I was on my wife’s list of the type of man not to marry! Why? It was simply because I became a pastor. On her list were professional athletes, firemen, police officers and soldiers. My wife wasn’t anti-patriotic or unappreciative of entertainers and heroic men who serve this country. However, when she first compiled this list as a teenager she didn’t want to marry men in those professions because of the dangers involved and the time away from home.
After being married for six years this July and being a pastor’s wife from day one, her mind has changed. She embraced the challenge and found pastoring to be far different than what she expected. However, as you know, pastoring is dangerous and can be very demanding. That’s why I believe we must take time to mediate not just on our own pastoring but on the incredible responsibilities that most pastor’s wives have each week.
Our wives should be celebrated and deeply loved by us because it takes a Proverbs 31, Holy Spirit-filled woman to live with men who have been called to pastoral leadership.
Here are five quick reasons why we must encourage and appreciate our wives.
1. Her friendships are often complicated
Mature friendships are relationships that allow both persons to vent and completely relax. Many pastors don’t have people around them to whom they can completely express themselves. Our wives are often friends to many without having many close friends. Your wife might be close to women at the church, but she is probably not as close as she would be to them if they were non-members. Being close to women in the church often limits them to express things they are thinking through or struggles they may be having with you. Also, many pastors lead churches away from where their wives' families and close friends are, which strains friendships she might have built over many years. We must be sensitive to their struggle to be vulnerable with the women God placed around them and pray that The Lord would bring replenishing women around her that she can share freely.
2. She shares her husband’s time
Let’s face it: Pastoring is not like working your average nine-to-five. No matter how hard our boundaries and how disciplined we are to unplug when we get home, work seems to find its way next to our ear and in our living room. Some pastors serve with other elders and deacons who can absorb emergencies, and that’s great! But for a pastor’s wife, sharing her husband’s time takes patience and dedication. We must be mindful of this challenge, and plan our week well in order to maximize time with our wives.
3. She sees her husband/pastor at his worst
Even the Godliest of men had bouts of depression and deep seasons of spiritual apathy. Another reason that we should deeply appreciate our wives is that they have a front row seat during these times in our lives. I imagine that most pastors reading this post have wives who are supportive and gracious during these times and don’t use your shortcomings to hurt you. And if she's a good wife, she sees you as her pastor and her favorite preacher, regardless!
4. She is a sought-after counselor
Pastors' wives often end up being one of the church’s most sought-after counselors. After all, most people think, “She has the kids dressed well each Sunday, she’s always smiling, and her husband uses her in a positive light for sermon illustrations. She’s clearly competent to counsel, plus it may be a few days before her husband can meet with me.” The counseling that our wives do is not the formal meet-me-in-my-office counseling. Rather, her advice happens between the pews, at the church nursery, while grocery-store shopping, and on a single mother’s couch.
5. She is a compassionate mother
As robust as this list may seem, it is incomplete without acknowledging that most pastor's wives do all of the above while being a mother. Even for the pastor’s wife who doesn’t have children of her own, she still is mothering other children in the church. Every week I’m reminded of her giftedness when I’m home alone with our three children under four while she takes a break. Most times I am watching my clock in hopeful expectation, ready for her arrival back home.
Praise God that your wife, amidst the business of your ministry, is deeply in tune with the micro- and macro needs of your children.
Pastor, let’s make sure we take time to appreciate the weight and responsibility our wives carry. Take some time this evening and let her know you appreciate her by rubbing her feet, treating her to her favorite dessert, or writing her a note. After all, this may not be the life that she originally had in mind.