Portrayal of Pastor's Wife: Holding on to Faith, Hope and Love Despite Family and Ministry Pressure

A picture shows a woman stretching her arms towards the sun.
A picture shows a woman stretching her arms towards the sun. (photo: pixabay.com)
By Esther TianDecember 13th, 2022

It is commonly agreed that pastors' ministry in a church is important, and believers can easily see their hard work and sacrifice. But pastors' wives, supporting their husbands behind, are often overlooked. They have their own names, testimonies, experiences, and ministries. Every pastor's medal also partly belongs to his wife. 

The husband of Xiaoxiao (pseudonym) pastors a church of young people in a city in south China. After graduating from university and working for a few years, she accepted the call to be a full-time minister and has been in ministry for over 10 years.

With three children to look after, her monthly meetings with co-workers were usually after 10:30 pm. As she has to take care of her family and the church, she feels that there are times when she is not able to do what she wants. However, she says, "I just try my best and don't beat myself up." She believes that her first priority was to look after her children because they are still young. When they are older, she will be able to devote more time and energy to the church again.

Xiaoxiao started going to church while she was at university, and after graduating she found a job as an assistant to the CEO of a company. In the company, her faith was made public. During her work, she strived to witness God and live a Christ-like life.

She also gave part of her salary to help several full-time co-workers in the church, one of whom was Xinghe (pseudonym), who later became her husband and a pastor now.

When the church hired part-time co-workers, she began to work and participate in the ministry at the same time. After serving part-time for a while, Xiaoxiao considered taking up the full-time ministry. After praying, she thought that people had a limited amount of energy and should either choose to go into full-time ministry or work. "I said to God, what would you like me to choose? I can do either of the two."

Around 2010, Xiaoxiao became a full-time minister.

When asked if she ever hesitated to be a pastor's wife, she talked about a person who had a deep impact on her, "I knew a pastor's wife who started learning a language when she was almost 50 years old, and she used to take care of us a lot." Speaking about marriage, Xiaoxiao said that she married her husband with the help of this Pastor's wife whom she respects. The Pastor's wife thought that their would work well together in ministry, so she introduced them to each other and prayed for them.

After getting married, Xinghe was recommended by the church to study theology overseas for three years. Xiaoxiao went together to accompany him. "Even though it was a very tiring period, Xinghe was very focused. He did a part-time job and used the rest of his time to study. He was very diligent."

In order to equip Christian leaders, the school also offered classes for wives, with certificates of completion but no degrees. In order to be a good helper to her husband, Xiaoxiao took time to study at school while taking care of their newborn baby.

After graduating, Xinghe was ordained as a Pastor. and when he returned to China, He took over the church where he had been serving after returning back to China. Xiaoxiao became a Pastor's wife.

Besides taking care of her family, she also had to take part in the ministry. Her work was voluntary, with no remuneration.

Xiaoxiao regularly pastors and shares the message with the congregation, serving in the ministry together with her three children. Once a month or once every two months at a church fellowship event, she cooks meals for more than 20 people including children.

A few months ago, according to The Christian Post, Saddleback Church appointed the wife of its new senior pastor as the "Teaching Pastor", and put the appointment of three female pastors in May 2021 in the spotlight. Whether women can serve as pastors has been a great controversy within the American church.

In response, Xiaoxiao made her views clear: "The overseas seminary we attended was also very conservative and did not promote preaching by women, which is true to some degree. I do not fully agree because the domestic context is different."

In Xiaoxiao's view, if more suitable men can get up and preach, giving more opportunities to men would be better and more beneficial to the church. But there are not enough men in the church in China. "There is a great need for workers to pioneer and revive the church. Usually, women are more enthusiastic and more receptive to God's call than men, and not enough suitable brothers in China can take up the role. I think women who are older, stronger, and more mature can take the pastoral role."

Xiaoxiao did not preach in church but served in other aspects, like giving lectures and doing marriage counseling together with the pastor. 

Xiaoxiao suggests that although not many men in the church in China are willing to take up the mission, churches can give more opportunities to men so that more of them can come forward.

Xiaoxiao shared a few suggestions for young pastors' wives.

"First, God sets the position of a pastor's wife as the position of prophet and apostle. It should be received with gratitude."

"Second, do not be anxious. My family has lackings, but we have seen that God provides even before we open our mouths. We recently moved from a two-bedroom to a large three-bedroom apartment. Although the house is rented, the rent is relatively cheap."

"Third, do not be hard on yourself. We may encounter things we cannot face, and there are times when we cannot fully help the church members, so try to be with them and encourage them. Just try your best, and do not criticize yourself harshly."

-Translated by Nonye Nancy

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