Every job has it’s perks and priviledges along with its downside. Lawyers get status and money along with often times being regarded and snakes by the general public. Writers get to control their own hours and get their message out but may be unknown and unpublished for years. Pastors are no different. I know lots of pastors, including my husband, who find immense joy in getting paid to share the gospel of Christ with people. My husband also has some flexibility in his schedule, being able to have doctor’s appointments or even take a weekday off to spend time with me.
The downside of this is the demands the job does place on a pastor. Sometimes the downside includes a paltry salary that belies the years of experience and education he may have (thankfully that is not currently true for us). For example, when I was growing up, my dad’s payscale was such that mom became the coupon queen. If something wasn’t on sale or we didn’t have a coupon, we didn’t buy it. Period. We grew an enormous garden and our food budget was supplemented by the farmers who gave us beef, pork, chickens, eggs, and corn. It was a treat to go to Hardees for fast food, one that didn’t often happen. Mom would scour the grocery store ads for the best deals and spend an entire day driving from store to store, purchasing necessities at the lowest possible prices. Even with all of that, my parents racked up a lot of debt just to keep afloat. Some churches just can’t afford to pay their pastors very much.
The time demands on a pastor can be great or small, depending on the circumstances. For example, during a “normal” period my husband can work anywhere from a 40-hour to an 80-hour week, depending on meetings and extra church services. Throw in a funeral, wedding, or special season (Christmas, Easter) and he hardly has a moment to breath. He’s gotten better at managing his time since we moved, which has helped with the time spent at work, and he also has the benefit of another pastor at the church who is responsible for visiting the sick and shut-ins of the congregation. When an 18-year-old from our congregation was killed in a car accident (almost two years ago), I hardly saw my husband for a week. He was meeting with the family, counseling teenages at the high school, being present at visitations, and providing care to as many individuals as possible who had been affected by the loss. I spent my time filling in the gaps at home and church, making sure the bulletins were ready and the unrelated-to-the-funeral ministry still took place. I didn’t mind not seeing him during that time – he was needed more somewhere else.
I guess that’s one of the ways I know I am called to be a pastor’s wife. There’s the whole “Duh, I am one, God’s not going to call me to something that separates me from my husband” factor. But more than that, God provided me with the means and ability and gifts to fulfill this calling. I can handle the long stretches of time when he’s needed elsewhere. I don’t mind picking up the slack at home when necessary. While I’m not a huge fan of ALWAYS doing the cleaning, I stay on top of laundry like a pro.
There will always be those downsides to ministry (I didn’t even address the whole “complainer” issue that comes with the territory, more on that later). But the perks are wonderful. Knowing he is doing God’s work is extremely satisfying for my husband. Even though he’s a worrier by nature, he lets that go when he’s preaching. When he’s “in the zone” on Sunday morning, he’s at his happiest. And he would rather do a funeral than a wedding. Why? Because at a funeral, people are desparate to hear the gospel of Jesus. Weddings tend to be all about the couple and not much about God. Ask your pastor. He’ll probably say the same thing.