“D. L. Moody found in his wife what he termed his balance wheel. With advice, sympathy and faith, this girl labored with him, and by her judgment, tact, and sacrifice, she contributed to his every effort.” (quoted in “25 Surprising Marriages” by William Petersen)
The pastor’s wife is in a unique position.
She is close to the man of God but she does not come between him and God. She is privy to a thousand things going on between him and God, but must not insert herself into that process. She knows this man as no one else in the congregation does and can counsel/advise him as no one else is able, but she must know when to speak up and when to be quiet.
In many respects, she has the best seat in the house and the hardest job.
Pray for the young women newly married to men just beginning to pastor churches. So many of the skills they must master will come not from books but from life experiences, from making mistakes and getting things wrong, from befriending older and more mature ministers’ wives and heeding their counsel, and from the indwelling Spirit of God.
Let the young wives of ministers seek out others of their kind and befriend them. They need one another desperately. Let them meet in one another’s kitchens where they can talk and vent and pray.
Let them remind each other of the unique position they occupy concerning their husband’s calling.
Now, let us see if we can get that discussion started with what follows.
Here is my list of ten things the wife can do for her preacher-husband that no one else can do. (Let me say up front, I’m writing from the standpoint of the pastors being men. I have no experience with women pastors, so to advise them on anything would be presumptuous. For that reason, I will appreciate no admonitions from readers that I have omitted or insulted the women pastors. God bless anyone who stands in the pulpit to share His word. Thank you.)
1. The wife can pray for her preacher husband as no one else can.
She shares his struggles, sees his labors, and knows what he is dealing with. Mostly, what he experiences, she does also. When she prays for him, she’s praying also for herself.
Let the wife intercede for her man.
2. The wife can advise him as no one else can.
She is an expert on this man. She knows what makes him tick. In advising him, she has no axe to grind, no agenda to push. She loves him and wants only his best.
God told Israel to pray for their cities because “as it prospers you will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7). In much the same way, when God blesses the pastor and he does well, everyone benefits: the church becomes healthy, the pastor’s family does well, and his wife’s lot is vastly improved.
3. The wife can admonish him as no one else can.
Rebuking a pastor can be a risky thing.
Sometimes a wife has to deliver the bad news to her man. “You were wrong.” “Honey, you were out of line.” “You need to apologize to him.”
As no one else can, she can call him back to earth and speak the unvarnished truth in love.
4. She can encourage him as no one else can.
She knows his hurts and sees his pain. She feels his fatigue and knows about his sleepless nights. His pain is hers. And because she understands him as no one else does, she can lift him up like no one else.
Because she is also his lover, she can comfort him with her arms, her sweetness, her touch, her kisses. She knows when he needs to be left alone and when would be the best time to make that delicious blueberry cobbler he loves so much.
5. She can protect him.
To give him a little peace, Pastor’s wife Rita answers his cell phone from the minute he enters the house until he leaves. If the call is important, she hands the preacher the phone. Otherwise, she takes messages or relays them. Pastor’s wife Jerilyn insisted early in their marriage that one day a week would belong to the two of them, no matter where they pastored. By holding to that, she has blessed her husband’s ministry and enhanced their marriage.
Some pastors are hesitant to take the rest they deserve and need. The wife can see that he gets it.
Pastor’s wife Maggie protects her husband from temptation by loving him and treating him as her lover.
6. She can enhance his ministry and make him more effective.
When Margaret found that my “primary love language,” as taught by Judson Swihart in “How Do You Say I Love You?”, was “being on the same side,” she began doing all she could to support my pastoral ministry. At various times, she taught a Sunday School class, more than once team-teaching alongside me. She led “Experiencing God” classes, worked with drama teams, and even ran a television camera. She encouraged me to invite committees to meet in our home where she served as hostess.
As a result, the congregation came to a greater appreciation of my wife, of our home, and of the ministry to which God had called me.
7. But there is another side. She can hurt him as no one else in the church can.
She’s “in close.” The husband drops his guard when he’s at home. If a wife misuses her closeness with him, she can wound him severely and destroy his effectiveness. By calling him demeaning names (“Stupid” or even using profanity), by accusing him of sin (“I saw you making eyes at someone in the choir”), and by speaking of him disparagingly to church members, she may destroy his confidence and ruin his ministry.
In one church with which I am familiar, choir members could look into the congregation and see the pastor’s wife with the scowl on her face. The look she gave her preacher husband as he tried to expound the Word of God radiated pure disgust. To no one’s surprise, their marriage did not last. At last report, the former pastor was out of the ministry altogether and working at the newspaper.
True, no one but the two of them knows what went on between them, but to this observer, the preacher was brought down by the very person who should have been his champion, his wife.
8. She can interfere as no one else can.
Any member can cause trouble in a church, but the pastor’s wife is perfectly situated to cause the greatest disruptions if she chooses. That’s why she has to exercise great care in the things she says and in whom she confides .
Woe to the pastor whose wife prides herself on her plain-spokenness. “If I think it, I say it,” said one. Not good.
Let the pastor’s wife pray the prayer of Psalm 141:3, “Set a guard upon my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
9. She can help him relax and laugh.
There is a time to discuss heavy matters about the disobedient children and the broken furnace, and a time to lay them aside. There is a time to complain about some matter the preacher-husband promised to do but has forgotten, and a time to put it on the back burner.
One of the hardest things a wife will ever do is to stifle the urge to unload on him when he enters the house. She has been dealing with the problems all day by herself, and finally he is home. Except–as she is to learn quickly enough–he’s not “all there” yet. Give him time. Let him unwind. Be his lover, his sweetheart, his best friend and confidante.
10. She can help him pick out his clothes!
When I asked Facebook friends for their suggestions, I was surprised by this one. But it’s true. As I write, only yesterday, I found myself wondering about “this tie with that shirt.” Margaret, now in Heaven, would have told me in a heartbeat. (Probably without even being asked!) That’s one of only ten thousand things I miss about her.
Some wife reading this is thinking, “All right. He needs these things, true enough. But what about me? I need some things too.”
You certainly do. But that’s one reason we urge you to pull together a few other ministers’ wives and discuss this. You cannot pull this off without the counsel of wiser and more experienced women who have walked this road before you.
Whether you get with other wives or try to go it alone, there is one overwhelming essential you cannot and must not miss. You must draw your strength from the Lord Jesus Christ each day of your life. You cannot exist on the spirituality of your preacher husband. You must not try to do this in your own strength.
I leave with you the verse above all verses which ought to have the pastors’ wives’ names on it. This one is all yours, precious sister in the Lord…
Not that we are adequate (sufficient) to think anything of ourselves; but our adequacy (sufficiency) is of God. (2 Corinthians 3:5)