Realities pastors’ girlfriends face and how to handle them

 
Shortly after this photo (above) was taken six years ago, I began a romantic relationship with the handsome young man on my left who is now my husband. It’s been a walk in the park, no hassles, no challenges, just a fairy tale romance, because after all, he is a pastor. Hahaha. Na so. You won’t believe how much I had to control myself to type that with a straight face! I mean don’t get me wrong, I’d pick the same guy a million times if I had the chance…but I think that there could be some peculiar challenges you face when you’re dating a pastor and that’s the purpose of this post. I’m sure this will help your relationship though, whether or not your special someone is a pastor. So here goes:
 

  1. Meet the guy first

 
When people ask me what it’s like being married to a pastor, I always respond the same way: ‘I married someone I liked.’ This is important; you’re marrying a man, not a position. I’ve met ladies who I know who ordinarily would not date a guy if he had some behavioural flaws, but overlook those flaws simply because he’s a pastor. That is a big mistake. Make sure that whoever you choose has the qualities you desire in a man. Don’t pick someone with a horrible temper and make excuses for him because he is a pastor. Don’t date someone who assumes that sex before marriage is alright since he is a man of God. Know the man, study the man and find out whether you’re compatible with the man first and foremost. Be friends with him.

  1. He’s human too

 
It might shock you, but you’ll realize pretty soon that your pastor-boyfriend is human too. He can make mistakes. He can get angry. And because you’re the closest person to him, you’re more likely to see his flaws more clearly than anyone else. However, you must never compromise on genuine Faith in Jesus and love for the body of Christ. You must also never settle for someone who doesn’t care about you simply because he is a pastor. That said, forgiveness and empathy are needed on your part.
 
 

  1. Sexual temptations

 
By God’s grace, the hubby and I were able to wait until the wedding night for ‘you know what.’ So no, not everybody is ‘doing it’ and yes, it is possible to wait. But it wasn’t easy. I’ve realised that dating relationships with one or both parties as pastors usually have less accountability than normal Christian couples do. I guess it’s because a lot of people assume that you’re so spiritual, sexual temptations should not even be an issue. News flash! Pastors get tempted as well. Dear church member, please note that this is not an excuse for you to get all up in your pastor’s business, policing him to find out how far he has gone with his girlfriend. But if you’re dating a pastor, you must make sure that you keep the right boundaries in place. The Holy Spirit can enable you to live above sin, but you must both be willing to be led by the spirit and put your flesh under.
 

  1. Between secrecy and public opinion

Especially if you both attend the same church, it could be really weird if everyone knows you’re dating the pastor. That’s why many pastors like to keep their relationship secret. However, the more secret your relationship, the less likely you are to be accountable to anyone and the more trouble you’ll be in. My suggestion? Make sure the lead pastor and other leaders in the ministry are aware of the relationship. You can also request for discretion.
 

  1. Church responsibilities

Ours was a very interesting situation. I was already a pastor in our ministry and the hubby was the lead pastor before we started dating. I remember one scenario on mother’s day years ago, we were still dating then. The pastor(then boyfriend, now husband) asked all mothers to stand up. My fellow pastors kept nodding at me to stand up as ‘mother of the church’ and so I did. You needed to see the look pastor gave me, as if to say: Abeg don’t put me in trouble o! And so I calmly sat back down. Well not so calmly, I’m still laughing at myself as I remember that incident. My advice to you is to limit your roles in the church to the things you were doing before the relationship started. Being a pastor’s girlfriend doesn’t automatically make you responsible for more stuff around the church. Simply be yourself and serve the Lord. And for Christ’s sake, except in rare cases where the woman is the leader in the ministry, let him lead!

  1. The line between mentor and lover

 
If you just started dating someone who has mentored you over the years, you’d realise that they are two different relationships. Both very sensitive, both to be maintained, but both very different. Even if you’re dating a pastor, you must know God for yourself. If your relationship with God is simply dependent on his relationship with God, you will be disappointed. Being the closest person to a pastor, you more than anyone else would know how awesome a person he is. However, you would also be more aware of his weaknesses than anyone else. You must learn to be able to differentiate between the grace on the office and the weaknesses of the man. You must honour him as a pastor if he will be a blessing to you and as a man if the relationship must work. Learn to walk the thin line between the romantic relationship and the pastoral relationship. Don’t let lovers’ quarrels affect the work of the ministry.
 

7. Merging assignments?

 
It’s a big step marrying a pastor, and dating one is a step in the marriage direction. I usually get questions from people who feel that their purpose and that of their beloved don’t align. So, let me start explaining what purpose is. It is that one thing for which you were created and at which you must succeed, if not, nothing else you succeed at would count. It is not determined by you, but by the One who made you. And it is an obvious, generic theme we see throughout the bible. The purpose of your life is Christ. Not marriage, career or even ‘ministry’ as it were.
It is Christ. 2 Cor 5:15 says:
and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
 
1Ti 2:4  who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
When you see God on the last day, it’s not going to be about what career path you chose, but how you lived for him and caused others to do the same.
That said:
As a believer, you and the person you’re dating must have the same purpose-Christ. There must be a Christ-centredness about both your lives.

Secondly, not every pastor’s wife is called to be a pastor. But even then, I believe that every pastor’s wife is called into ministry.
There are times when you would need to hold the fort on the family end because your husband has to travel for the work. If you’re a core career person, that may not be possible for you. What if he gets transferred often? Can you handle that? If your skills are needed in the ministry full time, can you handle that? These are things to think about. For all you know, he could just have a worldwide ministry that could require your skills, challenge you and even pay you much more than you could get in the corporate world. But there is a possibility that it might not happen as well.
I was already a pastor in our ministry before my husband and I started dating, so we knew we were heading in the same direction. It helped a lot. I am not saying that it is not possible if your case is different. But I am saying that there are a lot of questions you must ask yourself and answer honestly before making a decision.
 

8.Financial implications

 
Contrary to popular opinion, being married to a pastor doesn’t automatically mean riches. So if you’re the kind of girl that must marry a rich man, you might need to reconsider. Someone who should date a pastor is one who realises that there is more to life than money. There might be some lean years. Even though God provides, you must be willing to abound and abase. If you’re in the missionary field especially, it won’t be all glitz and glamour. Whatever the case might be, be willing to work if need be and learn contentment.

9. Time constraints

 
Quite a number of people called my husband on our wedding night. They were actually expecting him to pick. He is a pastor after all. Lol. If there is one thing pastors’ and their wives argue about, it would have to be time. On one hand, you must understand that God’s call upon your man’s life is a time demanding one. The spiritual lives of people are actually dependent on him. On the other hand however, relationships that succeed need time to flourish. So, you both must come to a compromise. Don’t nag about it. Talk to him calmly and both of you figure out a solution.

10. Who can I talk to?

 
Romantic relationships and ministry are two very sensitive things. So you can imagine what happens when you merge them. I’m not an advocate for telling everyone what is going on in your relationship, but there are times when you might need to talk to someone. You must bear this in mind from the very beginning. Don’t date someone who is not submitted to anyone, even if he is a pastor. If there is no one you can go to and that he will listen to when there is a problem, then that is a red flag. Sometimes, you might not even need them to talk to him, but just someone to listen to and give you advice. Talk to a spiritual leader who is wise and can be discrete.
 

11. Doctrinal differences

 
Especially if you both attend different churches, this could be an issue. Calm down. Before getting married, be sure that you both agree on the basics. What is his understanding of the gospel? What is his take on the charismatic ministry of the Holy Spirit? What is his theology about money?

12. His expectations

 
There is no rule book about the list of things a pastor’s wife should be doing. The roles of pastors’ wives differ, but it is important that you love the Lord, love your family and love the people. Every other thing would be dependent on whether or not you have a call to pastoral ministry, your personal gifts and the expectations of your husband-to-be. Talk about it. Leave nothing to assumptions. What do you believe God is leading you to do? Does it tally with the direction your man is going? What areas can your assignments be merged? What should be kept separate? Prayerfully consider it before taking the next big step.
 

13. Know the Lord

 
I mentioned this before but it is so important I must mention it again. Know the Lord. Dating a pastor doesn’t naturally mean that you will grow spiritually. You must spend time in prayer and in the study of the word for your personal spiritual growth. Your relationship with God must come first. This is also important because many times, you will need to remind your man of the word. Pastors get discouraged too, and sometimes only the women who love them can see it. You’d need to encourage him about stuff that he may have preached.
 
I must also say this: ‘You don’t have to marry him because everyone already knows you’re dating. Everyone will not come and live with you in that marriage. Find out who not to marry on my post: Don’t marry him if…

Fourteen lessons being a pastor’s wife has taught me

Also, when it comes to relationships, the rules are the same. Find out what they are:

Making Relationships Work

Dating a pastor? Please share your experience in the comments section. We would love to learn from you. And if you have any questions, I would love to hear from you.  Please email me here.

Comments

  • Oyindamola
    Posted March 22, 2017 3:57 pm 0Likes

    Beautifully written…. I sure learnt.

  • Ayomide Femi
    Posted March 22, 2017 5:00 pm 0Likes

    Very insightful Ma.
    I call you Blessed

  • Anu Adejoro
    Posted March 22, 2017 5:00 pm 0Likes

    Very nice and insightful… From my little tiny winny eye on the sideline, I think you both do a great job at balancing things out!! Oh well..
    Welldone Ma’am

    • Laju Iren
      Posted March 22, 2017 6:37 pm 0Likes

      Aww Anu. Thank you. You guys make it so easy at Celebration Church.

    • Laju Iren
      Posted March 22, 2017 6:37 pm 0Likes

      Aww Anu. Thank you. You guys make it so easy at Celebration Church.

  • Aderanti Miracle
    Posted March 22, 2017 5:12 pm 0Likes

    God bless you maa

  • Jay
    Posted March 22, 2017 5:22 pm 0Likes

    Thank you for this post, I caught myself smiling at some major familiar points. One thing I sure learnt in the first year was patience. Understanding came next. A walk in the park? Hahahahaha… But it’s a walk I’ll take again and again.

  • Dayo
    Posted March 22, 2017 5:24 pm 0Likes

    Awesome
    Awesome
    Awesome
    It’s real .
    It’s practical
    It’s genuine
    It’s simply put
    It’s a good wisdom guide
    Too many points to highlight
    One thing u always have as issues is TIME ..RIGHT
    Don’t marry he who is not submitted to anyone
    Don’t as a pastors girlfriend give yourself roles unnecessarily .
    Finances ….apt too
    It’s like I crammed the write up…lovely

  • raji blessing
    Posted March 22, 2017 6:28 pm 0Likes

    GD evening mrs iren.glad to c hw far God has taken u n I pray dat u will continue to grow in Him.i was a student of fediben and a protestant too.glad to c our alumni doing well.my question is dat is it possible for one to marry a man with a calling wen d lady isn’t called into ministry??

    • Laju Iren
      Posted March 22, 2017 6:35 pm 0Likes

      Hi Blessing. Good to hear from you after the Fediben days! You don’t have to be a pastor simply because you’re marrying one. But ministry will affect you in one way or the other so you must have the same heart and commitment that your man does.

    • Laju Iren
      Posted March 22, 2017 6:35 pm 0Likes

      Hi Blessing. Good to hear from you after the Fediben days! You don’t have to be a pastor simply because you’re marrying one. But ministry will affect you in one way or the other so you must have the same heart and commitment that your man does.

  • Debeerex
    Posted March 22, 2017 10:47 pm 0Likes

    This is awesome ma

  • Purpose Ilaya
    Posted March 23, 2017 7:44 am 0Likes

    Hello Laju, I’m a young Pastor and this is very insightful. You noted the major areas. More grâce in Jésus name. Please tell those ladies we’re humans too lol.
    God bless you.

  • raji blessing
    Posted March 23, 2017 8:05 am 0Likes

    Ok ma tnk u so much.more grace

  • Amara Jonathan
    Posted March 23, 2017 9:18 am 0Likes

    Thanks a lot
    This has really been made impact

  • Ngene Adaeze
    Posted March 23, 2017 1:47 pm 0Likes

    This is amazing ma…….Thank you very much pastor laju

  • Ammah
    Posted March 23, 2017 3:53 pm 0Likes

    Thank you
    I learnt so much

  • Samuel Arowolo
    Posted March 23, 2017 4:36 pm 0Likes

    Beautiful piece with a timely message.

  • dammy
    Posted March 23, 2017 7:23 pm 0Likes

    Wow, this is sure what I need presently. Thank u mam more of God’s blessing on u

  • Abor Maryjane
    Posted March 23, 2017 7:23 pm 0Likes

    This is very inspiring even for those not dating a pastor,it would go a long way….thanks for the message.

  • Temitope Olugbeje
    Posted March 24, 2017 4:44 pm 0Likes

    Awesome post Laju. Thank you so much. I’m not dating a pastor but I learnt so much that can be applied to my personal life. Thanks again.

  • Kehinde
    Posted March 25, 2017 9:41 am 0Likes

    Hmmmn……..thanks for sharing Pastor Laju.

  • Ogo
    Posted March 25, 2017 3:54 pm 0Likes

    Well written Laju! I think this is definitely useful for christian girls in relationships as well.
    I am currently courting someone who is a youth pastor in his church and I definitely resonate with most of what you have written here. Although we do not attend the same church currently I have found myself genuinely getting to know God more and become more active in my local church.
    We started the relationship setting tough boundaries (I. e no kissing/no long hugs or cuddles/ no sex/no late hours) and I honestly have to say that it has really helped me see him for who he really is, his strengths, flaws and everything else.
    I can’t lie that we haven’t been tempted, because we are physical attracted to each other (of course!), and I know my primary love language is physical touch, but somehow we have been able to resist. This has also made us grow stronger and learn more about godly intimacy and other ways of spicing up our relationship.
    I think one key learning for me has to be accountability partners and mentors. It definitely hasn’t been all rosy or a walk in the park like you called it, Lol! but I would do this a million times over. I have become much stronger and more patient about many things. I feel weird sometimes to say how we have been dating for over two years and haven’t kissed, but the greatest thing that keeps me going is always reminding myself that I am striving to honor only God.

  • dunny
    Posted March 26, 2017 10:33 pm 0Likes

    Many thanks for sharing, thanks also for being very simple in your approach and very real, God bless you.

  • Ibukunoluwa
    Posted March 29, 2017 5:43 pm 0Likes

    Thank you so much for this. God bless you.

  • Glory Eguabs
    Posted April 26, 2017 1:44 pm 0Likes

    Wow! Awesome post, Ma’am…. I am greatly blessed and enlightened. God bless you, Ma

  • Joy
    Posted August 24, 2017 11:53 am 0Likes

    wow… i just needed to read this at this point in time…

  • Alaina
    Posted August 26, 2019 1:47 am 0Likes

    I need your help. I’m engaged to be married to a pastor. Every since certain ones found out that I was with him they would give me a certain look stop speaking etc. I’m not looking for everyone to like me, I know what I was getting into and I know that I’m not perfect but how can I get the people to see that I have changed and that Iam no longer that person who I used to be?

  • Mary
    Posted October 8, 2019 12:40 am 0Likes

    He asked me if I also thought we could get married , I said No because being a pastors wife comes with alot of responsibilities. We are still dating and it has not been easy really because has the head pastor am already seeing what it would like in marriage. I think our spiritual lives match each other but am yet to accept his role, We work together we also started setting goals together and praying together recently and these things happen without being planned and it gets me wondering that even though I think I cant be his wife and should the relationship am doing things that intending couples should do. I have resolved to the guidance of the holy spirit..

  • Mary
    Posted October 8, 2019 12:50 am 0Likes

    He asked me if I also thought we could get married , I said No because being a pastors wife comes with alot of responsibilities. We are still dating and it has not been easy really because as the head pastor of his church am already seeing what it would look like in marriage.I think our spiritual lives match each other but am yet to accept his role, We work together, we also started setting goals together and praying together recently ,and these things happen without being planned and it gets me to start wondering that even though I think I cant be his wife and should end the relationship ,am doing things that intending couples should do. I have resolved to the guidance of the holy spirit..

Add Your Comment