Blurry Lines…

Posted by Brandi Wilson

Last week I have the opportunity to spend some time with high level female church leaders from across the US. It was such a sharp group of women and I was so honored to get some time with them.

One of the things we discussed while together was the blurry lines that come when we’re trying to separate being a leader and being a friend. For instance, if I’m having a tough coversation with someone, when or how do I know to take off my “pastor’s wife” hat and switch to my “friend” hat, or vice versa. Because my response between the two is more than likely going to be different. It’s a blurry line between the two.

And ultimately we can’t blame those we’re dealing with because they aren’t even aware we’re vacillating between the two roles, they don’t realize the predictament we’re in. They aren’t aware we’re torn.

Of course, one of the big determining factors is how close the friendship is, but even then lines are still blurry. Recently I have gotten to the point where there are times I can sweetly ask, “Right now, do you want me to respond as your pastor’s wife or as your friend?” But sometimes the conversation isn’t that easy.

What about you guys? I’d love to hear how this works in your own lives. What tips do you have when making a decision about whether to wear the pastor’s wife hat or the friend hat?

15 thoughts on “Blurry Lines…

  1. Christy

    I don’t understand the difference. I’m always both. Maybe its my perspective from being in a smaller church where the expectations of me aren’t the same as they might be in a large church, but I can’t think of when I would ever be one or the other. Maybe I’m doing something wrong and should be separating myself and relationships differently. Can you give an example of when you would say something as a friend that you wouldn’t say as a pastor’s wife?

  2. Cherith

    I’m not a pastors wife but my husband and I do have obvious rolls in the church. I find I just go with my heart and sometime I speak to soon or say to much but often times I find it is exactly what needs to be said. Whether a super “Godly” response or just a friend response I try to always go about it with an open heart and mind.

    I find it more difficult with that line if I’m not close to that person or don’t know their whole story. That’s when I’m a better listener.

  3. Suzie

    Being a Pastor there is a certain level of authority that comes by nature of the title. It gives me an opportunity to speak into someone (when asked or given permission) . However, as a women & pastor often times I want to give advice when all my friend needs is to be listen to. This for me is the blurry line–when to speak & help them process & recognizing when I just need to be there and listen.

  4. Brandi B.

    Within the last two years we decided to become friends with other ministers in the area and keep our church members as “church members”. It doesn’t always work perfectly because of how important community is within the church but have found it seems to work for us.

  5. Stephanie Shouse

    I found myself in this type of situation just last week. A friend of mine from church was complaining about the church to me and even talking about moving her membership. The conversation started out with me as her friend- listening, sympathizing, letting her feel heard and loved. After doing that for a full hour I felt God prompting me to put on my PW hat. Putting on that hat (so to speak) gave me boldness and courage to speak to my friend about her role in the church and how she needed to handle the issues she was dealing with. I was still loving and kind but I spoke with more authority and directness because I was speaking as her pastor’s wife.

    This was a really hard situation, though, because, as you mentioned, Brandi, my friend never even realized the switch until I said something like “Now I’m saying this as your friend…not as your pastor’s wife” and later “that’s me being your pastor’s wife & not just your friend…” Sometimes people would rather me be just one or the other…not both PW & friend…sorta sad…but I’m learning to live with that, too. 🙂

  6. Tari

    I agree with Christy. I’m not sure I’ve come across a situation where I’d have to answer differently. of course I’m not very shy about calling a spade a spade, growing in Mercy and Grace! 🙂

  7. Lori Wilhite

    I find these lines blur quite often. For me, it is usually with staff. But most of the time, people probably look at me as pastor’s wife first … and friend much further down the list. It usually isn’t so much that my response to them changes but really what they want to hear back from me that shifts. I don’t even know if that makes sense. 🙂

  8. Jaye Bice

    Just now reaching that point of having to decifer which one to be. It’s hard…I think by letting other women “lead” & form friendships within the church I’m allowed to be {for the most part} the Pastors wife. And I’m GOOD with that! 🙂

  9. Rachel Hines

    Growing up in the church we now pastor has made this a challenge at times. I have noticed, those that I’m friends with and speak as a friend to are those that were at our church before I was PW. Maybe I should rethink that maybe they sometimes come to me as PW, not firiend. Those that have come after our transition usually come to me seeking advice as PW. So I guess the lines are not as blurry for me, maybe more for them.

  10. Lynne

    This hits a raw nerve for me because I’m managing this all the time. I’m on staff and do leader equipping as part of my position. I love my leaders! This is a problem! It’s one I’m glad I have, but it does make having close relationships very delicate and I need lots of discernment. But it is tough for these friends too, because one voiced to me recently that she was unsure if we were having friend time or if it was actually “all business”. I find I need to express myself very deeply to people who are not just my leaders but also my friends so they know how much I value them. My problem is that the sense of trust I have with them is altogether different than before I was on staff.
    Thanks for all your responses, ladies. I pray we all have God’s glory and legit love at the heart of our relationships and refuse to let the politics of our influence win out.

  11. Grace Jones

    Brandi, I love that response. I have never thought to ask if they want the “friend response” or the “pw one”…
    I have a very dear friend who I struggle with this alot. Because sometimes she needs her pastor’s wife to tell her to love Jesus more than anything else. But her friend struggles to make the switch!!!

    Thanks for reminding me of the call He has for me.

  12. Karla

    Thank you for this post! It is comforting to know others also struggle with navigating these blurry lines. My husband has been in ministry 10+ years. But we are newlyweds, therefore, I’m a bit new to this blurry line world & the PW role! I do typically ask (after listening awhile): “Do you want me to just listen & sympathize? Or do you want my advice as well?” Sometimes people just want to vent. However, if they also want advice, adding Brandi’s question regarding the type of advice (PW or Friend) they desire is a good idea!

  13. Anna

    This applies in youth ministry as well. Some of the high-school girls in our group are only 8 or 9 years younger than me and they are such fun girls. Sometimes it’s like we are hanging out just as friends on common ground and other times I’m clearly in mentor/youth minister’s wife mode. I think both are ok and even overlap sometimes. One thing I try to avoid is unloading my own problems or issues onto them and saving that for my adult, same age friends instead. I am, however, open about things I’ve gone through if it is appropriate to share and can help them learn or understand something.

  14. Brandi Wilson Post author

    Hey Christy…

    I think there are several things that might change these “blurry lines” for each person. Church size like you mentioned… husband’s position (lead pastor’s wife might struggle more than worship pastor’s wife just due to position and way things are viewed).

    I think as an example for you I would probably remain more “neutral” in my answer as a PW, where my friend answer would be filled with more “truth”. The main spot this has gotten sticky for me is with staff members who are friends. And obviously each case is different and some people just never would feel the pressure of blurry lines based on their personality.

    Thanks for your feedback.

  15. Jen

    Thank you so much for posting this!! I have been struggling with this lately. I am a Pastor’s wife of a church in the inner city, God is growing the church in a Radical way- it’s really cool to see. I lead a women’s small group and am always connecting with women. I’m finding it really difficult to find a balance between being a leader and a friend. I sometimes feel as though I’m not being “real” when i don’t share the real issues I’m having with women because I don’t want them to feel as though they need to “counsel” me or carry my burdens because MOST of the time these women have SO MANY burdens in life and often times I feel as though they are so broken that me sharing any issues would be more of a burden for them to even hear. Although, I do share the struggles that I’ve faced in the past, I try not to share current issues. With this, I find that all my time is with the women in the church because that’s where we’re called, but I long for relationship with other women who i don’t have to “lead”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *