Monday, October 10, 2011

How To Be A Preacher's Wife And Like It

Before I got married, my friend came across a bunch of books being removed from the PLNU library. She gave several of them to me. Among the gems was my personal favorite, How To Be A Preacher's Wife and Like It, by Lora Lee Parrott. Recent research has revealed that Mrs. Parrott died earlier this year, at age 87. She was an author and a pastor's wife. Her husband also served as the President of Olivet Nazarene University and Eastern Nazarene University.

The book that I have in my possession was published in 1956. Mrs. Parrott was 33! At 33 she knew how to be a preacher's wife? Emphasis on the question mark. Thank this time three years from now the mystery will be revealed!

My copy was a gift to a Vivian Kirby. I don't know if Mrs. Kirby donated it to the Point Loma Nazarene University library or if it belonged to someone else in between but more than eight years ago it landed in my hands. The inscription on the first page is written in blue ink and dated six months before my own father was even born.

"Best wishes to Vivian Kirby--and remembering a lovely evening with the Parsonettes. Sincerely, Lora Lee Parrott. Apr. 24-58.

Remembering a lovely evening with the Parsonettes. Oh to be a fly on the wall on that lovely evening. Oh to be a Parsonette. They sound like a lively bunch of pastor's wives. I mean, they had to be the life of the party. Am I right? But the pastorate has changed. The "preacher" has evolved with media, Internet, networking, and the disappearance, in most cases, of the parsonage. I say in most cases because four and a half years ago we were contacted by a tiny church in a tiny town in Arizona that still had a parsonage so I know they exist but they're hardly the norm these days.

The book opens with a forward by Ruth Graham that reads, "If you are like I am you will be tickled to death to discover a book that is both inspirational and very, very practical as a sort of guide book for us preacher's wives. All of us get to the place where we feel the job is just too big for us. That's a good way to feel, I know, but we need something practical to help us to be better wives and mothers. This little book will do just that. It has helped me and I know it will help you too." Well. There are certainly nuggets of wisdom flowing throughout Mrs. Parrott's book but they are bathed in the hilarity that results when a thirty-year-old pastor's wife is reading something in 2011 that was written for the women of five decades ago.

The first chapter is titled, Marry the Right Preacher. Not, marry the right guy, no. Apparently this book was written specifically for pastoral predators. "To marry a successful preacher has been the secret ambition of many fine Christian young ladies," is the very first sentence of the book. What women are these? Perhaps in the 50's many fine Christian young ladies were trolling for a man who, in passing, mentioned a call to ministry but I don't think this translates to the 21st century. I think these days most young women dream of marrying doctors, lawyers, and software engineers.

Later in the first chapter, Mrs. Parrott writes, "Perhaps no one in the congregation is subjected to more stringent criticism than the pastor's wife. She may be criticized for what she has done, or what she has not done, or what she could have done. Not only is she criticized for what she does but for what her husband does, or her children. She will be criticized if she assists her husband too much in the parish work, or criticized if she does not do enough. But if God be for us, this criticism doesn't matter too much." Hmmm...I do think this particular paragraph transcends time. Of course it does go on to say that the pastor is recognized by his, "shaven face, combed hair and conservative suit and necktie..." Yikes. My husband only wears a suit if someone has died. Or is getting married. Or it's Easter.

This book is just so awesome in so many ways. And I haven't even gotten to the part about how it's important, when a girl marries a pastor, that he have a higher I.Q. than her. Oh yeah. It's in there.

I've been saying for quite some time that there needs to be a handbook for pastor's wives. I'm not thinking that this is it. But I think Lora Lee Parrott was on to something. I think she knew that we pastor's wives need to support one another. I think she knew that having your husband also be your pastor is a position that few are called to. I think she knew that dedicating your life to the Church is not without pain but it is also not without reward. Because when one person comes into a saving relationship with the Lord, the ministry is so worth it.

Stay tuned. I plan to share more of Lora Lee's gems with you. Particularly the part where breakfast should include: fresh orange juice, crisp bacon, eggs scrambled in butter, steaming coffee, fresh berries or melon, coffee cake or sweet rolls, and hot biscuits with butter, cherry jam and orange marmalade. Is it just me or is that a lot of carbs?


  1. In the fifties everyone ate all those carbs for three meals a day and they were still healthier than most of our society today! :)

  2. Bah! 1950's women's literature is a hoot. A cyber friend of mine did a 50 day stint as a 1950's housewife as a blog project. She read lots of books on the subject from the era and shared many a hilarious quote. There is something to be said for how simple life was in those days, but mostly it's hard to imagine the mindset. :)

  3. Yikes! Yep those were the only PW books around for a long time. I know that I have a helpful book for ministry wives in me, just got to get it out and onto my computer! :)