What a Pastor’s Wife Needs

If you’re a pastor (and you know you are), make sure you’re doing everything you can to help out your wife:

  • She needs a clearly defined and guarded role.
  • She needs some help with the kids and house.
  • She needs some help getting to and from church on Sundays.
  • She needs a designated parking place.
  • She needs a handful of safe relationships with other godly women.
  • She needs to choose her own friends and define her own relationships.
  • She needs to see her first jobs as Christian, wife, and mother, not free hire for the church.

We can all thank Mark Driscoll for that gender-equal list.

(Actual pastor’s wife) Julie Clawson has a terrific response to the list:

Wow my own parking place at church, that would really make my life easier. And to be allowed (within my protected and guarded role) to choose my friends! What am I – a grown woman or a kindergartner? Maybe it would have helped if he had added to the list – “She needs to have a husband who doesn’t say that a pastor’s sexual sins are the fault of his wife not looking hot.” But that might be asking too much.

These books and this advice is so condescending it’s embarrassing. Sure the stereotypes and the expectations have caused problems, but I would think that allowing a women to be herself would be more useful than defining and restricting her role more. It’s a messed up system, the whole church culture is a messed up system. We’ve created this ultra-ritualized pageant where people are expected to act in certain roles. It would be amusing if it wasn’t so very sad. So do I have a point here? I don’t know. Just that I refuse to be labeled with any of the expectations of being a pastor’s wife. And that I feel sorry for the women who are confined by that role.



[tags]atheist, atheism, Christian, church[/tags]

  • Richard Wade

    I’ve had the pleasure of conversing with Julie Clawson on a few occasions at her discussion site as well as at her husband’s, Mike C. Her mind is as sharp as her heart is gracious. She doesn’t take crap from anybody, and certainly doesn’t need this kind of condescending protection. Driscoll’s list is very paternalistic, and sounds like somebody trying to sound enlightened and magnanimous in the 1950′s. Is Driscoll married? Maybe he’s trying to patch things up with his own wife.

  • Richard Wade

    Interesting. The article linked under Mark Drscoll above says,

    The Church Report has recognized Pastor Mark as the twenty-second most influential pastor in America.

    How do you figure that out when you get down to the twenty-second? I wonder who is the two thousand, four hundred and thirty-ninth most influential pastor in America? And does he or she know it?

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike C

    I wonder who is the two thousand, four hundred and thirty-ninth most influential pastor in America? And does he or she know it?

    Oh yes, that would be me. :)

  • Richard Wade

    Mike, I knew you would take advantage of that one. :) I’m sure you’re miles ahead of the next guy.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike C

    Actually, out of over 500,000 pastors in America, I’m not doing too bad if I’m at 2439. ;)

    It’s an interesting idea though. How exactly do you gauge something like that? We ought to have Technorati rankings for pastors! Things like my blog, my Emergent cohort, and the conference I organized this summer would bump up my influence, but the fact I past a church of 20 people in a tiny suburb would diminish it. (Not that I think any of that really matters much.)

  • Erik Snyder

    Wow. Mark Driscoll wrote that list? And to think that I actually once considered it a privelage to visit his church. This only confirms for me why I had to leave my local church, which is part of Driscoll’s Acts29 network and is led by a pastor who considers Driscoll to be his mentor.

    While Driscoll may be considered 22 in influential pastors, he is one of the top three when it comes to people in their twenties. He is enourmously popular in that age group…which means that he’s leading the Christian leaders of tomorrow. Scary.

  • Richard Wade

    Mike, your positive, sensible influence is something I’d like to see increase. I was going to ask you if you knew how The Church Report quantifies such a thing. Official membership numbers, I suppose. But that’s not all there is to “influence,” which may not be quantifiable. I think we influence many others the most in offhand ways for good or ill, with a smile or a sneer, a kind or a curt remark, saying hello or just walking by. Our kindness or aloofness spreads out through others, immediately becoming impossible to measure but not necessarily reaching zero, kind of like sound waves. It’s continuous, so simply the kind of person we are in tiny behaviors may add up to much more influence than the overt, measurable things we do.

    …I past a church of 20 people…

    I never heard “past” used as a verb. That’s great. Thanks, I love studying words. “He pasted there for eighteen years.” “She will be pasting here next week.” “I plan in the future to past.”

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike C

    I never heard “past” used as a verb.

    uhh, yeah, that was just a typo :)

  • Karen

    She needs a handful of safe relationships with other godly women.

    Let’s just make sure they are safe relationships, please. Lot of unsafe lesbians lurking out there, disguising themselves as “godly women,” trying to lure pastor’s wives to the dark side!

    She needs to choose her own friends and define her own relationships.

    Awww … isn’t that special?

    She needs to see her first jobs as Christian, wife, and mother, not free hire for the church.

    Because, like, no pastor’s wife would ever have her own career! Because pastors typically earn so much money and heaven forbid the family might need some extra income or the little woman might just have some professional aspirations of her own. (eye roll)

    “He pasted there for eighteen years.” “She will be pasting here next week.” “I plan in the future to past.”

    The BBC reported yesterday that there’s a pasta strike in Italy …

  • Richard Wade

    uhh, yeah, that was just a typo

    Darn. I really was hoping it was a correct word I could have fun with. So is the correct verb made from the noun, as in “to pastor?” Pastorize?

    The BBC reported yesterday that there’s a pasta strike in Italy …

    I read about that. This does not bode well. The Flying Spagetti Monster (bless his noodly appendage) will not look favorably on the Italians if they dont’ resolve the pasta problem soon.

  • Karen

    I’ve heard the verb form as “to pastor,” as in, “Rev. Jones will be pastoring at the First Baptist congregation starting Jan. 1.”

    This is not to be confused, of course, what happens at the dairy farm … aka pasteurizing. Though the First Baptists are probably rather “homogenized.”

  • Richard Wade

    Homogenized? I thought they were homophobic.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike C

    So is the correct verb made from the noun, as in “to pastor?” Pastorize?

    Yeah, the verb is “to pastor”.

    The word itself derives from the Latin term for “shepherd”. A pastor is a shepherd of his church flock.

  • Richard Wade

    I hope all is well with your family and your flock.


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