There are many reasons why a young pastor’s wife may need to work. Maybe it is primarily for financial reasons: your husband is pursuing more education, he is serving bivocationally, or you are saving up for future expenses. Maybe it is due to your personal calling: You feel God has given you a certain gift and not using it would be denying God’s plan for you. No matter the circumstance, when a pastor’s wife works, it is important to weigh the possible benefits and heed the warning that comes with it.
The Possible Benefits
If a pastor’s wife chooses to work outside the home, she would most likely interact with unbelievers on a daily basis. She would be able watch, first hand, what a difference Christ makes in the lives of Christians and see the devistation that Satan brings to the lost. She would have the unique opportunity to live the great commission and be a witness to all she encounters. Because of this, the young pastor’s wife would be able to find common ground with other women in the church who also work outside the home.
“As a professional person, the minister’s wife adds a new dimension to her family, to church programs, to church outreach, and even to her husband’s sermons. She can make contacts among her colleagues that others could not, and she will have a more realistic understanding of the problems faced by those outside the church. As she develops skill and enthusiasm in witnessing to her coworkers, the minister’s wife becomes a motivating influence in the church for others to do the same.”
Tabitha Abel-Cooper, The Changing Role of a Pastor’s Wife
As a labor and delivery nurse, I believe God has given me a special opportunity to impact the lives of my patients and my coworkers. I am able to offer support to the grieving woman who has lost her child inside the womb. I am the primary source of encouragement to a single mom who is in labor and is unsure if she can have this baby on her own. God has given me the opportunity to witness to my lost co-workers and encourage my co-workers who profess Christ. Through joyous and sometimes tragic circumstances, I am able to be a light to a sinful world. During this season in my life, I am making a difference for Christ and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The concept of a hard working woman is also biblical, to say the least. Proverbs 31 is filled with praises for the woman who works for the benefit of her family and glory of her savior!
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.” Proverbs 31:10-11
“She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.” Proverbs 31:17
“Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” Proverbs 31:31
God has deemed the primary duty of a wife to be a helpmate to her husband and the care taker of her family. When studying the role of the wife in the Bible, it is important to understand how God designed the family unit. There are roles described—Christ, the husband, the wife, and then the children. You would not expect to walk into a doctor’s office and be greeted by the nurse, measured and weighed by the doctor, and then treated by the receptionist. Right? There are certain orders to things because that’s what works. It’s the same way with God’s design in the family unit.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18
“Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” Titus 2:4-5
If this role is neglected because of a career outside the home, the marriage, and consequently the family, suffers.
“Every wife, pastoral or otherwise, should work to ensure that her husband and children are cared for with the quality of care that she alone has been gifted by God to give them, assuming there is freedom to do so. For many wives, this might mean working exclusively in the home. For others, it might mean working outside the home, assuming it does not compromise her primary duty but assists in it.”
Jonathan Leeman, 9Marks, Pastor’s Wives, Taking Oaths, Pastors & Administration Work
Not every pastor’s wife will be faced with the need to work outside the home. But if she is, it is important for her and her husband to weigh the consequences, both positive and negative. The pastor’s wife who works in the secular world has the opportunity to be a witness for Christ, but this must not come at the cost of neglecting her role as a wife and mother. Ultimately, working outside the home should not be done for personal gains, but for reasons that benefit the family and the body of Christ.