Few of us are eager to admit we give in to the temptation of worry. Scripture clearly commands against it, yet we allow it to quietly creep into our hearts, hidden from the notice of others.
Pastors’ wives are not exempt from its lure. Our husbands’ role provides both ample and unique concerns that can quickly move into worry if we’re not watchful.
Have you struggled with these three common worries as a pastor’s wife?
My husband has become adept at keeping me in the dark of difficulties in the church if I am not part of the problem or the solution. On many occasions, tense situations have arisen and been completely reconciled before I even realized there was a problem. This gift from my husband has spared my heart unnecessary burden and worry.
However, there are instances when church pressures cannot be hidden. Perhaps it’s a question of how his leadership is being received or a conflict or criticism he has endured. Power dynamics of members in the church can also bring stress. Even past ministry failures can cause present worry when not dealt with properly.
For pastors’ wives, church is more than just the Sunday morning routine. Church life becomes our life, just as it is for our husbands. The livelihood of our family is wrapped up in its success or failure. Naturally, we’re tempted to worry when tensions crop up within it.
Doubtless mothers of all walks of life have a tendency to worry about their children. We love these people God has given us and simply find it impossible to desire anything but their best. Of course, when we fear that less than that high standard will become the norm in their lives, worry can set in.
Pastors’ wives in particular are concerned with how their children are handling life with parents in ministry. We wonder if we’re protecting them from those previously mentioned tensions. We speculate on how their hearts are positioned toward the Lord, given that they’re constantly surrounded by the things of God. Have they grown callous to Him due to familiarity? We’re tempted to worry during times of transition if they’re adjusting well and if they will have at least one good friend. And lastly, we hope they see us modeling an authentic walk with Jesus and not just church words and activity.
According to a survey conducted this year by Lifeway Research, 60% of pastors’ wives say the salary received from the church isn’t enough to support their family. Thirty-six percent worry they won’t be able to make ends meet each month, while 68% don’t know how they will support themselves in retirement.
Most pastors’ wives will never speak openly about their financial worries to church members, but will instead silently feel the weight of this burden along with their husbands. We love serving Christ’s bride and would never want to be greedy, but this concern for finances can be heavy.
How can pastors’ wives overcome these worries?
Remember God’s nature.
When worries threaten to overtake us and drag us away from the light of hope, we must intentionally turn our eyes back to the truth of who our God is. Matthew 6:25-34 shows us not only His power, but also His heart. He is the omnipotent One with the ability to provide for our every need, and He is also the personal God who knows and loves us each individually.
Dear pastor’s wife, He knows your situation. He sees your need, and He promises to not leave you there. He will take care of you and every detail that surrounds your life. It’s our job to keep seeking Him first, as Matthew 6:33 states, and He will add all of these things to you in His wise time.
Talk to God about it.
Philippians 4:6-7 commands us not to worry, but rather to pray.
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Confess your worry to Him, and ask Him to transform it. What can you be thankful for in your situation? As you thank Him and are reminded of His faithfulness, ask Him to provide again. His peace will come as your heart moves from worry to trust.
Take your thoughts captive.
The following verse in Philippians 4 gives us several things to dwell on. The first is to think on things that are true (vs. 8). Our worries have not yet come into existence, therefore are not true. They are not the reality in which we live. Mostly, our worries are “what ifs.”
Ask God to help you notice your untrue, worrisome thoughts, and jot them down. Then begin to search the Scriptures for a true thought to put in its place. Begin to memorize those verses. Every time your worry pops up, take it captive and replace it with the truth. Over time, a new thought habit will be born and replace your worry.
What can you do today?
Verse 9 in Philippians 4 moves from thinking to action.
Do what you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
Is there something you can begin doing to help bring a solution to your situation? If you’re worried about a church tension, perhaps there is a difficult church member you could seek out to love. For your child needing new friends, is there a mother with age appropriate kids you could get to know? For financial worries, is there someone in the church your husband can speak with, or is there a way you can create income for your family?
No matter your unique concern, our Abba Father is faithful. We can be certain of this: that we will see His goodness in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord and be strong. Let your heart take courage. Yes, wait on the Lord. (Psalm 27:13-14).