Life In A Preacher's Home,

February, 1991 

“I Didn’t Know Preachers Did Things Like That!”

Many people seem to be curious about life in a preacher’s home.  I really think that people think we walk around in a praying stance and use thee and thou when we speak to one another.  Once when we were first married I mentioned to my mother we had been playing Scrabble.  Her response, “Oh, I didn’t know preachers did things like that!”  That was my first introduction to the fact that some people have grave misconceptions about what goes on in the preacher’s home.

I Married The Man I Loved And Love The Man I Married!

I married the man I loved, who by God’s calling was a preacher.   (I had never even heard him preach until the night before we married).  I had agreed to marry him because he was the one with whom I wanted to share my life and with whom I wanted to grow old.

 I did not expect our home life to be anything different than if I had married a ditch-digger, a doctor, a mechanic, or what ever occupation. 

Life In A Glass House

Later I became aware that a lot of responsibility and expectation is attached to the life of a preacher, and consequently, his family.  I learned that you live in a glass house and that much---often too much---is expected from them.

Marrying A Preacher Does Not Guarantee A Happy Home

I feel compelled to state that just because you marry a preacher does not mean you will have a happy home.  The preacher, his wife, and their children are human.  They are sinners saved by the grace of God but still living in the flesh that contains the old nature, capable of gross sin just like anyone else.  However, because of the calling of God on the preacher, their knowledge of His Word, and their experience in seeing God work in the lives of others, they are, and should be, measured by a higher standard.

Warning:  If You Marry A Preacher, Be Sure He Is A Man Of Character

Sadly, I know women who attended a Christian college, met and fell in love with a man studying for the ministry, thinking he was the epitome of a man of God.  After marrying the man of their dreams, they found that he was controlling,  an abuser, perhaps an adulterer, or guilty of other character flaws.

I challenge you young ladies to learn about the man you are considering as a life partner;--- his character, his integrity, his honesty, and his values, before you make a commitment.  Just because he is studying for the ministry does not guarantee he is such a man. 

Our Rules For Marriage

We have a home that God has blessed beyond measure for over 55 years.  I feel that is due in part to the foundation that was laid before we were even married.  Here are six rules we established for our marriage:

1.    Christ is the head of our home
    The Word of God is our “how to” manual.
    Divorce would never be an option.
    Each lives for the other, and both for the Lord
    We practice daily private and  family devotions
    We are “above-board” and transparent in all our actions and activities7.     Tom and I would stand united before the children---if we disagreed, we would discuss it in private.

Our home is characterized by fun and laughter.  We work, study, play, eat, talk, enjoy and support one another. 

A Typical Day In Our Lives

A typical day at our house means getting up early (5 or 6 am).  I have personal devotions, dress, do my hair and we breakfast together before leaving for work.  I arrive home around 3 pm with thoughts of dinner---the keynote of our whole day. 

Dinner was always  at 5:30, and  everyone was expected to be there.  We normally spent about one hour at the dinner table, fellowshipping, sharing, and then having our family devotions.  After cleaning up the kitchen, Tom would be found in his study (unless there is a meeting).  I would  either read or watch “Murder, She Wrote” (sometimes both).   When the kids were home, they would be off to school or church activities.

Love Is The Oil To Keep Down Friction And Discord

There is a permeating spirit of love in the household that is as oil to keep down friction and discord.  It is reflected in respect and courtesy for one another. 

When times of discord come---and they do come---there is a spiritual maturity in dealing with them.  There are acceptable actions and attitudes, and there are certain actions and attitudes that are totally unacceptable.

There were certain actions that were just not permitted, such as yelling, name calling, rudeness, among others.  The children were taught to be loyal to one another, and treat one another with respect.

Our son, Dan, has two daughters.  The only time in his life he spanked one of them was for sassing their mother.  He considered that a terrible offence and I know where he learned it. 


How is life in a preacher's home different from that of non-preachers?  I find that very difficult to address for two reasons: 

first, I only know about our own home, and
second, each preacher and each home life is different. 

There is no stereotype.

Total Family Involvement.

One things that makes our household different from most is because I am so totally involved in the very same ministry as my husband.  Even our children are involved to some extent.  I under stand Tom's commitment to God because I share that commitment.  I am knowledgeable about his calling from God and his position as pastor.  I can appreciate his burdens even when I don't have them on my shoulders.  Women married to doctors, lawyers, teachers and other professionals and lay-workers are not necessarily as immersed in their husbands vocation.

Common Family Faith.

Our common faith is another  bond that makes our home so special.  Each knows that we are second to God in the life of our partner and there is no jealousy.  My life is far better because of Tom's relationship to God, and I trust the reverse is true.

Our faith is a support through trying times.  When I am tempted to weaken, Tom's strength encourages me.  When he may have doubts, my faith in him, and in God challenges him.  We feel that both gives a positive example to our children.

Attending Church Services.

Living in a preacher's home colors the picture of church attendance.  Going to church is as routine as getting up in the morning.  There is never a question about whether or not we go.

There have been times when I felt I should examine my own  motives for going to church.
Would I really go to church if I were not the wife of the preacher?  Do I go  for the right reason? 

 After searching my heart I know because I love God and I want to hear His Word.  I love hearing it preached and I enjoy the fellowship with God's people.  On the few occasions I have missed for sickness my mind is always on the service.

Christian Conduct.

Tom and I have both tried to live the Bible principles of behavior.  There is never any shouting at one another in our home.  Each strives to treat the other better than we expect for ourselves.  He constantly fills my car with gas, just so I don't have to.  The first one up brings coffee to the other.  If I have to scrape ice from my car windshield, I try to go a step farther and do his windshield too.  We have a little game of trying to out-do one another with little acts of kindness.

Those who know us are aware of the manners and courtesy that Tom extends to me daily.  He always seats me at the table (even for breakfast); opens the car door for me--even when I am the driver; opens doors and allows me to enter before him.  He holds my coat, carries in the groceries, checks to see if I have cash on hand.  I know it sounds unreal, but it is true.  I'm spoiled and I love it!


Describing life in a preacher' home is endless.  I will describe some of the pressures that must be faced, such as time, social, and emotional.


The life of my preacher, and most preachers, is not a nine-to-five job.  In today's terms, it's 24/7.  Crisis can happen any time, day or night.  I remember more than once we were packed and headed for the car when the phone rang.  I remember once when I sat on the steps in tears because the few days vacation we had anticipated were canceled because of a crisis in the life of one of our church members.

There is always the juggling of personal time, time for family relationships and the responsibility of the ministry.  It takes self discipline and balance to keep everything in perspective.

Social Pressure – Differing Opinions of Others.

This can cause a lot of grief to a preacher and his family.  The extreme pressure to conform to standards or practices from those in your congregation or your fellowship of believers is relentless.  Most of these concern outward appearances, activities and behaviors.  Though a congregation encompasses those from various sides of many issues, each feels the pastor and his family should conform to their point of view.  It is impossible.

One lady said to me “If I ever see you in a pair of pants, I will be extremely disappointed!”  I said, “Well, get ready to be disappointed, because when the occasion is appropriate, I wear pants,---without apology!”

For example, both our sons were severely reprimanded for their hair style in their younger school years.  One because he had parted it in the middle, and the other because an "authority" felt it was too long. (He had just passed a hair check minutes before).

Consistency With The Word of God

We learned that though we wanted to respect the opinion of those who might differ with us, we were obligated to give our children a consistent stand that we could point out in the Word of God.  My husband was criticized as being "too soft", but we taught our children to please God and not the opinion of continually changing leadership.

Criticism – (From the Membership)

People do complain and criticize.  Remember Moses and the children of Israel.  All too often people are afraid to go to the preacher, so they complain to his wife.

I know personally of several wives of preachers who have suffered mercilessly at the hands (mouths) of criticizing members of their congregation. 

One form is to complain to the wife all the gripes about the preacher.  I think I know why, but this has never been a problem with me.  This was once a subject at a meeting of preacher's wives.  I was appalled that wives would allow such things to happen.  Later I mentioned the topic of the meeting to my husband's secretary, stating that no one comes to me to criticize my husband.  She said, "Jeanette, they wouldn't dare!"  She's right.  If you want to criticize my husband, I am NOT the one to talk to.

The Bible is clear in the 18th chapter of Matthew, that when you have a problem there is a definite procedure to be followed---and that is NOT complaining to the preacher’s wife.

Social Pressure
The pastor, his wife, and many times his family are obligated to attend an unbelievable amount of social functions. 
     Banquets are fun and exciting,---at least the first few hundred. 
     Weddings are very tender and emotional,---the first ones are. 
     Mother's Day
     Father's Day celebrations,
     Stewardship Banquets,
     Sports Banquets
     School Activities
     Other Speaking Engagements
       and the list goes on.
It becomes a challenge to anticipate such events in an excited positive attitude.  Sitting at the speaker's table presents the option of being very bored, nervous, or just relaxing and enjoying everything.  Tom and I have opted for the latter.

Emotion Pressure.

Perhaps the most difficult pressure preacher's face is emotional.  They are always expected to be "on top of the world".  If they are discouraged, down-hearted, angry, tired, or upset, it is not supposed to show.

After each meeting at church Tom and I come home feeling mentally and physically exhausted.  The emotional drain involved in interactions with people takes its toll. 

We all have problems.  That is life.  We have our own family crisis from time to time, but we also feel the weight of those of our extended church families.  At any one service, one family may share the pain of divorce, a life-threatening surgery; or a gravely ill child.  On the other side of the coin, we rejoice with the young couple at the birth of their baby; an earned degree from college; a wedding anniversary or a special birthday.  Each emotional swing takes it toll.  Tom and I have actually left a wedding and gone directly to a funeral.

Other Pressures

I could add other pressures that many preachers face in the ministry: financial, medical, temptations, but perhaps at some other time. 

I have outlined those above to help you get an  idea of the reasons some women say they would never marry a preacher.  My response to that is this:  if they were married to a preacher like mine, all those pressures are nothing compared to the joys of living and creating a home for a man of God.   

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