Life In A Preacher's Home, III

Jeanette Berry, May 1991

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 sat on the steps almost in tears because the few days vacation we had anticipated were canceled.

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.
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.

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).

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.

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.

Social Pressure.
The pastor, his wife, and usually 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.  Graduations, Mother's Day Dinners, Father's Day celebrations, Stewardship and on and 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.

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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