The research in this episode was sponsored by the North American Mission Board and Richard Dawkins, MD.
Mark and Janet Dance join us to talk about recent research on pastor spouses. Mark describes his work for the past three years as helping pastors “win at work and at home.”
What Prompted the Research
First, there isn’t much research out there on pastor spouses. You can find some dissertations. You can find some smaller studies. There’s obviously a number of folks who work to support pastors’ spouses. Many denominations have somebody with that assignment. Really, to have a large quantitative study that looks across denominations is not something we found.
To have some numbers in front of us, and some of these fit with our hunches and some may be a little surprising. It is a challenging situation, to be in a minister’s home.
We wanted to hear from the pastor’s greatest advocate, their spouse.
Impact of “Well-being”
A lot of a pastor’s well‑being is based on his wife’s well‑being because they are so connected. How she feels about the ministry, how she feels about their specific ministry that they’re currently in. A lot of those attitudes and feelings are going to be expressed at home and can either ease stress for him or cause greater stress for him.
That sounds like I’m saying that they should have a good well‑being for his sake, but it’s not quite that simple. It’s more for the sake of the ministry and God’s work.
How This Research Can Help
A lot of times, even as pastors’ wives, when we’re together with each other we’re afraid to be really honest because we might think that our kid is the only kid in the room that’s rebelling. We’re embarrassed by that. We think everybody else’s kids are going into the ministry.
To be able to look at these numbers and say, “You know what? I’m not a freak of the ministry,” that a lot of these other women are having some of the same feelings that I’m having, some of the same struggles, some of the same joys. I think that’s huge, for us to be able to feel comfort in that.
Maybe if there’s a statistic that’s really high in the positive and I’m experiencing that in the negative I can say, “You know what? This is not normal. Maybe I need to look into this a little bit further.”
(See the full transcript for the episode –with links–on next page)
Mark Dance serves as director of Lifeway Pastors. Mark serves pastors by hosting date nights and roundtables, as well as speaking at retreats, conferences, and seminars. Prior to Lifeway, Mark pastored churches for 27 years. He has been married to Janet Kendrick since 1988, and they have two children: Holly and Brad.