Pastor, Pastor’s Wife~ What Breaks Your Heart, What Keeps You Going?


What has being a pastor/ pastor’s wife cost you?

This comes at the expense of a broken heart. —Pastor Pablo Catala

Physical and emotional stress; personal time and freedom; often any sense of security because things change so much in your life; and struggles with self-worth as you are constantly being evaluated, of which you mostly only hear about your shortcomings. —Pastor Kevin Obermeyer

As a missionary it has cost convenience, comfort, seeing family… but the promised reward of souls far outweigh the costs. —Anonymous Pastor, Kathmandu, Nepal

What is the hardest part of pastoring?                            

Seeing what people need to do and watching them not do it, no matter how I present it or how I word it, no matter how much time I spent with them and then having to hear the lament of,“Pastor, you were right,” which does not comfort me as I’m seeing the carnage of their bad  decisions. —Anonymous Pastor

Expecting to be loved, understood, maybe even appreciated? They have no idea how needy we are. —Anonymous Pastor’s Wife

Sometimes your own children reject everything you’ve lived for and still you must keep going.  —Anonymous

Realizing how much you don’t know, and feeling like you never do enough, aren’t good enough, or that you might misspeak something heretical. —Pastor Kevin Obermeyer

What is your biggest challenge and most unexpected hardship in pastoring?

I guess my passion for the church gets me in trouble.  —Janet Foley

Making sure that in the midst of building God’s church I don’t lose my marriage or children to the devil’s lies. Stretching time and making sure none of the 3 most important elements of your life are not cheated: God/ family/ work. —Pastor Pablo Catala

You have to maintain your personal walk and relationship with God, balancing the need for prayer and study for a sermon as well as praying and studying for myself.  Anonymous Pastor

Keeping focused on others’ needs and staying mentally healthy myself when I know all that’s going on. Having a balanced life—not feeling guilty when I take care of me. —Anonymous Pastor’s Wife

There can be many challenges in pastoring, but overall it is a great blessing from the Lord.  One of the most challenging aspects would be making friends, since pastors often move or have trouble keeping friends within the church without other parishioners having an opinion.  At our current church we have found many open and welcoming people who encourage us in those relationships. —Pastor Chad

People looking to you for help with so many things, having to say no sometimes, and setting boundaries so your time isn’t consumed by only some people. The burden it can place on my family at times.—Pastor Kevin Obermeyer

What most breaks your heart?

The condition of the church these days, which gets so caught up with the world and then wonders why it isn’t being effective. —Pastor Kevin Obermeyer

Seeing the true condition of sinners and backslidden people. —Pastor Pablo Catala

When people give up on God because of  hardships of life or their own sin; and mean people in church. —Janet Foley

The feeling of temporary hearts—the sense that anyone could come and go at will, and you must still welcome each with the hope that they are there to stay. This sense of fluidity in relationships, especially in the beginning stages of a church, is a painful lesson in the rejection that is carrying the cross of Christ. And then of course, the realization that some might stay for years and years, and leave, and that would wreck my heart…absolutely wreck it. And to know, ultimately it is Jesus they are rejecting, and I am sharing in that very tangible pain. —Sophie Foley

It is heartbreaking to see someone understand the work of God in their life and then make decisions to not follow the Lord. —Pastor Chad

Do you ever want to quit?

Yes. —Pastor Kevin Obermeyer

Absolutely yes. —Janet Foley

As of now I can say no. I count it a privilege to be in the position I’m in now and I don’t want to lose it for anything. —Pastor Pablo Catala

Yes…and no. It’s an emotional roller coaster, this pastoring thing. There are plenty of times that I find myself saying “I am not sure I am capable of this.” But the very next service we could have a tremendous service and elation fills me with enough hope to sustain me. The people business is very much fraught with emotional turbulence, and I must have the posture of enjoying the highs and the lows, because ultimately, this is all on Jesus, and He has to make it happen. So…I am a mess when I let the roller coaster dictate my ability to do this thing, and I have to find somehow, the ability to weather the lows, enjoy the highs, but not let either decide for me why I have followed this call. The people business is very much fraught with emotional turbulence. —Sophie Foley

There are times where I wonder how I got here, what God is doing. —Pastor Chad

What has been the most unexpected benefit to pastoring?

The power behind the calling is undeniable. —Pastor Pablo Catala

The fact that God equips, prepares, enables and helps you and the people whose lives you see changed; the testimonies you hear. —Anonymous Pastor

The number of people who can call you “friend.” —Pastor Kevin Obermeyer

Looking back on a life that’s truly meaningful and worth doing. Not everyone has that…I’d like to see more of course, but I appreciate what He has done through us over the years. —Janet Foley

What is your favorite thing about being a pastor?

Getting to share Biblical insights with my wife and grow together spiritually, but also serving people together. We have been welcomed as family by so many people from different churches and we get to enjoy that together as a husband and wife team. —Pastor Kevin Obermeyer

How do you keep your heart and zeal for people and God, in spite of people’s failings and some turning against you?

I don’t always. Some days I am quite poured out and unable to do it. In those times, I know that I must show up, and so I do. The “fake it till’ you make it”, mantra, is a worthy one. I have seen the tide turn on a dime, and so, I wait. I have learned to just be steady and consistent and wait. In the times of betrayal, which is absolutely the one circumstance that wrecks us both beyond capacity, we make sure to take some time, a few days, to get away. Perhaps a cheap Airbnb or hotel stay with the kids, and remind ourselves we are more than just this ministry. And we let our hearts mend a bit, and spend time with our family, disconnected from the church and its needs, and come back ready to continue forward. —Sophie Foley

Forgiving. Keeping my eyes on the prize. Jesus!  Reading of His trials, His heartbreaks, His tribulations, His dealings with betrayal.  It wasn’t fun for Him; why should it be for me? —Janet Foley

Living 70 X 7. We remember where we came from. And remembering the headaches we gave our Pastor and the grace he had on us, and even now to exercise this grace is amazing. —Pastor Pablo Catala

Stay saved and close to God—and keep to the call, the great commission. There are so many promises that I don’t want to miss. —Anonymous Pastor

You stay focused on the message and the truth of the Bible. You learn to leave people in God’s hands. You have to remind yourself to look beneath the surface and see how people are just hurting and struggling, just like you. And you constantly self-check to see if there’s anything you could do differently, or if you are the one in the wrong. —Pastor Kevin Obermeyer

Who inspires you?

Lisa Mitchell, my pastor’s wife, Nelda Mitchell, now gone to be with the Lord, Michele Aulson, dear friend and pastor’s wife. Other pastor’s wives, friends.  Also sisters in our church who have dealt with hard things and maintain attitudes of joy. —Janet Foley

Single mothers who drag their children to church, who work all day and come in so tired they are almost in tears, but for their children they fight for this so that their kids can have a different story. It really humbles me.

Also, pastors wives, like my own mother in law, Janet Foley, who have done this for most of their lives, and have weathered incredible scrutiny and rejection, heartbreaks most don’t know of, and still stand with such grace and softness. I aspire to that. —Sophie Foley

My pastor. Our leaders in this fellowship. Pastor friends and friends with vision as well as the testimonies of great men of God of the past.  —Anonymous Pastor

Besides the Holy Spirit? Get it, “inspires“? Ha, ha. Ok, sorry. Mostly my wife. I admire her so much and her gentle, Christlike spirit. She teaches me without saying a word and inspires me to new heights every single day. Also, I’m inspired by people who do for others with no consideration of getting credit for it, and a man named Eric Liddell, besides people in the Bible. —Pastor Kevin Obermeyer

My wife and children and, of course, my Pastor. —Pastor Pablo Catala

I cried when I received the following message from a pastor’s wife:

“It’s the first time in over 30 years of ministry I felt like anyone asked or cared. Like you know they do, but you never really get that sense…I appreciate you!” —Anonymous Pastor’s Wife

She is not alone in how she feels. It is an honor to host these interviews and her statement alone makes it worth it. I will never forget the look on two pastors’ faces, when I asked them to interview and told them why I was doing this two years ago. I believe it’s God’s heart to encourage, to help, and show appreciation for ministers and their wives—and others too. We should not allow those who so diligently feed others to go hungry.

What keeps you going?

We know the wholeness of God in following His call and His work in the church. We would not choose to be anywhere outside of where God leads us. The people of the church, especially where we are now, are a great encouragement to us and our family.  —Pastor Chad

The people who are grateful. The occasional messages of profound thanks and testimony of what we are doing, being life changing, usually catches me when I’m struggling and reminds me of why I am doing this. The hope of revival. The hope of pleasing Him. The hope of looking back and seeing God’s hand in all the dark times I wondered if He had left. —Sophie Foley

Looking at what God has done in my marriage and what he is doing in my kids. How can I look them in the face and tell them it wasn’t worth it? That would be a lie. —Pastor Pablo Catala

Must be the Holy Spirit! The idea that others look to me as an example. My children and grandchildren. —Janet Foley

God, continually—there’s still so much more that God has. —Anonymous Pastor

Similar to Jeremiah 20:9, I get a fire that wells up inside of me that I can’t hold inside. Then I consider God’s faithfulness and ability to make things right according to His will and plan in spite of any of my inabilities. —Pastor Kevin Obermeyer

5x 7 Warrior! by Rachael M Colby, poem for pastors

Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not. Jeremiah 20:9 (NKJV)

What most encourages you?

Seeing souls added to the kingdom. —Pastor Pablo Catala

To see someone helped, even if I’m not part of causing it. It reminds me that it’s worth the effort to continue in ministry.  —Pastor Kevin Obermeyer

A kind word, a sweet conversation, someone who goes out of their way to give me a hug or an invite to do something. Just approaching me at church with a smile!

When people get saved and seeing the miracles in their lives. When others “get it!”  through discipleship. When they embrace our vision and understand! Especially our children. —Janet Foley

God, again, and again, and again..inspires my heart and stirs my thoughts about what He’s still going to do. —Anonymous Pastor

When people begin to really “get it”. When someone offers to help me. That really does make me feel the most encouraged, that we are doing our job well. That we are accomplishing what we were sent to do. —Sophie Foley

Knowing that we are in the will of God and serving where He has called us is such great encouragement. When we see the changes brought about in the lives of those we serve whether in the church or the community through the work of the church. Even the small changes are very encouraging. —Pastor Chad

The best way to encourage me as a pastor is make the vision your own and run with it. —Anonymous Pastor

If you could tell your church anything what would it be? What’s on your heart?

My family and I are unbreakable in God—we are who God made us to be and nothing can take that away. Pastor Pablo Catala

If I could just say one thing only it’s that I must always maintain a grateful heart. It’s a privilege to be saved, it’s all worth it and I’m grateful—grateful for the faithful saints. My husband always reminds me of the fact that “these people can go anywhere but they choose to come to this church.” —Anonymous Pastor’s Wife

Please stay. Please don’t be a temporary heart. But if you do leave, come back. Don’t stay gone, for fear of shame or guilt. All we want is to do this with you, for you. You are our lives’ investment. We only want to see you make it to heaven. Come when you can, even if its only once a month. Just come. Don’t avoid us or the church—fight for your salvation. We will fight too.  —Sophie Foley

So many have unteachable spirit attitudes. I want to remind people about holiness that seems to be so lacking today. —Pastor Kevin Obermeyer

Next Up: And the Preacher Rolled Up His Sleeves

Prior Posts in 2018 Series of Interviews with Pastors & Pastor’s Wives:Tattoo_It_On_Your_Heart_Rachael_M_Colby_Heroes_Among_Us

Part 4: From Dope Dealer to Hope Dealer

Part 3: Life as a Pastor’s Wife

Part 2: The Call: Why Did you Become a Pastor? 

Part 1: If My People

You can read Part 1 of my 2016 series Shepherd princes & Sarah’s Daughter’s HERE, and my 2017 series, Dragon Slayer, Disciple maker, HERE. 

**I will be continuing my series of interviews with pastors and pastors wives throughout November. The articles are many and varied in content. Don’t miss their stories and their wise counsel. It’s okay to be thankful for  pastors and wives in November too, right?

***It would bless these pastors and pastor’s wives, myself, and others, if you would please share these articles. 

Pray for Your Pastor Text Campaign

Text the word PASTOR to 74574 to sign up to receive either daily or weekly prayer reminders with suggestions for praying for your pastor and a matching scripture reference via text message.

Check out Energize Ministries 

A ministry dedicated to motivating and educating churches to care for and encourage their pastors and families. Energize ministries offers encouraging articles and podcasts for ministers and their families, resources to equip and opportunities for getaways so they can be refreshed. 

Heart Shaped Book Page Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

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© 2018  Rachael M Colby                          Tattoo It On Your Heart

Author: Rachael M. Colby

Born and raised in Jamaica, award-winning writer Rachael M. Colby resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Wife, mom, beach bum, artist, work in progress, avid Tweeter—#HealthyFaithChat leader, Rachael writes to glorify God, encourage believers, and reach the lost. She connects culture’s questions with Christianity’s answers, inspires faith, and motivates through articles, devotions, poetry, and interviews. She has a heart for racial reconciliation and to uplift those who serve in tough places. Her work has appeared on Southern Ohio Christian Voice, Inkspirations Online, the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Blog, in the compilation books Creative Writing Journal: Faith Inspired Writing Prompts & Hope-Filled Poetry, The Courage to Write: 62 devotions to Encourage your Writing Journey, and Defining Moments: Memorable and Inspiring Stories from Outstanding Leaders, and the Oak Ridger newspaper. She runs on copious amounts of coffee and chocolate and a whole lot of "Help me, Jesus." Her WIPS include a compilation of her family’s and others’ stories of their work as civil rights activists (adult and children’s books), and a devotional for writers. You can connect with Rachael on her website,—a place for seekers, followers, and writers, and on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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