Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes

#185 The stay-at-home pastor’s wife

posted by Stephanie Drury

pastorswife.jpgThere is an unwritten rule in Christian culture that pastor’s wives do not work outside the home. Once married, most pastor’s wives relinquish their vocation and set about the full-time business of wifedom. They are very earnest in their mission to be their husband’s support, encourager, and Proverbs 31 vixen.

Most pastor’s wives are indeed college educated (though often partially), having secured their husband by way of their university’s Campus Crusade ministry. The rest of them met at Christian college where most everyone is looking to mate for life. If said wife does work outside the home after they are married, she will without question quit her job when they start having children. (And they will have more than one. You won’t find a pastoral couple who has only one child. It does not exist in nature.)

The pastor’s wife keeps extremely busy with her homeschool curriculum, coordinating the children’s ministry at church and leading Beth Moore bible studies. But once the kids are grown and out of the house it is common for the pastor’s wife to get her real estate license. This is an excellent business move, for from here she automatically becomes the real estate agent for every single person in the congregation.

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posted August 30, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Ring by Spring, or your money back~!
There’s a reason that even back in my Fundie days it was pretty common to change “Bible College” to “Bridal College”. Funny enough, most people I know who got married in Bible College are no longer married.

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Laura F

posted August 30, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Hmmm….I’m an only child and a preacher’s kid (they did it by choice). But my father’s United Methodist- so maybe Mainline denominations don’t follow the multiple pattern. ;)

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posted August 30, 2010 at 11:40 pm

Many of the pastor’s wives I know are pastors themselves.

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stephanie drury

posted August 30, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Methodists, Lutherans and Episcopals are not part of Christian culture. They have their own thing going on quite separate from the evangelicals.

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Stephen Charles

posted August 30, 2010 at 11:56 pm

Hmmm, I think you’re forgetting about a little thing called James Robison’s wife, Betty. She doesn’t stay at home. On “Life Today,” she sits right next to James while he makes out with the camera or flirts with special guest Beth Moore or sobs his love for Jesus (paging Mark Driscoll, pansy boy on line one), nodding and smiling. Sometimes she says, “That’s right” when he asks her how totally awesome and spot-on right he is.

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Lee Herring

posted August 31, 2010 at 12:21 am

Ms. Drury,
Perhaps you have overreached with this one. The lovely Mrs. L is gainfully employed and does not homeschool our 3 children who are all doing well in public school. (One is now attending a state university.) Neither does she lead Beth Moore studies or sit right next to me saying, ‘That’s right.’ In fact, she’s more likely to say, ‘You butthead.’ Obviously, we did not meet at ‘Bridal College.’ She has no interest in real estate. Perhaps her Methodist upbringing is an explanation for this.
She is involved in our church’s children’s ministry. We have mated for life. She is most definitely a Proverbs 31 vixen, with an abundant spicing from Solomon’s Song.
Perhaps you have not overreached too much after all.
Love your work, Lee
PS: I do know a conservative evangelical pastor with only one child. I have often believed my friend to be an anomaly of nature.

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posted August 31, 2010 at 12:51 am

At Bible college, I had a student job in an office with a woman who was a pastor’s wife, and I remember being surprised at the time that she was working full time (granted, her kids were grown up and moved out). I’ll never forget what she told me was the number one thing she disliked about being a pastor’s wife: it was that people in the congregation never considered that she could have an opinion other than her husband’s, and she was offended by that. I think that’s a mistake people make in any Christian church, whether evangelical or not. So I’ve always tried to keep that in mind when speaking with pastor’s wives and getting to know them.
@Amy Do all Bible colleges have that slogan, or did we go to the same school? lol

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posted August 31, 2010 at 1:37 am

@Lynn: I’m pretty sure they all do. :) It’s just one of those things that people do with their kids because it is The Thing To Do, send them to Bible college and have them find a spouse. I went to youth group with a girl who had the stated goal of going to $BIBLE_COLLEGE, finding a husband, and becoming a pastor’s wife. Guess who was a PK? She luckily grew out of it, got a degree in music and teaches choir. And isn’t married.
CAPTCHA: aiskied talk

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posted August 31, 2010 at 1:37 am

A lot of pastors’ wives are employed (part-time?) by the church.

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posted August 31, 2010 at 1:59 am

“Pastor’s Wife” IS a job, but it’s not paid. She’s running the women’s groups, prayer lists, social calenders … They don’t generally work outside the home because there isn’t TIME.

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posted August 31, 2010 at 8:57 am

Funny. I knew a pastor’s wife that did in fact become a real estate agent. And yes, she did pick up many customers from the church. I did not realize that perhaps this was a common trend.

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Stephen Charles

posted August 31, 2010 at 9:24 am

Pretty off topic, but speaking of Methodists, remember when Tom Skerritt portrayed the Presbyterian-pastor father in “A River Runs Through It”? His son wanted to marry a Methodist girl, and he was opposed, saying, “Methodists are Baptists who can read.” Some say it’s, “Methodists are Baptists who wear shoes.” I can never decide which is funnier.
Lee, “butthead” is a funny word. But funnier is “butthole.” Also, TMI on the Solomon thing, but kudos for the public education advocacy.

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posted August 31, 2010 at 9:33 am


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posted August 31, 2010 at 9:38 am

There are a few pastors I wish would stay at home.

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posted August 31, 2010 at 10:17 am

T-Man- lol.
I kind of feel like the kind of pastor’s wife who “stays at home” or only works (not for pay) in the church is the kind of pastor’s wife who can AFFORD to. Yes, it’s a long-standing expectation that the pastor’s wife will be: interested in women’s ministries, a capable 1950’s style hostess, adept at piano playing, owner of a (superfluous) degree from Bridal College, mother of several children, advocate for homeschooling and all things conservative and traditional.
If she can afford to.

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George, American

posted August 31, 2010 at 11:00 am

I love this blog. It’s a perfect snapshot of everything about America that I find disgusting and am working in the fringes to undermine and then erase.

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posted August 31, 2010 at 11:28 am

All the pastors’ wives we’ve had have worked. They were educated women with much to contribute to society and to the family income. We must be giving credit to God for the various talents and gifts he has given these women. The people of our church do the work of the church and if the pastors’ spouses contribute, it is as one of the congregation. Sheesh. The people do a lot to help in ministry to the congregation and community. There is too much for the pastor to do alone.
However, when I was growing up, the pastor preached from the pulpit that the wife shouldn’t work and people shouldn’t work on Sunday. His wife was an RN. But when they started to have kids in college, she went to work and even on Sunday, because if you wanted part time work as an RN, you had to work weekends. But I sure don’t remember her being involved in Sunday School, etc. when she wasn’t working.

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stephanie drury

posted August 31, 2010 at 11:38 am

haha Andy!

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posted August 31, 2010 at 11:52 am

Thank God I am not a pastor; my wife would shoot herself in Jesus’ name. Besides she’ll be hauling down a $150K a year as soon as she finishes accounting school in a few months! We’re taking bids from churches on the tithe that will produce.

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posted August 31, 2010 at 1:01 pm

The first thought that came to my mind when I saw this post was when I remember seeing that Mark Driscoll preaching at Mars Hill Church a series on the Song of Songs and he had his wife doing the Q&A with him. The videos of it are on Youtube. I found it to be awkward to watch. I thought 1)she was one of the most brainwashed women I had seen in CC, or 2)I hope neither of the Driscolls have a mid-life crisis.

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phree thinka

posted August 31, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Question: pastor wives who work for the church, can take on a “co-pastor” title. there is financial tax benefit for the co-pastor. Maybe Casey Treat in Seattle is a good example – his wife is a “co-pastor”. another smooth move for the mega churches. i’m good with people, maybe i should proclaim myself a “pastor” and get the tax benefits…? who’s with me? anyone can buy a certificate on line and become a certified minister. i need some tax relief no doubt. But then i would have to identify and submit to the 501c3 demonic org and so this is where i have to say no thanks.
at my old church, the pastor wife is a real estate agent. when she taught her son in law the real estate business, they switched churches so there wasn’t any client competition!!! wow. i wish the congregation knew about this, i wonder if anyone would feel uncomfortable and re-think their life commitment to the church.

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posted August 31, 2010 at 6:59 pm

I think that my former pastor (Rick Scarborough, who left the church to found Vision America) had only one daughter.

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posted August 31, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Shannon, I’m not about to watch that video, but I think Mark Driscoll is on his fourth or fifth midlife crisis.

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Another Sarah

posted September 1, 2010 at 10:26 am

I’m also an old mainline church person and most of the ministers I’ve dealt with have been women and only some of them were married so I have not really witnessed the phenomenon of the pastor’s wife (or husband), although your description makes me think of Dr. Phil’s wife and how she is always sitting in the audience in his show. I found that creepy the few times I watched the show so I think the other would bother me too.
That being said, I’ve never heard of Bible College being called Bridal College but I have heard it referred to as “shoe school”… something about how they take you in, fix up your soles [sic] and send you out in pairs.

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Susan R. Rabinowitz,

posted September 1, 2010 at 10:56 am

I was a pastor’s wife, home schooled our five children yet had an art business at the same time. For those pastors’ wives who do not work outside the church, they work extremely hard inside the church, don’t get paid enough, and have to deal with all sorts of people.

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posted September 1, 2010 at 12:40 pm

At the church of my growing-up years there were three pastors — the head pastor, the assistant pastor and the youth/music pastor. Each pastor’s wife was standoffish and one had some kind of social anxiety that bordered on a psychological illness. They all desired privacy, which I totally respect — the “public eye” aspect of being an evangelical pastor’s wife makes me more than a little seasick to think about — but the net result was that people in the congregation competed with each other to get into the “inner circle” of the pastoral family friendships and associations. There was a whole unspoken pecking order based on who was tight with the pastors and the pastors’ wives. People looked at the leadership like they were a pantheon, which led to the allowance of some pretty awful practices.
The church as an organization functioned a lot like a country club. I felt a little bad for the pastoral wives because they were caught between Scylla and Charybdis — on the one hand was the privacy they wanted that there was pressure for them to give up because of their public role; on the other hand was the exclusiveness that their attempts to cope with the duality fostered amongst the congregation. And I always got the strong, strong feeling that all three families were secretly miserable (well, it didn’t take an empath to figure that out).
Shudder. I had a huge crush on the head pastor’s son — most of the smart girls in the church did — but I’m so glad he never reciprocated it; he’s a Baptist minister somewhere, and I’m so far from that ideal now.

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David H.

posted September 1, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Stephy wrote, “Methodists, Lutherans and Episcopals are not part of Christian culture. They have their own thing going on quite separate from the evangelicals.”
a) Completely correct. I’ve often thought a “What Mainline Christian Culture Likes” blog would be a great deal of fun.
b) We call ourselves ‘Episcopalians’ (sorry, grammar-nazi moment now concluded ;)

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stephanie drury

posted September 1, 2010 at 2:45 pm

David, thanks for pointing that out! It kind of goes to show just how much I, mired in Christian culture, know about mainline denominations’ culture. :)

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posted September 1, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Hah! I actually think Lutherans and Episcopalians deserve blogs unto themselves (and most likely someone’s already doing it).
Not meaning to leave out the Methodists here – it’s just that I’m completely unfamiliar with the denomination and its offshoots.
fwiw, you could easily do the same for Quakers, Mennonites, et. al.

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posted September 1, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Everyone should check out Anita Renfroe, the pastor’s wife who is a comedienne with a dvd out! She cracks the congregation ( um I mean audience) up with jokes about menopause, raising children, and her ever-troublesome thyroid in “It’s Just My Thyroid!!!” Rent it or purchase ASAP! I guarantee you will not laugh for her intended purposes, but it is a treasure trove of laughs otherwise.
On the general topic, I think this wife is the kind of Real Estate Agent that meets the client at the Starbucks down the street from the church and hands them a flyer to her next Creative Memories scrapfest too.

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posted September 2, 2010 at 12:07 am

Honestly, I think part of the desire to stay home is sometimes laziness (at least before you do it, because I have been tempted because of laziness to not want to work at a job). Also, homeschooling can definitely backfire – I have met several formerly homeschooled adults who are incredibly socially awkward to the point of it being painful to be around (not in a sweet way, more in a “you’re giving off a creeper vibe” way).
It has also never sat well with me how much of the “good old boys club” the church can sometimes be. Where women’s opinons aren’t valued at all beyond “standing behind” whatever her husband is doing.
I did have a pastor who had only one child though. Not by choice, but that is how it ended up.
I’m also not a fan of it seeming to be the “pastor’s wife’s job” to act as though knowing and caring about everyone when never having actually had a conversation with them longer than a few minutes.
Hm. I am getting a tad tired of hearing all the “I’m NOT a fan of” thoughts of mine. Still working on figuring out what I DO agree with. It would help if there were more examples that I liked. :) If anyone knows of any, feel free to let me know!
Also, on the vein of “mainstream” churches: I grew up Methodist, but with parents who didn’t really care too much about church. Therefore, to me, it seemed mostly like a social club, because that is mostly what it was for them. On the other hand, I think there were people in that denomination (and others) who truly had their heads on straight & were looking for what was real. I didn’t figure that out until long after I’d kicked it to the curb, though.

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posted September 2, 2010 at 1:31 am

My dad is a pastor and I’m an only child.

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posted September 2, 2010 at 4:56 am

Bahaha! They DO end up becoming real estate agents!

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posted September 2, 2010 at 10:13 am

Some have 4 children and do work outside the church and in the church as her husband’s assistant and better word helpmate and even after the children are grown-up still work diligently in the church and workplace. I have seen and been apart of churches with these awesome women of God.

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posted September 2, 2010 at 10:18 am

“An helpmate”

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stephanie drury

posted September 2, 2010 at 2:52 pm

I always thought it was “helpmeet.”

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posted September 2, 2010 at 3:48 pm

You are correct Miss.

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stephanie drury

posted September 2, 2010 at 4:45 pm

That’s Mrs. Helpmeet to you, young man.

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posted September 2, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Anglicans tend to have four children. Anglican vicar’s wives are often arty and intuitive. My Evangelical church leader’s wife stays at home and draws nudes. The pastor of my gay (MCC) church has a partner whom we never see. I think she’s female cos he says he’s not gay, but presumably that’s only since the sex-change. Confused?

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posted September 2, 2010 at 9:18 pm

My pastor and his spouse are a dual-income (she’s a university professor) interfaith couple; I bet THAT makes a few of your constant readers’ heads explode. (She is a remarkably good sport about showing up in church most Sundays, and also takes part in some of our fellowship events.)

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posted September 2, 2010 at 11:15 pm

I was raised southern Baptist so this post couldn’t be more spot on than it is. I have four aunts that all went to Bible College (Bob Jones) and all came out of college half completed but married to four pastors. None of them work and 3 out of 4 home school their children.

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Crap Blog Detective

posted September 3, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Lazy cow

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Julie Presley

posted September 5, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Wow. Thank goodness for THAT guy! ^^

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Still Breathing

posted September 7, 2010 at 6:17 am

Crap Blog Detective, The correct Biblical phrase is ‘Fat Cow’ or, more correctly ‘You Cow of Bashan’ – a wonderful insult used by Amos.

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posted September 18, 2010 at 9:02 am

You may write well but your words are fluff. Christian Culture? You keep throwing that phrase around on this blog and bunching all Christians together in the same mold, which is actually pretty prejudicial and ignorant. Please define Christian Culture for me? I don’t think you can because like many of the other world religions, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, it is made up of several races and cultures.

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posted January 20, 2011 at 2:34 pm

My pastor’s wife sings soprano in our church choir and works from home as a LCSW. Pastor sings alto and is the guitarist in our church band. Their grandkids visit often for time from the grandmas. :-P

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