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This topic is adapted from PursueGOD Network YouTube channel. This is part  1 of several in the Insights from Pastors’ Wives series.

One issue facing pastor’s wives is the expectations others place on us and we place on ourselves. Sally was an active church member much of her life, but more recently married a pastor. So she reflects on expectations from both perspectives. Tracy reflects as the wife of a church planter who has grown with the church.

What Women in the Congregation May Expect

As a church attender, Sally expected that she would have a deep connection with her pastors’ wives. She thought they should be available to her on the spot. She was very involved in the church, so she expected them to know her well. But reflecting back, she realizes that this was not always fair on them. Pastors’ wives need boundaries. They can’t be available to anyone outside of church gatherings. Sally is an extrovert, but realized that perhaps a pastor’s wife might be an introvert. Her choices about who to spend time with may not be about anything more than a difference in personality. As a pastor’s wife now, Sally can see people’s expectations from the others side, and understands that boundaries and good and appropriate.

Tracy was a young mom when she and her husband planted the church, so what she could offer was limited. Now her expectation of herself has changed. She has the time and margin to serve in many ways. But not every pastor’s wife does.

[Related: Pastoral Identity and Vocation]

What You May Expect of Yourself

Every pastor’s wife must find her own role, based on her gifts, personality, and life stage. Sometimes you would like to do it all, but that’s not realistic. Sally’s role suits my personality. Her husband speaks at a different campus every week. So as an extrovert, her role is to engage people in the moment. Her outgoing personality helps her (and him) to connect readily with people they don’t see very often, and to direct people to someone at the campus who can do more with and for them. If she were at the same location every week, she would have to set boundaries in a different way. Her role would probably be more involved in week-to-week ministries. She would have to learn to communicate her boundaries more clearly.

[Related: Your Personality Type and Your Marriage]

What Your Spouse May Expect of You

Sally’s husband sees her role as being there to support him. She works full-time outside the church. So he is often concerned to protect her schedule. But sometimes he will make a presumption and won’t ask her if she wants to be involved. They have learned how important it is to communicate and make expectations clear – both his expectations of her and her expectations of him. Ministry roles and life circumstances will change. So couples need to check in together a lot. Take time to review the calendar and communicate about roles and expectations – weekly, if possible.

[Related: Healthy Couples Keep Talking]

[Related: The Art of Listening]

You will enjoy ministry and be more fruitful if you manage your expectations. Find out what your own expectations are, and be aware of the expectations of other. These will be different for every couple, and they will change over time. So be intentional about communicating together as a couple.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. What are some expectations you have had of leaders in the past? Were they fair or unfair? Explain.
  4. What expectations have you felt from others? Were they fair or unfair? Explain.
  5. On a scale of 1 to 10, how much of a people-pleaser are you? How does this affect how you respond to other people’s expectations?
  6. Are your expectations of yourself higher or lower than the expectations others have for you? Explain.
  7. How have you learned to set reasonable expectations for yourself based on your unique personality, gifts, or season in life?
  8. What expectations have you felt from your spouse? Were they fair or unfair? Explain.
  9. What specific steps do you take to communicate with your spouse about expectations? How could you communicate better?
  10. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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