Life in a Pastor’s Family
I’ve been half heartedly following the case of Mary Winkler, the pastor’s wife that killed her husband in TN. I’m not surprised by it.
Now experts are coming out of the wood work to talk about the trials and tribulations of ministry families. Focusing on the the pressures and problems that often accompany the job.
Growing up with a pastor/missionary I know first hand the stresses and challenges that come with the job. The congregation often comes first and the family second.
As a kid, it’s like growing up with many parents because everyone feels like they have the right to tell you what to do. As a wife, you’re expected to perform certain duties at the church, be the perfect hostess and participate in all of your husbands functions.
Most times I wonder if the congregation actually sees their pastor and their family as people or just someone there to make their spirituality easier, expecting them to live as they wish they could or should. In most churches pastor’s families tend to become local celebrities, often talked about, judged and yet held on a pedastol. The mask we’re supposed to wear is one of joy, peace and ultimately perfection.
In grad school, one of my professors, Cameron Lee, is a leading researcher on pastor’s and their families. He’s written several books such as Life in a Glass House that discuss how clergy have no support system. They have few friends and even fewer people they can trust with their problems. They rarely get the chance to shut off and just be themselves. It takes a strong person with healthy boundaries to navigate this emotional terrain.
It will be interesting to see what happens to Mary Winkler. In time her motive will be revealed and we’ll know what happened inside their seemingly perfect ministry family.