Pastor’s Husband: What do I call my wife when she’s at work?


NameTagI need to get the attention of my wife, who’s the lead pastor at our church.  What do I say? “Hey Pastor?” or “Hey sweetie?” or “Hey Rachel?”  Simple question, but many implications.

My wife has been to college, received her ministerial license, served for years as an associate pastor, received the endorsement of those over her in our denomination, and was duly voted in as the lead pastor of our church. She even gets a regular confidence vote. She’s earned her position, and paid her dues. She deserves respect that comes with the position.

Not using the title “Pastor”, to me, shows a lack of respect when others are around. I think it’s important to model behavior that you want others to emulate – especially new people to the church, and kids running around.

It’s just like the recent trend of saying “Mr. Bush” instead of “President Bush”. He’s earned the title, and using a lesser title is clearly disrespectful. I’ve never heard the TV news stations say “Mr. Clinton” – it was always “President Clinton”. Both earned their title, and both deserve the respect the office is due – regardless of your political view. I vocally remind this point to the radio and TV quite often.

Anyway, since our church has more informal atmosphere than most churches, my wife prefers to go by “Pastor Rachel”. Most people in the church use that title, though sometimes it takes newly saved people a while to start using it themselves. And that’s fine. I have noticed, though, that people who have authority and/or women in authority issues never address her with a title.

So anyway, with that frame of mind- what do I call her?

I’ve heard some pastor’s wives call their husband by the “pastor” title, even at home. The reasoning was to show him respect, be an example for others, and to show his spiritual authority over her. I think in practice that’s a little weird. I’m not gonna do that, for many reasons.

When we’re at home or places where she’s not doing something pastoral, it’s easy. I’m just me, and she’s just her.

I am torn when, at church, I need to talk about her in the 3rd person. If I just use her first name, there’s that lack of title and lack of respect- and I don’t want to encourage others to refer to her that way. If I use her title, it just doesn’t feel right- as if I’m imposing some cold distance into our marriage. Ya, I know that sounds dramatic, but that’s how I feel.

Sometimes times I punt and use passive terminology: “I think that’s a Pastor Rachel question.” The title’s there, but it’s awkward to say. It’s like verbally writing left-handed. Part of the mental wrangling is to not draw attention with strange wording. (Yes, I know, over thinking again.)

Most of the time I end up saying “my wife”. (You might have noticed that I’ve been doing that for my blog entries as well.) It sounds appropriate for me to say, and avoids the title problem since nobody else can address her that way.

Fortunately, as the church grows, more and more questions are getting directed to the church secretary or department leaders- the problem is solving itself.

Once again, the strange problems us PH’s have to deal with. It’s stuff like this that made me want to start a blog and find other PH’s out there. How do other PH’s deal with this stuff?

(This blog post was originally written Aug 21, 2007)