The Pastor’s Wife: Exposing Lies and Redeeming Them (Part 1)

by Whitney Putnam July 6, 2018

I’ve believed many lies throughout my life. Different stages led to different misconceptions - some more detrimental than others. When I was a young brunette living in the bay area of California, I believed everyone had the Golden Gate Bridge in her backyard. I took advantage of a view many never get to see, which led to an empty thankfulness. When I was in college, I felt terrible about my body and stopped eating a healthy diet to see if shame drips off a woman like beads on a popsicle. It doesn’t. This sent me into a tailspin of lies about womanhood and beauty that I still battle as a thirty-something. I’ve lied to myself about love, education, motherhood, and intellectualism. This diet of lies has chased me into the wild and uncharted territory of anxiety and shame; two feelings God never intended his prized creation to chase.

And yet, we do.

Including pastors’ wives.

In a two-part series, we will explore eight lies that many pastors’ wives believe. We will expose them and redeem them. And then we will attempt to live the truth. (Emphasis on the “living the truth.”)

Lie #1: Don’t be anyone’s friend.

This is the lie that is most pervasive. It’s in blogs and pastor’s wife forums and spoken in hushed tones among some that have gone before us. As an extrovert and a genuine people-lover, these statements confused me. But what really matters is that as students of the Bible, these statements should be perplexing.

To cut a pastor’s wife from deeply rooted friendships is the same as saying that she is not a part of the rich community that church was designed to be. You were designed to be an intricate part of the body, limb attached to limb. The church should be a symbiotic relationship created to make a whole system work (1 Corinthians 12:12). This can’t happen unless you have close relationships with people within your church.

This lie also reveals the underlying notion that a pastor and his wife are above their congregation in our platform-driven society. A pastor and his wife are called to lead a church, but they have no more clout in the kingdom of heaven than do the rest of the body. If we don’t develop real relationships, people may assume that we have some kind of superpower, which is laughable, to say the least.

Lie #2: Don’t reveal your weaknesses.

You and I have been conditioned to not show other people where we are weak. It’s an American pastime and the church is no exception. I would argue that most of us spend a large part of our life trying to look a certain way—certainly not in a middle school, trend-setting type of way, but in a more grown-up, deceiving way.

I can recall how scary it was to speak up in bible study about where I was struggling. In fact, I had grown so concerned about gossip or backlash that fear overwhelmed me. But I was letting the power of people’s opinion sway my identity—a woman whose sin is removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

But it doesn’t mean that on earth I won’t still struggle with sin. John 1:8 says, “If we say, ‘we have no sin,’ we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Letting others know how we need support, prayer, and accountability not only provides us with a foundation we need to succeed but also allows others to see our humanity.

Lie #3: Be available to everyone at all times.

You’ve attempted to finagle your schedule around the needs of your congregation, and ultimately it’s come with a price tag. Paul suggests that we “be all things to all people,” but he doesn’t ever suggest that it comes with a wide-open calendar.

Being available to everyone at all times does nothing but scream the lie that you are limitless. In fact, you and I are quite limited.

Even Jesus had to embrace his limits as God in the flesh. He often left crowds to be alone and refueled. When we are able to say the truth about our actual physical and emotional capacities, we remind people of our mere humanity. This is wildly good for our congregations. But being honest with our limits takes guts; someone might get angry. So be it.

When we embrace our limits, we point to a God who is limitless.

Lie #4: My husband is important, I am not.

You could be the most confident pastor’s wife that ever lived and this lie could still worm its way into your brain.

The bottom line is this: your gifting will not look like your husband’s. As a pastor’s wife, you’ve probably counseled countless women about their value and worth. You know exactly what verses to quote about being an inherited daughter of God’s (Galatians 3:26, 2 Corinthians 6:18, John 1:12). But because of this sneaky lie, you end up selling yourself short.

The best advice I have for us is to remember the wise counsel we’ve given to other women. Give yourself a pep talk about your true identity, and then remember how much you have to bring to the church.

Four lies all going from darkness to light. Your willingness to bring these truths into your church is entirely up to you. No one else holds your exact role within your church, your home, and your mind. Pray to bravely and boldly expose the lies in your own church body and step confidently into the truth.

Coming soon: the other four lies pastors’ wives believe, exposed and redeemed.