Help! I’m Married to My Pastor by Jani Ortlund–Book Review

Many of the problems addressed in this book by Jani Ortlund are common to all marriages.  Everyone wants to support their spouse in his or her calling, everyone sometimes struggles with putting romance back into their relationship, managing a career while raising small children or dealing with depression. As the wife of a pastor for the past 16 years, I’ve also been the wife of banker, a financial advisor, a political appointee (yes, they were all the same man) and faced many of the issues that the author describes before I was the pastor’s wife.

Of course, there are some areas that are unique to being a ministry wife.  Mrs. Ortlund discusses how to respond to hearing her husband criticized, the hurt experienced when members who are also friends leave the church, or when false rumors circulate.  Families of pastors often feel pressured to be everything to everyone in the church, and to be perfect.  These unreal expectations can lead to disappointment and burnout.  This book will be helpful to any pastor’s wife who needs to know shie is not alone, that others have walked in her shoes and understand her feelings.  It will be especially helpful to younger women who find themselves immediately in a role that demands both self confidence and humility.

At the end of each chapter there is a short letter to the pastor, explaining how he can help his wife cope with the pressures of her position within the church.  The book also includes  an appendix of scriptural prayers a ministry wife can pray for her husband.

VERDICT:  3 STARS.  Well written and practical, but  it was not especially useful to me. Younger wives may appreciate it more.

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.  Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CPR 255.

For more on being a pastor’s wife see:

What’s a Pastor’s Wife To Do?


Joan’s Journey part 3

I thought my life was fine and wouldn’t change much until we retired.  I loved my church and could not imagine leaving it.  Looking back, I see that I loved my church so much I made it into an idol.  I would never have said we were perfect, but I was proud of my congregation and my place in it, and I did think we were really special.  And I had my own version of the prosperity gospel.  I didn’t expect God to make me rich, but I thought He would give me peaceful, harmonious relationships at church and at home.  Didn’t God owe me that … after all the work I put in being a good Christian?

 That is not the attitude God wants in His servants and I see that now. Eventually my self-satisfied life began to dissolve.(Here comes the death and rebirth part). Our oldest daughter hit adolescence and had a lot of problems. We tried all sorts of things, including counseling, but nothing seemed to work.  Years later Beth was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and by then we had all been through a great deal of pain.

At the same time things were going wrong at church.  Some friends were angry at the Pastor and the situation kept escalating.  Eventually they left. I was in anguish seeing the congregation I poured my life into torn apart.  To top it off, Terry decided he was called to the ministry.  I didn’t mind him being a pastor, because that would just be Terry’s job.  However I didn’t want to move to St. Louis and become the primary breadwinner so that he could go to seminary.  I told him this was just too much to ask, with one child in college and one with mental health issues.  He could move, but I would not.

 Terry thankfully, agreed we should stay together, and said if God wanted him to be a pastor He would make it happen.  And He did.  Terry found a Lutheran denomination that offered seminary courses via distance learning.  He kept his job and began the process.  When he came to the point where this denomination would have required him to go on a one year internship, he found another Lutheran group that agreed to ordain him immediately.  So Terry had his wish, or rather God’s wish.  Now what?

 The denomination that ordained him did not have an open pulpit, so Terry decided he would have to start a mission congregation, a daunting prospect. We knew from experience how much effort that took.  Then a friend asked Terry if he would fill in at his church. They were between pastors. We came to St. Paul’s where something clicked for us, and I believe, for the congregation very quickly.  They were small but lively and not afraid to keep the church running on their own.  They appreciated Terry’s gift for teaching and preaching.  They encouraged me, too, and allowed me to participate in the way I saw myself:  an active layperson, not just the Pastor’s wife.

 Terry and I have now been at St. Paul’s for more than ten years.  The church joined the AFLC and Terry is on their clergy roll.  I’ve written articles for the Lutheran Ambassador and a Bible study for the national women’s group.  I serve at church in many ways.  Since retiring, I am a part time caregiver for my granddaughter, Katelyn, and my mother with dementia. Now I’ve become a blogger! Many of these are things I would never have imagined doing.  Life with God is a continual surprise.  I’m humbler now and don’t pretend to know what my future holds.  John Wesley once said,                                                  

When I was young I was sure of everything.  In a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before.  At present, I am hardly sure of anything except what God has revealed to me.”

I don’t know what my future holds, but I know God has a plan and that He will continue to work it out in my life.