on being a pastor's wife

Before finding myself holding the title, I knew very little of what it was to be a pastor's wife. For that I'm extremely grateful.

I'm told that women feel all sorts of pressure as pastor's wives. That there are expectations on them that can be crushing, that they're lonely, that they over-serve and feel under-appreciated. At least that's what every book penned for pastor's wives tells me. And that's obviously true for many, but it's really really not a guarantee and it's not been my experience at all.

The pastor's wives in my short history of church experience were a mixed bag.

At the first church I went to after becoming a Christian, she was white haired and sweet and sang in the choir. She wasn't very visible but it was impressed upon me, I think quite naturally, that she loved her husband and she loved the church. Definitely some good takeaways, some inapplicable (please the white hair).

The next two churches I went to were what you might call "mega churches" (in Canada, this meant 1,000 and 3,000 people respectively), and I had extremely limited exchanges with the pastor's wives. There were so many people, you had to basically be in her inner circle to know her. Her virtuous character was widely known, and she seemed wonderful, but she was completely inaccessible. I'm not sure if this was intentional, but none of them had facebook pages or instagram accounts. Privacy is valuable, but it felt like a little much. And some people do insist that a pastor's wife can't have close friendships within her church, and that the privacy of the pastor and his family should be paramount. But we aren't those people and I don't think the early church was either. More on that another day.

And finally, the last church we attended (where we were members and where Brad served as an Elder), had no pastor's wife, as our pastor was single.

So. Here I am. Two years in to our church plant, and I suppose two years in to being a pastor's wife. With very little to compare my experience to, and a resounding joy.

I accredit a lot of my ease and joy as a pastor's wife to my husband, who made it clear from day one that the church plant wasn't his thing that I was to support him in, it was our thing and we were a team, and he loved having me at his side. See the difference? It's subtle, but huge. The church plant was our dream, our calling, and our passion. Together we welcomed a handful of people into our living room one evening to dream, and together we now call Eglise du Plateau our church, along with 100 or so others.

In a church plant, you have the luxury of creating traditions and beginning the culture within your church. Of course with every new soul that joins us, that culture grows and moves, but the standards are set at the beginning. In the beginning of our church plant I was newly pregnant with our third baby, and my capacity was limited. So we went with it. I couldn't attend everything I'd like, and after 10pm my brain would become more or less mush so I wasn't as vocal (darn you, second language for always failing me after 10pm). And that was the standard. So as my capacity has grown in the last year now that I'm out of the pregnancy/new born stage, I've loved taking more on and our people seem to love having me around more (at least I hope so!). But I've never felt that I needed to be at every event or that I had to be home with my kids. I did what I could as my capacity allowed, always trying to be faithful to my dual callings to motherhood and church ministry.

As far as other stereotypes like the pastor's wife always leading the children's ministry or worship team, that pressure has never been there. Maybe because I can't sing a tune or play a chord? Thank you Jesus for failing to bless me with musical talent. And at the start, our church's Sunday school was essentially my three kids and another family, so it was glaringly obvious that I shouldn't be leading children's ministry, nor did I want to.

And then there's language. I wish there were more resources out there for pastor's wives and church planter's who serve cross-culturally, because for us that's one of the most significant hurdles. Our church is French and I'm not yet bilingual. While mostly my lack of fluency is a problem, I often see it as a small grace from God, as it's protected me over and over again from experiencing the pastor's wife burn out I read about. I'm not expected to lead a women's devotional, to do announcements, or teach Sunday school, because I'm not fluent in the language of our church. It's plain and simple. And while French fluency is my top personal goal, my lack of it has sheltered me from any expectations that might have been crushing.

One thing I wish I read more in books or blog posts written for pastor's wives is what a great joy it is to be married to a pastor. It's seriously wonderful. I get a front row seat to Jesus transforming people's lives. I get to see God providing my husband with the words to say when he's doing sermon preparation and I'm praying for him. I get to walk through pre-marital counseling with young couples from our church, some of whom I've been praying for spouses for, for many years (a privilege which often brings me to tears). I get to attend a ton of weddings and a ton of baby showers, and hi, I love a good party. I get to raise my children in a community of people who are thankful for them and love them and are so often seeking to serve our family.

I get e-mails somewhat regularly asking about my experience as a church planter's wife/ pastor's wife/ anglophone serving in a French church and while there is more to say and nuances to each role, it's really truly a joy. A great and profound joy.

*If every you would like me to address specific parts of being a pastor's wife/church planter's wife on this blog, feel free to e-mail me your question and I'll try my best to answer it! emily.terreberry@gmail.com  


  1. I'm glad you are having such a good experience being a pastor's wife!! I have thought about writing a blog like this but am always nervous of how others will take what I'm saying. Your post is full of grace and very thoughtful. Daniel has been a pastor for 3 years now, at two very different churches, but both "mega". I would also say I've had a great experience, but one thing I had not ever expected is the amount of spiritual attack a family in ministry experiences. It seems like exactly 3 years ago our family was put through many intense trials, and they don't appear to be slowing down any time soon. It's made me realize the importance of daily praying for my hubby.

  2. This is such a sweet picture of you two. I can tell that you are in love:) I appreciate you sharing your experience as a pastor's wife. Praise God in giving you joy over so many areas!