a variation on a theme

I’m a big fan of Lutheran pastors. I’m also a big fan of Lutheran pastors’ wives.

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Being married to a pastor must be like being married to a doctor or a paramedic, never knowing when your husband might have to dash out, dash off, dash in.

Your phone rings a lot. Your doorbell rings a lot. Your ears ring a lot.

You get frustrated. You get exasperated.

You get free peaches, free sweet corn, a free side of beef.

You smile. You laugh. You shake your head.

You got your husband’s back. You’re at his side. You hold up his hands.

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At least, those are the pastors’ wives that I’ve seen, the ones I’m blessed to be friends with and learn from.

My sister is the wife of a pastor. So is my best friend. So are some of my closest acquaintances.

And they don’t complain. They don’t melt down. They don’t whine about their kids and roll their eyes at their congregations.

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They endure.

In faith.

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They pray for their husbands. They laugh off the craziness. They move forward.

They put fresh peaches, fresh sweet corn, fresh beef on the table.

They talk theology and history and humor.

Their lives are big and full and stout, despite the suffering, despite the frustration, despite life.

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I am a big fan of Lutheran pastors. But I’m also a big fan of Lutheran pastors’ wives.

Because they stand firm when they could melt down. They are faithful when they could give up. They are content when they could complain.

And I am thankful for it.

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13 thoughts on “a variation on a theme

  1. Thank you for the post on pastor’s wives. I am a pastor’s wife. Haven’t been at it too long, a little over five years. I can relate with most of this…the corn, the beef, the dashing off here and there. We recently enjoyed some fresh garden watermelon 🙂

    But I must confess, I have whined about the congregation many times. Not to them…but to my husband. Big mistake. I am slowly learning folly of my ways. I have whined about my kids too. I have resented the fact that I must bring all of them to church by myself and the fact that I do not get to just sit still and listen in Bible class or church.

    I often think of myself as the worst sinner in the congregation. After all, I have 200+ people to put up a front for. And I have 200+ people to judge as I stand in the back with my infant and toddler that I simply could not keep quiet any longer.

    But I also know that I am forgiven. Every once in a while, in between the child management (5 of them) I get to hear the words of Absolution that my husband declares.

    For a long time I thought that in order to be a “good pastor’s wife” I must never complain about anything. Must always speak well about my husband to anyone I meet, etc. But I have failed miserably at these things. And I have recently found freedom in realizing that I do not have to be perfect to be a good pastor’s wife. You’d think as Lutheran, I would have got that by now.

    I will take a minute to thank my husband and all the faithful pastors. I tell my husband that I am glad he preaches about Jesus so much, because I think it is finally starting to sink in.

    And I thank God for the 200+ people God has given us to love and for the ones who love us. ❤

    • Well said. The sooner we lose the false vocation of “Pastor’s Wife” and replace it “Wife” among other vocations, the better we will all be. And the fewer self-inflicted heartaches we all will suffer, the better.

      • Brandt, not sure if you remember me, but if you are the same Brandt Hoffman I know, then we were at seminary together. Rebekah Theilen. Joshua is my husband. I remember you and Christy. Hope you guys are doing well. I am trying to configure all my internet setting and “hiddenwithyou” is my new blog project. Just starting it and haven’t figured it all out yet! Tell your wife hello for me, even if she doesn’t remember 🙂

  2. Pastor’s wives have a unique vocation. You have captured this well. Regarding their congregations she is not allowed opinions since she is perceived as merely speaking for her husband. Her ears ring with a lot of gossipy criticism of their husband. Her hopes and dreams may be swallowed by their husband’s ministry and its location. Still, most do well at keeping the home and family together as they remain best friends with their husbands. King Lemuel most certainly had pastor’s wives in mind when he penned Proverbs 31.Thank you, pastor’s wives, for all that you do!

    • I hate to disagree with a district president (and a former bi-circuit brother) but there is no such vocation as a pastor’s wife. She is a wife and, if the Lord so blesses, a mother. That’s the vocations about which we should talk. My wife just so happens to be married to a pastor. Becky (that’s my lovely wife) does not see herself as a pastor’s wife…or a pastor’s kid (which she happens to be). She’s my wife and the mother of our four children. She does an awesome job keeping a home. She is better than I deserve. Yes, Proverbs 31 is a most excellent chapter, but it does not so much describe a pastor’s wife as it does a virtuous wife, whether or not she’s married to a pastor. I know you don’t mean that, Brother Tim, but we should be quite cautious about “pastor’s wife” being a vocation.

      With all due respect to my dear friend Tim, for whom I am thankful to have served alongside in southern Illinois for a number of years.

    • Pastor Scharr, for what it is worth, I appreciated your comment. You empathized with the difficulties wives face when being married to a pastor following the context of this article. I would add also that trying to raise a family far away from any close relatives is another challenge as well. That has been the most difficult for me. Especially the evenings. I also appreciate your humble acceptance of correction. That is hard to do. I told you this a while back but I am still appreciating your Lutheran Witness articles. They contain messages that are very needed these days. Thank you. Sincerely, Rebekah Theilen.

  3. My favorite person in the whole world is a pastor’s wife.

    So is my best advisor.

    And my most constructive critic.

  4. I describe it this way. Pastor’s wives are like the astronauts. They have “the right stuff.” My wife certainly does.

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