While I do have a vast number of talents to offer the world which are under-appreciated, that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm not even talking about me at all. When it comes to being under-appreciated, I don't think anyone gets higher on the list than Pastor's Wives.
Now, I know I've already posted about my own dear wife. And while it would take far more than even this additional post to share all the wonderful things that she brings to the table, this isn't just about her. Although, being married to a pastor's wife has given me close quarters to do some observation on the subject. And my conclusion is: Pastor's Wives are highly under-appreciated.
Much, if not most, of what they do is unseen and unrecognized. Sure, some pastor's wives hold publicly visible positions in the church. And people do often give her kudos for doing those things. VBS Director, Sunday School Teacher, ministry leader, etc. In many churches, she's expected to be the piano player, too (I have to admit that my wife failed at this requirement; but I love her anyway). But those kinds of jobs are done by lots of folks who are not pastor's wives as well. And quite frankly, many of those folks need to be appreciate more, too.
On top of that, and this I can only address from my own experience, my wife is my biggest supporter and encourager in my life. As I said in the post about her earlier, "she lifts me up when life beats me down, even when life might have been right in doing so." She listens to all my heartaches and struggles in ministry, and while some of those things might be weighing her own heart down, she still tries to encourage me. Any good that has come from my ministry comes as a result of God's grace and my wife's ministry to me.
And then consider the life of a pastor's wife. Most people go to church and listen to the pastor teach and it's probably something new and different for the most part. The pastor's wife has to listen to her husband, the guy she lives with all week, often the same things she's heard before, maybe even heard that week as the pastor "bounces ideas off her head." (I put that in quotes so hopefully people will realize that I don't actually bounce real things off my poor wife's noggin).
Most people can leave the sermon behind after Sunday if they so choose. The pastor's wife has to go home with the preacher and offer that encouragement and support, even when the sermon was a clunker.
Most people go to their pastor with their problems, needs, questions, etc.? Where does the pastor's wife go? Sure, she can and should go to her husband. But what if he is the problem?! Just kidding. I hope. Anyway, I know there are times when she would like to talk with someone about things, get a fresh perspective, etc. But it's tough on a pastor's wife.
Then think about the grief she endures by having to hear people criticize and complain about her husband. You and I know that when it comes to stuff like that, talk about me all you want, but leave my family alone. Imagine how the pastor's wife feels, then. People running down her husband's preaching, or complaining about this or that thing he didn't do, when she knows that she and her family have already done without so much of her husband's time because of other ministry thing he is doing. It always seems to be open season on Pastors without ever considering the impact that has on their wives.
And on top of that, many ministry families struggle financially. Years of labor in small churches, or in mission settings where income is bare minimum, or even in churches who quite frankly don't care for their pastor's as they should. The pastor's wife is tasked with raising a family in that setting, expected to make them all "look nice" and so on.
I know that every situation is different. Expectations from church to church are different. Pastor's and their wives' giftedness are different. I probably left out a lot of other things. And in some churches, there are those who do go out of their way to offer encouragement to the pastor's wife. But still, by and large, the pastor's wife is one of the most under-appreciated people on the planet.
So, let me just encourage you to stop and thank God for your pastor's wife. And then, you may want to actually go and thank her as well. Take her to lunch. Buy her a gift card to her favorite store (no, my wife has no idea I'm writing this! She'd kill me, which is another thing about pastor's wives: they rarely if ever ask for anything. But give it to her anyway). Let her know her ministry to the church and especially to her husband are greatly appreciated. Above all, pray for her.
And if you are a pastor's wife, let me just be the first to say: Thank You. You are truly a gift from God to His church and to His servants.