Not that I’m ignoring Jim’s comments from my last post, but I will address those later. Right now I want to get back on track with some of the things about being a pastor’s wife that have been on my mind.
I wrote my master’s thesis about my role as a pastor’s wife. It’s a long story why I did that, but the point is that I have done a lot of research in that area of my life (besides the hands-on research of living it). Did I also mentioned that I’m a pastor’s kid?
The title of this post is not something I made up. It’s actually a phrase that was coined by researchers in the 1970’s studying military families*. The concept is that there are some careers that require the spouse, while unpaid, to be a part of the job. Certain functions require that spouse’s presence, and the spouse’s absence could be detrimental to success in said career. Ok, that was a mouthful.
So in the 1990’s, another group of researchers applied this concept to pastors and their wives**. I know that we live in an age where there are also husbands of clergy and other church workers. But for the sake of avoiding the confusion of stating “spouse” over and over, I’m going to focus on the more traditional roles because that’s my life.
A lot of the research looks at the difficulties involved in being the wife of a pastor, needing to be present at church functions in order to ensure the success of the pastor. There is also a lot of focus on the stress of having to relocate. Ok, I know what that feels like these days. But I wanted to start out with a post like this to share some of the background on what it means. If I chose to not join the church with my husband, it could be devastating to his career. In addition, I am often invited to events that I may or may not want to attend, but do because of that role.
All of this is painted in a negative light in the research, because it’s easier to measure the effects of stress on people and thus present findings. But the truth is, these are things I don’t mind. I don’t have to worry about finding a church home when we move (thanks to Bethany for that reminder!). I also tend to be a homebody, which means I would probably never get out if I didn’t have stuff that I have to attend. And I usually end up enjoying myself, even though being shy by nature makes me dread big events.
I’m also thankful, because other church bodies take control over where and when their pastors move. Our church body (the LCMS) allows pastors to make the decision of whether or not to accept a call. I think we would both struggle a lot more if we weren’t given the opportunity to pray and think through where God is leading us. And hey, if I don’t like it, I can always blame my husband! 🙂 Just kidding.
I think growing up in a pastor’s household prepared me for this life. I could say that it’s better preparation than what others have, but I know that God in his wisdom and mercy prepares each of us for the lives he has for us, in ways that only he could imagine. And I am so thankful for the life I have right now.
* Taylor, M.G. & Hartley, S.F. (1975). The two-person career: A classic example. Sociology of Work and Occupations, 2, 354-372.
** Wiggins, M. & Shehah, C.L. (1994). Work and well-being in the two-person career: Relocation stress and coping among clergy husbands and wives. Family Relations, 43(2), 196.
Boy, can I make a lot of comments that are quite relevant and comiserative!!
My brother was a career Air Force officer. He started out as an enlisted man for 11 years. Now, enlisted men’s wives don’t count (sorry, that’s the way it is). Linda had a teaching certificate, later earned her MBA and CPA, found her work while helping Mike raise the 3 boys (or, raising the 3 boys while Mike was riding along on airplaned to who knows where) … you know the drill. Then – officer! A different world. Required social functions. Officer housing – patrolled by dog poop and weedy flower bed patrols (seriously – these people didn’t have anything better to do. Really. They didn’t.) Required etiquette and protocol in, like, everything. Did NOT sit well with Linda (still would not today). And, consequently, my brother retired as a Captain at 21 years and 10 months compared to staying on to 30 and being a Colonel. I know he had his own issues, eventually including the cancer that God used to bring him home. But, I cannot help but believe that a part of the being held back was the wife thing. Did not fit the mold of officer’s wife – do not pass go do not collect $200.
my daughter Jamie, married to a United Methodist pastor. The bishop DOES tell you when and where to go. I will probably write more about that later.
But, you’re right, Stephanie. I never read your thesis (you ought to email it to me some time for yucks and kicks and I would send you my boring tome on faith formation that I argued round and round about with Martin until we both got it right). But it is definitely a two person job. Do you feel involuntarily schizophrenic at times? Tell us more – inquiring minds want to know – you shameless feminist pastor’s wife 🙂 !
Stephanie – I’ve enjoyed getting to know you on a more personal level through our interactions, and Thursday Night trainings…I’ve also enjoyed reading your blogs, and getting to know and understand yet another side of you! Peace and Blessings!
So this is where you’ve been hiding! I’m so happy to see you’re writing/read your writing. I am an instant fan. 🙂 Keep writing, I’ll be following! Love you friend.
CeCe Garrett said:
I love your thoughts! And yeah… as a UM pw we have no choice where we end up. Hubs and I were just discussing the tandem career thing last night… Still reading your blog and will continue to. You are a rockstar!