“Let the wife see that she reverence her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33)
“My husband is always confident–and sometimes right.” –What Mrs. Mark Devers says about her pastor-husband
My wife Margaret–a pastor’s wife for 52 years–was watching a panel discussion of some type or other in which four pastors’ wives were discussing their lives, their homes, and their husbands. One said, “My job is to keep him grounded. I tell him all those people at church see you as some kind of saint, but I saw you this morning in your underwear.”
The audience laughed; Margaret was offended.
She was embarrassed for that husband/pastor. “It was unbecoming to him,” she said. “She could say that sort of thing to him in private, as a tease, but should not say it in public. It was wrong.”
Wish we could take a poll at this point, and ask every spouse of a minister to register whether they agree or not.
“It’s not about you, honey. Some people will love you more than you deserve, and some will despise you without ever giving you a chance. You must not take it personally.” –My advice to my Granddaughter
Erin just turned 21 and earns a living waiting tables at a nice up-scale restaurant in the Mobile area. The other day, she came home in tears.
The restaurant had been crowded, with long lines of people waiting to get inside. The kitchen was running behind and diners had to wait an unusually long time for their order. Erin ran herself ragged all evening. She specifically thanked people for their patience and apologized for the slow service. She didn’t have a moment to catch her breath.
This particular table had two young men and a middle-aged guy. They seemed nice enough. Since the kitchen was running slow and they had ordered pizzas which had to be made from scratch, requiring at least a 30 minute time frame, several times Erin stopped by to thank them for their kindness and patience and to assure them the pizzas would be out soon.
Then, when they paid their tab, she found out a different side of them.
First, love the congregation, every single one of them, particularly the hard-to-love. And second, never underestimate the power of your presence.
Two stories of two great ladies.
Cissa Richardson went to Heaven this week. She was the beloved widow of Pastor James Richardson who served two great churches in our state for some forty years. James died over 10 years ago. We were neighboring pastors for years and great friends since the first day we met.
James and Cissa left quite a legacy. Their three sons–twins Gary and Jay, and younger brother Ian–are all in the Lord’s work. The twins have been pastors for decades and Ian was first a worship leader and musician and for years has headed the audio-visual department for our state Baptist convention.
This week at Cissa’s funeral. Son Gary told something about his mother I’d never heard.
Bertha and her husband Gary were young and just getting started in the Lord’s work. Gary would sometimes be invited to preach in a church and at other times sing. This particular Sunday, after the service Bertha waited while her young groom stood near the piano talking with one of the women in the church.
The woman’s daughter, perhaps 9 years old, stood nearby staring at Bertha. At length, she spoke up.
“Do you sing?” she asked.
“No, I’m afraid I don’t sing,” said Bertha.
The child was quiet a long moment. Then, “Do you play the piano?”
“No,” Bertha answered. “I don’t play the piano.”
The child stared at her while processing this information. Finally, she blurted out, “Don’t you do anything??”
“Let the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).
(Disclaimer: I write as a Southern Baptist, where all our preaching pastors are male. While I know a few women pastors, they’re in other denominations and I know zilch about what goes on in their households and how they relate to the husbands. I respect them highly but for me to write about what they need would be presumptuous.)
A pastor’s wife’s greatest ministry is to her husband first, and her children second.
We were two weeks away from beginning a new pastorate. A couple of days earlier, we had been informed that the church had voted 85% to invite me to become their new pastor. After praying long and hard about such a less-than-unanimous call, we felt it was the Lord’s will that we accept.
It was a difficult time in our lives. I had just come through the most difficult three years of ministry in my life, and the church to which we would be going was still reeling from a massive split just 18 months earlier. It was not going to get any easier.
Nothing about this was fun. We knew going in that we were bruised and that the people we would be shepherding were hurting.
My journal for Monday, September 3, 1990:
Then, here is what I would say to you….
One. –It’s an exciting and sometimes scary life. You get to see the work of the Lord up close; you also become the target of the enemy’s work.
Okay, you’re wondering why you would become a target, when all you want to do is to be married to this terrific guy who has heard God’s call to spread the gospel. What could anyone possibly find wrong with that? Answer: You have three enemies–the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world is the system around you and it is no friend to grace; the flesh is the nature within you and it is hostile to God; and the devil is, well, you know who he is.
In Acts 20:28ff, Paul tells the pastors of Ephesus to expect trouble from two sources: bad people outside the church and troublemakers inside. That is still in effect today.
“What are these wounds? I was wounded in the house of my friends” (Zechariah 13:6).
A year or two back, I wrote an article on pastors’ wives that has traveled around the earth a couple of times. “The most vulnerable person in the church” struck a nerve with a lot of good people, many of them hurting from mistreatment by the Lord’s finest.
If something about that seems backward to you, then join the party.
Pastors’ wives seem to be more at risk than anyone else in church. The expectations on them are the highest, the support the weakest, and the attacks arrive from the unlikeliest of sources.
Periodically, these women send me their stories. Most are happy to be serving their churches, possess a strong sense of God’s call, and are grateful for the love of His people. Once in a while, however, their stories make me cringe. More than once, I have shed tears at the way church people make impossible demands and place heavy burdens upon these sent to lead the Lord’s congregations.
Every pastor’s wife I know would like to say to the good and faithful deacons:
“Thank you for loving the Lord, for loving this church, and for loving your pastor and his family.”
“Thank you for praying for us, for being in your place of service on Sunday, and for taking care of the members during the week.”
“Thank you for your servant heart and for not seeing yourself as my husband’s boss, only as his support and helper.”
“We are richer and the work is better because you are faithful.”
Sadly, all spouses of pastors cannot say that. But they wish they could
When the wife of a pastor friend suggested an article on “What preachers’ wives would like to say to the deacons,” I said, “Write me what you would tell them,” and I’ll see what I can do.
Here it is–her list, completely untouched, just as it arrived a few minutes ago.
“Now, it came to pass that when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel…. But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice” (I Samuel 8:1-3).
Let’s talk about the offspring of the Lord’s shepherd, those sweet little lambs birthed into his beloved family in order to enrich their lives, to bless the church and to provide a fresh palette on which the preacher and his lady can demonstrate all it means to grow up in the fear and nurture of the Lord.
Those little monsters who terrorize the congregation with their out-of-control behavior.
Those darling babies and toddlers who are smothered by the loving attention of the entire congregation, and for whom teenage girls compete as babysitters.
Those juvenile delinquents who run up and down the aisles of the church and treat the sacred buildings as their own personal playroom.
Those teenagers who look so angelic on Sunday and test their parents’ patience during the week, the subject of ten thousand stories in deacons’ homes, who exasperate the seniors in the church hoping for a little peace and quiet this Sunday.
They put the gray hairs in their preacher-dad’s head and the great stories into his sermons. They put the the lines in their mom’s brow and the thrill into her heart.
They occupy the major portion of their parents’ prayers day and night.
God bless ’em. We love our PKs. Our preachers’ kids.
The preacher’s wife (Marlene is not her real name) who suggested an article on 59 things NOT to say to a preacher’s wife ended by suggesting that we follow it with a positive piece listing good things to say to the wife of the minister.
Marlene got us started with this list:
I am praying for you. We love you.
Thank you sharing your husband with us.
Thank you for sharing your lives with us. We love you.
I do not want anything from you but friendship.
Let me help. We love you.
You have such great kids.
Let me know if you need anything. We love you.
I overheard this compliment. “You are a success at (insert career
choice here).We love you.”
I really missed seeing you this morning.
How do you feel? We love you.
We appreciate what you bring to the church.
WE WOULD LOVE TO PUT YOU ON STAFF SO YOU CAN SERVE THE LORD
Those are all nice.
All right. That was Marlene’s list.