It’s not as hard as you might think. A little complaining and whining here. A little lack of confidence in his abilities there. The occasional comment about how you wish he’d chosen a career that made more money or had more stability. . . .
Most pastors come to a point sometime in their ministry where they wonder if they really made the right career choice. It’s hard not to wonder if you’re providing properly for your family, especially if your wife isn’t content. And when rough patches come, it’s a rare man who doesn’t at least wonder to himself how things might have been easier if he’d traveled a different path.
Back when my husband was a seminary student, I remember spending an afternoon at the tennis courts with another pastoral couple. After a few doubles games, the other pastor’s wife and I took a breather on the sidelines. She started telling me how much she hated being a pastor’s wife.
“All these people expect me to talk to them at church, when I don’t even want to be there! What makes them think I want to listen to their problems?”
I was speechless. And if you know me, that’d make you chuckle. But I honestly didn’t know what to say.
Later that night, I shared the conversation with my husband. He wasn’t surprised. He knew that her husband felt torn between his wife and his ministry. Church members kept wondering what they’d done to offend her. Why didn’t she like them?
He’s not a pastor anymore. Eventually, her distaste for his calling drove him to switch careers. These days he carries a gun and a badge. I don’t know if she’s any happier than she was before.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s alwayswrong to stop being a pastor. Sometimes God calls us to a certain type of ministry for a season rather than a lifetime. Or maybe God has a different avenue of service, and he never meant for your husband to be a pastor in the first place. I’m not trying to judge those special situations.
But that’s not the same as when your spouse is a fabulous pastor, clearly called to a life of ministry, and you just can’t seem to stop longing for a different life. When the pastor loves both his job and his wife—but his wife hates his job—then something has to change. Unless, of course, he’s willing to live in misery or lose his marriage (see the first two articles in this series).
Let’s assume that your husband loves you very much. (At least I certainly hope he does!) Because you mean the world to him, he decides to do whatever it takes to make you happy, at the cost of his own dreams and calling. In this case, that means finding a new career.
You’re thrilled. Now it’s going to be all better. Now he will be at home every night. He can sit right beside you in church, if you still go to church. He won’t get random phone calls in the middle of the night. People won’t be knocking at your door asking for help or handouts. Life is going to be great, right?
Somewhere, at least one or two readers are secretly wishing this would happen for your husband right now. But have you really thought it through? Once he quits pastoring, what will he do? Where will he go? Who will he become?
How long do you think he will be able to hide the threads of resentment weaving in his heart because you wanted him to leave the calling that shaped his identity?
Now you won’t be just his lovely wife. You will be the reason why he is no longer fulfilling his divine calling as a shepherd. He will gradually lose his spark, that fire in his bones that made him feel like a man. Are you ready for that?
If he truly loved being a pastor, then after a while he will no longer feel like the man he was before. No longer a leader of people. Now he’s just another guy, going through the motions, surviving each day.
Would that make life better? Is that the husband you want? Is it worth it?
Or is God maybe calling you to join your husband in a ministry adventure that you can’t yet comprehend? Nope—it isn’t going to be easy. But most valuable experiences come with some sweat and tears.
If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.