A fascinating, new survey of pastors’ spouses takes the public inside the world of the women and men who often work and serve alongside their husbands and wives in American churches.
Among the findings are the financial fears that a substantial portion of pastors’ spouses face. Overall, 36 percent told LifeWay Research in a recent poll that they worry about making enough money each month, while 46 percent said that they worry about not saving enough for the future; 68 percent more specifically fear not having enough saved for retirement.
And, perhaps most notably, 60 percent said that the money paid by their church isn’t enough to support the entire family.
In addition to financial considerations, pastors’ spouses shared some of their other struggles as well, with 69 percent saying that they have few people whom they can confide in. Perhaps more plainly stated, 49 percent said, “If I were honest at church about my prayer needs, they would just become gossip.”
“Half say they don’t confide in people at church because they’ve been betrayed in the past. About half (55 percent) also say they don’t have enough relationships where they can be themselves,” LifeWay Research reported. “That’s in part because there is constant pressure to keep up appearances.”
On the flip side, there were plenty of positive findings as well, with 90 percent saying that ministry has had a positive impact on their families and 83 percent saying that they enjoy their ministry work.
Meanwhile, 79 percent said that they “are satisfied with their role in ministry.” Overall, despite the difficulties, most of these spouses are actually content.
“Despite their challenges, most pastors’ spouses say they are happy,” Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, said in a statement.
The vast majority of spouses in the survey (96 percent) were female. Considering that just “one of every 11 Protestant pastors is a woman,” this high proportion of wives in the study made sense.
Read more about the findings here.