The perfect pastor’s wife

Okay, hang on, hang on. That’s not the full title of this post. The full title is “Debunking the Myth of the Perfect Pastor’s Wife, and Other Rural Legends.” Debunking, you see.

To tackle such a doughty topic, I needed a pal. So I asked my friend Luci, my beautiful friend Luci Martin from way up in northern Alberta, to hash with me. She comes from (her words:) “the most accepting little church of wholesome people.” But sometimes, like me, she doesn’t feel like the right woman for the job. Observe.


Confession: We’re not perfect pastor’s wives.

Do you know perfect pastor’s wives? Coming soon to a church near you… The slightly-rounded-but-not-overweight, comfortably maternal type who live for Sunday mornings, who volunteer in the church library, and who are never seen without a smile and nylons.

Their speech is guarded, sincere, and above all, uplifting. Their hair is cooperative. Their hosiery is free of runs. Their children are models of virtue. Their husbands rise up and call on them. To teach Sunday school.

We do this pastor’s wife thing because we love our men, and are deeply committed to their callings. But hey, give us a long enough tether and we’d be heading for a sunny South Sea island. So Luci, how would life be different if you weren’t a pastor’s wife?

I think the first thing that comes to my mind is that I really wish I could dye my hair because I’m getting grey so young.  And in reality I could. But I’ve mourned this problem so loudly that now everyone would notice if I did.  And when it comes down to it, I’m afraid.

Yeah, I… wait. Did you just say you want to dye your hair??

[shrieks of irreverent mirth]

And Dan claims he likes me this way!

I love trips and running around and getting away.  I live for hot sunshine in a community of ladies who love their winter days so they can sew and houseclean.  Half of them are farm ladies who help their husbands brand and vaccinate.  Dan is the farmer here, but I don’t help much with that and am easily bored with calving talk. 

I resist huge urges to laugh in church when the singing goes badly and sometimes I really want to mix up the service and change the staidness (which isn’t really very staid….just comfortable and habitual).

My relationship with gardening is love/hate.  And I really should butcher the old hens that Tammy offered me instead of blogging.

And don’t get me started on how our two youngest behave in church.

Oh, no doubt. Isn’t there a Bible verse about having her children in perfect order? What if mine run away from me in the service while their dad is preaching and won’t come back?

Surely the perfect pastor’s wife wouldn’t follow the shallowness of social media like Dan’s wife does.

Or send frozen pizzas for school lunches once a week.  I feel guilty about this one because the church gives us an offering every 5th Sunday and maybe they don’t feel like buying us pizzas, you know?

What about you?

A good pastor’s wife would probably not go out for coffee and pie with a friend at a 24-hour restaurant after the revival meeting lets out—one of my latest exploits.

Or go into serious overload at the end of every member’s meeting. After the last one I started laughing uproariously just to de-stress. Unfortunately I was still in the auditorium.

She probably wouldn’t be so afraid of people.

Or make so many tragic relational booboos.

Or have cause to fear that her daughter will grow up to be just like her.

A perfect pastor’s wife would not be so worried about the opinions of others.  That I know for a solemn fact.

She wouldn’t ramble on about Mennonite fashion like she does (here).

Or follow the 2012 election and debates like a silly moth to a huge flame.

Or dread teaching preschool Sunday school class.

Or mutter crude words under her breath every time pandemonium breaks out around the house. Or be heard saying holy cow in the orthodontist’s office.

She probably wouldn’t use her children as an excuse to sneak out of difficult meetings.

Or publicly campaign for her opponents in the upcoming head pastor election.

Or let her children run wild and her washer go through a cycle with no clothes in it while she wrote an email like I did just now.

Or wish that she had an in-house chef.

Or be speechless on the topic of hell.

Or pray frantic prayers that the guests she knows she needs to invite for lunch will say no because the house is a mess at home. 

You see? We try, but…

Now, dear reader (ooh! That was a pleasant rush of real pastor’s wifing adrenaline), if you search your heart and think “But I don’t think I have high expectations for my pastor’s wife,” just search one level deeper. What would you expect of yourself if you were her?

We do realize that most of our expectations are self-imposed ones.

Of course. But that doesn’t make them any less real, does it? So, all you people out there like us. If you are a pastor’s wife, take a little time to laugh at yourself. And if you are not a pastor’s wife, cut yours some extra slack this week.

Every woman’s hosiery has its runs.


In collaboration with Luci Martin. Here at Quiet Hearts, you can get to know her better, and read more stuff she writes. I love her.

Our mutual friend Dorcas Smucker also said some great things on pastor’s wifing. You may enjoy them here and here.

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10 years ago

LOL – This was too fun!! I agree with the part about self-imposed expectations but let’s be honest, if we were in your position we’d totally agree with you, I know it. I remember one time when my daughter was little and was playing on the floor in church and I went to take her arm to pull her back up and she goes, “OW, you’re hurting me!” as loud as could be. Hmm, that was special. I think you both sound like down-to-earth, Godly people who I’d love to spend time with. I have a blogger friend who, while not being Mennonite or “plain”, is a pastor’s wife and she is a hoot. Here’s her blog if you want to check it out:

Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend ~

5 years ago
Reply to  BethR

Hi, I know you posted this comment in 2013, but I hope you are still out there, five years later, and can help me! Several years ago I discovered the best coffeecake recipe ever on a blog called “mom’s the word.” I bookmarked it and used it for years. Sadly, one day I clicked the link and found that the blog was closed to everyone who wasn’t a subscriber. I had never thought to subscribe to it; I just always used that amazing recipe. Anyway, I’ve been searching for it, off and on, for months. Today I found the link in your comment! If I click it, it still tells me that I can’t see the blog, but perhaps you could contact the author of Mom’s the word, and somehow get the recipe? Or allow me access to the blog? Or give her my email address?

I’m laughing as I write this, because it’s such an odd request, but it’s kind of important to us. My son searched for the recipe this morning, couldn’t get on the blog of course, then finally said, “I suppose I’ll have to use a different, inferior, coffee cake recipe!”

Hope you can help! Thanks – Leslie

5 years ago
Reply to  Shari Zook

That’s fantastic; thank you so much! There is going to be great rejoicing at my house when we have a copy of that recipe.

You’re right – this is the fun side of the internet!

Happy new year to you, too, and thanks again.

Alvin S
10 years ago

I enjoyed learning a new word: doughty.

After looking it up on Merriam-Webster, and listening to the proper pronunciation, I am now afraid to use it in conversation.

It sounds just like “dowdy”…. which means something quite different.

10 years ago
Reply to  Alvin S

I had to look that one up too. Shari is just too smart for us. And yes….the pronunciation makes me sad too. 🙂

10 years ago
Reply to  Luci

Don’t tell anyone, but I had to too. I couldn’t remember how to spell it.

Janelle Glick
10 years ago

My mind is spinning… I hope to write more later. I am laughing at both you and Luci and myself, but I also feel trepidation about responding openly to your post – you touched some places of longing. It’s so good to read your 2013 posts.

Janelle Glick
10 years ago

And thanks too for the great links – now I can spend my quiet morning (baby sleeping – husband home:) reading all about your friends too. 🙂


Kim Glenn
10 years ago

Oh my those self-imposed expectations….no matter our role or calling in life….
I just went through my mental list…thank you for giving me room to laugh…I empathize with your dilemmas… I was a teachers wife for too many years.
I would love to be a part of a congregation that has you and Luci as the wives of my preachers.
Maybe you could start a reality show (or good Mennonite fashion blog)
Desperate Wives of Preachers??

Cathy M
10 years ago

It was kind of hard to sip hot chocolate and read your blog at the same time. 🙂 I love the pastors’ wives who break outside of our nice “pastor’s wife” box. We have one who loves to hunt and spends her Saturday in the woods doing just that. She also loves putting puzzles together and when she shares some of hers with me she reminds me to make sure I get my work done. 🙂 Which tells me she forgets sometimes too. Just small examples but they give me a place to connect.

10 years ago

Great post. Humor that reaches deep into the soul. If Lucy ever comes around I’d like to do a midnight run to Perkins with the two of you. 🙂

What about:
-the pastor’s wife who talks about starting her own house church
-or running away to Timbuktu
-who remembers her nylons but forgets other more important articles of clothing

10 years ago

Oh my goodness, I loved this! Lol! I always lament that my pastor’s wife “kit” did not come with the ability to sing beautifully and play the piano. Nor the ability to speak and laugh softly.

Sadly, I have overslept and been late to church more than once (a friend of mine wise-cracked “You give hope to pastors’ wives everywhere.”)

Once I was taking the garbage out. My hair hadn’t been washed yet and I was wearing sloppy sweats with a hole in the seat of the pants.

I tossed the garbage in and turned around and people were walking up our driveway. A neighbor (also a church member) was bringing his brother over to “meet the pastor’s wife.” Oh dear……

10 years ago

Thanks so much for giving this needy minister’s wife a needed laugh!

10 years ago

Enjoyed this post very much! 🙂 A fellow pastor’s wife with high self-imposed expectations

10 years ago

I love a good honest pastor’s wife, I had that for an example when I was young, now that I am a pastor’s wife my goal is to also be real. I think we can do this without being daring. Sometimes preacher’s kids are caught in the trap of trying to prove they can be as bad as anybody else. Could it be that as pastor’s wives, we have the same temptations because we don’t want to be separated from our friends? This can be a lonely calling.

1 Tim 3:11 says “Even so must their wives be grave, not slanders, sober faithful in all things.” I know pastor’s wives who are real and honest about their faults, down to earth, not judgmental with unique personalities all the while carrying out this Bible command.

If we think our list is long, 1 Timothy has a lot more qualifications for our dear men, let’s rise to the challenge and support them!
God Bless!!

10 years ago

Thanks for the thoughts!

I laugh at myself because I think that taking oneself too seriously is one of the worst possible cramps on growing in holiness. But I want to be careful not to cause offense, or to think that if I’ve laughed at my faults and foibles I’ve shrugged off responsibility. I want to grow!

10 years ago

You two are a fun combination! I wonder if the high “self imposed expectations” has more to do with being human and female than a particular job description. (I’m not a good enough mom, friend, or wife either.) I do also like the above anonymous comment. Being real is great, but setting out to prove it probably won’t work so well.

10 years ago

Oh wow, this just makes my heart smile! Yes. Yes. Yes. I am soooo with you! I would be right with you getting the giggles in a stressful must-not-laugh situation or going out for a late night coffee. I swing between telling myself that it doesn’t matter what people think to feeling extremely vulnerable in this area.

LaDonna Nice
10 years ago

I can identify with this post even though a pastor’s wife I am not…

10 years ago

Not a pastor’s wife, but as the daughter of a bishop, I can really appreciate this!
“Holy Cow” at the orthodontist had me giggling.

10 years ago

This made me laugh!! I am not a pastor’s wife but I do try to remember that the pastors and their wives are human just like I am and that they struggle with things as well. Just keep being real and growing and we will pray God gives the grace for whatever situation you have to face!!

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