My blog, ThomRainer.com, began as a source of information for pastors, staff and other Christian leaders. I have been incredibly blessed to discover a subgroup of my readership that has much to offer: pastors’ wives. Many in this group have also shared a common plight: They are very lonely.
Indeed, the transparency of these pastors’ wives is amazing. Many have shared with each other on my blog about their battles with depression. My desire to offer help to pastors’ wives has increased greatly. My respect for and admiration of them has also grown significantly.
For this article, I assimilated the hundreds of blog comments, Twitter and Facebook messages, and general conversations I’ve had with pastors’ wives. My focus was on the No. 1 challenge they have shared: loneliness.
Here are the 12 most common reasons pastors’ wives have offered to explain their loneliness:
1. Superficial relationships in the church. “No one ever sees me as my own person. I am the pastor’s wife. No one tries to get close to me.”
2. A busy pastor/husband. “My husband is on 24/7 call all the time. I just get leftovers.”
3. Mean church members. “I guess I’ve isolated myself to some extent. I just don’t want to keep hearing those awful things they say about my husband and me.”
4. A conduit for complaints about her husband. “Last week someone told me their family was leaving the church because my husband is a lousy preacher. Do they have any idea how that makes me feel?”
5. Broken confidences. “I’ve given up trying to get close to church members. I thought I had a close friend until I found out she was sharing everything I told her. That killed me emotionally.”
6. Frequent moves. “I’m scared to get close to anybody now. Every time I develop a close relationship, we move again.”
7. Viewed as a second-class person. “One church member introduced me to a guest visiting the church by saying I’m ‘just the pastor’s wife.’”
8. Lack of support groups. “I’ve heard that some wives have support groups that really help. I’ve never been able to find one.”
9. No date nights. “I can’t remember the last time my husband and I had a date night together.”
10. Complaints about children. “I really don’t try to get close to church members anymore. I’m tired of so many of them telling me how perfect our children should be.”
11. Husband does not give the wife priority. “Frankly, the church is like a mistress to my husband. He has abandoned me for someone else.”
12. Financial struggles. “My husband makes so much less money than most of the members. I just can’t afford to do the things they do socially.”
While many pastors’ wives share that there are blessings in their role, many do suffer severe loneliness. I would love to hear from more of these wives. And I would love to hear from others about them. The words I have heard from these women have prompted me to be more intentional about praying for them.
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Previously, he served the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for 12 years where he was a founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.