wife but because I’m a busted-up human being. More and more, I understand that when the time comes for this call to end, so ends my support system because when the pastor leaves so must the pastor’s family.

All the beautiful friendships to zilch.

That’s probably what they were going to warn me about in that seminar I didn’t attend.

Terri Mork Speirs
Terri Mork Speirs is director of marketing and communications at Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center.  She recently completed a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing. She is a writer and mother as well as a grant writer for Children & Families of Iowa.  She is a frequent contributor to Living Lutheran and attends St. John Lutheran Church in Des Moines, Iowa.  

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